4 Replies Latest reply on Sep 19, 2006 4:39 AM by MrDVP

    Should I use Flex?

    MrDVP

      There is this belief in some technology community that Flex is good for only audio, video, streaming and other "non-form" based application? I am challenging this becasue I believe that Flex is suitable even for some complex form based UI development. For UI designers, this may be hard to swallow. It's true that anything that has to do with basic UI elements, HTML is a better choice. And if you want a dynamic UI or perhaps prepopulate fields, then HTML and AJAX for asynchronous calls is still better than Flex for a responsive UI.

      The question is when do I use Flex? I have a situation where the application I'm developing is fairly complex and I believe that I can provide superior user interface while simplifying my architecture by using Flex. What I mean by this is that I can build an application with data binding, windows mgmt, responsive UI while maintaining a stateless infrastructure. Are these reasons compelling enough to select Flex for form based development? Or should I consider HTML and AJAX?
        • 1. Re: Should I use Flex?
          davidmedifit Level 1
          MrDVP,
          I'll give you my opinion, and let others give theirs. First of all:
          "There is this belief in some technology community that Flex is good for only audio, video, streaming and other "non-form" based application? "

          I don't know where you get that from - Flex is a fully functional language that allows you to build all-encompassing web applications, and yes, forms can be a part of that.

          To address your overarching question: Use AJAX if, on a HTML based site, you want to do stream minor parts of the app - for example, immediate validation on whether a username exists (before the user submits the form). Stream a stock quote. Small parts of the application that can benefit from immediate interaction with the user.

          Use Flex if you want to build a larger application with more user features. A sales dashboard, a helpdesk application, for example. An application that takes in information from disparate sources and displays them in one UI would be a perfect example. I would strongly advise against pushing AJAX to the limit - it is a browser hack, and is was designed to deliver fully functional applications (not that THAT stops some people, though).

          I hope I answered your question, please post back if you have any more specific questions in mind.

          Cheers,

          David
          • 2. Re: Should I use Flex?
            MrDVP Level 1
            Thanks for your input and I'm not commenting on what Flex can and cannot do. I hope you're not an employee of Adobe.

            There is no clear answer whether to use Flex or Ajax / DHTML when it comes to form based application. I think it's based on one's comfort level. I agree with you that Flex is better for complex application where we can easily leverage key features of Flex such as data binding, web services support, it's superior UI components & presentation framework and simply create a product that is NOT document oriented. There are also operational and maintenance benefits Flex provides as well. Software architect and engineers see this as a value add even though Flex is proprietary.

            Many web designers miss these points. From their standpoint, when building a web application, they have a hard time distinguishing between the inherent features of Flex versus doing something with Ajax / DHTML. They also miss the point of a shift in paradigm between document oriented development version true application development. One reason given to me at one point was that by using Flex, one cannot leverage a standard stylesheets and templates. It's clear to me that using stylesheets and teamplates as a decision point for architecture and design is a poor one. I do agree with the fact that with Flex, a new application does not mesh well with a pure web based portal. You do not have this issue with AJAX / DHTML. And for a large portal, I think this is truly a downpoint of using Flex.

            I welcome other feedback.
            • 3. Re: Should I use Flex?
              davidmedifit Level 1
              MrDVP,
              For the record, i'm not an adobe employee (nor have I ever been). Just a few comments on your latest posting:

              "..one cannot leverage a standard stylesheets and templates." - you actually can leverage stylesheets in Flex. I know that with HTML, you can use CSS for general layout, and I don't believe that's possible with Flex.

              "I do agree with the fact that with Flex, a new application does not mesh well with a pure web based portal. " - I hope it wasn't me that gave you this impression. There is no reason why a Flex app cannot work with a portal. I know that SAP is actively integrating Flex into it's products, and I have heard of portal specific companies doing that same. In fact, packing up a small Flex app as a Flash file (SWF) and deploying it on a portal seems like a great use of Flex to me. Flex could also BE that portal.

              I will agree that in the end it comes down to personal preference, and you may want to have Flex and Ajax work side-by-side (I believe there are examples of such on the Adobe site).

              Cheers,

              David
              • 4. Re: Should I use Flex?
                MrDVP Level 1
                Thanks for your reply.