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Review: Macromedia Flex and Flex Builder : Comments

By Marc A. Garrett

September 22, 2004



September 23, 2004 9:46 AM


Nick Finck

September 23, 2004 10:04 AM

Did you mean to write does it support XUL? Marc will have to chime in here.

Marc A. Garrett

September 23, 2004 10:33 AM

My guess is “XUL?” translates to “why didn’t you write about XUL [or technology x] as one of the alternatives to Flex?” That’s a fair question. Here’s why I didn’t:

XUL requires the Gecko engine, which means that Internet Explorer — in any standard or commonly-supported configuration — doesn’t support XUL. Unlike Flex and Swing, XUL might be cross-platform but it’s not cross-browser. XUL is a cool technology, but it doesn’t have the current deployment options of Flex, Java, or DHTML.

Ryan Cannon

September 24, 2004 6:30 AM

It seems to me that Macromedia is handing web developers a bit of a bone. Now that standards exist to create exciting web technologies, the only failure is that the average viewer uses a sub-par web browser. Macromedia is allowing developers to say—if they can afford it—“forget incompatible user agents: everyone can get the flash plug-in.” The real question, I think, is does this technology incourage browser makers to make better browsers, or simply to allow the bad ones their hefty market share?

Ken Westin

September 29, 2004 1:29 AM

It is unfortunate that much of Macromedia’s server side technologies are not being widely adopted by most corporations, especially medium to large companies. Unfortunatly it seems that a combination of pricing and a poor branding image when it comes to their server side products is what is keeping them from really being a contender. The launch of ColdFusion MX before it was really ready for prime time really hurt them, then you think of Generator and Flash Com Server and most CIO’s tend to look at them as “gee whiz” components and not something that they would consider for a long term commitment, it is just too risky. Maybe if Macomedia would just put Flex, CFMX and Flash Com into a single (moderatly priced) package and focused on stability instead of pinache it would be adopted more. I love CFMX, FLEX (from playing with it locally) and these other great products, but unfortunatly those higher ups who make the technology decisions do not take them seriously, primarily based on their image and history.


September 30, 2004 9:40 AM

>XUL is a cool technology, but it doesn’t have the current deployment options of Flex, Java, or DHTML.
agreed. Let’s see what Google and others do in the next year and talk again then :)


September 30, 2004 9:42 AM

My comment got snipped somehow, maybe the right brackets:

——why didn’t you write about XUL
-I saw you mention SVG, XAML, etc., therefore…

——XUL requires the Gecko engine
-And Flex requires the Flash engine, but I see your point.

——XUL is a cool technology, but it doesn’t have the current deployment options of Flex, Java, or DHTML.
let’s see what google and others do in the next year and talk again then :)


October 9, 2004 2:17 PM

I would just like to mention in Macromedia’s defence. The cost of $8.99 for the developer license, is to cover:
a) The CD itself
b) Shipping and Handling

The reason Macromedia don’t have a download up, is that it’s simply too large. Sure some people will download it (think of the people downloading 4CD Linux distros) but this also gives crackers the chance at warezing their new product.

At least they are making this more accessible to developers than Breeze.

- Davey

jess mcmullin

October 16, 2004 6:20 PM

Laszlo beat Macromedia to market with a declarative RIA presentation server, and provides almost the same features as Flex.

However, building a Flash-based server that competes with Macromedia is a hard play, which might explain why Laszlo has open sourced their basic presentation server.

I haven’t found a Laszlo IDE though, and I’d like to hear from anyone with experience with both Laszlo & Flex…anyone?

Rob Jones

October 18, 2004 9:40 AM

Great article! I have been learning Flex in my spare time over the past few months, and for the most part am impressed.

One thing I have noticed is that all the discussion and documentation about Flex has been focused on the Java component of Flex. There is little or no discussion about how web-based interface designers like myself can make the transition to Flex. Learning Flex on your own without a J2EE coder working with you can be challenge. Once you work through MM’s “Hello World” examples you are on your own. Doing any real-world development in Flex is non-trivial, and requires advanced knowledge of Java, Web Services, MVC, Actionscript, App servers (tomcat, jboss, etc). Designers who are not working in a Java shop will find it hard to get any meaningful experience with Flex.

Perhaps the idea is that Flex is so turn-key that you don’t need designers anymore, but I have seen some examples of what Java programmers have done with Flex and I can say this is not the case.

Also, we have a Rich Internet Applications group over at

Lenny Cooper

October 24, 2004 7:05 AM

Wow! This article was very helpful and easy to understand. Thanks. ;-)


November 17, 2005 12:48 AM

Can one of you share with us the latest development on FLEX? I am seriously evaluating it for my web application development platform.

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