Today Adobe released beta versions of Flash Builder 4, the Flex 4 SDK, and Flash Catalyst. Builder is a development environment for creating Flex, AIR, and ActionScript applications; Flex is the collection of open-source components with which you can populate your application; and Flash Catalyst aims to allow designers and developers to rapidly create the Flex interface and code, respectively.
I recommend checking out the Catalyst beta in particular, as it’s a brand new product that should be put through its paces. It remains to be seen how far designers can go with it, but you can already import Photoshop and Illustrator projects and convert artwork into components, which a developer (using Flash Builder) can import and flesh out into a working application. I’m doing the development side of things with an internal Adobe application, and importing an FXP from Catalyst has removed some of the difficulty in laying out a UI in FB. I find the combination of assets from Catalyst with Flash Builder 4′s Design View to be preferable to Flex 3 and embedding skins only in CSS, for example. Catalyst exports components that use the new skinning architecture.
You can download the betas here: http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/flash/
If you find bugs, I encourage you to report them; developers read every bug that’s submitted: https://bugs.adobe.com/flex/
One thing I’ve noticed about the pre-release versions of Catalyst: don’t uninstall it on OS X by dragging it to the trash; it’s possible that a future installer will tell you “beta or pre-release versions of the following products are installed on this machine, and must be uninstalled before this application can proceed.” If you find yourself in this situation, try the following steps:
- Browse to /Library/Application\ Support/Adobe/Installers
- Open the numbered folders
- Run the Uninstall.app that has the Flash Catalyst icon
- If that fails to uninstall Catalyst, try Setup.app instead
We should see some very compelling Flex and AIR apps in the near future.