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Adobe Flex redefines Rich Internet Applications

Feb 08, 20063 mins
Enterprise Applications

* Adobe releases Flex 2 for building Flash apps

I’m a big fan of the Adobe Flash presentation technology because it is by far the easiest vehicle for creating Rich Internet Applications (RIA). Flash is also the most widely available browser-based presentation technologies with Flash Player version 7 now found on an estimated 97.7% of browser installations, according to figures from Adobe/Macromedia. On Jan. 31, Adobe announced the availability of Beta 1 of the Flex 2 system for building Flash applications.

The Flex 2 product line consists of:

* The Flex Framework 2, a class library for RIA construction using ActionScript 3 and a tag-based declarative language called MXML.

* A new Eclipse-based integrated development environment (IDE) that allows developers to import content produced by Flash Professional 8.

* The Flex Enterprise Services 2 provides “high performance data transfer, real-time data streaming, message-based publish and subscribe, transparent cross-tier data synchronization, automated paging of large data sets through server-side data management services and data channels. Flex Enterprise Services 2 also supports automated testing with Mercury QuickTest Professional.

* Flex Charting Components 2 are a set of extensible components for advanced data visualization.

This new release builds on the release of Flash Player 8.5, which implements the latest version of the Flash scripting language, ActionScript 3.0. ActionScript 3.0 is based on the next generation of the ECMAScript standard.

An interesting part of Adobe’s pitch for Flex as a development and deployment platform is that as good as AJAX applications and development libraries can be they rely on either the JavaScript implementation the browser implements or the platform on which the browser runs. As this implementation may have standards compliance problems along with bugs and performance issues it makes reliable implementation and deployment of AJAX applications impossible to guarantee.

Adobe argues that as the Flash Player is implemented consistently over all platforms and complies with the ECMA standards, this ensures greater application stability and fewer bugs. Moreover because ECMAScript is really JavaScript under an alias, there are hundreds of thousands of programmers who can readily cut code for rendering by the Flash Player. In fact Adobe’s goal is to reach 1 million developers using Flex in the next few years.

The Flex Framework 2 is free and the Flex Enterprise Services 2 is free up to five client seats and running on a single unclustered server. Flex Builder 2.0 will be priced at less than $1,000 per seat while the full Flex Enterprise Services 2.0 pricing will be CPU-based.

The full release is planned for the first half of calendar year 2006. To explore the beta, go to Adobe Labs.


Mark Gibbs is an author, journalist, and man of mystery. His writing for Network World is widely considered to be vastly underpaid. For more than 30 years, Gibbs has consulted, lectured, and authored numerous articles and books about networking, information technology, and the social and political issues surrounding them. His complete bio can be found at

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