Flex includes a number of free features such as the Flex SDK (software development kit). The real changes though are in pricing where Adobe is looking to reduce the cost of simple Flex deployments.
With Flex Adobe is permitting free single CPU deployments of Flex applications using the Flex Data Services Express or XML and Web Services. Previously Flex users paid $ per CPU to get started with the Flex SDK which was part of the Flex Presentation Server.
The Flex platform works with Adobe&;s ubiquitous Flash Player and features the Flex SDK; Flex Data Services to link data to the client; a Flex Builder IDE; and the Flex framework. Approximately developers currently use Flex but Adobe wants the number of developers using the former Macromedia technology to grow to million within five years. &;We&;re coming out with the pricing model to bring developers to our platform&; said Jeff Whatcott Adobe senior director of product marketing.
That kind of growth would have been difficult with the old pricing model according to one analyst.
&;I don&;t think Adobe had much of a choice if they wanted to remain competitive&; said Richard MonsonHaefel senior analyst at the Burton Group of the new pricing scheme.
The latest version of Flex also improves the capability of the technology to manage data between server and client applications. With Flex XML and Web services can be used for connecting to a server when data is accessed infrequently and payloads are small. For more advanced applications there is Flex Data Services Express software for linking between data and the presentation layer.
Flex Data Services can push data from the server to the client. For example serverside intelligence can extract data from SAP and send it to the client. The push technology was cited as a highlight of Flex by beta user Jeff Maling president of Roundarch which does consulting and development for clients such as Citigroup and the U.S. Air Force.
&;Really for the first time in any enterprise fashion Flex is able to push data to the Web client&; Maling said.
Adobe says Flex offers capabilities not available in AJAX such as powerful data management capabilities and rich media and graphics. For example AJAX does not support charting and graphing although it is possible for developers to deploy AJAX and Flex together Whatcott said.
The Flex Builder IDE is based on the Eclipse open source software development platform and costs $. Flex Data Services licensing starts at $ per CPU for applications that require more than one CPU.