Flex

Created By: Saher El-Neklawy

Flex is a Framework developed by Adobe aimed to develop Rich Internet Applications (RIAs). RIAs provide an interactive interface to web applications. What distinguishes Flex from javascript AJAX applications is the use of the flash plug-in to provide cross platform compatibility. This is reminiscent of JAVA that provided platform independence compared to C/C++ using the JVM.

Even though Flex is compiled into SWF (Shockwave Flash) files just like flash programs, the major difference is that Flex is more application oriented while Flash is animation and media oriented. In other words it is much easier to write an application using Flex compared to large hacks needed to write a similar applications in Flash.

With the evolution of the web, need was rising for applications to accessed from anywhere through the web browser. This led to the need of extending the HTML with implementing logic that ran on the client side (web browser). Such program logic is mostly implemented in JavaScript . Sadly HTML was not designed with client side scripting in mind. Hence the interaction between HTML and native JavaScript still is one of the biggest challenges developers face during their career. This is even more magnified by JavaScript not being standardized across internet browsers.

Putting the above factors into consideration, a language that easily integrates the logic and the appearance of the internet applications. This is where the Flex framework comes into play.

By the end of this tutorial you should be able to write simple RIAs using the flex framework that could also communicate with a server. The tutorial will be mostly tailored towards the java programmer. Advanced techniques like programmatic skins or Flex unit test will not be discussed.

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