Leveraging Adobe Flex for Rich Client Applications

     

There was a time when user expectations were simple. Give them some text, maybe a button or two and they were content. White and black were perfectly good colors. Why would you want pictures cluttering up your 640 x 480 workspace anyway?

Times have changed and life as an application developer has changed with it. The client market is diverse. Do you develop for Windows, Mac OS/X, Linux? Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer (6, 7, 8)? Users don’t really care as long as your application works on whatever platform they happen to be on at that time. They also don’t care about CSS, DOCTYPEs, or JavaScript frameworks. This is where Adobe Flex comes in.

Flex is an open source framework that allows application developers to create applications that run on virtually any platform in any environment. It also allows developers that do not list Photoshop on their resume to create tools that look like they were created by a graphic designer. Flex has the ability to use MXML tags for development which feels like writing HTML or you can dive down a level and use ActionScript 3.0 to accomplish more low-level manipulation. Another perk of Flex is the ability to export your applications as a Flash .swf file for embedding in a website or as an AIR stand-alone application. Both of these methods require the client to have the Flash or AIR player, but will otherwise look and run the same on any platform. This saves countless hours of development time testing on each browser on each platform.

The web services model of application development is now nearly ubiquitous across the development space. Flex serves as a great tool for this as well. It allows you to have a powerful back-end service that leverages a language of your choice, such as Java. Your engine can then expose its web services to a Flex front end. This provides a clear separation between the engine and the user interface allowing disparate development teams to easily work on the parts best suited for their skills.

Leveraging Adobe Flex for rich client applications allows Identity Automation to rapidly develop applications that are fully featured and run in nearly any environment.

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