Macromedia Flex as an interface to web apps?

We've been taking a look at Macromedia Flex, and it seems like a pretty cool technology. It manages data modelling, UI generation, and presentation of an interactive application (as a .swf) to the user. Some cool potential there.

The data modelling stuff feels a lot like WebObjects EOF. The UI description stuff (MXML) is much like Mozilla XUL. The end product looks like a plain old Flash .swf, that can be presented anywhere.

Lots of marketing fluff on the Flex website (considering the product isn't even released yet, that's understandable). Some of the fluff is a little misleading, suggesting that rich interactive stuff hasn't been possible until now. I've done this before in Shockwave, talking to a server via XML over HTTP. Worked great. 4 years ago...

One of the more reassuring things is a collaboration with IBM to build an Eclipse plugin for authoring MXML files for creating Flex applications. That, tied to the claim that it can run on any J2EE server, should be quite comforting, especially after the whole Generator thing...

One thing we're looking into is the potential to use Flex as part of the architecture of Pachyderm 2.0. If it can handle programatic generation of rich, interactive, data-driven Flash movies, that takes care of a considerable bit of work for us... The only real question now is whether Flex applications can be configured to run (or at least output to) offline mode, or if they require a live connection to a server. Kiosks and CD-ROM standalone delivery of Pachyderm 2.0 content will be crucial for us.

We may also try out writing an APOLLO app, using Flex to generate some kind of funky interactive interface, rather than static HTML pages.

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Last updated: September 28, 2023