Macromedia today announced Flex 2, a major new release of its framework for building Web applications with rich, client-side Flash interfaces. Flash Player 8.5 will add a new ActionScript Virtual Machine (AVM2), supporting ActionScript 3.0 (AS3)—an updated version of the scripting language that will be compliant with the latest ECMAScript standard. Only Flash movies compiled for AS3 will run on this new VM. The downside of this architecture is that movies and components that use AS3 will not be interoperable with those that use AS2 (e.g. an AS3 movie that loads and displays a nested movie that uses AS2 will not be able to access functions and variables within that movie).
Flex Builder 2, previously code-named Zorn, will be the new IDE for Flex, rewritten from scratch to run on the Eclipse platform. While the current version of Flex costs some US$12,000, Flex 2 will cost less than US$1,000 for the basic components described above. Although you’re constrained to communicating with the server via XML data transfer and SOAP Web Services, you can certainly implement anything you can do with AJAX and DHTML, only with a richer GUI. What’s missing from the package is the server-side component of the Flex framework, which has been split into a separate product for Flex 2: Flex Enterprise Services 2.
Flex Enterprise Services 2 will come with the big per-CPU price tag, but will be significantly upgraded from the server-side facilities provided by Flex 1. The main focus of the enhanced package is the transparent availability of server-side resources (such as database records and enterprise services) within Flex applications.
Although the greatly reduced price tag for developers who don’t need the Enterprise Services package is welcome news, Macromedia do not plan to continue offering free non-commercial/non-institutional licenses as they now do with Flex 1. With students and hobbyist users having obtained free licenses and developed applications with Flex 1, they’ll either have to front up for a license to Flex 2, or be left out in the cold.
Joshua Paine Says:
October 6th, 2005 at 11:22 pm
Does Flex matter with OpenLaszlo http://www.openlaszlo.org/ around? At least the previous version of Flex didn’t look as good or behave as nicely as OpenLaszlo, and the feature sets seemed pretty comparable. OL 3.1 seems to be coming out any day now.