30 Replies Latest reply on Apr 15, 2010 4:20 AM by Ansury

    Adobe Flex 4 Suggestion

    macdavid

      It seems that adobe has left out visual design from Flex 4 totally. I understand why the changes to the underlying code. But to cut out designers with no real way of visually designing components is just sucks.  Catalyst  may take care of some of the issues but not all.  If you have to code everything, then you need to give a lot better help and working examples. Am I the only one who thinks Adobe missed this.....

        • 1. Re: Adobe Flex 4 Suggestion
          tehxike1 Level 1

          I've always thought the design mode in mxml editors is absolutely dreadful.  I eventually got pretty comfortable with mxml, hex colors, and pixel sizes, so I don't mind it at all.

          • 2. Re: Adobe Flex 4 Suggestion
            macdavid Level 1

            Just seems that some basic tools, like a skin designer would have been helpful to make the switch from Flex 3 to Flex 4...

            • 3. Re: Adobe Flex 4 Suggestion
              SpaghettiCoder Level 3

              I don't think Flex 4 is supposed to be a visual design program.  They created the skinnable architecture for you skin with albeit using a different program but atleast the architecture is there unlike Flex 3 where it was pretty painful.

               

              Not sure adding more bloat onto Eclipse is a good idea, not a big fan of Eclipse...

               

              Wonder if there will ever be a Flex plug in for Visual Studio

              • 4. Re: Adobe Flex 4 Suggestion
                David_F57 Level 5

                Hi,

                 

                @spaghetticoder

                At last someone else that isn't caught up int the blinkered world of eclipse fans

                 

                Honestly flex has matured to a point where you could do the ide using Air 2.0 native apps, I don't think that performance wise you would lose any advantage of the poor/buggy performance of the eclipse environment.

                 

                 

                http://www.sapphiresteel.com/Adobe-Flex-In-Visual-Studio  this may actual be ok one day.

                 

                @macdavid

                 

                The skin features of flex 4 are new and even from beta1 to release the skinning has been handled better, Catalyst will move to allow development of skins at component level and as the FlashBuilder IDE improves I can see skin visual design improving. Like any product there has to be priorities on what get added over time and I think support for portable devices is more important than a skin designer, but it would be nice that designview gets more attention generally as it is still an integral part of a 'complete' developers environment especially for those that are new to mxml/actionscript development.

                 

                David.

                • 5. Re: Adobe Flex 4 Suggestion
                  Ansury Level 3

                  Why all the hate on design view?  What are some concrete complaints you have about it?  All I ever hear from people is that it sucks and they don't like it.  I use both that and source depending on what I'm doing and for the most part it gets the job done.

                   

                  My only complaints about it are speed (minor issue) and some bugginess.  Mainly the bogus "warning" messages it often generates for library files, and the fact that it has to be refreshed so often.  But it's still better than text only design.

                  • 6. Re: Adobe Flex 4 Suggestion
                    SpaghettiCoder Level 3

                    some components you create don't even show up in design view under custom. I did a clean restarted and still nothing.

                     

                    It's slow switching from one view to another.

                     

                    Create a

                     

                    <fx:Metadata>

                    [Event(

                     

                    event won't show up as available till you exit the program and then reload it, then poof it shows up.

                     

                    Is this a flex bug, or a eclipse bug.

                     

                    Don't you think a IDE from scratch is better than SDK built ono Eclipse? It wouldn't have to sit on a JVM.

                    • 7. Re: Adobe Flex 4 Suggestion
                      Ansury Level 3

                      From scratch might produce a better end product, but part of the benefit of Eclipse is that you can tell (at least 1 mill+ Java) developers that FB is "built on Eclipse", and they'll immediately know that their learning curve will be diminished as a result.  (And that their favorite plug-ins such as Subclipse will likely work in the IDE.)

                       

                      On your examples:

                       

                      Yeah, speed can be an issue, but as someone who is

                      extremely impatient with slow software... it rarely seems to bother me.  I'm not sure if that's because my hardware is fast, my components are small, or because I'm just ignoring the slowness.  I don't know if you've noticed or not, but the main slowness problem is the very first time it loads a view--after that it's usually much faster.

                       

                      I rarely create events like that, and I'm not sure what you mean by it not showing up (in design view?), so I don't get the second example.  It sounds like a bug in the Flex customizations/plug-in to Eclipse (not Eclipse itself, and not the Flex SDK).

                      • 8. Re: Adobe Flex 4 Suggestion
                        David_F57 Level 5

                        Hi,

                         

                        Any designview is better than no designview, I have found that once you know where DV is going to 'upset' you you get to a point of automatically avoiding things that upset it(and quietly hope that the next release will see further improvements). My biggest issue is that I can't have designview and source view available at the same time. I suppose I am used to delphi where I could sit DV on one monitor and source view on the other which made code navigation much quicker when I could use the designview to jump my code.

                         

                        David.

                        • 9. Re: Adobe Flex 4 Suggestion
                          tehxike1 Level 1

                          Actually you can have source and design open at the same time- right click on the tab at the top, "new editor", then drag one of the editors to the top/bottom or left/right of your current view- should have a split view then that updates as you make changes to the other.  Very awkward and hack'ish, but it works.

                          • 10. Re: Adobe Flex 4 Suggestion
                            macdavid Level 1

                            It all comes down to this. In the development group speed and supportability is the goal. But a very fast web site that is easy to support for developers that your customer doesn't like is still BAD and you want get the jobs. A web site that is a little slow but impresses the end users will sell more and users will come back more often.

                            This is were Adobe drop the ball. They let hard line coders that sign the OOP, MVC song get in there head and forgot the their main business has always been the wow factor with Illustrator, PhotoShop, Fireworks, and Flash.  And I think they focused on the big corporations not the independents. I sure they also thought you would have to buy more software to get the job done. The fact is, the artist/designers make the sell not the hard line codes.

                            • 11. Re: Adobe Flex 4 Suggestion
                              David_F57 Level 5

                              Hi,

                               

                              I think you are missing the point, Flex is an integrated development tool, not a design tool. Banks, Insurance companies, Fortune 500 businesses pay big money for well coded software not for pretty software, Advertisers/website owners pay crappy money flashy presentation (in realistic terms I can earn 5x more per hour writing online tools for the insurance industry than I can doing banner ads, Zurich paid $8,000 for an insurance calculator that took 4 hours to do , for 4 hours worth of snazzy swf files I would be lucky to get $1500, 1 example Lexus advertising campaign $11,000 for 32 hours). There is a massive market for both pretty and functional online software where tools like flash just don't cut it. This is where flex comes in, along with a family of Adobe creative products. It is limited only by the skill set of those design/development teams that choose to use Adobe products.

                               

                              Before catalyst we were using flex for coding and the whole interface was designed by graphic artists in flash pro there was no issue with missing out on either the code or the pizzaz. Catalyst isn't flash or illustrator, it isn't meant to be it is a bridge between design and development. As the Adobe design/development suite evolves we will continue to see improvements in production time frames. Sure we will always see short comings in the product range but Adobe always listen and I see a genuine effort by them to give us the tools we need to met the demands set in the 'web' workspace.

                               

                              Flex is still a relatively young product in terms of development tools yet despite its flaws it is a competent tool to have in ones arsenal.

                               

                              David.

                              • 12. Re: Adobe Flex 4 Suggestion
                                Ansury Level 3

                                tehxike1 wrote:

                                 

                                Actually you can have source and design open at the same time- right click on the tab at the top, "new editor", then drag one of the editors to the top/bottom or left/right of your current view- should have a split view then that updates as you make changes to the other.  Very awkward and hack'ish, but it works.

                                Not hackish at all - Eclipse is designed to support multiple editors.

                                • 13. Re: Adobe Flex 4 Suggestion
                                  Ansury Level 3

                                  macdavid wrote:

                                   

                                  It all comes down to this. In the development group speed and supportability is the goal. But a very fast web site that is easy to support for developers that your customer doesn't like is still BAD and you want get the jobs. A web site that is a little slow but impresses the end users will sell more and users will come back more often.

                                  This is were Adobe drop the ball. They let hard line coders that sign the OOP, MVC song get in there head and forgot the their main business has always been the wow factor with Illustrator, PhotoShop, Fireworks, and Flash.  And I think they focused on the big corporations not the independents. I sure they also thought you would have to buy more software to get the job done. The fact is, the artist/designers make the sell not the hard line codes.

                                   

                                  You're going to upset a lot of OOP developers with this. 

                                   

                                  Corporations are where a lot of the money is, the move is good if Adobe wants to expand it's business.  I'm not sure I understand your statement.  If you are saying Adobe should offer a less "programmatic" development tool isn't that where Flash CS4 Pro is used?  I'm no stranger to challenging knee-jerk so-called "standards" out there but OOP and MVC are pretty fundamental and widespread (MVC, less so).  What kind of development paradigm do you think should have been used?

                                  • 14. Re: Adobe Flex 4 Suggestion
                                    macdavid Level 1

                                    The paradigm is fine, although my Flex 3 applications will have to be rewritten.  My major problem is with Skins. They are visual yet there is no visual designer.  Yes there are programmers that  can code a some visually appealing things but, not to the level of an artist/designer in my opinion.  So when I want to modify a component like Calendar, why is there not a tool that allows me to visually change the component and have it write the new skin out.  As far as that goes, why not extend the calendar or any other object with my new skin design and add it to MyComponents.   This would  allow designers to create new component libraries to be used by the developers or for a particular application.  From what I have seen of Catalyst, it is not providing this capability although  I am very interested in it.  It would be fine if Adobe allows me using Catalyst to visually redesign  or extend every Flex 4 component, creating some new component library.  Under stand I love Flex 3, but was hoping Flex 4 was a complete enhancement. If Catalyst fulfills that void I am good to go.  But it does not appear that way so far.

                                    • 15. Re: Adobe Flex 4 Suggestion
                                      SpaghettiCoder Level 3

                                      Building applications with Flash CS is like coding with microsoft paint.

                                       

                                      Doing graphics in flex is like painting the mona lisa with a text editor.  If you're really good  you'll get 3L1T3 ascii art.

                                       

                                      Isn't that why there is pshop/illustrator etc...

                                       

                                      Doesn't the current work flow go something like this?

                                       

                                      - you tell your graphics guys i need something pretty...

                                       

                                      - they whip something up, and save it as a fxg

                                       

                                      - You as the coder import the fxg graphic and use that in your app...

                                      • 16. Re: Adobe Flex 4 Suggestion
                                        Ansury Level 3

                                        I agree that skins and styling (even the simplest customizations) can often be a major pain in Flex.  SpaghettiCoder is right that FB is not a design tool, but it should not be so difficult to do minor customizations and at least color changes without buying another $300+ tool.

                                         

                                        Something I just noticed, which has me a little ticked off, is that FB 4 removed the (overall crummy, but) sometimes helpful css design view tab.  Unless something is wrong with my install and the tab just isn't showing, there's no longer any quick and easy way to see (short of viewing components in your app) what your components will look like in Flex based on the css.

                                         

                                        For me "skins" (in actuality, just minor changes and customizations in my case like some color changes or "padding" settings) have most definitely been the most painful aspect of going from 2->3 and especially 3->4.

                                         

                                        It's a poor assumption on Adobe's part, if they are assuming this, that every Flex development team has someone dedicated to perfecting the application's look and feel.  For customer facing applications this will be the case, but for internal business/enterprise apps you're more often going to see the devs themselves doing the visuals.

                                        • 17. Re: Adobe Flex 4 Suggestion
                                          macdavid Level 1

                                          I am a independant contractor now after 2 layoffs in 18 months and need Flex to be more then it is. I want have team to work with it is just me.  As far using Illustrator, Photoshop, and Flash, to make it look good, I am ok with.  But I don't like the default components looks and to make a simple change to, say the Panel to make it look like Flex 3 is a pain in the *** and over 20 lines of code. The documentation has not impressed me and examples hard to find at this time. But there is also no way to migrate my Flex 3 to Flex 4. To many bugs. I just want a visual skin and CCS  designer in Flex 4 that I can change any and all components.  Catalyst can't do that.

                                          • 18. Re: Adobe Flex 4 Suggestion
                                            Ansury Level 3

                                            I think we're asking for similar things.  But wouldn't an updated version of the Flex Style Explorer basically accomplish that?

                                             

                                             

                                            http://examples.adobe.com/flex2/consulting/styleexplorer/Flex2StyleExplorer.html

                                            • 19. Re: Adobe Flex 4 Suggestion
                                              Krueger1

                                              Glad others are talking about this.  To be honest I have been using Flex since Flex 1.5.  All my experience is in corporate america apps.  Unfortunately I have never had the luxury of a designer and to be honest it is about functionality not "flashy" things.  Borders aren't going to make or break an app.  I agree the styling on the Flex 3 comp. needed help.  But wow talk about going to the other extreame.  I am hoping with everything some middle ground is found.  At this point I am looking to make recommendations for a architecture platform for a large company.  For once I can not recommend Flex.  I hate to say it, but HTML 5 might be looking better. 

                                               

                                              I get it that you can still use the Flex 3 comp, but come on, like there will be any enchancements to those in the future.  So how can you select a platform knowing you are stuck with items that are already 1 version behind.  I hope Adobe listens and realizes that there tools are used in lots of ways, and not always is there a designer envolved.

                                               

                                              Jeff

                                              • 20. Re: Adobe Flex 4 Suggestion
                                                Ansury Level 3

                                                Krueger1 wrote:

                                                 

                                                Glad others are talking about this.  To be honest I have been using Flex since Flex 1.5.  All my experience is in corporate america apps.  Unfortunately I have never had the luxury of a designer and to be honest it is about functionality not "flashy" things.  Borders aren't going to make or break an app.  I agree the styling on the Flex 3 comp. needed help.  But wow talk about going to the other extreame.  I am hoping with everything some middle ground is found.  At this point I am looking to make recommendations for a architecture platform for a large company.  For once I can not recommend Flex.  I hate to say it, but HTML 5 might be looking better.

                                                 

                                                Man!  I was exactly with you until you said HTML5 -- noooooo!    (I hope this was just to shock people!)

                                                 

                                                HTML5 better in what way?  (Heck I would even say Silverlight over that hacky mess, which isn't planned to be finished until 2022, if the schedule holds...)

                                                 

                                                 

                                                I'm thinking (although I've yet to read anything on the matter from someone at Adobe) that sticking with Halo for Flex 4 makes more sense for people like us.  Other than the loss of the semi-useful css design view (which technically we can use the style explorer I posted above anyway I guess), I don't know if there's a major downside.  I'm sure Spark has much more potential for those who need to be very concerned with a flashy UI, but for those of us who need an attractive UI on a budget (i.e. no artist design team!) because our apps are only deployed to Intranets or other business environments, there's no such need.

                                                • 21. Re: Adobe Flex 4 Suggestion
                                                  Krueger1 Level 1

                                                  Well the HTML 5 is a little for shock value, but I am honestly just at a loss.  I guess I am leaning more for a html/javascript/ajax solution figuring that would move to HTML 5 in a couple years.  The shop is actually a MS shop, so silverlight is very attractive, but I hate to say it I want this to be able to run everywhere.  Flash used to be able to give that to me.  I am not happy at all with what apple is doing with their devices.  I see some of their reasoning, but come on.  Reminds me of when IE was baked into the OS of windows.  We saw how long that lasted before anti trust suits popped up.  Granted apple doesn't have the market share MS did at that time.  So I figure their might be a day for flash even on apple's devices, maybe via opera....  I wish I could wait 6 months to make this decision and see what happens, it is a very unsettled time in the UI side of development, falling back to the K.I.S.S. might just be ok for a little while.  Having been doing this for many years and seeing products like Powerbuilder go from hero to zero, I can't say it might not happen for Flex, which makes me very sad.

                                                   

                                                  Jeff

                                                  • 22. Re: Adobe Flex 4 Suggestion
                                                    Ansury Level 3

                                                    Well that could be said for any technology.  AJAX could start to become a dirty word as companies begin to realize the foolishness of creating complex mock-RIAs within slow JavaScript (engines) dependent on browser-specific DOM and DHTML with no backwards compatibility , once they start realizing the maintenance costs of such a "platform" (if 90's scripting technology can even be called such).

                                                     

                                                    So HTML development shops will continue with more cycles of browser wars and "newer, better, different" browser versions (which force them to test, update/patch, and again test).  As this cycle continues to impact their bottom line, perhaps more people will start taking a look at the ingredients within their short-sighted kool-aid formula for success.

                                                     

                                                    Meanwhile, companies that adopt VM-based RIA approaches such as Flex or Silverlight (maybe JavaFX if it stops being the butt of jokes) will have no such worries.

                                                     

                                                    New major browser needs to be supported?  New version of a browser out?  New version of Flash out?  HTML5 specs changing or in limbo?

                                                     

                                                    A VM platform developer doesn't care about these things nearly as much as a legacy JavaScript hacker needs to keep an eye on these things.  I think this approach (VM) may be the future of all software development, given enough time. It's already being observed with hardware.  Flex and SL represent true technologies of the future (or at least a new paradigm).  HTML5 represents a slowly evolving update of legacy technology that even in 2022 will fall far short of what today's Flex or SL are capable of.

                                                    • 23. Re: Adobe Flex 4 Suggestion
                                                      David_F57 Level 5

                                                      Hi,

                                                       

                                                      I agree totally with the importance of vm, personally I would prefer that the browsers evolve into part of every OS as mere conduits to vm's. In the meantime life would be much better if we eliminated html all together for RIA, so instead of index.html we have index.swf or index.js etc..

                                                       

                                                      David 

                                                      • 24. Re: Adobe Flex 4 Suggestion
                                                        Krueger1 Level 1

                                                        Hello,

                                                         

                                                        Trust me when I say I agree with everything you said.  I guess when I look at the amount of lines of mxml it takes now to make a button, I figure heck maybe AJAX is an option.  I say option, not a hands down winner.  Before Flex was a hands down winner.  I hate the browser issues that Flash does such a nice job dealing with.  But looking to the future, I have to assume steps will be made to make html/ajax so that you don't see all those browser issues, or that it is easy to do a data grid etc.  Where I see adobe going the other way.  Making it even harder and more labor intensive to build the simple things of life.  Hmm Maybe someone will build a set of components based on flex 4 that kind of redo the flex 3 functionality.  Seems pretty backwards, but like I say for those looking to do enterprise development that sure would be a popular product....  Maybe that is my path to retirement:) 

                                                         

                                                        Like I say I love Flex, heck I build a huge framework to auto generate everything www.fxui.org  (www.youtube.com/user/fxuidotorg).  As I was going to start to market it I saw where flex 4 was going and kind of lost steam.  So trust me I am on your side, but just very leary of where things are going.

                                                         

                                                        Jeff

                                                        • 25. Re: Adobe Flex 4 Suggestion
                                                          tehxike1 Level 1

                                                          I really don't understand all the dire "Flex 4 is the end of flex" posts...  If the spark components aren't working for you, use the halo ones- they can all work side-by-side.  Personally, I love every bit of the new spark component set.  In fact, my only complaint is that all halo components don't have spark equivalents yet.

                                                           

                                                          Flex 4 removed my dependence on CSSBorderSkin and EnhancedButtonSkin, making skinning containers and buttons much, much easier.  If it's not doing that for you, stick with halo.

                                                          • 26. Re: Adobe Flex 4 Suggestion
                                                            David_F57 Level 5

                                                            Hi,

                                                             

                                                            I'm with you the new skinning is great, i never did like the whole css thing, now I don't need it at all.

                                                             

                                                            As far as visual design of skins, an editor would be nice, but for simple changes its pretty straight forward, I want a blue gradient titlebar on a panel I do a skin copy open the copy in designview click on the rect(that gives me the line of code in source view)  change the color and I see the change right there in the IDE, what would be nice is in source view I could right click on a color property and a color picker pops up, just a simple tool like that would be a massive time saver.

                                                             

                                                            David

                                                            • 27. Re: Adobe Flex 4 Suggestion
                                                              Krueger1 Level 1

                                                              I get that the old components work.  But my point is I doubt any new features will be made for the old components and probably someday even bug fixes will stop.  I get it they are open source fix it yourself.  But like I said before, so I now selected a great new technology and the feature pack will never change.  And the skinning does suck in flex 3, I wish more effort would have been put into that instead of this whole new way.

                                                               

                                                              Jeff

                                                              • 28. Re: Adobe Flex 4 Suggestion
                                                                David_F57 Level 5

                                                                Hi,

                                                                 

                                                                There is a lot of discussion about what flashbuilder could or should be for those that would like to see some of the things that I feel Adobe missed the boat on I would recommend looking at this plugin for flashbuilder. Especially if you like to put enhancement requests into jira.

                                                                 

                                                                http://www.elementriver.com/sourcemate/

                                                                 

                                                                It is still a little shakey in some areas but I love using it especially the code snippets/Templates and extra code completion features.

                                                                 

                                                                David.

                                                                • 29. Re: Adobe Flex 4 Suggestion
                                                                  Ansury Level 3

                                                                  Krueger1 wrote:

                                                                   

                                                                  But looking to the future, I have to assume steps will be made to make html/ajax so that you don't see all those browser issues, or that it is easy to do a data grid etc.

                                                                   

                                                                  This is true, and is actually somewhat dealt with already (although not on par with Flex component richness yet).  However a problem that DHTML/AJAX is not likely to ever resolve is the problem of maintainability.  New browsers or updated browsers can break AJAX mock-RIAs.  This requires additional work (in contrast to Flex) where, even if your application requires no updates, there is still a process that needs to be followed. 

                                                                   

                                                                  AJAX apologists like to reply that "their flavor-of-the-month DHTML library people handle these updates and keep everything working".  But their application has a dependency on that library (which it's maintainers may or may not indefinitely keep up to date), which means a mandatory delay in fixing any problems that come up, and an update of their application to use the new library version if an update was needed.  This is not trivial, as any decent software shop must do the usual test/patch/test cycle each time a browser they want to support has changed.

                                                                   

                                                                   

                                                                   

                                                                  Anyway, back to the maintenance-light world of Flex (as long as Adobe doesn't get into the habit of constantly deprecating component sets...).  The problem with using Halo (as mentioned in my other thread recently created on the topic) is that Adobe has not, to the best of my knowledge, told us whether it is official deprecated and/or if it will be "going bye bye" at some point in the future.  I have no problem with continuing to use Halo, and may just do that, however at the same time I'd like to know what the fate of the component set is.

                                                                  • 30. Re: Adobe Flex 4 Suggestion
                                                                    Ansury Level 3

                                                                    Krueger1 wrote:

                                                                     

                                                                    I get that the old components work.  But my point is I doubt any new features will be made for the old components and probably someday even bug fixes will stop.  I get it they are open source fix it yourself.

                                                                     

                                                                    Actually this brings up a good point, and another reason to want to hear from Adobe on whether Halo is "frozen" or still supported.  If the code is locked, perhaps what we need is a community project with the goal of unofficially maintaining/updating/enhancing Halo (and providing for it's support after it's removed, if ever).  Such an undertaking wouldn't be a good idea if Adobe is going to continue to make updates, so if a project like this is feasible the uncertainty may prevent one from ever starting.

                                                                     

                                                                    Newer (Spark) is not always better.  I find it unusual that so many are willing to automatically assume Spark is an improvement (being that it functions significantly differently) without at least first letting it prove itself for a few years.  Perhaps I'm making a bigger deal out of it than I should, but I'm not keen to the idea of updating my "old" apps to use a theme that doesn't add significant value for me.