Adobe Flex is an open source framework that allows you to build rich internet applications (RIA's) that operate and deploy consistently across different operating systems, major browsers and desktops. Examples of Adobe Flex applications can be seen here in the Flex Showcase.
The History of Adobe Flex
Adobe Flex (version 1.0) was first released by Adobe back in March 2004 and created quite a stir in the web industry. It was now possible to create real applications that ran in the browser using the Flash Player. The minus side of this new technology was the cost. Flex was first released as a commercial application server with a heavy price tag well over $10,000 USD!
This pretty much priced the new technology out of reach for most companies and individuals, resulting in slow uptake of Adobe Flex.
As with any new technology Adobe Flex had a few teething problems, but on the 25h April 2007, Adobe made an announcement to the developer community, that they were going to release Adobe Flex 3.0 as an open source project. By going open source, this would really increase the uptake of the new technology, but as with other open source technologies (such as PHP and Java), the Flex community could contribute ans shape the future direction of Adobe Flex.
MXML and Actionscript
Adobe Flex applications are built using a programming language called Actionscript and MXML. The current version of Actionscript utilised in the industry is Actionscript 3.0.
Flex applications can run in the browser and the desktop
Yes you read that correctly .... Software applications built using Adobe Flex, run using the Adobe Flash player in the browser, or they can run inside a container on the desktop. This container is known as Adobe AIR (formerly known as Apollo). Using the powerful Adobe AIR container, Adobe Flex applications can perform just like standard desktop applications, but using rich, engaging and interactive UI elements. Gone are the days of grey looking application screens!
Where does ColdFusion, PHP, Java and .NET sit with Adobe Flex?
Adobe Flex does not replace any of these technolgies, but simply works as a front end presentation layer to these popular technologies. The last thing most businesses want, is to invest into something that involves rewriting or redeveloping their exisiting applications. Using Adobe Flex, you can keep you existing business layer (Java, PHP, ColdFusion or .NET) and connect this to a rich Flex front end application. This is the beauty of Flex.
Further Information and resources for Adobe Flex
Here are some useful examples of the type of application that can be developed using Adobe Flex
- Adobe Dashboard
- Adobe FlexStore
- eBay Desktop Version - Built using Adobe Flex
- Fidelity Investments - Trading Knowledge centre, built using Adobe Flex
- Trenitalia - Real Time train information
- Yahoo Web Messenger
From my industry connections, I have access to a skilled team of Flex developers for any project size. If you have a project or software idea that you would like to talk with me about, please contact me.