Now Available: Effortless Flex 4 Development – Great for Flex and PHP Developers

The official Flex team blog reminded me that Effortless Flex 4 Development is now available. It’s the perfect book for Flex and PHP developers and I got an inside look at it as I did the tech-reviewing for it. Larry is an awesome author who usually does a lot with PHP but recently started getting into Flex and in talking to him it sounds like he really enjoys it. So definitely go out and grab a copy. I think we’re going to try and buy some to give away as I go out and talk to PHP and Flex developers alike.

Available Flex 4 Books

Often books are used as a measure of success for a technology platform. For instance, O’Reilly used to publish a bi-yearly report on the state of the technology book market. (They may still, though I can’t find one more recent than last year.)

And since today I received an email letting me know that a new book called “Effortless Flex 4 Development” was released (written by Larry Ullman, a well known author of many technology books), I decided to check Amazon to see how many Flex 4 books have been released.

A quick search for “flex 4” yielded 18 results for published and soon to be published books on Flex 4, plus one curiously titled “Handbook of School-Gymnastics of the Swedish System” (Note to Amazon: you may want to work on your search algorithm.)

The highest rated book is from Adobe: Adobe Flex 4: Training from the Source, Volume 1. The second highest is the Flex 4 Cookbook: Real-world recipes for developing Rich Internet Applications (Oreilly Cookbooks), based on recipies from the Adobe Developer Connection Cookbook site. Either of them would be great books for someone looking to come up to speed on Flex development.

There are 67 books available for Flex 3, which has been out for about 2 1/2 years. Flex 4 books are already nearly 1/3 of the way to that total, only 6 months into release.

Mirroring Layouts in Flex

Now that Flex 4 is out the door, don’t be fooled into thinking the Flex SDK team is resting on their laurels! We are planning a followup release to Flex 4 which should come out in the first half of 2010. This release will include support for Flash Player 10.1 and AIR 2 as well as contain some new feature work and critical bugfixes.

The feature I’m most excited about is the new “layout mirroring” feature. This feature allows developers to mirror their layouts for right-to-left locales. The intent of this feature is to trivialize repurposing a Flex UI designed for a left-to-right language (like English or French) for a right-to-left language (like Hebrew or Arabic).

To support layout mirroring, some new APIs have been added. The two most important are layoutDirection (defined by the new interface mx.core.ILayoutDirectionElement) that is settable on any UIComponent, GraphicElement, SpriteVisualElement or UIMovieClip. [Note: on UIComponent, layoutDirection is a style and for GraphicElement, SpriteVisualElement and UIMovieClip, layoutDirection is implemented as a property].

The new layoutDirection property can be set to “ltr”, “rtl”, or null. When set to “rtl”, a mirroring transform is applied to mirror the layout. This mirroring transform is implemented atop the advanced layout features that was introduced in Flex 4.

What about text? First off, applications that depend on layout mirroring need to use FTE text which supports bi-directionality. If you have a Spark based application or component, FTE is used by default. If you intend to mirror a Flex 3 application, you need to enable FTE text in order to have bi-directional text. Once the text in your application is FTE-based, all you need to do is turn “on” bi-directionality by setting direction=”rtl” on the text components (this style inherits, so you can simply set it at the top-level and it will percolate down). This will ensure the default embedding level of all text blocks in your application is right-to-left.

There are definitely some parts of your application you will want to hand-tweak as the UI gets mirrored. However, in order to get your feet wet, I’d suggest taking the application you want to mirror and setting layoutDirection=”rtl” and direction=”rtl” on the top-level container of your application. This will percolate down through the display list and mirror according to the default Flex implementation.

So, what does this all mean? Well, on Tuesday, 3/31/10 the layout mirroring feature signed off! This is a huge accomplishment for the SDK Dev and QA teams as this feature required a lot of coordination across multiple engineers on the team (as well as input from our globalization teams and external customers). I encourage people to use the multi-SDK feature in Flash Builder 4 to download a build containing the newly landed layout mirroring feature, and give it a try. The best build to download would be 4.1.0.15132 or any build posted after that changelist. To learn more about the layout mirroring feature, please read the specification and if you find issues, file them in JIRA.

Flex 4 documentation now available in French, German Russian, Chinese and Japanese!

Flex 4 documentation is now available in six languages!

English – http://help.adobe.com/en_US/AS3LCR/Flex_4.0/
French – http://help.adobe.com/fr_FR/AS3LCR/Flex_4.0/
German – http://help.adobe.com/de_DE/AS3LCR/Flex_4.0/
Russian – http://help.adobe.com/ru_RU/AS3LCR/Flex_4.0/
Japanese – http://help.adobe.com/ja_JP/AS3LCR/Flex_4.0/
Chinese – http://help.adobe.com/zh_CN/AS3LCR/Flex_4.0/

We’ve also included links to all six languages in every Flex 4 component sample in Tour de Flex (screenshot below):

Filed under: Adobe Flex Tagged: Adobe Flex, Flex, Flex 4, flex chinese, flex docs, flex documentation, […]

The new Flex.org

On Monday, March 22, 2010 we launch Adobe Flex 4 and Flash Builder.   We also launched a brand new Flex.org.  For those of you familiar with Flex.org, you will notice a substantial difference!
Be sure to check out the new Flex showcase (click “What’s Possible“).   Every time we add an application to the showcase, we tweet […]

Getting started with Flex 4, Flash Builder 4 and ColdFusion Builder

I’m pretty sure you will have heard that the Flex 4 SDK, Flash Builder 4 and ColdFusion Builder have been released today. If not, check out Andrew Shorten’s blog post on the Flex Team blog.
Andrew Shorten: In the Flex 4 SDK, we’ve implemented a completely new component and skinning architecture (Spark) that supports a level […]

Flash Builder 4 and Flex 4 Released

It feels like a long road, but today we’re releasing the final versions of Flash Builder 4 and the Flex 4 SDK. If you were one of the attendees at Flash Camp Boston, you got the final versions on the DVD (but we had to call it a release candidate) so there’s no need to update. For the rest of you, make sure to grab the latest and greatest right now. If you’ve installed previous betas/prerelease versions, you will need to uninstall those before you install the new versions.

I’ve been a Flex developer for a long time, since version 1.5, and I genuinely think this is the most significant release in the history of Flex. We made some huge architectural changes in this version of the SDK. The new skinning model which separates the logic of a component from the look and feel is going to let you create some very complex and unique user interfaces. An improved states model along with a much more efficient transitions/effects engine mean that it will be easier to create multi-screen applications with meaningful rich transitions. And arguably the most important thing we did was optimize. The compiler is much faster which means you’ll be spending less time compiling and more time building.

But the biggest thing about this release in my mind is Flash Builder. This tool has come such a long way and Flash Builder 4 is a home run. The added productivity enhancements like ASDoc support and event handler generation make it so much nicer to program. Throw in things like better refactoring and built in unit testing and you’ve got a very powerful IDE on your hands. I’ve been using it for a while now, but when I step back and look at it, I’m very happy with what the team accomplished. Hopefully you also enjoy the new network monitor and the DCD features which make it easy to connect to data and start building RIAs. And with the new leadership in place, the future of Flash Builder is only going to get better.

I’ve got a bunch of articles up on the Developer Center for using Flash Builder 4 with PHP. If you’re a PHP developer interested in testing the new features, these should get you pointed in the right direction. We’ve also got recordings up of all the talks at Flash Camp Boston which cover a variety of Flex 4 and Flash Builder 4 features as well as some thoughts straight from developers who are going to be using Flex 4 and Flash Builder 4.

Congrats to the teams who made this happen. I hope you all enjoy the hard work that went into the release.

Flex 4, Flash Builder 4 and ColdFusion Builder go GA!

We are very excited to announce the final releases of Flash Builder 4, Flex 4 and ColdFusion Builder. These releases bring together two years of engineering effort and some big advances in how you can now build rich Internet applications. We’ve also released a ton of great new free learning resources to help you put these new tools to work in building RIAs. You can hear from developers at our recent Boston Flash Camp where Ryan, Deepa, and team provided a deep-dive on all the features, and even talked about the little stuff that we don’t talk about much but can really make a difference in your application development. You can watch all the sessions from the Boston Flash Camp on Adobe TV.

These releases provide tremendous new capabilities including:

  • The revolutionary Spark components in Flex 4 enable far more expressive interfaces to be easily created, and pave the way for Flash Catalyst.
  • The Data-Centric-Development (DCD) capabilities of Flash Builder make it radically easier to work with data and web services.
  • Flash Builder’s new developer productivity features such as advanced debugging and improved refactoring, coupled with compiler performance improvements make Flex development faster and easier.
  • ColdFusion Builder addresses the number one request of the CF community, providing extensive IDE capabilities and making CF development much more productive.

So have at it.

Get Flash Builder. Get the Flex 4 SDK. Get ColdFusion Builder.

Flex 4 SDK and Flash Builder 4 final releases are here…

On behalf of everyone on the Flex and Flash Builder product teams, it is with great pride that we can announce that the final versions of Flex 4 SDK and Flash Builder 4 are available for download today!

We’ve been working hard on these releases to make the Flash Platform the best RIA development platform ever and one that you can confidently bet on when you are asked to create your next generation applications.

In the Flex 4 SDK, we’ve implemented a completely new component and skinning architecture (Spark) that supports a level of expressiveness in RIAs not seen previously. With the new Spark component and skinning architecture, component logic is “divorced” from component visuals such that customizing either the behavior or look and feel of the component is much more straightforward. Additionally in the Flex 4 SDK, we have improved the Flex compiler performance, enhanced numerous language and infrastructure features and provided first-class support for the new runtime capabilities in Flash Player 10.

In Flash Builder 4, the team has made it easier than ever to connect to back-end services with a complete set of data centric development features, enabled new design and development workflows with Flash Catalyst and Flash Professional, as well as enhancing the core code development features that are essential to developer productivity.

In this area alone, we’ve implemented new refactoring options, improved the debugger to support conditional breakpoints, watchpoints and expression evaluation, added code generation features and made it easier to test applications with the new network monitor and FlexUnit support. It’s worth remembering that most of these improvements are available to developers building applications that use either the Flex 3 or Flex 4 SDK, so Flash Builder 4 will help in your overall development even if you aren’t yet ready to use the new Spark components.

As you can see, there are lots of great new features and enhancements in Flex 4 and Flash Builder 4 – too many, in fact to list here. We recommend that you read the “What’s New in Flash Builder 4?”, “What’s New in Flex 4?”, and “Introduction to Spark” articles, as well as check out the rest of the new content published on the Adobe Developer Connection site to learn more. Additionally, you can watch David Wadhwani, Vice President and General Manager of the Flash Platform Business Unit describe the new set of products being added to the Flex product family.

If you’re just getting started with Flex then we hope that the new TestDrive content will get you up-to-speed on Flex and Flash Builder in just a couple of hours. If you have a little more time then you should review the Flex in a Week video training materials, which have been completely revised for Flex 4. There are plenty of other resources you can draw upon as you work with Flex and Flash Builder, including the new community-based in-product Help, Tour de Flex, the Flex Cookbooks and a completely re-vamped Flex.org site.

As excited as we are to ship these new products, we are already getting started on the next versions – if you have a feature idea that you’d like the product team to consider then we’d love to hear from you! You can now submit your feature ideas on the Adobe Labs Ideas website, as well as review existing ideas and vote on the ones you’d like to see us work on.

We couldn’t have delivered the new features in these products without the feedback received from everyone who participated in our public beta process or our pre-release programs. Thank you so much for helping us to create an amazing release! For those that did install a beta release of Flash Builder, be sure to uninstall the beta before installing the final release, otherwise you may find that your trial period has expired.

We think you will agree that these products will allow you to develop truly compelling user experiences that exceed your clients’ expectations. The entire team is excited to see what you build with Flex 4 and Flash Builder 4 over the coming months and we look forward to receiving your feedback on these releases in the Adobe Forums.

Andrew Shorten & Deepa Subramaniam,
Flash Builder and Flex SDK Product Managers