This is perhaps more of interest for the developers out there, but it can be a very nice thing to know about if you are looking for a framework to build a new application. Version 2 was already fairly mature, but this new version removes many bugs and kinks to make for an excellent development platform.
“Adobe Flex is a highly productive, free open source framework for building and maintaining expressive web applications that deploy consistently on all major browsers, desktops, and operating systems.”
So what this means in english is that you can build an application with Flex, which generates a Flash output. Flash always looks the same from one platform to the other, so you only need to build your application once, no need to re-code or port. The great difference between simply using Flash to build your application is that Flex already contains all the standard “Windows-like” controls we are all used to. Your application, which will run in any browser that supports Flash, can contain windows, data grids, buttons, input boxes, sliders, color pickers, etc… You can take a look at many of the available components here.
Adobe Flex Builder 3 comes in two versions: Standard and Professional. The standard edition includes many new features such as the integrated CSS styling, improved skinning and generates smaller SWF files than before. The professional edition adds the memory and performance profilers and other components like charting and the advanced datagrid.
The Adobe website is the best place to start looking into this product and you can see many sample applications to better understand the possibilities and power of this development platform. There are already a number of big players using Flex on the web and you will be able to see a growing list of these applications on the adobe website.
Adobe Air has also become available during the same launch event. Flex applications can run on any platform whether it’s Windows, Mac or Unix, but still require a Flash capable browser. This is where Adobe Air comes in. With the very same code that you created in Flex, Adobe Air can convert that application to run as a standard desktop application. Your application will not need a browser to run and will have it’s very own window. This extends the reach and usability of applications because they can be taken offline, on the road to keep working. You may need to change a few things to make sure your data gets synchronized when the application comes back online, but that’s a small price to pay to have your application available at startup with all the other ones. Your users would not need to go online to use your application anymore!
The Adobe Flex SDK is free to download and use so you could build complete applications for free, but it’s just so much easier with the Builder!