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Flexing the Flash Review


Adobe Flex Builder is an IDE for developing applications that offers both robustness and richness of presentation. Naturally, it is also compatible with Flash. This article gives you a first look at the IDE.

Author Info:
By: Jayaram Krishnaswamy
Rating: 4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars / 9
June 06, 2006
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
  1. · Flexing the Flash Review
  2. · My first Project with Flex Builder2
  3. · Create a new project
  4. · The NewFlex Project
  5. · Some hands-on experiments
  6. · How do you make changes to the MXML source code?

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Flexing the Flash Review
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Introduction

HTML, CSS, and JavaScript provided the first generation of interactive web applications, bolstered by several competing server-side technologies. When I taught Visual Interdev, or Microsoft FrontPage for developing web applications, my graphic-oriented students wanted me to teach Macromedia and Flash. There were compelling reasons, of which the visual presentation and layout were the major ones. A number of technologies have appeared to address the issue of  richness of presentation combined with robustness: Java Swing, SVG requiring Plug-in support, XUL, XAML with Microsoft's Avalon, and now Adobe's Flex Builder.

Adobe Flex Builder 2, presently in Beta 1, is an IDE for developing applications using the Flex Framework. After having tested Visual Studio 6, VS 2003, VS 2005, Eclipse and others, I felt an urge to download and try out the Flex Builder. Here is "My First App with Flex Builder 2," the other title for this tutorial, which gives some installation information and an overview of some of the key elements of this IDE.

Adobe Flex Builder is an IDE with several attributes. You can use it to design, develop, and debug; it has an incremental compiler which compiles whenever you save the file; and you can step through the code to debug the application. Adobe Flex Builder is a no-nonsense WYSIWYG -- drop a widget and you can see the code; write the code and you see the widget. What is still better is that it is based on the Eclipse platform, so you have access to all the plug-ins developed by the open source project if you use Flex Builder with plug-ins for Eclipse. The installation on my machine is a stand alone on Windows XP Media Center Edition. The XML based tag library MXML, an XML based markup language used with Flex Builder, is very intuitive and you can carry over your HTML experience, albeit with a little more care to satisfy the rigor in XML. The number of markup tags available for developers is quite large, much larger than HTML.

Installing Flex Builder

Before you recreate the example in this tutorial, you need to download the program from Adobe's web site. I downloaded the software to my hard disk and tried to install. This did not work. The installer (Zero G's InstallAnywhere 7.1 Enterprise Build 2788) did not accept any of the folders I created for it to install. You may have better luck. I used the other alternative of running from Adobe's site, which was successful and took under two minutes. The installation, with some seven steps, goes through smoothly. I have a folder on my desktop where I installed the files. Although it is not necessary to show the installation screens as it is quite trivial, some of these (three out of seven) are shown here for the sake of completeness.


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