We are looking to develop a suite of training courses for our client and it has been suggested to us that Flash Builder may be a good development environment. We like the concept of developing a single Flash based delivery solution which essentially calls in a collection of PDF Lessons (to make a course) and displays them. The Flash environment would provide all of the navigation for the user, both to page through the current PDF being displayed and to allow the user to jump to a different Lesson in the selected course, and communicates to a database (SQL would be good for us) to obtain which Lesson PDFs are required for any selected Course etc.
The client PCs on our client's intranet run IE6 but have quite recent Flash and Acrobat Reader capabilities. Can anyone help us understand what the client/server requirements would be to deploy a solution, such as I have suggested?
I know there are a lot of variables here but we want to get a feel if this is a non-starter or one we should consider more carefully. Currently we have a Dreamweaver web solution which works quite well but we would like greater layout control and more creative options which HTML for IE6 is compromising a bit. For this reason we like the idea of developing Lesson content in InDesign and exporting as PDFs. This also assists us for enabling a print capability.
We are currently looking at an ASP.NET MVC3 solution but being familiar with Flash we like the thought of extending Flash from being small elements within each Lesson to also handling the overall delivery mechanism.
I look forward to any suggestions.
If all you're going to be doing is displaying PDFs, then Flash Builder is DEFINITELY overkill for you. Make no mistake, FB4.5 is a full-on IDE for programming, not animation design. Flash Professional is probably more suited to your needs, it's much easier to learn, has a more intuitive interface, and has most of the basic functions FB4.5 has for your needs.
Now, if you were integrating a bunch of videos that were integrated into a back end database that triggered photos and text bullets from the database to appear onscreen at pre-defined time code "cue points," then yes, FB4.5 is much better suited for those kinds of highly integrated, media-rich applications. Flash Professional will run on pretty much any server out there. However, if you want to run FB4.5, you MUST have a server environment that supports PHP, Java or ColdFusion. I'm not a Java person, so can't speak to that, but if you want to run CF or PHP, you have to have very specific installations that most hosting services don't provide by default. CF requires, of course, ColdFusion to be installed on the server. PHP requires the Zend Framework to be installed. If you choose to go with FB4.5 and want to use PHP, I can highly recommend SurpassHosting.com, they have a developer hosting service for under $20/month that includes the Zend Framework AND Ruby on Rails.