I've found the Flex 3 style explorer to be a fantastic learning tool.
But so many of the style properties are gone in Flex 4. Apparently you have to create a skin and do your work in there. It would be great if it would generate the skin in addition to the css! Anyone know of one?
I wish... unfortunately I guess Adobe has decided to cater more towards their "designer" user base with the release of Spark (it's not even a complete component set, yet FB4 and the SDK docs demandingly say USE SPARK NOT HALO everywhere, in slightly nicer wording) and I've yet to really get a chance to have a serious conversation with someone knowledgeable enough to address my concerns about Spark.
It seems SDK4 has upped the degree of extra work needed for developers who don't need or care for major skin customizations. I'm hoping there's some way to address the issue soon, since library upgrades are usually focused on reducing the amount of work for us to do, not increasing it and/or requiring additional code or classes to do what a previous version did with less.
Just IMO and could be a little off since my experience in Spark isn't extensive (miserable experiences keep me going back to Halo and 3.5).
Wow! I thought it was me!
I brand new to Flex and all the Spark / MX-Halo stuff and I find it all terribly confusing. So many questions!
Why release Spark if it is incomplete?
Why force me to copy 4 pages of source code in order to tweak the button skin? (This is insane!!!)
Why am I spending half my time creating skins for Spark components to add back properties that were taken away from the MX components? (Think icon on Button, etc.)?
Honestly, I am a totaly newbie, but it seems to me like Spark was a GIANT step backwards.
Hadn't thought I about going back to 3.5 though....
I realize this is over a year old, but for anyone else wondering why Adobe created spark skins this may help to explain.
Spark is a lot of work, but a step forward in many ways.
I have been skinning now for 4 weeks and it has been tricky and frustrating. But now I have the hang of it.
In all Honesty, it is likely not for every project. In my case I work for the Retirement section of the State. We are in the process of re-writing all our programs plus all new ones into Flex and using the new State Look & Feel.
We have basically two areas our programs belong to, one blue and one grey green, but the layout is the same in all of them. So I am skinning every possible component in shades of blue. When I am finished I will take all my work and create a blue theme. So when the next program is being created, they import the theme and asign it ot the project. Now any component used will be in the blue scheme.
Then I will take all these skins and CSS and copy them. All I have to do is go through each one and change the colors and save it as a Theme and when needed this one is imported and asigned to the project and all components are Grey-Green.
So now all of our programmers can create the projects in the correct Look & Feel on their own without having to style each one themselves, they are all standardized. That is the theory, I am not done yet.
The thing is spark skins allow you more copntrol. In CSS you say yes to a drop shadow. In a skin you can define that drop shadow per component, the TextWindow can have a longer shadow (so look farther away from the application) than the Panel. My Blue theme can have a drk. blue shadow and the green theme a drk. green shadow. You can also define what direction the shadow should go. You have more possibilities than just the basic CSS drop shadow.