Flash and Flex, bridging the gap

This post is a followup of my previous post regarding Flex and Flash. Although this is a followup, the focus has changed in parallel with the internal functionality and focus of Flex Builder and Flash. Back in august 2007, Flex and Flash existed in two different worlds, this is still the case, however now there are bridges between the two worlds.
As a developer, Flex (Builder/Eclipse) is a tool far superior to the Flash editor from my point of view. But when it comes to flexible design, Flex Builder still brings little to none to the table. And as far as my understanding of Adobe strategy goes, this is done intentionally. Flash should be an animation and design tool, whereas Flex Builder focuses on the developers. Adobe does intentionally try to separate the two..smart move!

What Adobe has done to amend for the intentional wedge driven in between Flash and Flex, is to create ways for developers to remain in Flex Builder while "importing" design created from within Flash. This is done trough bridging tools like the Flex component kit and the Flex component templates. This enables designers to stay in Flash(or any other CS product), using tools familiar to them, creating the design to be implemented via Flex. This approach to creating rich interactive content is much better than the old one involving big ass .fla files and no code help what so ever(almost). The snag is, when Adobe decides to change the approach of the designer developer workflow, change is also forced upon a bunch of Adobe/Macromedia users. To change their entire workflow may seem as a daunting task for many designers and developers. However this change is a change for the better, it's just a matter of dropping the conservative mindset.

As of now, the Flex Component kit is the best way to prepare for the real transition in my mind. You can of course go ahed and do lots of CSS styling in Flex builder, not a good idea unless there's only one person working on the project, as Flex builder is needed to see the design as a whole. The real transition is of course the introduction of FXG, the new interchange format making it possible to do full designs in CS products, add interactivity in the upcoming Flash Catalyst, then do the development in Flex Builder. In this way the different tools will keep their strengths and not worry about unrelated functionality, Flash becomes a design/animation tool and Flex a development tool exclusively. Like the current workflow of movie editing suites like FinalCut Studio, you will be able to use the FXG format to pass files back an forth between the designer and the developer, maintaining the focus, never worrying about stuff outside your field of your expertise. This is a long awaited and a big step for Adobe. Along with AIR, this move will in my opinion reinforce the FlashPlayer status as the goto(pun intended) technology for cross-platform interactive content and development.

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