The entire Adobe Flex team is delighted to introduce you to Adobe Flash Builder 4 beta, formerly known as Adobe Flex Builder. Over the past eighteen months, we've been working to evolve more than just the name of the product. We've taken the development environment for creating great applications for the Flash platform in exciting new directions to deliver productivity to developers of all types. While the name has changed, this is still the evolution of Flex Builder 3—a professional-grade, Eclipse-based development tool designed to help you rapidly build rich Internet applications (RIAs) and content using the open-source Flex framework—but with an incredible collection of powerful new features.
This brief article will introduce you to just a few of these new features, so be sure to check out all of the other content on Adobe Labs for more details. We've posted many outstanding videos, articles, and samples to get you started with your experience with the beta.
In order to make the most of this article, you need the following software and files:Flash Builder 4 beta
Familiarity with Flex.
Focusing on new features
Most Flex applications begin with a focus on either design or data, and then move through a process of coding and testing before being deployed. This process inspires the three main feature themes you will find in this release:
- designer/developer workflow
- data-centric development
- IDE productivity and testing
Improving designer/developer workflow
When an application begins with a very specific design as its inspiration, ensuring that the details of the design are realized in the final application is critical. How does content move from Adobe's leading creative tools through the process of adding interactivity and finishing with complete integration with the application logic and the application's servers and/or services—all while still remaining true to the original designer's intent? That question is answered with our designer/developer workflow theme. It's all about empowering better collaboration between developers using Flash Builder and users of Adobe's creative tools, with emphasis on two key products in the Flash platform: Adobe Flash Professional, and Adobe Flash Catalyst beta.New workflow
For Flash Professional, Flash Builder 4 beta features a new workflow for adding Flash content to a Flex application: simply drag out the "New Flash Component" or "New Flash Container" item from the Components panel and place it anywhere on the design canvas. You can launch Flash Professional and create or edit the content, and then click "done" to return to Flash Builder 4 beta with the FLA and SWC files exported to the Flex project.Adobe Flash Catalyst beta
Adobe Flash Catalyst beta is a new product that makes it easy for designers to create RIA UIs from artwork imported from Adobe Creative Suite tools. The applications created in Catalyst are Flex applications, and Flash Builder 4 beta provides a simple workflow for importing these projects, thus allowing designers to collaborate with developers more easily than ever before. (Be sure to check out the Adobe Flash Catalyst beta also available on Labs.)
Enabling data-centric development
While many applications begin with comprehensive design, many more start instead with data. You may be creating a dashboard to provide insight into a corporate database, or perhaps your application will provide a new front end to an existing ColdFusion or PHP application; or you might be relying heavily on third-party services based on REST or SOAP, for example. While the server or service details may change, the basics are the same: you need an easy way to connect to all of those services and bind them to Flex components. That is the essence of the data centric development theme in Flash Builder 4 beta. Whether you are an experienced Flex developer or a web application developer new to the technology, these features will dramatically speed up your work and enable you to develop data-oriented experiences that are extremely difficult or impossible to deliver just with HTML in the browser.