You can't build an exe with Flex. What you CAN do is run Flex inside the AIR runtime, by creating files that have .air extensions. But they execute just the same as exe files if you have the AIR runtime installed.
Thanks for the quick reply. So if I run the AIR file I export, will that in turn install an exe to my computer?
I haven't worked with AIR in awhile so I'm trying to recall... I believe it generates an install file for you. (might be an .airi file? I forget the extension) After you install you won't have a .exe file, but a .air file. When AIR runtime is installed however, .air files are double-clickable and will start up just like a .exe file, so as far as the user is concerned they are 'executables'.
Not 100% sure I remembered the details right BUT the point is that if you create an AIR/Flex application you effectively have a standalone desktop executable application, which is what you want. Flex either runs in a browser with the Flash VM, or standalone/installed in an AIR VM (which I imagine has the Flash VM code in it).
But I should specify - you have to create your initial project as an AIR application, rather than a Flex/web based application when you create the project.
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The .air file is effectively just a custom zip file that the AIR installer uses to create the application on the users machine.
It includes an exe, which is tiny and only seems to serve to start the runtime and throw the associated SWF to it.
Important point, THE EXE IS NOT THE APPLICATION!!! The swf is.
AIR 2.0 promises a new installer style btw... If you install the AIR app using a native installer, there is no need for the .air file.
Thanks all for your quick and detailed answers! I hadn't done much with desktop apps in Flex, just web apps in Flex, so this info has been very helpful. I think there is a way to generate an exe from an AIR file as well ( http://forums.adobe.com/thread/103563) .