JD pointed out an article by Rick Smith in which he talks about the shortcomings of Flex. He gets skewered a bit in the comments, and while I don’t agree with the article, I agree with JD that it’s good to see another side of the Flex 2 story. I think some of his points are off (complaining that you need to know ActionScript and XML to code Flex isn’t much of an argument) but I do think his general argument is valid. If I can paraphrase what he’s saying, I think it’s really that because of AJAX, Flex doesn’t provide any additional value to programmers.
This is both very insightful and very misguided. AJAX is a great technology. Now that I’m using it a bit at work, I think it’s really cool. I don’t think it can stand the test of time, but right now, you can do some very cool things with AJAX. The one realm that AJAX is worlds ahead of Flex is in the sharing. Because it’s totally open source and based on older technologies, there are a wealth of AJAX resources. One stop over at http://developer.yahoo.net and you’ll see an example of what I’m talking about. With those kinds of resources in abundance, it’s no wonder so many people are choosing AJAX as their technology of choice.
But the Flex team is stepping up. The release of the AS3 Libraries was huge, and the announcement of the Flex AJAX Bridge is going to allow Flex developers to use the plethora of AJAX resources I talked about above. So they’re getting the idea and they’re making a difference.
However, all of that said, I think Flex still allows you to leverage powerful aspects of the web more seamlessly than AJAX. Multimedia, real-time communication, plays nicely no matter what OS/Browser you’re using are all things Flex/Flash can do that AJAX can’t yet. Flex may be a bit ahead of its time, but that’s been the case with Flash since the beginning. The Flex apps I’m most excited about are the ones we’ll see at MAX 2008 because then I think the platform will have matured and a lot of smart people will be doing a lot of neat things.Tweet