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Flex Builder for Linux Dead?

by Jon Rose on May 01, 2009 |

Over the last few years, Adobe has taken a number of steps to entice a broad range of enterprise developers to use the Flex development platform, including major moves toward openness around the platform with the Open Screen project and the open sourcing of the Flex SDK and Blaze Data Services project. With all Adobe's extra work to court open source minded developers, it is surprising to hear the rumblings this week about the end of Flex Builder Linux.

Radek Gruchalski quotes Adobe's Ben Forta as saying the following about the current state of the Flex Builder Linux project:

"there is not enough requisition for the product to continue its development."

There is no official statement from Adobe, but labs.adobe.com shows the last Flex Builder Linux release as an alpha release in August, 2008. With the last release more than 8 months ago, there is little reason to believe the project is active. Tom Chiverton shares his thoughts on the importance of Flex Builder Linux:

This is very bad news for anyone who uses Linux to produce Flex content, as the existing build on Adobe Labs is incomplete, even compared to the existing Flex Builder 3 product. It's also not been updated very much, and certainly not recently (there are funny manual steps required to get the latest Flex SDK and AIR working with it, for instance). I dread to think how much further behind it will be allowed to drift if this report is true, and so I've logged a formal bug with Adobe.

How does the InfoQ community view Adobe's apparent choice to stop Flex Builder Linux development? With a number of thought leaders using Linux, will this affect the adoption of the Flex platform?

For those interested in voicing your opinion with Adobe, you can vote for Flex Builder Linux at: http://bugs.adobe.com/jira/browse/FB-19053

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Community comments

Adobe would be making a mistake by Jean-Simon LaRochelle

I think right now the adoption of Linux is really piking up speed. My wife for example is running Linux on her ultra portable and is perfectly happy with it. In fact many people I know could switch to Linux tomorrow and they would not see much difference. Many already use Firefox and use their PC mostly for Internet and some of them are actually switching to Linux (hear that Adobe). I really think we are at a turning point.

Linux on the desktop never became relevant by Dan Tines

The adoption of Macs by developers fragmented an already small Unix desktop market. And to compound the problem, the history of distro development for Linux has always been a support nightmare for ISVs.

Just run a virtual machine.

Re: Adobe would be making a mistake by Dan Tines

I really think we are at a turning point.

That's been said every other day about desktop Linux for over 10 years now. It never happened, and never will. One reason is that there's no single, canonical desktop Linux (even though Ubuntu is somewhat becoming that).

The biggest reason, however, is that there was never a compelling enough reason for most to switch to Linux.

Flex was made thinking on the tools by Miguel Hernandez

I've been using Linux(various distros) all my development career without any problems.

Now I'm starting developing widht Flex and I discovered, sadly, that there is a big disadvantage for Flex developers in Linux, as for today the only real option its IntelliJ IDEA, but its missing one of the most useful features of Flex Builder the Display View.
I think mxml is designed around the idea of having a visual WYSWYG editor, and in Linux is simply missing.

As for me next month I'm giving up and installing a VM just for running Flex Builder which is really painful.

Using Windows for development by geekycoder geekycoder

First of all, why I think the notion of creating a development environment for multiple operating system is unsustainable. It is that in this competitive market, timing and first to market is everything, and resource is better to direct limited resources into winner "operating system" because in reality no matter no matter how attractive a multi-plaform development enviroment is, the company naturally tend to focus more resources on lucrative and established OS (since profitability is important for management since pay/perk link to it), and beside there is a tough challenge of maintaining consistent application behaviour/features across multiple platform as in the case of Development platform (where it tends to use native library or plaform-specific hack workaround if one ever peek at their files and codebase). Rather than spending time and resource to ensure that the development environment from multiple platform are keep in sync, the firm can better focus resource to improve the core product.

I think the Adobe will make the right choice to make Development environment available on Windows since it has the largest market, and and Linux already destined for "niche" users (As Borland Kylix prove that, so after years of Kylix's demise, the perception of Linux as technies' OS still remain, it is hard to change that perception no matter how friendly Linux Desktop has become)

Anotjer main reason to drop support for multiple platform is because of increasing popularity of virtualisaton running in powerful multipleCore PC using product such as VMWAre, the free Sun's virtualBox, Parallels Desktop. The improving performance and seamless integration of this virtualisation means that developers will use Windows OS for best-of-breed development in the future, and I think this will be the trend in the future. Windows will be used for development to develop multiplatform application (within virtual machine, eg JVM, FlashPlayer, CLR)

Windows for devs is dying by Christopher Brind

If you're not doing Windows/Microsoft development then most developers will be more productive on a non-Windows machine such as Mac or Linux. That's the bottom line and I think most if not all developers will admit that. However, it's quite rare their employers will let them have a development environment that is not Windows based. Running a VM is one option, but wrapped in a Windows environment ultimately stifles productivity.

So given this news post and the comments in response, I found this a little surprising:

"Adobe AIR won the Linux Journal's Readers' Choice award for "Favorite Platform for Developing Rich Internet Apps" this year."

blogs.adobe.com/jd/2009/05/linux_journal_reader...

Re: Windows for devs is dying by Dan Tines

If you're not doing Windows/Microsoft development then most developers will be more productive on a non-Windows machine such as Mac or Linux. That's the bottom line and I think most if not all developers will admit that.


That's obviously not true or the number of Linux and Mac machines on developer desktops would be much greater.

I'm not buying your "PHB oppresses the poor developer" argument.

Re: Windows for devs is dying by Christopher Brind

Perhaps you work for one of those companies where your bosses are more open to suggestion, or better still servants to the developers. Most people do not. The other contributing factor is that a lot of developers simply don't get the chance to try and work on Mac or linux. For none-Windows/Microsoft developer it is a much more natural environment to work in, that's just fact.

Re: Windows for devs is dying by geekycoder geekycoder

It is no surprise that all the major multiplatform development environment like Eclipse (which FlexBuilder based on), Netbeans and Intellij run better and deliver more positive experience in Windows OS platform compare to other OS counterpart due to large amount of attention and optimization to its Windows version. The strategy for most IDE vendors are pretty clear cut, that is the product running on Windows version is the first priority above any OS version, so if the other OS version fail or been underdevelop, the developers will be asked to fall back to Windows version (by using virtualisation software if they are not running Windows OS).

Adobe might feel that they are disadvantage rather than advantage to build on Linux version when JavaFX is now aggressively develop for Windows version first with Linux port later. There is a lot of progress make onto JavaFX when major limited resource is focus solely on Windows version. I guess that kind of progress might have surprised Adobe so much that it reconsidering its Linux Flex development strategy.

Re: Windows for devs is dying by Ilya Sterin

Yeah, I'm not sure you know what you're talking about. So I've been using IntelliJ and Flex Builder for years on OS X. Flex Builder had some issues (but all were attributed to Eclipse bugs). But IntelliJ gives the best experience on OS X, at least the same as it is on Windows. I used it on Windows 3 years ago before I finally got off that crappy OS and have been enjoying the full power of Unix with a great UI. With that said, development on *NIX platforms (outside of .NET) is much easier and natural, than doing the same on Windows.

Re: Windows for devs is dying by geekycoder geekycoder

It look like each person's experience on IDE running on different OS is different and depend on the comfort and preference of working with particular OS. I have to admit I biased towards Windows since I am using Windows extensively and it has a lot of great development tools (eg Jprofiler, yourkit) that work great.

I wonder too how long can the vendors sustain and justify the development of increasingly complex and feature-rich IDEs across multiple OS.

Re: Windows for devs is dying by Dan Tines

Perhaps you work for one of those companies where your bosses are more open to suggestion, or better still servants to the developers. Most people do not.


Developers have more leeway than your typical clerical staff

The other contributing factor is that a lot of developers simply don't get the chance to try and work on Mac or linux.


They can always use it at home.

For none-Windows/Microsoft developer it is a much more natural environment to work in, that's just fact.


Wrong, it's just your personal preference.

Re: Windows for devs is dying by Dan Tines

With that said, development on *NIX platforms (outside of .NET) is much easier and natural, than doing the same on Windows.


Back in the mid, late 90s I wrote C++ specifically for Linux. In that case, I developed on a Linux desktop. If you're responsible for deployment, server administration concerns and your target is Unix then yeah it could be easier (e.g. setting up Apache, various shell scripts).

But if you're writing portable code and are not responsible for various deployment and administration concerns, then it's really just a personal preference.

I spend half my time administering various Linux systems and half my time developing. I've been running various Linux machines on the desktop since the mid 90s, but at this time I run windows on the desktop.

Now if I could get management to fork out the bucks for a 8 gig PowerMac the I'd probably run OSX. I do need at least a windows virtual machine for some video applications I write.

Once you think outside of your personal preferences bubble, then it's much easier to be objective about things.

Re: Windows for devs is dying by Christopher Brind

> Now if I could get management to fork out the bucks for a 8 gig PowerMac the I'd probably run OSX.

Which vindicates my point... you'd prefer a Mac, if you could afford one. (Note that my 4gb Mac Book pro is a very adequate dev machine for what I do)

> I do need at least a windows virtual machine for some video applications I write.

Why not run Windows in the VM instead? Very easy to do on a Mac.

What you'll be running is a much more developer friendly environment, but it sounds like you know that already.

Re: Windows for devs is dying by Dan Tines

Which vindicates my point... you'd prefer a Mac, if you could afford one. (Note that my 4gb Mac Book pro is a very adequate dev machine for what I do)


It does not vindicate your point. I just have a Unix background, manage Linux systems, and could have the best of both worlds.

I can also run a Linux virtual machine on my current machine.

Why not run Windows in the VM instead? Very easy to do on a Mac.

What you'll be running is a much more developer friendly environment, but it sounds like you know that already.


Or as I stated above, why not run Linux in a virtual machine instead? Actually, for the video applications I write a virtual machine isn't ideal.

The only thing I've really ever missed from modern windows OSs is a decent shell.

I haven't had the time to really learn much about Powershell, but because of it's "everything is an object" instead of "everything is a stream of text" looks to spank Bash or anything in the Unix world.

Re: Adobe would be making a mistake (...Linux at a turning point) by Jean-Simon LaRochelle

I agree that "Linux adoption at a turning point" has been stated before. However, the reason why I think that things are changing is that the people use their PC is also changing. More and more people are using their PC to browse the Web and in fact I think a new category of user has emerged: the Web appliance users.
For those people the traditional stoppers for alternate OS adoption are less valid. Security and good performance on less powerful hardware however are a factor. The ease of installation (often better than Windows) of the new distributions is also a factor.

...all the major multiplatform ... environment..run better on Windows by Jean-Simon LaRochelle

Sorry, but that statement simply is not true. I run Netbeans at home on Linux (Ubuntu) and at work on Windows and everything runs better on Linux (for example, same version of Netbeans takes 50% less startup time under Linux).

Re: ...all the major multiplatform ... environment..run better on Windows by Jason M

Sorry, but that statement simply is not true. I run Netbeans at home on Linux (Ubuntu) and at work on Windows and everything runs better on Linux (for example, same version of Netbeans takes 50% less startup time under Linux).


Launching the same program on two different computers and comparing startup times is hardly a fair comparison.

Re: Windows for devs is dying by Jason M

Can someone here explain to me why I would want to develop on a mac / linux desktop for a program that will be run in windows?

I use eclipse, flex builder, python / ruby for scripting, and photoshop for image editing. I already have cygwin installed so I am not lacking a shell, what would be a good reason for me to want to run Linux /Mac outside of personal distaste for Microsoft.

Nothing in this thread posts any reasons for why its better, just that it is. My day to day activites are read requirements, write up a design, code java, code flex, do other coding stuff, builds usually in Ant / Maven... refactor, make some images. What in mac OSX or the linux desktop is going to make that any easier to do, over what Windows XP / Vista gives me? I currently use XP and my computer usually runs for a month or so before I even bother to reboot it (and this usually because our tech services team has made an update that requires a reboot), so OS stability is not an issue at all.

If I want to test my web app in IE 6, which unfortunately is still the target browser for lots of companies out there it just means more work for me.

Convert me with something other than its just better.

Re: Windows for devs is dying by geekycoder geekycoder

"Can someone here explain to me why I would want to develop on a mac / linux desktop for a program that will be run in windows?"

It is generally matter of OS preference and wanting to use a "OS-native" application, not "second-class" application. If someone favour a certain OS, it naturally for that person to prefer to use application (or IDE) native to that OS.

Sometimes, it does make business sense to develop a application using a IDE that run on the same OS as the application to save testing time and avoid fixing OS compatibility issue later.

As in the case of FlexBuilder, developer naturally will prefer "native" Flexbuilder application especially when the Flex RIA or AIR application developed can be run in multiplaform. It is same argument for JavaFX/Java applicaton too.

I don't think Windows development is dying. Linux and MacOSX may be improving but so is Windows. It is not just performance factor over Windows, it is also combination of many important factors such as support, ease of use, wide-range of development application, vendor-support, profitability and market-share etc that make a certain OS attractive environment for development.

Re: ...all the major multiplatform ... environment..run better on Windows by Jean-Simon LaRochelle

Indeed! The problem is that the machine at home is the less powerful of the two. Both hard drive speed and CPU. Sorry...
The reason why I switch to Windows at home is because I just got tired of the ridiculous performances of Windows. I'm not a Linux fanatic but there is a point where you have to get serious.

Re: Linux on the desktop never became relevant by Leonardo C.

You're talking about the desktop OSs used by developers(because if not, whatever OS the end user runs is, as of now, relatively irrelevant for flash apps),right? In that niche linux is and has always been strong! Partially because the target platforms(the servers) for running the server-side products are linux themselves. LifeCycle for example is written in java, which is an opensource technology, and the majority of servers out there running BlazeDS are *nix.
Something else that you seem to argue is that "everyone must use commercial OS", even developers. That would be unsustainable, but that's a whole different discussion..

Re: Flex was made thinking on the tools by Leonardo C.

Man, I develop with linux flex builder and I must say I don't miss the display view at all. Nor does the rest of my team.
Running flex builder inside a VM is quite painful indeed(you'll need a very good machine with lots of ram), good luck with that :)

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