Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Flex: Expert Developers Needed

The majority of my Flex posts have been pro-Flex. The two biggest reasons I advocate for Flex are:There are a few places that I'd love experts to help evolve.
  • state of testing with Flex is good enough, but it's got plenty of room to improve. (mocking framework, test runners, test frameworks, better stubbing)
  • The language has dynamic capabilities, but seems to be evolving into a statically typed language.
  • The majority of examples only show Flex with ActionScript in Script tags mixed with the MXML components (which is not how you need to code). I write my Flex with unobtrusive ActionScript, and it's quite easy.
  • The MVC framework feels a bit too full of ceremony. I'd love to see some competition resulting in easier to use components.
Unfortunately, most of the developers I talk to these days are not excited about Flex adoption. I'll be the first to tell you it's not perfect, but I'm surprised by the hesitation level. I don't consider myself an early adopter, and I don't tolerate much pain from any technology. But, I don't think Flex fits in the category of bleeding edge or excessive yak shaving. There are gotchas, but what technology doesn't have them? The most depressing aspect of the expert hesitation is that they wont get the opportunity to help shape the language/platform.

I already find myself so effective using Flex that I would reach for it anytime I consider Javascript in the future. But, the world would be a much better place if the experts continued to improve upon an already solid base.


  1. I couldn't agree more Jay. I enjoy the feeling of developing in Flex, it 'feels right' whereas with HTML/AJAX I always have this niggling feeling that it was never really designed for this.

    The Adobe supported framework has always felt overkill and based on what feels like Struts and early EJB patterns.

    There looks could be ways of using the dynamic language with more unobtrusive Actionscript. There is always this constant conflict that data driven Flex always seems to break the design view. It could and should be abstracted away.

    I support your call to arms.

  2. Anonymous8:26 PM

    You should check out PureMVC, I find it as powerful but easier to use than Cairngorm, plus is has much better documentation.

  3. It's great to see someone big in the ruby and rails community talking about the value of Flex. At EffectiveUI when we have a hard time finding Flex developers we usually turn to Java developers and train them. Not that that's bad, but I'd rather get some interest among programmers from dynamic languages so taht we can get them thinking about using what they've learned there in Flex.

    As a side note, although AS3 is dynamic, you get a lot of speed from treating it like Java and using strong types. I'd like to see that change, and some of the new features proposed for the next version of ECMA script are interesting, and give me hope that the language will learn from what people have been doing with dynamic languages.

  4. Take a look at Mate, a Flex framework.

    MVC set aside, I've found it very useful for managing 1) events and 2) what to do when those events are dispatched. Mate is very lightweight, simple, and flexible. While the framework is primarily tag based, those tags make sense in context and give you plenty of opportunity to break out your AS chops. It's well documented and taking the time to browse the sample apps is worth while.

    I'm fairly new to Flex. Finding Mate this week has been a real jewel in my crown.


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