Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Flex

Flex 1.0 introduced a new programming model to allow enterprise developers to create rich client interfaces to strategic applications. Flex 1.5 updated and expanded the core programming model and server. In future versions, this model will support a range of functionality important to these types of applications. Includes additional core technology, tools, and solutions based on the Flex platform. In the core technology, Flex 1.5 adds features in two key areas: more expressive applications are possible with new charting components and improved Data Grid and List components, and easier styling and skinning. Development is streamlined with faster performance, easier layout, and more deployment options. Flex 1.5 also adds Macromedia Central support so you can deploy your applications in the browser or on the desktop. In the future, Macromedia will release a .NET version that allows the same Flex code to run natively in the .NET environment. Also in future versions, Flex will allow developers to easily build occasionally-connected clients with data synchronization and offline access to data, Flex will include enterprise portal integration and offer tools for application monitoring and tracking usage of Rich Internet Applications. Beyond these future plans, Macromedia is committed to growing the Flex platform to embrace key performance improvements, more connectivity options, and deeper integration with other desktop applications.

Flex and Standards

Macromedia contributes to and supports industry standards. Flex extends the following industry standards:

J2EE and .NET platforms. Flex runs on Java application servers. Future versions will also run natively in the .NET Common Language Runtime (CLR).

XML. MXML is XML-based and consistent with related standards initiatives, such as W3C XForms.

XML namespaces. The xmlns attribute is an MXML tag that specifies an XML namespace. XML namespaces let you refer to more than one XML tag vocabulary in the same XML document.

The Flex event model. The event model is a subset of Document Object Model (DOM) Level 3 Events, a W3C working draft. DOM Level 3 defines an event system that allows platform and language-neutral registration of event handlers, describes event flow through a tree structure, and provides basic contextual information for each event.

ECMAScript/JavaScript. Macromedia ActionScript tightly based on the ECMAScript profile 262 edition 4, the same standard that JavaScript is based on.

Web services. Flex applications support web service requests and results that are formatted as Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) messages and are transported over Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). Flex also supports REST web services.

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). MXML styles are based on the CSS standard.

Java objects. MXML tags interact with server-side Java objects, including plain old Java objects (POJOs) and JavaBeans.

Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG). Flex applications render SVG vector drawings.

SWF. Flex applications are compiled into the Macromedia Flash file format, SWF, which is a published specification.

Flex and Macromedia Flash MX 2004

Flex opens up Rich Internet Application development to enterprise IT developers who prefer a code-based approach. The Flex presentation server and Macromedia Flash MX 2004 are highly complementary, and the most successful application development teams will use both products together. Flash developers will work collaboratively with Flex developers to create graphic assets, custom components, and component skins for highly branded content. Flex can embed SWFs compiled in Flash MX 2004, and because Flex and Flash share a common component format (the SWC file format), developers can create highly customized components in Flash MX 2004 and use them in their Flex applications. Since most Flex developers are more comfortable using code rather than the drawing tools in Flash MX 2004, developers can create components from scratch or skin them with a custom look and feel, entirely within Flex code. Since most Flex developers find this a more natural way to work, this is the suggested approach for building components for Flex.

Flex and Macromedia ColdFusion MX

Many ColdFusion developers seeking to build Rich Internet Applications using a code-based approach may want to use ColdFusion and Flex together. Many organizations will find that using ColdFusion to rapidly create server-side data access logic and web services and Flex to create a rich client user interface is the fastest way to deliver Rich Internet Applications. The Flex presentation server can be installed separately on the same physical server as ColdFusion or within the servlet engine that is embedded in ColdFusion MX 6.1 Enterprise.

Flex and Flash Remoting
Macromedia Flash Remoting offers a connection between Flex applications and your Java objects, using the Action Message Format (AMF) or AMF encoding. In addition to SOAP and XML over HTTP, AMF serves as an alternative method for sending data between Flex and the Flash client. Flex includes Macromedia Flash Remoting with each Flex license. A Flex client application can communicate with the server using XML over HTTP, SOAP, or AMF, the Flash Remoting binary protocol. Because it is a binary protocol, AMF can improve the performance of your application, especially when manipulating large result sets.

Flex Benefits

Effective:

Drive ROI from better end-user experiences by enhancing the impact of the presentation tier. Deliver applications that increase revenue and reduce costs with intuitive, compelling user interfaces, reduced network and server utilization, and enterprise integration.

Familiar:

Develop Rich Internet Applications with an intuitive programming model, work with your IDE of choice, and keep your current web development workflow intact. Leverage industry standards for interoperability, including XML, SOAP, and ECMAScript. Build great end user experiences while capitalizing on existing skills, tooling, and technology.

Powerful:

Use a robust programming model, comprehensive tooling, and runtime services to rapidly create Rich Internet Applications that deliver enterprise-class performance and high ROI.

The Flex Application Framework features a powerful programming model, an innovative class library, and comprehensive extensibility.

Flex development is open and flexible, letting you work with your tool of choice. Take advantage of powerful debugging, profiling, and monitoring capabilities to deliver high-performance, high-quality applications.

Powerful runtime services help you access and use enterprise data as well as build, test, and deploy on your current infrastructure. Deliver experiences without compromise.

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