9 Replies Latest reply on Jan 6, 2009 6:25 PM by Newsgroup_User

    Flex SDK or Flex Builder capabilities

    MannyTO
      Our company saw a demo of Flex and are preparing on making changes, with our web-application, and moving forward with Flex. However we have a few questions, which sales was unable to handle or provide direction on. We were told to post these questions on the FORUM. Presently we are using ASP.NET (bit of Java) and C# in the backend. On the backend it seems that Flex uses Actionscript, however on what level or how “deep” does Flex operate?

      For example,

      1) Can it import files? What types?
      2) Can it handle File I/O (input / output)? And save it?
      3) Can it open up programs/applications (like java), or others ?
      4) Can it access DLL's?
      5) Can we print from it?
      6) Can we create an SSL Connection?
      7) In terms of image handling, what kind of file types does it support? Does it also include other features like magnifying, Thumbnail views,
      8) How are images handled in Flex (Layers versus Flat)?

      We have seen some mention of Flex SDK, however on this level should we assume that Flex Builder is the best option? Other than the IDE what are the differences?

      Note: Does Adobe have licenses issues/requirements with web-applications created using Flex? The licenses agreement does not seem to make mention. Are there any limitations?

      Thanks,

      MannyTO
        • 1. Re: Flex SDK or Flex Builder capabilities
          Michael Borbor Level 4
          Hi there, with my little knowledge about Flex I'll try to give you answer to your questions.

          1. In Flex your basically use two types of files .mxml and .as. You can add a java class or a .net file to a project or something like, but you can communicate with java and .net.
          2.- You can upload and download files using flex app that runs on the browser and using a backend server, but if you develop for AIR you'll get a few more classes for working with files.
          3.- I'm not sure about this topic.
          4.- From a web app, cannot load DLLs.
          5.- Yes you can print from flex.
          6.- Sure you can create an app that runs over https
          7.- JPEG, GIF, and PNG and BMP using a workaround.
          8.- Not sure about that.

          9.-Flex Builder will allow to create apps faster, but it also in the Standard Edition adds a few extras such as debugging, skinning, and in the Pro Edition adds the charting components, the Advanced DataGrid and the Perfomance Profiler.
          10.- Once you buy Flex Builder everything that you create using it's yours.
          • 2. Re: Flex SDK or Flex Builder capabilities
            Ansury Level 3
            I'll add..

            1) Technically just mxml and as files. I think mab is referring to hybrid java (not sure about .net) / flex projects, but this is basically just client and server code in the same project. Java or .net can't run within the client, just the server.

            2) Limited support for this due to web browser security limitations, if you're running Flex in a browser. If you're running on AIR (fully integrated into Flex 3) and not inside a browser, you can save/open files locally. (Otherwise, in a browser, you can only do file upload/download like mentioned previously.)

            3) No. Adobe needs to add this to AIR's capabilities, but is too lame to do so as of now. Complain to them about it. In the mean time there's something called Merapi which lets you interface with Java - which can start executables.

            4) Short answer is no.

            5) Flex can print, but don't expect anything too fancy. It gets the job done for basic stuff; if you have some complex requirements, then it can get tricky.

            6) Not a problem.

            7) above

            8) Not sure what you mean - Flex doesn't have a concept of layers (such as a dialog box layer etc) but components can be in front of or behind other components.

            9) Flex Builder (the IDE) is worth the investment. Fundamentally the capabilities of the SDK are the same, though. The IDE will give your devs much more efficiency so it's important unless you're making tiny, simple stuff.

            10) AFAIK it's like using any other programming language.
            • 3. Re: Flex SDK or Flex Builder capabilities
              MannyTO Level 1
              Thanks for such a fast reply!

              I guess some of the features we currently have will have to remain in JAVA (sigh). However, I am curious, can Flex access TWAIN compatible scanners? I noticed a response back in 2007, indicating that there are restrictions on accessing client-based hardware; I wonder if it is still relevant?

              In terms of layers, the reference was towards images. We've seen a demo of a web-based application created with Flex called "SUMO Paint". Although, it is not directly connected with what we are planning, it seems that options for Flex (RIA) are quite vast. The layering question revolves around "drawing" or "inking". I gander that there are no specific limitations on images, based on what we have seen with SUMO Paint, however I imagine Flex does not "flatten" images by default and this is up to our designer; in terms of implementing any type of drawing/inking module. Also, has anyone seen an implementation of "Tablet-PC" styled inking or annotations?

              • 4. Re: Flex SDK or Flex Builder capabilities
                ntsiii Level 3
                Yes, restrictions on accessing client-side assets are still relevant. The issues are security on the Flash Player + Browser platform, and the need for "platform independence" for AIR apps.

                Clever people are finding solutions, but this is still problematic.

                Tracy
                • 5. Re: Flex SDK or Flex Builder capabilities
                  Level 7

                  "MannyTO" <webforumsuser@macromedia.com> wrote in message
                  news:gjtn46$cqq$1@forums.macromedia.com...
                  > Thanks for such a fast reply!
                  >
                  > I guess some of the features we currently have will have to remain in JAVA
                  > (sigh). However, I am curious, can Flex access TWAIN compatible scanners?
                  > I
                  > noticed a response back in 2007, indicating that there are restrictions on
                  > accessing client-based hardware; I wonder if it is still relevant?

                  You can't access the serial port...that requires the ability to integrate a
                  dll or similar, unless you use a socket to connect to something like Java.

                  > In terms of layers, the reference was towards images. We've seen a demo of
                  > a
                  > web-based application created with Flex called "SUMO Paint". Although, it
                  > is
                  > not directly connected with what we are planning, it seems that options
                  > for
                  > Flex (RIA) are quite vast. The layering question revolves around "drawing"
                  > or
                  > "inking". I gander that there are no specific limitations on images, based
                  > on
                  > what we have seen with SUMO Paint, however I imagine Flex does not
                  > "flatten"
                  > images by default and this is up to our designer; in terms of implementing
                  > any
                  > type of drawing/inking module.

                  It does or it doesn't. It has no default...it's up to you to write the
                  drawing module the way you want it.

                  > Also, has anyone seen an implementation of
                  > "Tablet-PC" styled inking or annotations?

                  I think this would just be treated like a regular mouse movement. I'm not
                  sure if you could handle the eraser end.


                  • 6. Re: Flex SDK or Flex Builder capabilities
                    alexenk
                    Flex as a developement enviroment is merely an easier enviroment in which to develope flash applications as, when compiled everything is outputted as Flash Documents, ActionScript files and HTML. Any limitations on those three will apply to Flex. And referring to your client side hardware question, Flash ahs the capability of accessing the client's Webcam and Microphone if allowed but i am not sure how well this works and I think is presently the only sort of peripheral it is able to utilise.
                    • 7. Re: Flex SDK or Flex Builder capabilities
                      MannyTO Level 1
                      Flex and client-side Adobe AIR

                      Thank you again for the quick replies! Depending on how our application moves forward, (1) we are essentially trying to replace certain functions, which JAVA is able to achieve on the client-side and (2) we need something that frankly “looks better” on the end-user. It seems that Flex, along with Adobe AIR (independent AIR apps); will allow us to do more. However questions remain for us in terms of how much more Flex/Adobe AIR can do.

                      In our research we noticed that there were some PROS/CONS. Are these essentially still true?

                      http://www.itwriting.com/blog/310-adobe-air-10-reasons-to-love-it-10-reasons-to-hate-it.ht ml

                      In particular:

                      1. Database connectivity is limited. If this is so, I assume that data can still be passed to the web-application?
                      2. If we decide to use Flex/Adobe AIR apps, do the same limitations apply to hardware access or can we do more?

                      We do not want to go down the Silverlight way, since Microsoft is still in BETA and at times likes to “change” things drastically. But, it seems that, even with an Adobe AIR app, local client-side access is quite limited; forcing us to stick with .NET/Java. However, are the long-term benefits of Adobe AIR still worth the change despite the limitations in other areas?

                      Thanks,

                      MannyTO
                      • 8. Re: Flex SDK or Flex Builder capabilities
                        MannyTO Level 1
                        Also, could someone from Adobe (or otherwise), clarify this statement from the previous web-link. "6. No model for commercial components. It is not clear to me how a component vendor could sell an AIR component while protecting it from unlicensed deployment. This may limit the availability of 3rd party components, with a corresponding impact on productivity."

                        Thanks,

                        MannyTO
                        • 9. Re: Flex SDK or Flex Builder capabilities
                          Level 7

                          "MannyTO" <webforumsuser@macromedia.com> wrote in message
                          news:gjvtad$e2i$1@forums.macromedia.com...
                          > Flex and client-side Adobe AIR
                          >
                          > Thank you again for the quick replies! Depending on how our application
                          > moves
                          > forward, (1) we are essentially trying to replace certain functions, which
                          > JAVA
                          > is able to achieve on the client-side and (2) we need something that
                          > frankly
                          > ?looks better? on the end-user. It seems that Flex, along with Adobe AIR
                          > (independent AIR apps); will allow us to do more. However questions remain
                          > for
                          > us in terms of how much more Flex/Adobe AIR can do.
                          >
                          > In our research we noticed that there were some PROS/CONS. Are these
                          > essentially still true?
                          >
                          >
                          > http://www.itwriting.com/blog/310-adobe-air-10-reasons-to-love-it-10-reasons-to-
                          > hate-it.html
                          >
                          > In particular:
                          >
                          > 1. Database connectivity is limited. If this is so, I assume that data can
                          > still be passed to the web-application?

                          Yes

                          > 2. If we decide to use Flex/Adobe AIR apps, do the same limitations apply
                          > to
                          > hardware access or can we do more?

                          Yes.

                          > We do not want to go down the Silverlight way, since Microsoft is still in
                          > BETA and at times likes to ?change? things drastically. But, it seems
                          > that,
                          > even with an Adobe AIR app, local client-side access is quite limited;
                          > forcing
                          > us to stick with .NET/Java. However, are the long-term benefits of Adobe
                          > AIR
                          > still worth the change despite the limitations in other areas?

                          You might want to consider using a Director shell with embedded Flex. Use
                          Director for the communication with the OS and build the Flex with the idea
                          that if AIR ever grows up you can dump the shell. Even if Adobe does dump
                          Director like they did Authorware, there's been a recent release of Director
                          so you should be good for the next few years with that.