Adobe Flex vs. Adobe Flash

Adobe provides many great products to develop Rich Internet Applications (RIA). However, people are often confused about those similar names: Adobe Flex, Adobe Flash, Adobe Flash Player, and AIR. What are they and when do you need them?

The following table will help you find the answer.

Adobe Flex

Adobe Flash

Adobe Flash Player


Usage Tool to create Rich Internet Application (RIA) Tool to create Rich Internet Application (RIA) Runtime for Compiled Flex or Flash Application Runtime for Compiled Flex or Flash Application
Target User Developers Designers Internet Users Internet Users
Target Environment Windows or Mac OX Windows or Mac OX Browser Desktop

In short, Adobe Flex and Adobe Flash are two RIA tools for developers and designers respectively; while Adobe Flash Player and Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR) are two RIA runtimes for browser and desktop correspondingly.

To further compare Adobe Flex and Adobe Flash, you can look at the following table:

Adobe Flex

Adobe Flash

Target User Developers Designers
Development Software Adobe Flex Builder Adobe Flash
Workbench Interfaces
  • Project Navigation
  • Code Outline
  • Code Editor
  • Problem Panel
  • Draw tools
  • Timeline
  • Property Panels
Development Components
  • Framework of Classes
  • Visual Components
  • MXML
  • ActionScript
  • Visual Tools
  • ActionScript
Compiled File SWF File SWF file
Runtime Needed Adobe Flash Player (Browser) or  AIR (Desktop) Adobe Flash Player (Browser) or AIR (Desktop)
About Bryan
Bryan Li has more than 10 years business consulting and project development experience with major corporate clients including Sony, Bank of Montreal, Bruce Power, etc. As a fan and advocate for RIA(Rich Internet Application) technologies, Bryan helps companies and developers learn, design, and build richer applications using Adobe Flex.

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