Archive for January, 2008

Flex Challenges for Flash IDE Devleopers

A post recalled myslef got frustrated last September, after several weeks honeymoon turning into Flex from Flash.

No doubt some developers from Flex community not easy to understand what’s the meaning when a Flash developer complaining (AS3 === AS3) = false, as the majority of Flex developers do not know too much about development in Flash IDE. The feeling of ‘second class citizens’ for Flash developers in Flex development also could not make sense to some of them.

I would like to say, there’s no different AS3 language itself whatever Flash IDE or Flex, but the way of coding is wholly different and big changes for Flash developers when try to work with Flex.

Rapid application development

My favorite Flex blogger Yakov Fain had a Flex and Java book in 2006, Flex Builder was a ‘RAD tool’ in that book, but some months later, a new post said ‘Flex 2 is not a RAD tool‘ telling the real truth. He also questioned the usage of dominated Cairngorm framework for Flex applications. Despite of some questions like these, however, Flex development is target to RAD. Although even today, the question asked by bosses ‘how to make a complex Flex application fast, extendable, fast UI change, great usabilities for every components and views, largely reusable classes to fit for different structures, tested fully with agile methods fast and easily, less developers and hours’ still no one-fit-all answer, Flex teams are working the way into RAD at some percents.

The RAD nature of Flex making the big difference between Flash IDE applications and Flex applications, as Flash applications are more focus on Creative and User Experiences. Flash IDE projects are mostly like to be design-driven, with smooth workflow between designers and Flash IDE developers. While Flex application must largely adopt design patterns, restricted by components-base structure, agreement such as framework, patterns, coding style, between developers now and future.

Developing Flex applications, Flash IDE Developers have to learn more design patterns and structure frameworks, reading Flex SDK source code, get familiar with Flex components functions/events/behaviors, struggle with SDK bugs.

Design challenges

Early months before, I got impression from Adobe’s seminars/articles that, Flex framework is to give you a fast, powerful, extendable component-container collections, easy to change with CSS and bitmaps. And you can easily extend design with Flash IDE even. That’s not the truth in real world. That’s what talent Flash/Flex developer Jesse Warden talking about design challenges.

I used to have a former Flash IDE version of my Flex projects, everything could be replaced with Flex components except a creation task with script-based animations. I found it’s not too hard to move the code base from Flash project into new Flex application, and feel happy in the beginning. But later when my bosses asked me to change something from time to time, I got some pains the needs of strong-typed communication functions between Flex framework and that low-level UIComponent-extended Flash component, split my brain into two parts, one thinking in Flash another thinking in Flex.

Satisfaction

Most of workers working not only for money, but also for some sort of self-fulfillment, coming from satisfactions of his works. Flash IDE developers can get more or less satisfactions from Flash projects, where working with designers, whatever some sort of creatives and some sort of happiness.

Flash developers join into Flex projects will have less satisfactions. Each time when Adobe evangelist talking about how great a new Flex application is, someone will notice that ‘the best Flash applications in the industry still made with Flash IDE, not Flex’. Design challenges are limitations to make Flex to be satisfied like Flash applications, especially when designers have very limited experience working with Flex, even worse definitely no designer at all. Each time when the feeling comes, you ‘do not have the ability to make that happen which can be made with Flash easily’, can you feel it good?

Flex developers coming from Java or other languages getting satisfactions from Flex, as Flex applications he can build much beautiful than Java GUIs, HTML interfaces, and much easier. They’ve already have good experiences with enterprise design patterns, Flex is easy for them to dive into, and the results for them are amazing.