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dgrigg
11-18-2003, 02:10 PM
http://www.macromedia.com/software/flex/?promoid=home_prod_flex_111703

Very promising product for 'developers' who want to build enterprise level apps in Flash without trying to figure out how to use the Flash stage to build an application in.

Looks very similiar to
http://www.laszlosystems.com/products/

aversion
11-21-2003, 12:37 PM
it does look useful but i have to admit I always wonder if these 'side' apps MM keep building are really all that useful to the developer community and to their business plan... i suppose they are, I just don't want to put a lot of time and effort into flash for them to release 'eay to use' versions!

:p

dgrigg
11-24-2003, 12:00 PM
I wouldn't say it is an 'easier to user' version of Flash, just more 'developer centric'. Having said that though I do agree with you in that I wonder if these 'side tracks' that MM takes are really worth while. If someone wants/needs to develop in Flash then I think they should take the time to learn and understand the development environment. Not that I fully know the features of Flex but I imagine developing something in Flex will take away some of the 'design' things you can do with Flash when you develop right in the application, the things that really set it apart from other online apps.

Personally I would rather see MM take the time to develop (and fully document) some really good GUI components and architecture that make developing RIA's and the like more standardized. The biggest trouble I have found in developing RIA's using Flash is that I end up having to spend a significant amount of time searching for or developing my own components for GUI elements. In other environments I do not have this problem.

SJT
11-24-2003, 02:39 PM
Seems odd that macromedia would bother to duplicate the functionality of several other environments. I suppose they're trying to push flash as 'the' environment to develop web content for, from animation to dynamically driven sites.

Oh well, good luck to them; they'll need it...

aversion
11-24-2003, 05:12 PM
I can understand wanting to create a flash developer's environment in which case they should have done that with flash '04 pro, instead of creating a marginally different application to regular flash '04 they should have created a real developers environment and not confused people with which app version they should buy.

pro could come with all the components and features you'd expect from a visual development environment and be completely unattractive to designer/developers who get to play with the normal version of flash along with the animators.

if you're going to split the flash application into two retail versions, make them radically different, make them discernably different so someone can look at them and know what applies to their needs. All these secondary applications shouldn't be necessary with a coherent core application strategy.

SJT
11-24-2003, 05:16 PM
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense actually.

Have the same capabilities available in both apps, and then have each app tailored to a specific type of production... would be the logical thing to do, and would then probably increase their sales as people buy one version and then find they need the environment of the other version as well.

dgrigg
11-24-2003, 10:31 PM
Originally posted by aversion
I can understand wanting to create a flash developer's environment in which case they should have done that with flash '04 pro, instead of creating a marginally different application to regular flash '04 they should have created a real developers environment and not confused people with which app version they should buy.

I believe they call it a money grab.



pro could come with all the components and features you'd expect from a visual development environment and be completely unattractive to designer/developers who get to play with the normal version of flash along with the animators.

if you're going to split the flash application into two retail versions, make them radically different, make them discernably different so someone can look at them and know what applies to their needs. All these secondary applications shouldn't be necessary with a coherent core application strategy.

I agree that it would make sense to offer two different versions with way more differentiation than the current product set. I think part of the problem is that Macromedia is trying to cater it's product(s) to too wide a market. They are trying to make it designer and developer friendly, which is probably a very unrealistic goal, since the two groups are so different and use applications in such different manners. Hopefully very soon they will stop taking the shotgun approach and really zero in their product(s) on very specific groups.

aversion
11-24-2003, 10:38 PM
yah, hopefully.


Originally posted by dgrigg
I believe they call it a money grab.
right, didn't work though did it! Their stock dropped 35% on lowered expectations. Still I have every confidence (well a few of them) that they will take heed of the marketing disaster the release of 2004 was and focus more on what developers and designers actually want.

1andonly
12-04-2003, 07:56 PM
I think that Macromedia is trying to pursue programmers and develops to move to Flex for the development of standalone offline applications. I am not sure, but so far this is the info that I have gathered. It also seems to get Microsoft worried.

dgrigg
12-05-2003, 10:01 AM
I don't think Microsoft has anything to worry about for offline applications. Not to down play Macromedia but they don't have the tools Microsoft has for client/server, standalone apps.

Macromedia has some really good web geared development products but going up against Microsoft in the offline world is a battle I think they should stay out of, if infact they are considering going that way. The time and money would be better spent continuing the development of their interent development tools.

1andonly
12-05-2003, 05:36 PM
Heh, Check this out (http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/zd/20031117/tc_zd/112521)

aversion
12-05-2003, 05:57 PM
I guess I'm more and more interested in this the more I read about it. I like the idea of an XML based development framework, but I guess as a developer who has migrated from designer I'm loath to leave the traditional flash environment. I know it's stupid but I don't like components, I'd rather make my own form elements any day, retaining control of the aesthetics and function.

I suppose what macromedia is doing is forcing people to choose between designer and developer to an extent. I know you can skin components in flex but can you make nice screen transitions? It sounds silly but I like having that kind of control, even if the development cycle does take longer.

Still, it will be a while until I can get my hands on it, and as a development team we're LAMP based, so to use flex would require a move to more commercial, enterprise level development environment. I think this is a natural migration though, and java has always been a goal.

there's a tangible example of flex here: http://www.markme.com/cc/archives/003901.cfm

1andonly
12-05-2003, 10:19 PM
Java/Perl are the future...(the future never comes, lol). I thought that Flex was created so that you could create unlimited integration with creating custom and unique applications; components if you will, no?

SJT
12-05-2003, 11:16 PM
Perl is the future...again?
Perl is an old language, not in the slightest bit like Java, procedural and not object orientated.

I think describing Flex as an MS killer is either massively overstating Macromedia's role in the standalone environment or overstating MS's role in the web environment (the latter, in my opinion).
The 'Flash Killer' proposed in that article is
a) speculative
b) not due for at least 2 years!

I see Flex as a flash environment for programmers; no stage to confuse the issues of scope or design patterns.

aversion
12-05-2003, 11:25 PM
I love my stage, I think that's my problem.

:cow:

SJT
12-06-2003, 08:31 AM
Yeah, who wants to code in the positions of static graphics when you can just put them there?

aversion
12-06-2003, 10:35 AM
damn straight!


never thought I'd feel like a luddite!

dgrigg
12-08-2003, 10:16 AM
Originally posted by aversion
I guess I'm more and more interested in this the more I read about it. I like the idea of an XML based development framework, but I guess as a developer who has migrated from designer I'm loath to leave the traditional flash environment. I know it's stupid but I don't like components, I'd rather make my own form elements any day, retaining control of the aesthetics and function.

I suppose what macromedia is doing is forcing people to choose between designer and developer to an extent. I know you can skin components in flex but can you make nice screen transitions? It sounds silly but I like having that kind of control, even if the development cycle does take longer.

Still, it will be a while until I can get my hands on it, and as a development team we're LAMP based, so to use flex would require a move to more commercial, enterprise level development environment. I think this is a natural migration though, and java has always been a goal.


You can use components and retain control of the aesthetics and function, you just have to build your own components. I found after trying unsuccessfully to build some RIA's that the components Flash has available were not enough so I spent a significant amount of time developing a set of components that allow myself and the development team I work with to more easily and quickly build RIA's.

To bring this back to 'Flex' I still don't see or get what additional bonus Flex brings to the table, except to give non Flash developers an IDE they would be more familiar and comfortable with (as opposed to the stage). With what I have seen in MX 2004 (especially with the xml and data binding) I see no extra gains in application development by using Flex over traditional Flash. Having standards and a development framework are not neccessarily dependent on the IDE, they are dependent on the team using it. We have four people building Flash based RIA's and we all adhere to the same set of conventions for development. We spent time before getting to far into any of our early projects to layout conventions and standards that we would follow in order to make the development and maintenance processes easier in the long term. Anyone who is motivated enough could easily do the same thing.

I have the same thoughts as Aversion about transitions, animiations etc, the things that make Flash, Flash. If you take away the stage do you lose the ability to incorporate those type of designs cues into your application.

With regards to enterprise level development and migration to Java, one look under the hood of MX2004 and some on the improvements on AS 2.0 and you will quickly see.... 'Java'.

aversion
12-08-2003, 10:38 AM
Originally posted by dgrigg
To bring this back to 'Flex' I still don't see or get what additional bonus Flex brings to the table, except to give non Flash developers an IDE they would be more familiar and comfortable with (as opposed to the stage). With what I have seen in MX 2004 (especially with the xml and data binding) I see no extra gains in application development by using Flex over traditional Flash. Having standards and a development framework are not neccessarily dependent on the IDE, they are dependent on the team using it. We have four people building Flash based RIA's and we all adhere to the same set of conventions for development. We spent time before getting to far into any of our early projects to layout conventions and standards that we would follow in order to make the development and maintenance processes easier in the long term. Anyone who is motivated enough could easily do the same thing.
I've been reading more and more about it (this link (http://www.macromedia.com/devnet/flex/articles/paradigm.html) helped a lot) and it really isn't aimed at people who like to develop in flash, or people who started as designers and are transitioning to developer. It seems to be aimed squarely at the hard core developers who are used to 'visual' development in this kind of environment, the kind of developers who wouldn't have looked at flash before, or seen using it as a chore, people who aren't interested in innovating aesthetics. They want to create a nice looking interface but they're not going to open up photoshop to do it.

have a look at that link, it does seem interesting what you can do with it, workign in MXML hard coding, but the way I work I have a lot of ideas while I'm compiling a site in the flash app and I think the way flex works it's almost designed to avoid that, so your work flow is smooth. It's really all about that, making it a straightforward programming exercise to create stuff in flex without any surprises or deviations.

I don't think it's the answer to creating RIAs, I think it's a grand way to get people to look at flash as a developers solution, but I don't see that people will ever be creating as rich, multimedia, apps in flex as they do in flash. It's just confusing the issue to say it's the solution for RIAs. It is easy to get a webservice going, or load in a .flv but you can't beat the stage metaphor for putting together sites or apps that incorporate a lot of media and interaction.

Flex will produce some great forms, and form based apps, widgets for utilising web services etc, but it's not going to beat the flash app for creating RIAs imho.


With regards to enterprise level development and migration to Java, one look under the hood of MX2004 and some on the improvements on AS 2.0 and you will quickly see.... 'Java'.
yeah there was a lot of talk about java when the new flash was revealed, there's a new standard and a lot of languages are moving towards it, java definitely seems in ascendency. .NET was always interesting but I think MS have promised far more than they can deliver whereas java has been around for longer and is used for a wider range of applications.

I think I said before that I work with a partner who does all the back end coding so I'd like to start using java in conjunction with flash as a front end, but he's got to learn more of it first!

gSOLO_01
12-08-2003, 12:59 PM
Originally posted by SJT
Yeah, who wants to code in the positions of static graphics when you can just put them there? You use Dreamweaver? Drag and drop positioning &c will be included with Brady, the layout tool for Flex.

1andonly
12-08-2003, 04:16 PM
Originally posted by SJT
Perl is the future...again?
Perl is an old language, not in the slightest bit like Java, procedural and not object orientated.

I think describing Flex as an MS killer is either massively overstating Macromedia's role in the standalone environment or overstating MS's role in the web environment (the latter, in my opinion).
The 'Flash Killer' proposed in that article is
a) speculative
b) not due for at least 2 years!

I see Flex as a flash environment for programmers; no stage to confuse the issues of scope or design patterns.

Perl and Java are the future because they are Multi-platform and because I am comfortable programming in both! lol. But Truth is I like Perl and PHP a lot for they're easy integration with web applications. I don't like C, C# because it is confusing for me and does not offer the tight XML integration that Perl and php offer.(although the run time is a lot better and faster with CGI web applications and C/C++/C# apps in general than PHP and Perl based apps. as far as I had noticed...that's a whole different topic, lol).

Regarding Flex, thans all for the links. I am interested to see how Flex will work. The MXML does seem a bit promising and I would spend a little over a week analyzing it. Flash MX is always there for me for Web content/interactivity and small apps in general. I just love how the whole program works, that's all. My2cents regarding the new future....product...of Macromedia.

dgrigg
12-08-2003, 04:28 PM
I was just ready up some more on Flex, Brady et all.

Why didn't Macromedia just release Flash MX 2004 Pro as Flash MX 2004 and release Flex/Brady as Flash MX 2004 Pro. It sounds and looks like they are going down two seperate paths that ultimately end at the same point, an SWF file with a connection(s) to backend database/xml/webservice, a rich user interface with windows gui type controls and actionscript 2.0 controlling all the interactions and behaviours.

I understand wanting a product that is geared towards enterprise level developers, I understand wanting standards and structure, but wasn't all that available using Flash and not releasing a new product that basically does what the existing product already does, albeit in a slightly different manner.

SJT
12-08-2003, 04:30 PM
That's basically because C is a compiled language, whereas Perl and PHP are interpreted...not much you can do about that.

1andonly
12-08-2003, 07:45 PM
Originally posted by dgrigg
I was just ready up some more on Flex, Brady et all.

Why didn't Macromedia just release Flash MX 2004 Pro as Flash MX 2004 and release Flex/Brady as Flash MX 2004 Pro. It sounds and looks like they are going down two seperate paths that ultimately end at the same point, an SWF file with a connection(s) to backend database/xml/webservice, a rich user interface with windows gui type controls and actionscript 2.0 controlling all the interactions and behaviours.

I understand wanting a product that is geared towards enterprise level developers, I understand wanting standards and structure, but wasn't all that available using Flash and not releasing a new product that basically does what the existing product already does, albeit in a slightly different manner.

Definetly agree with you man. Flash MX 2004 Pro does offer some different things than Flash MX, but I think that it would be better if Macromedia would wait a little and integrate this "Flex" application with Flash MX 2004 Proffesional. Of course, we all know what that would in turn cause...Macromedia loosing lots of money, but the community of Developers and designers would be much happier in my opinion.

I have recently (finally) saved enough to purchase MX 2004 with Flash MX 2004 Pro with a discount and I must tell you that although I love the new Dreamweaver, Fireworks; the new Flash version was not VERY useful to me (the automatic Forms/Slideshows I prefer to do myself). Yes, the ActionScript 2.0 is quite an improvement (along with how Flash now handles videos) but the rest was more uncomfortable for me and I prefer to mostly use Flash MX which I had for a very long time now. That's just me.

Btw, SJT, I know why Perl/PHP and JAVA is able to run on multiplatform boxes...I am not trying to say that Perl is better than C because every language has its own uses and I bet that many things in C (though I am not a C guru) are a lot easier to do than in Perl (and especially in JAVA, lol), vice versa.

dgrigg
12-08-2003, 07:54 PM
Originally posted by 1andonly

Btw, SJT, I know why Perl/PHP and JAVA is able to run on multiplatform boxes...I am not trying to say that Perl is better than C because every language has its own uses and I bet that many things in C (though I am not a C guru) are a lot easier to do than in Perl (and especially in JAVA, lol), vice versa.

Perl/PHP and C (plus all it's flavours) are completely differenet tools, you are trying to compare a drill with a screw driver, similiar but very different. Microsoft has given a new flavour of C (C#) that is more like a server side scripting language and less like a traditional compiled client application. Perl/PHP serve a purpose, mostly web/online work whereas C, serves a mostly offline purpose. Then you can throw Java right smack in between, it can server both purposes, generally equally well.