The most popular and comprehensive Open Source ECM platform
After a year of consolidating Macromedia assets, Adobe is beginning to move forward aggresively with their FLEX product. Yesterday they announced an updated FLEX 2.0 with a much more attractive pricing model.
As an Adobe Solution Network Developer member, this announcement was of great interest to us at Formtek. With the global acceptance of Adobe’s PDF file format for document exchange, Adobe is similarly positioning FLEX as the next-generation standard for delivering Internet applications.
FLEX is Adobe’s answer to developers for creating high-performance browser-based applications categorized as Web 2.0. It provides Visual-Basic-like development tools for quick development of Rich Internet Applications (RIAs).
What makes FLEX especially attractive is the ubiquity of the Adobe Flash Plugin that FLEX applications are deployed to. Microsoft is considered to have a monopolistic 85% of browser market share, give or take 5%. But consider Flash. Nearly all browsers support the Flash plugin, and almost everyone’s browser already has it installed. With the near total availability of Flash, there is a single platform that can be developed for that will allow applications to behave and render consistently.
The problem with FLEX has been the fact that it’s proprietary and not free. With yesterday’s announcement of FLEX 2.0, that still remains true, but it’s more attractive than before. The FLEX SDK is now available for free. That’s a good start, but FLEX still comes with costs. The FLEX IDE plugin for Eclipse run $499 (and $749 with Charting capabilities).
But it is the middleware component where there is a steep cost. The FLEX Data Services — FLEX middleware that provides high-performance synchronization of data and handling large data sets — comes free for a single CPU, but when scaled up to multiple CPUs is $20,000 per CPU plus maintenance and support.
FLEX offers a compelling alternative to AJAX RIA development. Technically it is superior. It supports a wider range of browsers and browser versions. The issue remaining for wide-spread acceptance is its proprietary nature and steep middle-tier cost.