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Adobe Flex Rules, Everything Else Drools

This blog goes on and on about the good things about Flex, while giving only cursory coverage of Flex drawbacks

A reader feedback in response to Yakov Fain's recent article "Rich Internet Applications - State of the Union" reads as follows:

"This blog is certainly not an unbiased analysis, even though it's pretending to be just that.

The article is basically "Flex rules, everything else drools".

It goes on and on about the good things about Flex, while giving only cursory coverage of Flex drawbacks. Meanwhile, it's just the opposite regarding the other technologies, going on and on about drawbacks, and giving only cursory coverage of advantages.

Case in point, Yakov says that Java Swing development is "hugely expensive". Nonsense. First, NetBeans is completely free, and NetBeans has the wonderful Matisse GUI designer, making the development of great looking Swing UIs a snap. Second, there is JavaFX, which is an XML based declarative scripting language that is used to quickly build rich Swing UIs super easy, and is very similar to MXML/Action Script, as is featured in Yakov's beloved Flex. Third, there is a plethora of third party libraries and controls in the Swing ecosystem, that further extends Swing capabilities, and makes Swing development easier.

Then, Yakov fails to mention how expensive Flex Builder is (which, to be honest, you'll need to be truly productive with Flex), to the tune of $249 (as opposed to Free for NetBeans).

Then Yakov goes on to say one of the drawbacks of Ajax is that it involves JavaScript. Wait a minute - JavaScript is based on EcmaScript, which Flex/Flash's Action is also based on. So Yakov, why does that syntax suck for one technology (Ajax), but it's great for another technology (Flex/ActionScript). C'mon.

Yakov also completely fails to mention how much of a CPU hog Flash can be, especially on older/budget machines (which, let's face it, are quite common in the business world). So if you do a RIA with Flex, which is running in the Flash VM, you're going to get a lot of end users (corporate workers) complaining.

Flex is quite good, and has it's advantages and disadvantages. Same with the other technologies mentioned in this article.

But Yakov's article is completely biased in favor of Flex. That's fine, as Yakov has long been singing Flex praises. But he's presenting this article as a fair analysis, when it's anything but.

Thus, anyone reading this article should take it with a grain of salt."

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Flex News Desk provides the very latest news on the cross-platform Flex development framework for creating rich Internet applications, and on Adobe's AIR/Flex/Flash product combination.

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Most Recent Comments
Ajax_is_a_hack 02/23/08 05:25:10 PM EST

"Adobe Flex Rules, Everything Else Drools" - Good summary, in fact, I think I'll start using it from now on.

Yakov might be biased, for he's biased for a reason: "Adobe Flex Rules, Everything Else Drools". lol

You see Yakov, like myself, has probably used "everything else" AND Flex, and decided that Flex is the best alternative out there for serious RIAs.

Complaining about how "slow" Flex must be because it runs in the Flash VM makes me think you haven't used Flex much. Maybe you haven't even tried it, because your own personal biases have prevented you from moving away from your current outdated tecnology of choice?

So I guess the Ahax world of hacks, dozens of crappy bug-infested "frameworks", and cross browser incompatibilities is "the future of RIA" -- really? Next time Gmail screws up and I have to reload the page, or I get stupid error dialog popups every 15 seconds because of comm problems from security measures, I'll try and think about that.

Or perhaps, as you have hinted, you feel that Sun has the answer to RIA... it's not as if they already tried with Applets -- and FAILED miserably. Well, the jury is still out on JavaFX, but honestly it's probably just too late in the game now. And really it just feels like a (poor) attempt to compete in the market.

Poor Flash performance huh?

Flex runs on Flash 9, which:

-Has JIT compilation...just like Java. Heh, of course Swing and Java don't have THAT "problem", right? ;)

-Is *much* faster than Flash 8; a great deal of performance enhancements were done for 9

By the way - can your Ahax/Swing app be moved from a client based app to a web based app within a few minutes? (Or web to client?) Using Adobe AIR (Apollo) I've done this. Have fun with those Ajax hacks, and playing with that crummy Swing API. (Don't you just love creating those Swing custom look and feels? Crap loads of deprecated code? Event dispatch thread pains in the ass? "Cooperative" layout managers? So much fun!!!)

I'll just be over here working in Flex. For the first time in many years, I'm actually having a good time doing software development again - and with MUCH more productivity than with Swing or Ahax.

David Welch 02/12/08 11:19:29 AM EST

Being an experienced Java developer, and having spent the last two months writing Flex apps, I think you miss Mr. Fain's points on every level. I'm guessing this is because you have only been a developer for a few years.

Initially, the Flex expense is insignificant, unless you're a 16 year old coding off your Dad's computer. C'mon, the price for Flex is CHEAP!

The expense is not with the Flex, but, in the time (and consulting $) that someone is going to have to pay to build a Swing app. To build anything other than a few buttons and some actual business logic is just not practical.

Regarding Javascript, the point is that Ajax relies on the CLIENT's Javascript, which, if you've done any Ajax development of any level of complexity, you'd you're always dealing in "lowest common denominator" support of Javascript, and, even then, it's a tossup. Flex has AS3 script, but, the interpreter is ALWAYS tested and consistent. But, as with any software, if there are issues, you can include in your Flex app the minimum Flash player. Try doing that with IE/FF/Safari.

Regarding your "corporate users" complaining about memory issues, that's the developer's fault. Flex Builder comes with a memory profiling tool (not sure if Netbeans does) that allows this to be monitored and tuned. And, if the Flex app is running into memory issues, it's probably an app that would never even be attempted in the Swing world!

RIA News Desk 02/11/08 05:23:41 PM EST

The article is basically 'Flex rules, everything else drools'. It goes on and on about the good things about Flex, while giving only cursory coverage of Flex drawbacks. Meanwhile, it's just the opposite regarding the other technologies, going on and on about drawbacks, and giving only cursory coverage of advantages.

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