Macromedia announces Flex Builder: IDE for Flex

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News: Macromedia announces Flex Builder: IDE for Flex

  1. Macromedia announces Flex Builder: IDE for Flex (24 messages)

    Macromedia has announced a new IDE for developing Flex applications. The IDE is designed to be used alongside your current IDE of choice (e.g. with Eclipse or IntelliJ), and gives you a simple way to view the design of your Flex applications.

    Macromedia expands J2EE pitch

    Macromedia Rolls New Flex Builder Tool

    Macromedia Bolsters Flex with New Development Environment

    Macromedia Bolsters Flex with New Development Environment

    Threaded Messages (24)

  2. If they wanted to create a showcase for their technology, they did it badly. First, I cannot the link to their presentation being pasted in the address line, does not work: http://www.macromedia.com/software/flex/solutions/business/# . I am talking about "a sample Flex guided selling application". Whatever.

    Why maximized window, which cannot be resized? Why home-grown windowing system? Why different UI elements and look-and-feel? Why items on the left pane cannot be focused and cannot be accessed using keyboard? Why changing the focus using Tab key takes a whole second, no less! Is Athlon 750MHz too obsolete for a simple focus change? It took about 15 seconds to download this _sample_ app over my office network, which easily pumps through 1MB a second. Oh, I see, it was downloading the catalog. Great, why would I need the whole catalog on my client machine? What if it consists of thousands of items?

    The benefits? Pretty jumping pictures, dead-horsey slow inteface, less network load (ha, after it loads the whole catalog), better transaction/session control (questionable), solution to dreaded double submit problem (which is not actually a problem if web app is designed correctly).

    The application whithin the application within an OS, that is Flash inside browser inside normal windowing interface. This hugely sucks.
  3. It appears that IBM has discontinued the Flex plugin for Websphere Studio

    http://www.alphaworks.ibm.com/tech/wsadflex

    "Flex Plug-in for WebSphere Studio is no longer available."
  4. slow slower slowest[ Go to top ]

    Thats the bottom line for most of the products like these.
    When rest of the world is trying to make everything download faster and better , these technologies want us to wait forever. ITs good for only a few small fancy websites. Dont even talk about j2EE and flash etc combination .It just sucks.
  5. We have rich Flash components like a tree control and a custom editing screen in a production app right now. They are not slow. In fact, they rock. The client is really happy with them and we are happy having a *real* language with an event model to code the front end components in. Some of our Flash components use XML and others work with OpenAMF (passing native objects back and forth). I can't comment on FLEX since, well, we can't afford the licensing but in our production environment Flash and J2EE is an *excellent* solution.

    Happy trails,

    --
    Dan Glauser
    Director of Serverside Development
    http://www.roundboxmedia.com
    dan@roundboxmedia.com
  6. We have rich Flash components like a tree control and a custom editing screen in a production app right now. They are not slow. In fact, they rock. The client is really happy with them and we are happy having a *real* language with an event model to code the front end components in. Some of our Flash components use XML and others work with OpenAMF (passing native objects back and forth). I can't comment on FLEX since, well, we can't afford the licensing but in our production environment Flash and J2EE is an *excellent* solution.Happy trails,--Dan GlauserDirector of Serverside Developmenthttp://www.roundboxmedia.comdan at roundboxmedia dot com
    Well, your site looks good using all fancy stuff. But what we have been saying is also true, You dont have any massive data or text coming from backend to show on your page. Its mostly static. You can use fancy stuff only in those cases. not have a j2EE- flash etc combination. Your customer will leave the iste in a minute.
    Also the calendar on your sire looks great, but its so slow to paint all the dates if i change the month. IF u had used a java script it would have been faster by light years. No kidding. I have used it. Or look at any web sites where in you can reserve a airline ticket like expedia or travelocity.

    I guess we are not trying to say fancy stuff is not good, its just not good for main stream applications where it involves a lot of backend interaction and has thousands of customers hitting the site at a time. It is not scalable.
  7. I think you misunderstood[ Go to top ]

    We have rich Flash components like a tree control and a custom editing screen in a production app right now. They are not slow. In fact, they rock. The client is really happy with them and we are happy having a *real* language with an event model to code the front end components in. Some of our Flash components use XML and others work with OpenAMF (passing native objects back and forth). I can't comment on FLEX since, well, we can't afford the licensing but in our production environment Flash and J2EE is an *excellent* solution.Happy trails,--Dan GlauserDirector of Serverside Developmenthttp://www.roundboxmedia.comdan at roundboxmedia dot com
    Well, your site looks good using all fancy stuff. But what we have been saying is also true, You dont have any massive data or text coming from backend to show on your page. Its mostly static. You can use fancy stuff only in those cases. not have a j2EE- flash etc combination. Your customer will leave the iste in a minute. Also the calendar on your sire looks great, but its so slow to paint all the dates if i change the month. IF u had used a java script it would have been faster by light years. No kidding. I have used it. Or look at any web sites where in you can reserve a airline ticket like expedia or travelocity. I guess we are not trying to say fancy stuff is not good, its just not good for main stream applications where it involves a lot of backend interaction and has thousands of customers hitting the site at a time. It is not scalable.
    What you saw on our website is *not* the production environment I'm refering to. Like I said, we do have a production environment with the above mentioned Flash components serving only a couple hundred users at a time but a fairly large amount of data including text, pictures, etc. Now that I think about it, we have two production environments using this and they are both rather successful (the client is happy with them, the response time is reasonable). Unfortunately I can't post links to these sites, they are password protected.

    Yes, our website has simple static Flash components that I don't feel are all that impressive. Unfortunately we haven't had the opportunity to update our website with a real example because our clients are pushing us for more and more of Flash to J2EE solutions!

    We are keeping the Flash fast by going light on pictures and keeping our swf's small. We are using Flash to create better widgits than we can in html and are more portable than JavaScript. I agree, in certain cases JavaScript can be a bit faster. We were doing a bunch of work with rich JavaScript components but hit way too many portability issues.

    Regards,

    --
    Dan Glauser
    Director of Serverside Development
    http://www.roundboxmedia.com
    dan@roundboxmedia.com
  8. I guess we are not trying to say fancy stuff is not good, its just not good for main stream applications where it involves a lot of backend interaction and has thousands of customers hitting the site at a time. It is not scalable.
    That's a classic programmer's point of view. I think we should look beyond fancy and look at the extra functionality we can provide with a rich front end. For fotoxs.nl we created a rich internet application that allows you to create a photo album on-line. It has most of the functionality of Albumprinter (a piece of installable software) and then some: drag and drop photo's, template selection, preview functions, drag and drop ordering change, text editing and markup, etc. All on-line in one page. This single piece of software has given the company a remarkable competitive advantage because you save your average user from downloading, installing, options, uploading huge pdf files, confusion: easy for us, not for the rest of the world.

    As for it being mainstream. We sign up about a thousand new users a week on the service. For us in tiny Holland, that's pretty mainstream ;-)

    In theory, we could create this software as a Java applet. But we would not have the flexibility in designing the UI and it would have been 5 times as expensive or more and we would never have made the deadline. The Flash code is object oriented (with some limitations) and very maintable. Not a single timeline is used. The data is provided through a service layer, that also provides mock objects for development purposes. So, we're not talking about some slapped together graphical designer's thing. It's real client-server software that provides a real benefit.

    Kind regards,

    Marc Schipperheyn
    theFactor.e
  9. Flash components rock? Really?[ Go to top ]

    We have rich Flash components like a tree control and a custom editing screen in a production app right now. They are not slow. In fact, they rock. The client is really happy with them and we are happy having a *real* language with an event model to code the front end components in. Some of our Flash components use XML and others work with OpenAMF (passing native objects back and forth). I can't comment on FLEX since, well, we can't afford the licensing but in our production environment Flash and J2EE is an *excellent* solution.
    I took a look on your website. Of course, it is much easier to criticize other's work that to do your own, but I guess you wanted people to look at your site when you put the link to it in the signature, so I did.

    * First, the common plaque for most Flash sites I saw: moving, jumping, assembling/disassembling, slow drawn UI. I guess you did it to blow the minds of your potential customers. These are features that UI developers like to use because they look "cool". Cool for whom? For 5-year olds? Nice colored moving pictures can calm a crying baby but they piss off an adult software user, who needs the job to be done, and fast.

    * What is the calendar for? I can scroll the months, but I cannot select the day. Strange. And I would kill the developer who decided to put a delay in cell redraw loop just for "cool" cell-by-cell visualization.

    * Menu. I do not want even to get started. I won't even ask "why?". Small, barely legible, cumbersome. Tiny light-gray text over the dark gray would be great for fine print in the EULA, nobody would be able to read it.

    * Text size. This is not even funny anymore. Is the tiny fixed size font reflects your understanding of coolness? So called UI "designer" deserves to be hanged for this "feature" alone.

    * Fixed main window size. Well, many HTML sites has the same flaw, but at least one can change a font size and read it in larger letters. Also, HTML sites usually display text it standard HTML paragraphs, not in text boxes. What we can see on your Solutions/Products page is absolutely unflexible (put intended) fixed-size page with fixed-size text-box, containing fixed-size small text, which should be scrolled with tiny fixed-size scroll bars. What is really funny here, is that because all this is fixed size, the developers knew beforehand that the text would be scrolled despite of monitor size, but still, instead of increasing the textbox size you preferred to "give customer an option" to scroll. I say @#$% this design.

    * Let's stay on the same Products page for awhile. The text items on top of the blue bar seem like menu items, they are short and arranged evenly. But they are not menu items, they just what normal people put in the bulleted list.

    * Moving on from Products to Case Studies brings another sliding text box, but this is so common in the Flash world that I am not even surprised. Nice white text box on while background. There is little of content, but scrollbar is displayed nevertheless. Whatever, dude.

    * Clicking on case studies brings a new browser window, which should be a no-no for a humble web developer, but comparing to all other damage this feels like a relief. The case study window content is actually readable (surprise!) with plain HTML paragraphs and usage of standard browser scroll bar. The text size can be adjusted from the browser. Not good enough, because the popup window has a fixed size, but a step in the right direction -- to the HTML. "Close This Window" link is a nice touch for the idiots who apparently do not know what the "X" button for, despite using Word, Excel, MSIE and other windowing apps every day.

    * Clicking Back browser button brings us to the front page. Of course, because browser is totally unaware about the page organization within Flash application. A regular internet used might be a tad confused, but who cares about them.

    I can go for longer, but I think this is enough. I haven't used Flash myself and I cannot say are all these "features" that I see on every Flash-enabled website the technology shortcomings or the lack of developers' experience or simply "the monkeys will chow it" attitude. Any Windows developer would be fired the next day for creating UI like this.

    I hope that Flash allows to create apps which are both nice and usable. But I have not seen a single decent one yet.
  10. I took a look on your website. Of course, it is much easier to criticize other's work that to do your own, but I guess you wanted people to look at your site when you put the link to it in the signature, so I did.*
    Here, allow me to debunk your premise. I *did not* post our website to have people look at it and pass judgement or our Flash expertise. I posted my information because oftentimes people post here on the Serverside somewhat anonymously. I stand up for what I say and wanted to allow people to contact me "offline" to chat about my posting, hence my contact info. I'm not trying to drive traffic to our site or to advertise. I couldn't care less. We have *plenty* of work right now.

    I agree, as a demo of Flash and of our Flash capabilities, our site sucks. There is no need to pick it apart. I fully agree.

    Like I said in my posts above we have dynamic Flash components in a *production* environment. Like many production environments it is not exposed to the public. Sorry, but there is nothing I can do about this right now. Working on a public demo.....

    Did you really think that a static site with a couple of Flash widgets is what I consider a prodcution environment with dynamic components?
    A little more credit than that, please.....

    Sorry about wasting your time and thanks for the critique. I'll pass it on to my boss, perhaps it will help sway him to dedicate resources to enhancing our web presence.

    You can create great UIs in Windows. We have to support most platforms out there (Windows, MacOS 9, MacOS X, Linux) so Windows GUIs or ActiveX components are just not an option.

    Feel free to contact me offline if you would like to discuss this further. I'd rather not pollute this FLEX related thread any further.

    Regards,

    --
    Dan
  11. I took a look on your website. Of course, it is much easier to criticize other's work that to do your own, but I guess you wanted people to look at your site when you put the link to it in the signature, so I did.*
    Here, allow me to debunk your premise. I *did not* post our website to have people look at it and pass judgement or our Flash expertise. I posted my information because oftentimes people post here on the Serverside somewhat anonymously. I stand up for what I say and wanted to allow people to contact me "offline" to chat about my posting, hence my contact info. I'm not trying to drive traffic to our site or to advertise. I couldn't care less. We have *plenty* of work right now.I agree, as a demo of Flash and of our Flash capabilities, our site sucks. There is no need to pick it apart. I fully agree.Like I said in my posts above we have dynamic Flash components in a *production* environment. Like many production environments it is not exposed to the public. Sorry, but there is nothing I can do about this right now. Working on a public demo.....
    I am sorry for taking apart your company/dev/presentation website, it was just the closest link that I could click, but you must agree, that a potential customer (especially if he does not live next door so he can come over to your office to check out the presentation in the air-conditioned room sipping the coffee) would judge the final product which a developer is capable to deliver, and Flash/Flex capabilites in general looking on the developer's website or on the demo.

    Back to Flash/Flex discussion, I agree that HTML lacks several controls types which are standard in most windowing systems, like treeview or tabbed notebook. But overall I do not find the idea of application within another application (or should I say windows inside other window) attractive. When I look at the simple HTML-based website I still think of it as of a document page, and occasional buttons here and here do not bother me much. But when someone tries to fit the whole big application with its own UI into the standard browser window, I start to feel discomfort. Especially if this application is slow and does not provide all the features that standard OS UI provides. The same goes with Swing, which may look like native app, but does not have, for example, the same drag-n-drop features, which are built in each Windows app simply because they are native Windows app. Thus SWT makes more sense to me than Swing.

    I think than convergence of desktop UI and web UI which MS is working on, is the right direction. Flash is a dead end.
  12. We have rich Flash components like a tree control and a custom editing screen in a production app right now. ....http://www.roundboxmedia.com
    Dan, your site is unusable on my laptop with 1400x1050 screen resolution, it takes approximately 1/5th of a screen and I see nothing without magnifying glass...

    Unscalable non-liquid layouts sucks...
  13. slow slower slowest[ Go to top ]

    Thats the bottom line for most of the products like these.When rest of the world is trying to make everything download faster and better , these technologies want us to wait forever. ITs good for only a few small fancy websites. Dont even talk about j2EE and flash etc combination .It just sucks.
    I think your comment is based around the very prevalent idea of Flash as an animation tool/skip intro environment. It has long since outgrown that. With Actionscript 2.0 (OOP) and flash remoting (or SOAP) it is actually very easy to create a very rich interactive application based on J2EE. Flex has only made this process even easier for programmers with a background in Java.

    Personally, I believe rich internet applications are the way to go and there is no serious alternative to the Macromedia offering (yet).

    Marc Schipperheyn
  14. At $12K for a dual-CPU license its pretty expensive.
    And just to try out the free trial you have to pay $8.95 and wait a week to get the CD by mail. At a time when appservers are available for free, I wonder how popular this gets.
  15. Macromedia announces Flex Builder: IDE for Flex[ Go to top ]

    My comment was in regard to flex in general, not the IDE.
  16. My comment was in regard to flex in general, not the IDE.
    Very true....wonder who wud want to pay so much just for a fancy UI.
  17. Not that bad ...[ Go to top ]

    Hi,

    I evaluated Flex some time ago, and I must say that it's not that bad.
    The idea behind is not new (XUL, ...) but Macromedia's implementation is interesting. You can build very decent UIs, pretty easilly.
    Concerning the download time, I don't see the point. Downloading a Flex app is just like downloading a Flash application. For a catalog, you would need to download all the pictures anyway (with Flex or plain html). At least, it is certainly not an issue with my 3 MBit/s ADSL line.
    During my evaluation, I was just a bit disappointed with the speed of Flex applications. However, I used a beta version ... so this speed issue might already be gone.
    Last but the least, I fully agree that the price is just crazy.

    Regards,
    Sebastien.

    http://www.jroller.com/page/spetrucci
  18. Very true....wonder who wud want to pay so much just for a fancy UI.
    Apparently, lots of people.

    Frankly, for most companies, paying $12k / CPU for a working solution is a lot less expensive than most options.

    Imagine if we re-wrote the above quote as:
    Very true....wonder who wud want to pay so much just for a fancy database.
    ;-)

    Peace,

    Cameron Purdy
    Tangosol, Inc.
    Coherence: Shared Memories for J2EE Clusters
  19. less expensive than what?[ Go to top ]

    Hi Cameron,

    Wrt your statement
    Frankly, for most companies, paying $12k / CPU for a working solution is a lot less expensive than most options.
    I'm curious: what solutions for rich clients/ browser deliver apps that are more expensive are you thinking of?

    groeten,
    Joost
  20. less expensive than what?[ Go to top ]

    Frankly, for most companies, paying $12k / CPU for a working solution is a lot less expensive than most options.
    I'm curious: what solutions for rich clients/ browser deliver apps that are more expensive are you thinking of?
    Let's say that you are an IT director at a medium sized company and have a $200k budget to put together a working rich-UI application accessed over the Internet by your customers (some of which may use Macs,) and you need to have it in production in 60 days. Your known choices are:

    1) Pay Macromedia $12K/CPU for a proven, working product that supports Windows, Mac and Linux, and either use your internal talent that has Macromedia flash and J2EE experience, or out-source to any of 20 companies in your area with experience in those technologies that are competing for your business.

    2) Try a product that you have no experience with and hope you figure out quickly whether it works or not, so you might still have enough time left to switch back to a known product and finish the project in time.

    3) Take a gamble that you can build an application by having your top engineers busy stringing together a half-dozen open source tools and frameworks to support rich-UI applications, and your application developers using the half-baked result to build and deploy an application.

    If I'm in those shoes, I know that $12K/CPU is cheap. There's a product track record (not to mention an actual product,) technical support, consultants, outsourcing options, a healthy mix of "best of breed technology" and open standards support, _and_ a healthy company that stands behind it.

    Regarding other commercial choices, I've seen Nexaweb, Altio and a few others, all of which address specific types of applications and deployment scenarios, and all of which give you a similar head-start "out of the gate," but all at a price. If they meet my technical requirements, and I have had time to eval them before I need to use them, then I'd be as likely to use one of those.

    The point I'm trying to make is that labor is not free, and neither is risk, and if you are a manager, your "good engineers" are an extremely scarce and (thus) expensive resource. If the Macromedia (or other) tool helps get the job done with additional speed and quality, particularly if it can be used by less-Einsteinian engineers, it will easily be able to pay back that $12K/CPU.

    A lot of engineers are penny-wise / pound-foolish (myself included at times.) I've seen companies spend millions of dollars creating an entity-bean-like framework because they didn't want to pay for an application server. (Heck, there are still several companies that have their own custom from-the-ground-up application servers with tens of millions of dollars ploughed into them.)

    $.02

    Peace,

    Cameron Purdy
    Tangosol, Inc.
    Coherence: Shared Memories for J2EE Clusters
  21. less expensive than what?[ Go to top ]

    Frankly, for most companies, paying $12k / CPU for a working solution is a lot less expensive than most options.
    I'm curious: what solutions for rich clients/ browser deliver apps that are more expensive are you thinking of?
    Let's say that you are an IT director at a medium sized company and have a $200k budget to put together a working rich-UI application accessed over the Internet by your customers (some of which may use Macs,) and you need to have it in production in 60 days.
    So what exactly rich is? Is it content itself? Is it the way the content is managed? Is it the way UI talks to back end? Is it an application which blends with OS native interface? Is it an applicaiton which starts off the internet but feels like native and accesses local resources?

    HTML can display raster graphics, vector graphics and video and adjusts to the display size. On the other hand, all Flash apps that I've seen use fixed-size frames, fonts and other controls and do not provide native L&F nor are able to access local resources. Plus, they take ages to download. So, what is the point? Java web start provides better desktop integration, new Microsoft UI promises to be even better. I tried SWT-based webstart demo app, this is what Michael Robertson might call Click and Run. No hassle to install, quick load, native L&F, access to local resources (if allowed). Great stuff! Why spend 200K now for a Flash app, which will get obsolete in a year? How is this better than writing a proprietary app server?

    The only reason for a rich interface right now is a rich customer, who thinks (or was told) that HTML is obsolete and Flash is cool and they must have Flash website right away, or else 14yo kids would not "explore" it. I don't know, maybe it is acceptable approach for some companies, maybe the "richness" of their website actually drives the sales among the youngsters and executives (who seem to have the same taste). But I do not see any logical sense in Flash in the long run. It is already obsolete, like 1959 Cadillac, shining with new paint and chrome trim. Tail fins may look cool, but they are outdated.

    Of course, the customer is the boss, if the customer wants to spend some money, the developers should not pass this opportunity ;)
  22. hmmm....[ Go to top ]

    I keep seeing threads like this. It's flash, it's slow to render, if a windows programmers....blah blah blah. it took me a week to get comfortable with Flex, that includes actually reading the 900 some odd page documentation. The speed problem everyone keeps talking about I haven't seen yet. Although in updater1 and updater2 of flex they've improved the amfgateway very much and the transport of information is much better. You might want to go to a class or talk to a sales rep at Macromedia to see if they can point you in the right direction on how to get up to speed on Flex.

    My suggestion is that you pull down Flex builder as a trial and use it. It has a nice drag-drop interface to build applications with, a debugger, code formatter, essentially everything you need to start prototyping you application. It's sad that people see a calendar with an obvious affect added and think that the application is too slow to be useful.

    I'm not saying everything should be a Flash RIA, but I am saying that to the smart individual you can quickly realize where this type of RIA will fit best. My first flex app to production is an issue tracker. You have to have a login and access to it so I won't say anything other then RIA was a good fit due to how powerful the end users wanted the application.

    I also think that as time goes on and some sites adopt this RIA approach, regardles in whatever technology/language, XUL, Flex, Flash & freeamf, that more and more customers will ask for it. It's the way it's going, just like everyone who eventually got a modem and hit the internet, people will start getting the higher bandwidth connections.

    and again I'm not saying every problem set can solved with this solution but what I am saying is that there is a part of it that will.

    As for IBM dropping their Flex support I wonder if it's because the Flex builder comes free with the Flex server?

    And yes 12K is a lot for a 2-cpu licenses. But some companies won't have an issue paying it and I'm sure the price will probably fluctuate as other companies compete for the business such as Laszlo Systems.
  23. I Totally Agree....[ Go to top ]

    Hi Bruce,

    At last a posting on this thread from someone who has actually taken the time to download and evaluate Flex.

    Along with a colleague I was involved in the Flex Beta and the product is absolutely brilliant. Macromedia is very committed to Flex and the release of 2 updaters and Flex Builder is strong evidence of this.

    I agree that not all applications will benefit from an RIA, but there are many that will. I believe that the perception put forward on this thread that Flash is only useful for visual effects or eye candy is incorrect - it can be used to build highly useable and intuitive applications and I have not found it slow to use either - in fact I have given demos using a GPRS modem in my laptop with no problems.

    As for the cost of the license, I can see why people may be put off by this - however, I believe the features you get OOTB with Flex do justify the cost - imagine how much it would cost to develop this in house.

    Finally, to all you detractors of Flex - please take the trouble of actually evaluating the product before posting.

    Cheers,

    Iain
  24. The latest versions of Shockwave and Flash perform quite well. Even on a 400 MHz K6 running IE6 over a 56k MODEM, they do all right. I have measured the comparative performances of several products mentioned above including HTML, JavaScript, Flash, Shockwave, Flex, JRun, Tomcat, etc. Through those tests, I have found that Flash and Shockwave usually exhibit good performance locally and when communicating with a J2EE server, especially considering what it is they do. The gorgeous interfaces and amazing interactivity more than make up for the slight initialization and throughput delays.

    I have a hard time understanding why people are complaining about performance issues with Flash applications without actually doing side-by-side comparisons with equivalent end-user experiences. Flash is superior to HTML/JavaScript in both expression and impression, and its performance is on par with HTML/JavaScript when employing the "delayed instantiation" tenet.

    Actual performance charts would illuminate the masses as to the reality of the situation. Otherwise, you could argue that it’s just a rumor emanating from so-and-so’s opinion.
  25. Flex, Web services[ Go to top ]

    IBM published a good article about Flex

    "Develop Web services clients with Macromedia Flex"

    http://www-106.ibm.com/developerworks/library/ws-macroflex/