Archives For Flex

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Version 4.5 of both the Flex framework and the Flash Builder IDE is due out May 11 and the outlook is very exciting. As announced some time ago, the focus in Flex 4.5 is on developing for mobile apps. This means a new wave of components optimized for mobile platforms. That alone might sound “kind of cool”, but this release is much, much bigger than that.

Instead of using Flex to write Flash content that runs in a Web browser in a mobile device (i.e., non-Apple devices), thanks to Adobe AIR 2.6, you’ll be able to write true mobile apps in Flex. When the first release comes out in May, you’ll be able to create apps for the Google Android platform (the largest platform, in terms of sales of mobile devices today). In June, an update to Flash Builder and Flex are expected that will add support for iOS (iPod Touch, iPhone, and iPad) devices and the Blackberry Tablet OS. To summarize:

If you know Flex today (or in three months), you’ll be able to create mobile applications that run on all major mobile platforms in no time at all!

This could not come at a better time for me. I have a couple of mobile app ideas that I want to develop and was planning on learning how to do so later this year (yes, yes, I’m totally on the cutting edge of the mobile app craze, eh?). I was still hemming and hawing over whether to pursue the iOS route, which would be natural for me (I primarily use Macs and am comfortable with the C family of languages), or go the Google Android route, which would be harder (Java is the default language there), but technically has a broader market. And now, thanks to Flex 4.5 and Adobe AIR, I won’t have to choose between them.

To see the development process, and the output, in action, check out this sneak peek video at Adobe. It’s a very impressive concept and, as far as I know, the only “write once, run everywhere” development solution for mobile apps. This, of course, is the promise of Adobe AIR itself, which allows you to write one application that can run on multiple operating systems (I still seem to be a bigger fan of AIR than the world at large).

That’s the big news, Flash Builder 4.5 and Flex 4.5 also add performance improvements, new Spark components (in particular, finally creating a Spark version of the Datagrid), and multiple ActionScript coding tools. See this article at Adobe Developer Connection for more on what’s new in Flash Builder 4.5. There’s also this pretty good article on mobile development using Flex and Flash Builder.

Flash Builder 4.5 for PHP

April 22, 2011

Version 4.5 of the Flex framework makes it easier to develop applications destined for mobile devices (and there are some crazy-exciting developments along those lines, which I’ll post about separately), but version 4.5 of the corresponding Flash Builder IDE also comes with a nice bonus: even better integration with PHP.

PHP is my Web programming language of choice, and in version 4 of the Flex framework and the Flash Builder IDE, Adobe made a purposeful attempt to increase usage of Flex among the PHP community (this is also when I really began embracing Flex). For example, Flash Builder 4 comes with a wizard for connecting to PHP scripts, including creation of boilerplate PHP code. The new Flash Builder 4.5 IDE, due out May 11, comes in a couple of versions: Standard, Premium (with extra wizards, debugging tools, and profiling utilities), Flash Builder 4.5 for PHP Standard, and Flash Builder 4.5 for PHP Premium. The Flash Builder 4.5 for PHP versions were created in conjunction with Zend, and include an integrated version of Zend Studio 8. As both Flash Builder and Zend Studio are built upon Eclipse, this is a natural fit. And Flash Builder 4 started using Zend AMF to transmit data in Action Message Format between Flash applications and PHP scripts; the two companies have been working together for a while.

Needless to say, if you’re already doing Flex and PHP development (like I am), Flash Builder 4.5 for PHP is the perfect tool. The ability to do all the programming, both server-side PHP and client-side Flex, in one application, will save a lot of time. Just the debugging alone…Flash Builder 4.5 for PHP will let you debug both the PHP script and the Flash application without changing programs!

In terms of pricing Flash Builder 4.5 Standard is $249.00, if purchased new, and Zend Studio is $299.00 (all prices are in US dollars and accurate as I write this). Flash Builder 4.5 for PHP Standard is $399.00, so there’s a decent price break compared to having the applications individually.

For a good, quick introduction to Flash Builder 4.5 for PHP, see this article at the Adobe Developer Connection.

Fun Tools at Adobe Labs

March 26, 2011

As I’ve written before, I’m a fan of Adobe AIR, although it hasn’t yet caught on as much as I would have thought. You may also know that Adobe develops a ton of cool things in their Adobe Labs. Many things go from the Labs to a full-scale release, others never do. In any case, it’s often worth while scrolling through the Labs to see what Adobe’s up to lately (the same goes for Google labs).

I recently came across two interesting things at Adobe Labs:

  • Adobe AIR and Adobe Flash Player Incubator, a technology preview program for experimenting with “bleeding-edge” capabilities of the Flash platform.
  • Adobe AIR Launchpad, a desktop tool that helps to create Flex-based applications to be run through Adobe AIR. Run the tool, select a destination (desktop or mobile device), establish some base settings, select the features the application will want to use, and the Launchpad will generate a ready-to-compile AIR application with those features and settings. Or you can use the generated ZIP to open and edit the project in Flash Builder. It’s just a nice little automated tool to further expedite an already fast process.

I haven’t played with these others yet, but plan on doing so (they look useful):

And, of course, you can check out the beta versions of Flex (“Hero”), Flash Builder (“Burrito”), and other more common software. You may have also caught wind of Wallaby, which converts Flash to HTML.

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