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Thread: Simple Question #1: Fb vs Fl

  1. #1
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    Simple Question #1: Fb vs Fl

    Well, I've decided to embark on a process of learning ActionScript/Flex/Flash.

    I am studying "ActionScript 3.0 Bible" by Roger Braunstein which doesn't seem too bad.

    I have a background (from a number of years ago...I haven't programmed in a decade) in heavy server-side programming (UNIX/C/Tuxedo).

    My goal is to develop an online vector graphics editor. I figure its going to take some time to get there, but you have to start somewhere, right.

    Anyway, enough introduction. Here is my first question:

    What are the pro's/con's of Flash Builder verses Flash Professional?

    We have the Adobe Creative Suite in my office, so we have Flash Professional. I also downloaded Flash Builder (based on the recommendation in the Braunstein book). I can see how Flash Professional is more timeline based than Flash Builder, but I don't have a sense of why someone would choose to use one vs the other.

    Any insights would be appreciated!

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Flash/Flex Developer samac1068's Avatar
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    Really good question that I've been asked alot. For me I determine one over the other based on the type of application I plan on building. Flash Builder, previously known as Flex, is a RIA development tool. It is not timeline based, so development is very similar to other coding environments. In both cases, they export (publish) their end product using SWF or using AIR, which means you can deploy to either desktop or the web, and the overall size can be small so you get quick responses.

    My last project was deployed to the Android Market, and I found building for them was easier in Flash CS5.5 verses using Flex and because this application REQUIRED a timeline, the choice was easy.

    So now it comes down to preference. There are many functions that are available in one software that may not be available in the other and vice versa, so you have to look at what you are building. Making a graphics editor, you can use both (of course), and learning AS3 will work the same for both, but I believe that Flex (Flash Builder) will provide more customization that may meet your needs.

    Overall, both are really great applications, and learning one will give you a heads up on the other, so if you already own CS5 and not Flash Builder( which I thought it came in the suite), then learn from what you have and understand then try the other and develop your own thoughts about when and where to utilize them.

    This is my personal opinion, so what do I know.
    Some people are like Slinkies, not really good for anything, but they bring a smile to your face when pushed down the stairs.

  3. #3
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    Thank you for the reply.

    Are there any "brick walls" to be concerned about? Meaning, if I start in (for example) Flash Builder, is it possible that I will get to the point where I am completely stuck dead unless I move the project to Flash Professional (or vice versa)?

    It seems like its more a matter of preference. My sense of things (tell me if this is right) is that Flash Professional is more of a visual builder type IDE where Flash Builder is more a "straight code" type of IDE.

    Is that about right?

  4. #4
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    The question is not so much Flash Builder vs. Flash Professional, but whether you want to use the Flex framework or not. Flex gives you a rich set of components like data grids and list boxes, but requires you to program your own interactive stuff in conformance with the framework. Unless you need to use a lot of the components, it's probably not worth the added complicity and bloat.

    You can't really go wrong with Flash Builder though. It's a much nicer programming environment. I would start out with a ActionScript project instead of a Flex one. You're basically given a blank canvas (a Sprite). After you've developed the basic functionalities of your vector editor, you can then decide how to do the interface surrounding it: either by turning your editor into a Flex component and dropping it into a Flex form, or linking it to a movie clip in Flash Professional.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the reply.

    Suppose I start with a "straight" ActionScript project, and then later on decide that some of the features in Flex would be handy. I assume there's no major difficulty in adding those in (beyond the inherent learning curve of Flex, that is)?

  6. #6
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    Pretty much. It'd be like trying to adopt a program that you've written straight to an OS's API to an application framework. You need to change the plumbing here and there, but you're not going to hit a brick wall.

  7. #7
    Flash/Flex Developer samac1068's Avatar
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    What Cleong said is mostly accurate. I use Flex SDK for many many things, but I am not constricted with the Flex framework. I use Robotlegs for my framework and development that provides me a different set of functions. Because they are tied in with Flex, I still have the SDK components.
    Some people are like Slinkies, not really good for anything, but they bring a smile to your face when pushed down the stairs.

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