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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.

I’m a big fan of Adobe’s AIR, and not just because I’ve written a book on it! I’ve been developing AIR applications, for in-house and client use, for a couple of years now, in both JavaScript/HTML and Flex. I’ve recently, and not so recently, come across these two good articles on Adobe AIR:

From the titles, the articles are self-explanatory, but the emphasis is on performance. The interesting thing about the first article is that it discusses the theory of performance, which people don’t think about enough (e.g., what does it mean to perform well?). The article uses a specific example for which one could easily come up with three different senses of “performance” (the article uses Flex for the code).

The second article has lots of specific, excellent tips, many of which being applicable to any application you develop (although the example also uses Flex for the code, it’s mostly ActionScript).

Even if you’re not using Adobe AIR, I would think these articles would be worth reading, as the subject of application performance is one we could all always continue to learn more about.