Flex Builder 2 alpha is out: a richer internet experience
Macromedia revolutionized the internet landscape with their concept of "rich internet applications". More and more developers are using either their software or create similar experience using AJAX based software. The "one screen" experience has gained a lot of momentum and has started to put desktop power in the hands of the internet user. The internet is finally becoming "usable".
Flex 1.5 brought a lot of standard components to the table to create a powerful user experience easily. Flex Builder 2 offers significant speed increases, improvements to the skinnability of the UI and the concept of "Screen States", allowing you to transition smoothly from one screen state to another. Screen States offer the ability to guide the user's eye, which improves usability. In addition Flex 2 has been split up in a <$1.000 Flex Builder based on Eclipse and Flex Enterprise Services, a server side component offering messaging services (allowing among others two or more Flash clients to talk to each other, talk with a JMS server or receive data pushed from the server), data services and an intelligent collection type that automatically updates changes made on the client to a server side component. There is also a high end charting library available.
The separation of the Builder and the Enterprise component now make building Flex sites available to any developer as you don't need the Enterprise services to get data in. Of course, to make optimal use of *all* the data services, you do need it. The pricing for the Enterprise component is not certain yet. It all looks very promising indeed and judging from the demo's I wrote, it offers a lot of productivity advantages. More information can be found on the new Macromedia Alpha site: http://labs.macromedia.com