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MS Access can make SQL databases and are suitable for learning on as its easy to use and set up. They have considerable limitations in the real world however so dont intend on using them for anything that requires lots of users or complex and fast queries. You can pick up an old version of office like 2000 for cheap and it will build and read the mdb files.
You can also just make static XML files and parse them like they were live content, your app wont know the difference.
Since I have SQL on my web host, and Microsoft is kind enough to have a very cheap developer version of SQL for my local PC, using that as a database is an option.
But, I BELIEVE the problem is then the interface between SQL and Flex. I would still need to purchase and learn something like dot net to create web services that Flex could use to get to the SQL data, no?
var rName = ""+ sqlObject("Record_Name");
var result= "";
result= "<xml>\n\r<name>"+ rName+ "</name>\n\r</xml>"
Yes, the Microsof Visual Web Developer, which is free, might work for you. I plan to start working with this fairly soon and will post if I discover anything cool.
I stronly advise using HTTPService and e4x XML in Flex.
I didn't know about that.
Free is good.