Status of Flex Data Visualization Components

There have been some questions over the last few days on the status of the Flex data visualization components and I wanted to make sure everyone knows our intentions.

First of all, you may notice that the 3.4 downloads page has an updated copy of the data visualization components (charts and the Advanced DataGrid and OLAPDataGrid). While we have made it easier to view the source (you don’t have to run the DMV-source.jar anymore), we still consider these components to be under the Flex Builder license, and the source to be considered “Professional Component Source Files” as described in the Flex 3 SDK EULA. So I hope that clears up the licensing question.

The other concern I’ve heard raised is that Flex 4 is not seeing many changes to the data visualization components, and therefore folks are worried that Adobe is not investing in them. Data visualization remains a “core competency” of Flex, and we absolutely plan on further development of these components along with supporting partners who have expanded upon them like the ILOG team at IBM. In the Flex 4 time frame we plan on making some improvements to the GroupingCollection, a fundamental piece of the ADG in the hopes of addressing one of the larger performance bottlenecks. However, we chose to take on 2 significant agendas that preempted doing significant work in the data visualization components.

The first is the data connectivity features in Flash Builder; the way we’re making it even easier to connect your data from the back end into the data visualization components in the front. We hope that this will make the data visualization components even more accessible for developers, making it simple to get up and running and build powerful data-driven applications.

The other agenda is the introduction of the Spark architecture. As everyone knows, this is a significant improvement to the fundamental component architecture in Flex, but it is too much to bring every component forward into the new model in a single release. While the charting components do not need to be modified significantly to fit well with Spark, the DataGrid (and therefore the AdvancedDataGrid) will take significant effort, and that is work we intend to do in the following release. Knowing that a fundamental re-architecture of the DataGrid is coming, we decided not to make significant investment in the current one for this release other than addressing the most important bugs.

So that’s the status and we hope you’ll understand and agree with our prioritization. If you’ve got any questions, feel free to comment here or post to the forums!

30 Responses to Status of Flex Data Visualization Components

  1. Balu says:

    Now that Flex4 and Flash Builder are released, is there any change in licensing of the open source data visualization components? Do I still need to buy Flash Builder Premium license to use the open source data visualization components?Thanks,Balu

  2. Santosh Kulkarni says:

    Part of My task I am building the Genome Viewer which actually deals with large data set. But when I tried to draw the plot chart of flex large data set means 50,000 points then started failing. is flex chart API will support large data set of size GB of data.

  3. Pรคrtel Vurma says:

    Is there any way to buy a license for Flex Advanced Visualization components only when I am not using the Adobe Flex Builder 3 Professional itself?Matt sez: No, not right now.

  4. Matt Chotin says:

    You should definitely download the latest data visualization components from that link, however to use them within the rules of the license you need to purchase FB3 Professional.

  5. Andrew Thompson says:

    Hi Matt, I’d just like some clarification on this… If I buy Flex Builder 3 Standard, can I then install the 3.4 datavisualization package from the link provided above? If so, will my fb3 standard serial remove the watermarks? And, is this a valid use of the license?Thanks!-andrew

  6. Excellent news. I’ll live with the watermark for the time being then. I’ve narrowed the issue down to being MacOS specific anyway (and maybe Snow Leopard specific). When compiled with Windows with whatever version everything’s fine (well, except for ADG of course). The watermarks appear when compiling with the nightly builds (not the regular one) on Mac only. That’s odd but at least I know now that I can wait for the next iteration to see them removed (hopefully) or make at least my final compilations on Windows, which is already better than nothing.Thanks again.Gilles

  7. Vito says:

    Just ran the dmv_automation_build.xml file on the source extracted from the DMV-source.jar. Wow… there is around 150 warnings. Is there anywhere I could download the latest nightly build of the DMV-source.jar?

  8. Matt Chotin says:

    It should work with whatever version. There will likely be an update to the DMV components for the beta in time for November.

  9. Matt Chotin says:

    We don’t update the version string in minor updates.

  10. Vito says:

    Is the data visualization source even the most current? So i just download sdk 3.4 and the data visualization from the link you provided. I dropped the jar in my 3.4 sdk libs and ran the java -jar on it extract the source.Well here is what I found in mx.core.Version.as/*** @private* Version string for this class.*/mx_internal static const VERSION:String = “3.0.0.0”;

  11. Vito says:

    There are lots of issues with the advanced data grid. I have been active in voicing my opinion on the jira about the performance when the grid is first populated along with the expand all collapse all methods. http://bugs.adobe.com/jira/browse/FLEXDMV-1964 After the bug was closed with sub par performance I cloned it and have been working through it with the developers since.One of the other main problems with the datavisualization classes is that when you want to update them and you go to the adobe confluence page and download either the full sdk or add on sdk (which even says it includes the datavisualization classes) they are no where to be found!In all honesty I am hoping the entire ADG class will be scrapped and re-written.

  12. Thanks for your answer Matt. I’m not too sure I fully understand though: should the watermark being removed by my fb3 serial whatever version of the sdk I’m using or does it work only with the “official” version provided with FB4b1?I confirm the watermark is being removed with the official one (4.0.0.7219) but not with further iterations.In the eventuality of the serial only working with official versions, is there any chance to see a new version coming before november (date my project will go live)? If that was the case I could totally live with the watermark for the time being, knowing they would be removed before date.I understand this last question can be sensitive so I would perfectly understand if you were to reply to that one privately (but at least an answer – positive or negative – would totally help me in taking a crucial decision).ThanksGilles

  13. Matt Chotin says:

    Your fb3 serial should remove the watermark as part of beta 1, but we’re not putting out nightly builds of DMV right now. So you’re right that we’ll have incompatibilities, but since DMV is part of Flash Builder we can’t go through getting the builds out regularly. Sorry!

  14. Hi Matt,What about DMV for Flex 4? I’m not talking here about new components but at least a working version. There’s a working version (somehow) with the sdk provided with Flash Builder beta 1 but it’s not working (at least not fully) with more recent (and functionally advanced) nightly builds. And there’s no way to use this recent 3.4 DMV version either.Also, say that I give up using the ADG component and only use Charting components, those components are not usable in production anyway because of the watermark. Is there any way to remove it (I’ve got a valid Flex Professional license of course)?I know, I shouldn’t be using a beta version for production but sometimes the benefits of the new functionalities definitely outweight the inevitable drawbacks (that can usually be walked around anyway).Except that there doesn’t seem to be any walk-around here and I’m pretty much stuck as I definitely need to use the new Flex 4 framework along with Data Visualization components…I could really use some help here, at least with the watermark.Gilles

  15. Mika Kiljunen says:

    “pity that dv are not a free of charge. and it’s damn hard now to collect all the pieces from Adobe website. spend more then 5 minutes trying to find DWV components.”Well, read the above and you’ll know why they try to hide it so bad :]Why is it that the stuff that we have to pay for works worse than the stuff that is free? Am I missing something here?Sorry, but I just couldn’t resist ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. flashscope says:

    thanks for the feedback. pity that dv are not a free of charge. and it’s damn hard now to collect all the pieces from Adobe website. spend more then 5 minutes trying to find DWV components. ๐Ÿ™‚ thought there should be a separate page. i was wrong.

  17. Hunter Thomas Walker says:

    I downloaded the flex 3.4 SDK and added it to my installed SDKs in Flex Builder. Do I now need to do something with the Data Visualization Components or is that included in the SDK update? Thanks for the help!-HunterMatt sez: there is an additional download on the same page where you got the 3.4 SDK where you should download the DMV components.

  18. Mike Thompson says:

    About five hours after my comment above, issue 1438 was suddenly reopened. That after a year or more of being “closed”, “defered”.That’s certainly a nice step for that bug. But the intention of my comment was to point out the systemic problems with ADG. That bug was just a specific example of bad practice at multiple levels.I’d like to be assured that the systemic problems with ADG are being addressed by someone in Adobe. And I don’t want anyone in the ADG group assuring me either, because I have completely lost confidence in them. Their code is just full of bad practice, bugs and poor performance. And their treatment of bugs is a joke. I don’t trust them. At all.He’s what I’d like to see from here:1. regime change with this group2. a review of all those “closed”/”defered” bugs3. for the outstanding critical bugs to be given immediate attention.4. Micro bug fix releases of these components against the 3.4 SDK to be made over the next few months, so we have some tangible progress.Matt, I do not think it is reasonable of Adobe to leave important components like this blowing in the breeze with critical bugs so that some new generation of components can be delivered a month early.Trust is critical. And Adobe is burning it. Please read the blog of Seth Godin to understand why Adobe should be giving this issue priority.

  19. Pekka Kola says:

    I wish you take Mika’s complaint seriously in Adobe. We do business with healthcare organizations and our applications are used for patient care typically in operating rooms, cardiology labs etc. As you might understand, the reliability of the software is top one requirement there. Now I feel like you have left us between park and wood with and do not even try to fix the component before totally new version. That’s not good for our business and can not be good for Adboe’s business either.Pekka KolaCTO, intensium Ltd.

  20. Mike Thompson says:

    The ADG is quite a mess. Huge methods, strange implementation and unnecessarily disastrous performance.But don’t take my word for it: http://dougmccune.com/blog/2009/02/08/analyzing-the-size-of-the-flex-framework-or-why-i-hate-the-advanceddatagrid/To see that it has missed out on work again, is a real shame for us.But the main point of my comment here is to point out the strange treatment of ADG “bugs/features” in the issue tracker. It appears to be, well, hopelessly unprofessional.Important issues get marked as “closed” with a resolution of “defered”. Eh? I’ve seen more than my share of issue trackers in my time and I just don’t understand what that combination means for an important bug. If it’s a unfixed, important bug, why is it being closed?Here’s one of many examples:http://bugs.adobe.com/jira/browse/FLEXDMV-1438This bug means that cell level selection in ADG is completely broken. It can’t be used.But the issue has been “closed” without a fix with it’s resolution as “defered”.In desperation, some good, non-Adobe souls have done some work to:1. fix the bug2. fix some hopeless O(N^2) algorithms which meant selecting more than a couple hundred cells timed out after 15 seconds. Honestly, whoever coded it should never be allowed to code for Adobe again.BOTH are essential fixes.But no one from Adobe seems to be involved. Well, other than the person who “closed” this bug. Really, I’m speechless. Tragically, we now depend on this component. More fool us.Can someone who understands software development take control of this set of components PLEASE. I beg you.

  21. Pekka Kola says:

    Matt, I hope you and your company take Mika’s complaint seriously.We do business for healthcare organizations, our applications runnig in operating rooms, cardiolgical laboratories etc. I guess you understand that reliability of the applications is must in these kind of environments.I feel, based on discussion above, that Adobe has left us between wood and park, even without workaround. I am really disapointed of this kind of mess and hope quick response from your site.Pekka KolaCTO, Intenisum Ltd.

  22. Tom Gruszowski says:

    Mike, you took the words out of my mouth with “we have built a serious product on Flex 3 … now at the final stage we stumbled upon serious problems with ADG.”This really is the statement that trumps all others (including licensing Pro vs Standard). We would rather have stable Flex 3 DMV than Flex 4 by Q4 2010. If DMV isnt stable then it looks like Flex isnt stable, try pitching this as a reliable platform for next series of RIA apps. By the time Flex 5 arrives with full parity Silverlight will be mature with a rich 3rd party communityThere is a decent thread on this subject on Flex Coders. http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/flexcoders/message/147019

  23. Rob Fairbairn says:

    I would like to add my voice to Mika and Tom’s. I would like to see the ADG polished and refined. It really is a key piece to the puzzle that just doesn’t do everything it should. We have come across numerous issues with it. It is well and good that there will be a new Spark version, but we are working with real customers today that have real issues with this core piece of the framework.

  24. Mika Kiljunen says:

    I do see some reasonable logic in this priorisation, but only if I look at it from your point of view. The problem is that we have built a serious product on Flex 3 using charts and advanced data grids and now at the final stage we stumbled upon serious problems with ADG.The product is already delivered to customers and guess what, they keep complaining about the problems that are really caused by bugs in ADG and we cannot find workarounds nor get ’em fixed.We are using your product and in the end our customers suffer from it’s problems. Even if we could wait for a new and better ADG, our customers can’t. This is really a question of taking care of customers and responding to their needs. I would like to see Adobe fixing the problems with current products (rather sooner than later), before making new products and in the meanwhile leave their current customers hanging on their on. In my opinion this would be better business in the long run, since in the end we really don’t need any new cooler stuff that does not work properly.Flex is a wonderful piece of work and I just hate it when it fails to do it’s job. I’ve been working with it from the first betas starting with Flex 1.0 and it really has been a love-hate relationship all the way. I love it when it works and would like to send it to Mars when it doesn’t. You’ve come a long way since 1.0 and I hope all the best for it. But why not make version 3 DMV components as good as they should be and at least fix stuff that causes RTE’s. I think Flex, DMV and the whole community deserve that.

  25. Jason Pierce says:

    Well, here’s the thing, Matt. Upgrading from Flex Builder Standard 2 to Flex Builder Standard 3 is $99. Upgrading from Flex Builder Standard 2 to Flex Builder Standard 3 is $299.If the same relationship is true for upgrading from FB 3 to 4 and there’s no significant improvement in the DMV components, we will be paying 3x as much for very little added value.Because all the features that Pro has that Standard doesn’t have will ALREADY be available to us in FB 3 Pro, which we already have. We’ll be upgrading to FB 4 Pro and we’ll get…what? Updated SDK component just like they get in FB 4 Standard?I’m sure you’ll be fixing bugs that only exist in Flex Pro and adding minor features to only Flex Pro, but I’m going to be hard pressed to explain to my boss what we’d be getting for 3x the price.

  26. Matt Chotin says:

    Hi Jason, upgrades are considered part of the Builder tool, and we think that the features that are in FB4 as part of the “pro” package will be worth the upgrade. I wouldn’t worry about the DMV aspect, in the meantime the 3.x line upgrades are of course free.

  27. Matt Chotin says:

    Hi JP, correct, you are still expected to pay for the use of the dv components.

  28. Tom Gruszowski says:

    Thanks for the feedback Matt. Only personal wish regarding prioritization is to continue work on the grids (esp ADG ๐Ÿ˜‰ Since it’s such a very long time to wait until a Spark version will be available I think its worthwhile fixing as many bugs as possible.RE GroupingCollection, can you let Sreenivas release his source now that DMV source is available without a license?http://flexpearls.blogspot.com/2008/06/groupingcollection-with-some-better.html

  29. Jason Pierce says:

    As a purchaser (well, my boss is the real purchaser) of the pro stuff, my main concern would be that we not have to pay for an upgrade of components that have not been significantly upgraded. I would be displeased if we had to pay for a Flex Builder upgrade as well as a DMV upgrade. The DMV upgrade should be free, with a charge for the REAL upgrade of the DMV when that should come along. It wouldn’t be fair to ask your customers to pay now for an upgrade that will come along later (reminds me too much of Wimpy from Popeye).Can you comment on this aspect?

  30. JP Bourbon says:

    So, this means the data visualization components cannot be used free of charge in a non-professional flex builder environment?