Java Chatter and Random Nagging

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Flex: Combining Flash and Java

Around 1997, I had my first contact with programming. Starting off with some Visual Basic books from the library, I learned the basics of loops and variables. Since the web was really booming at that time, I started using Macromedia Dreamweaver to create my first website (which contained intellectual bikini content) and published it on the web on a free webhost. Since I was most attracted to the (Javascript) animations that Dreamweaver had to offer, I quickly switched over to Macromedia Director and later Macromedia Flash. Macromedia Flash was a real revelation to me, it rendered the same in all possible browsers of that time, had slick animations and its own programming language : Actionscript (based on ECMA script). It was great fun, creating the coolest animations and small games, although most of the content I created never made it to the web. Macromedia Flash had such a big influence on me that when the time came to choose a college education, I chose Computer Science over a possible military career (thank God for that).

Flex is the ultimate dream for someone like me. It is a nice symbiose of both the Java world and the Flash. I am very pleased that Flex is free of charge now (or at least parts of it). I have fooled around with Openlaszlo sometime ago, but due to the big size of the generated files and the hard syntax, it didn't appeal to me. Flex however, seems to fill the promise of a worthy combination of Java and Flash. And since it is backed by one of the biggest software companies of the world(Adobe), its continuity and development is more or less guaranteed.

In my previous posts, I always was a strong advocate of Echo2 (which is Ajax-based), but using Flash to create the frontend of a server application compels to me a lot more for a number of reasons :
*It looks great !!
*Its syntax is less verbose than Swing-programming, like I experienced with Echo2.
*No problems with different browsers (and resolutions).
*It is fast due to the Flash JIT compiler.
*Adobe's project Apollo can make it possible to communicate with a local application, thus leveraging your client-server knowledge to the desktop.

You can learn about Flex, and download its tools at the community website.
A very interesting article of Bruce Eckel can be found here.
I will post a thorough evaluation when I finished more firsthand experimentation.