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Who is Using Flex?

| by Jon Rose on Oct 30, 2007. Estimated reading time: 2 minutes |
When considering new tools, decision makers in the software industry often consider the rate of adoption as a key metric in their assessment on whether or not to embrace a given tool. Adobe’s Flex framework seems to be nearing a critical point in this cycle, as a number of large companies are now using Flex to implement new features. So, who is using Flex anyway?

Flex is a key part of SAP’s plan to improve the quality of their user interfaces. In a recent itworld.com piece, James Governor explained the need for SAP to pursue improvements in their user interfaces.
"Anything that improves SAP's interfaces, which are hideous and hard to use, is a good thing," said James Governor, an industry analyst with RedMonk LLC.
Spend Analytics is SAP’s first full-blown effort with Flex:
SAP has just developed its first application based entirely on Flex, called Spend Analytics, for aggregating and analyzing spend data, said Matthias Zeller, a senior Adobe product manager, in a presentation at Tech Ed.
HP has also pushed ahead with Flex, launching a Print Studio recently built using Flex. Adobe’s Mike Potter announced the release of the new application on his blog this week. He outlines how the application works, and observes:
This is a really nice looking Flex application that doesn't look anything like a typical Flex application. Kudos to the HP team for doing such a great job on it.
Google has joined the Flex developer community with a Flex version of their Searchmash application. Adobe’s Mike Potter makes a few observations on their Flex implementation:
There are a few interesting things about this Flex application. First of all, for video searches you can play the videos right in the search results, without having to visit the site. A nice touch, though the way they've implemented it could be done in an HTML page as well (the videos play on the right side of the results - it would be neat to play the search results themselves).

The second interesting thing that they've done is embed Google Maps in their Flex application. I haven't had time to figure out how they've done this (are they overlaying the HTML over the Flex application, or have they built a Flex version of Google Maps), but either solution would be really cool.
In addition to those adopting Flex, Adobe has formed a few interesting partnerships, including a recent alliance with Business Objects. PCWorld.com details the partnership:
Adobe Systems Inc. is teaming up with Business Objects SA to add business-intelligence capabilities to rich Internet applications (RIAs).

… Adobe and Business Objects also will explore technology to integrate Adobe's Flex development environment and Xcelsius to make it quicker and easier for developers to create more visually interesting business-intelligence applications.
Along with a growing number of groups building Flex applications, Adobe is boasting a number of notable early adopters to their Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR). The Register notes a number of the companies highlighted at the Adobe Max 2007 conference:
Adobe paraded a string of early adopters at its Max 07 conference in Chicago to reinforce the message AIR is ready for action. AOL, eBay, PayPal, Business Objects, SAP, Yahoo! and Salesforce.com showed off desktop applications developed using AIR, Flex and Flash.
Adobe has created a lot of buzz of late. There are certainly a number of interesting adopters to put some substance behind all the hype.

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ILOG Elixir provides visualization capabilities for Flex by Daniel Selman

Built specifically for the Adobe Flex 3.0 platform. ILOG Elixir provides advanced capabilities for:


  • 2D chart extensions with radar charts (also named spider charts)

  • Full 3D charts including bar/column, area, line and pie

  • Treemap charts, for analyzing large data sets

  • Planning and scheduling displays, such as Gantt charts

  • Organizational charts

  • Maps for creating interactive dashboards



www.ilog.com/products/elixir/

Scripting languages are back with a vengance by Dean Schulze

Flex is ActionScript (ECMAScript) along with an XML dialect for layout. You can write everything in ActionScript and skip the XML if you want. Think of ActionScript as JavaScript on steroids.

Scripting languages like Flex/ActionScript and JavaScript (especially in its AJAX incarnation) are back with a vengance. Rich client development or at least enhancements with a scripting language are a requirement of today's web application development. HTML with CSS is no longer adequate.

The problem with scripting languages is that they encourage hacking. It is possible to write well designed, well written, modular JavaScript/ECMAScript programs and libraries. Unfortunately that seems to be the exception rather than the rule in JavaScript/Flex/ECMAScript development.

ECMAScript is a skill every J2EE developer should develop. The ECMAScript community needs the influence of good design and pattern usage that is (usually) found in the J2EE community.

User Experience by Michael Marth

We use Flex 2 for our soon-to-launch online dating site viibee.com

The reason: Flex enabled us to create a user experience far beyond anything that we could have done with a comparable effort in Javascript/Ajax.

But, I would like to note that the programming paradigm is quite different to JS/web-based apps. It is not web programming, but rather client-server, much like Java applets (in fact, I like to think of Flex as Java applets done right). So, there is quite a learning curve in terms of architecture.

Flex Showcase by Mike Potter

The Flex Showcase at flex.org/showcase/ has over 120 companies and individuals who have built Flex applications.

Mike

Mike Potter
Adobe Systems Inc.
flex.org/

Re: Flex Showcase by James Ward

The Adobe site also has a more extensive (but not complete) customer list:
www.adobe.com/products/flex/customers/

-James
www.jamesward.org

Flex rocks by leftie friele

Our startup company Ezmo have used Flex since the start and we're extremely happy with the framework.
Without any prior knowledge of Flex/Flash we built our application in less than two weeks. The integration between Java and Flex is super simple and getting started with Flex is just a walk in the park.

The tool support is very good too with Flex Builder you get the familiar surroundings of Eclipse and you are off and running without much problems.
The one thing that is missing is better tools for continuous integration and better plugins into Maven for building Flex applications.

Re: Flex rocks by tyler larson

The html component that was mentioned can be found here.
www.judahfrangipane.com/blog/?p=104

It uses iframes and is a little buggy. The browser is basically applying things over top the flex content.

This is a very interesting idea but the place where flex goes wrong in my mind thinking compiling everything up into a single unaccessible file is ok. Text is a good thing and the reason why silverlight will gain some speed. But in the end the silverlight will fail because it is to basic and a more comprehensive actionscript solution will be released.

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