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Thread: Macromedia Flex

  1. #1
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    Macromedia Flex

    http://www.macromedia.com/software/f...od_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/
    Flash Web Application Development
    www.innovasium.com

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    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!


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    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.
    Flash Web Application Development
    www.innovasium.com

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    Senior Member SJT's Avatar
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    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...
    Sam



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    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.

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    Senior Member SJT's Avatar
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    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.
    Sam



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    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.
    Flash Web Application Development
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    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.

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    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.

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    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.
    Flash Web Application Development
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    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

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    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?

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    Senior Member SJT's Avatar
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    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.
    Sam



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    I love my stage, I think that's my problem.


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    Senior Member SJT's Avatar
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    Yeah, who wants to code in the positions of static graphics when you can just put them there?
    Sam



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    damn straight!


    never thought I'd feel like a luddite!

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    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'.
    Flash Web Application Development
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  19. #19
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    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 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!

  20. #20
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    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.

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