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What's new in Flash Builder 4 beta

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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
Prerequisite knowledge

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.

Published at DZone with permission of its author, Tim Buntel.

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)



Jacek Furmankiewicz replied on Tue, 2009/06/16 - 9:37am

Sorry, I lost ALL interest in Flex once you guys aborted porting your dev tools to Linux (my daily OS both at work ant at home).

Too bad, I liked what I saw back when I was still on Windows. 

Vinay Soni replied on Tue, 2009/06/16 - 10:22am

Lost interest after I started with GWT.

Shane Johnson replied on Tue, 2009/06/16 - 3:13pm

I have to agree. I can't believe Adobe abandoned Linux. I too use it for both work and personal use. I imagine requiring developers to run Windows or purchase a Mac is not going to help in the long run. Although I do use Maven to build my Flex/AIR applicatoins, I enjoyed editing the source in FB with code completion and what not.

Andrew McVeigh replied on Tue, 2009/06/16 - 4:41pm in response to: Shane Johnson

I can't believe Adobe abandoned Linux

 I agree wholeheartedly.  I do any java work currently on linux, which is a very appealing environment.  There's no way I want to install windows just to program for flash :-(  here comes a virtual machine, i guess...


Tranquiliser Gt replied on Tue, 2009/06/16 - 6:47pm

I was planning to use Flex for a heavy coding (not MXML simple layout based) application. Which makes me hesitate is the fact the version 4 is still lack of refactoring tools. From this point of view, I don't see Adobe really cares about developers.

Mike P(Okidoky) replied on Tue, 2009/06/16 - 8:22pm

Same here. After using Linux for years for Java development, with all the command line power and tons of other good things, Windows looks like a system on crudges.

Adobe not being on board with Linux makes their product irrelevant. Typical mistakes by their marketing people. They forget that a large percentage of Developer Jedi Knights are on Linux - *FFAAHHAARR* more than they think. RIM also made this arrogant mistake, and it costed them more dearly than they realized. And what's with these Windows developer shops anyway. They actually can't see past Visual Studio? Good grief..

tom chiverton replied on Thu, 2009/06/18 - 10:14am

And to add weight to your thoughts, the *most voted for* bug in the Adobe bug tracker, by a factor of 3 is for just that - Flex Builder on Linux.
That's more important to developers than, for instance, a code formatter or HTML templates.

But don't be disheatened, make sure everyone who cares has voted on http://bugs.adobe.com/jira/browse/FB-19053

There's no comment yet from Adobe on what is going on with this product, but it can't be long before they announce it's going to be updated and maintained, can it ?

Vinay Soni replied on Thu, 2009/06/18 - 1:08pm

But what is it that Flex provides that GWT can't do without a propritery runtime and a low end Java like environment?

For very simple cases it is ok, but the moment you have complicated UIs, the code becomes complicated. 

On the other hand GWT model (Comoonent/Container pattern) is very clean and the Ajaxification is very high end, all without any extras within the browser.


Cliff Meyers replied on Wed, 2009/06/24 - 5:10pm

A few reasons to consider Flex over GWT:

- Rich charting / graphing library that runs client side

- Easy to build interesting data visualizations (network maps, org charts, new 3-D support in Flash Player 10)

- Rich design / skinning support: developers don't care about sexy apps but many users do.

Flex is not perfect but it's a very productive toolkit for building RIAs.  If your apps are just a bunch of forms and data grids then GWT will suit you fine.

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