Why Flex? – My Top 5 Reasons to Choose Adobe Flex

Are you still struggling to find out which RIA solution is best for you?  With so many frameworks to choose – AJAX, Adobe Flash, Adobe Flex, Microsoft SilverLight, OpenLaszlo, Curl, JavaFX,  do you feel lost somehow?

You have seen all kinds of comparisons or reviews online, such as:

  • AJAX vs. Flex vs. SilverLight
  • 10 reasons to love AJAX (or Flex, or SilverLight, or …)
  • 10 reasons to hate AJAX (or Flex, or SilverLight, or …)

At the end of the day, you may wonder: “Now What?

The good news is, life can be much simpler! You are not here to select the best movie for OSCAR. Your job is to simply find the most suitable RIA framework for YOU!

As an example, I’d like to share with you why Flex is good for me. My top 5 reasons are:


1. Easy to Learn and Use

Before Flex, I was a Java developer. Before Java, I was a C++ and COBOL guy on IBM Mainframe. So I know exactly how painful it is to learn a new programming language. Just like switching from a manual transmission to an automatic one, it takes time for you to get used to that.

Surprisingly, the first time I saw Flex code, I thought it was Java. Considering the similar syntax, structure, and style, it is like the same coffee with different cream. With no time, I built my first fully functional application in Flex and Wow my colleagues.

Another beauty of Flex is its development tool – Flex Builder 3. It is built on the same platform – Eclipse as my J2EE IDE. So I don’t have to learn a new set of settings, shortcuts, or tricks. Plus Flex Builder 3 provides many useful features, such as design editor, build tools, integrated debugger. It makes your job so much easier! You can get your copy of Flex Builder 3 here.

2. Mature Language and Framework

Unlike JavaScript Based AJAX, Adobe Flex is built on a strongly typed Objected-Oriented programming language. I believe the Flex development team extends a lot of goodies from Java, making it suitable for developing enterprise level applications.

In addition,there are some mature frameworks to support Flex at the architecture level. Like Struts and Spring for Java, command-driven Cairngorm and event-driven Mate are two frameworks to implement the MVC (Model-View-Control) design pattern for Flex. And they both are open sourced projects.

3. Cross Browser Support

How many times do you have to deal with different browsers (IE 6, IE 7, Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera, Safari …) just to make you web pages look right? JavaScript error, PNG image missing, layout broken, you are adding all kinds of patches or hacks to put down the fire. As a result, your code is messy and hard to maintain, you are frustrated and exhausted, but the new problems keep popping up…

Now I have Adobe Flex. With its runtime (Flash Player) having 98% market penetration and working consistently across different browsers, I finally can focus on building a great RIA instead of worrying about its compatibility.

4. Fast Development and Easy Integration

Time is money! It is especially true on Internet. Why is .Net taking much share from Java? One reason is that it provides a lot of build-in modules to fasten the development process. Like .Net, Adobe Flex was born with many convenient components (such us DataGrid, ProgressBar, RichTextEditor, Slider, Accordion, Charts …) to help create a RIA faster and easier. I worked on a Flex  project originally designed in Java. It was estimated as 6 months work, but finished within 4 months.

Moreover, Flex might be the best framework to easily integrate with different external systems. It provides components such as HTTPService, WebService, and RemoteObject, plus optional Data Service like LCDS or BlazeDS. In one of my Flex projects, I collected data from J2EE Server, SAP, and 2 other legacy systems to compose the final reports. Without Flex, my job would have been much more complicated.

5. Richest Visual Effect

Yes, RIA is supposed to be cool! The most amazing RIAs can maximize your sensation to nearly feel the target products, like BMW X5 or Sony HDTV. You know what? Most of those RIAs are done by Adobe Flash. Since Adobe Flex is built on top of Flash, it can access all of Flash’s rich libraries and assets. Not mention Adobe is working diligently to bind Flash and Flex seamlessly. Therefore, it is no doubt that Adobe Flex provides you everything you need to build a best-of-all RIA.

In Conclusion

RIA means not only giving a face-lift to your business but also providing a cutting edge over your competitors. When coming to the best RIA framework, different people might give you different options. But the most important is, you evaluate them based on your resources, systems, and requirements.  As an example, I put my top 5 reasons to choose Adobe Flex:

1.  Easy to Learn and Use

2.  Mature Language and Framework

3.  Cross Browser Support

4.  Fast Development and Easy Integration

5.  Richest Visual Effect

Now it is your turn.

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.

9 Comments on Why Flex? – My Top 5 Reasons to Choose Adobe Flex

  1. Nice article – most of those reasons are similar to mine. Other popular Flex frameworks are PureMVC, Swiz and Parsley.

  2. Thanks Darren for your comment on Flex Tutorial! Yes, PureMVC, Swiz, and Parsley are other popular ones. Have you worked on any of them? I am interested in knowing how they are different from Compared or Cairngorm.

  3. #1. – Flex code? Do you mean ActionScript?

    #4 – .Net is not taking share from Java. Just because a Java project was estimated 6 months doesn’t mean it would have taken 6. GWT probably could have been just as fast or even faster. As for integrating with services on the backside – Flex doesn’t have and advantage here.

    One problems i have with Flex – Angle bracket programming and duplicate code (domain objects and business logic). With GWT, Echo3, RAP, JavaFx I don’t have this issues.

    I agree, there are some things to like about Flex. What i would like to see is a large and complex business application written in Flex.

  4. Dear you are absolutely right..I’m also going to learn this wonderful tool …wish me best of learn

  5. good reason to use flex. i m going to try out

  6. Ramchandra Pujari // May 5, 2010 at 2:28 am //

    Great & Nice description…

  7. Kumaresan // June 10, 2010 at 2:10 am //


    i have worked in GWT/ExtJS 3.0 its very light weight tool and RIA also good.

    So how come Java Flex 3 will be great than ExtJS. Again i agree, everything depends upon our project requirement.

    Technologies for Business… not other way round.

    if any body give comments for this (ExtJS/Java Flex). it will be great.

  8. i don’t no java.it is good for learn or not.i will learn this flex this can how use full in my fucher.

  9. I am a php developer. can i learn flex

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