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The Largest Ever Adobe MAX North America User Conference Is Over

A recap of the major MAX announcements

The largest ever MAX North America is over. Let’s recap some major announcements that are interesting from a Flex developer perspective. 

1. We’ve got a new and well organized Web site called Adobe Developer’s connection. Its Flex portal offers lots of materials from Getting Started manuals to articles on architecture. The Flex blog aggregator is also there.  I’d like to see there a separate section on Flex Best Practices, which is probably the most useful section for any practitioner after the basics are mastered.

2. Flex Builder 2 (and 3) becomes cheaper. Just wait till November 1st and you’ll get it for $250 (formerly $500); Flex Builder with charting should cost $100 less than the list price, but even today Amazon.com offers it for $700.  Maybe they’ll also drop the price in November. Actually, each of these prices are one dollar less, but I’m sure Flex developers will be purchasing  Flex Builder not because it costs $249, but because it make your work more productive. Flex Builder 2 with Charting will turn into Flex Builder 3 professional and will include new advanced datagrid component, which will have some really useful improvements. Looking forward to the production release of Flex Builder 3 with a hope that it’ll perform better.

3. The Alpha version of Flex Builder is available for Linux, but I’m not overly excited by this announcement. Linux developers are less forgiving than the Windows folks.  If Flex Builder won’t perform there, they’ll stick to Vi and emacs and give Flex builder a lot of bad press. On top of that, the Alpha version won’t even support all features of Flex Builder 3, i.e.  Design and States view. Data visualization package won’t work there either unless you do some hacks. This raving to release something ASAP may do more harm than good for the product.

4. Adobe AIR Beta 2 is out and I highly recommend you to give it a try. See if you can convert your existing Web application that use HTML/AJAX/Flash/Flex/PDF into a mixed desktop/Web system.  Th second beta is mature enough to start getting used to it. Especially I’d like to bring it to the attention of AJAX developers – AIR may become your savior if you develop for enterprises as it offers a predictable and well designed environment for development and deployment as opposed to Web browsers that IMHO do not have bright future.

5. Thermo…
Thermo is an upcoming product that can become a killer designer/developer tool of 2008.  It will allow designers to create UIs for RIA without the need to become programmers - the Flex code is auto-generated for them.   The applications created in Thermo will allow easy integration between Photoshop, Illustrator and Flex applications. This is a really great idea as long as it will be simple enough for the designers. From the developer's point of view, the Flex code generated by Thermo will need some reworking anyway (i.e. creating custom components out of various part of the prototype screen), but it' a lot easier than starting with a prototype containing a bunch of images. Check out this video recorded by Peter Elst at MAX 2007.

6. Flash Lite 3

If Java VM is having hard time competing with Flash Player on PC, the situation is quite opposite in the mobile space. Java rules there, and Flash Lite has a long way to go. But Adobe Flash Lite 3 offers improved video quality and FLV support and it’s faster.  Developing for mobile devices is the most challenging field, and having a nice looking application on the little screen will definitely find its customers. 

7. Besides Adobe-only announcements, I’d like to draw your attention to Adobe and ILOG partnership.  Adobe will start distributing ILOG’s Elixir – a graphical visualization software, which can lead to development of the next generation of the enterprise dashboards.

8. And finally, my congratulations to folks from Virtual Ubiquity, creators of Buzzword, the RIA version of the Word processor of the future.  Adobe has acquired this excellent team of Flex developers, which is beneficial for both parties and, I’m sure, for consumers too .

With all my respect to Sun Microsystems, Microsoft and the legions of AJAX frameworks vendors, I have to admit that as of October of 2007, Adobe Flex does not have competition in the rich Internet application arena.  Looking forward to MAX 2008 in San Francisco!

More Stories By Yakov Fain

Yakov Fain is a Java Champion and a co-founder of the IT consultancy Farata Systems and the product company SuranceBay. He wrote a thousand blogs (http://yakovfain.com) and several books about software development. Yakov authored and co-authored such books as "Angular 2 Development with TypeScript", "Java 24-Hour Trainer", and "Enterprise Web Development". His Twitter tag is @yfain

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