Adobe Flash Builder 4 is based on the open-source Flex framework and includes features to simplify RIA development. Formerly known as Adobe Flex Builder, the new IDE improves basic development functionality, adds significant new data-centric development features, and streamlines the design-develop workflow. Gruber said Adobe changed the name of the technology from Flex Builder to Flash Builder to bring it in line with the Flash Platform.
New data-centric development features in Flash Builder enable developers to introspect services and use a simple drag and drop approach to bind methods to user interface components, such as interactive charts, graphs, and data grids, Buntel said during a demonstration of the technology for eWEEK at Adobe's New York offices. These features make it easier to break down information silos and integrate business data from databases and Web services across different organizations, he said. As a result, companies can build user-centric applications for dashboards, e-commerce and self-service Web portals that streamline business processes for their employees, customers and partners.
Flash Builder 4 includes coding enhancements, expanded agile development support, a new network monitor, enhanced debugging, profiling and re-factoring.
"With the arrival of the 'digital generation' in the workplace, workers expect a new approach to the enterprise and want to consume business applications like they do with other tools on the Internet," said Herve Couturier, executive vice president, R&D NetWeaver and Business Objects, SAP, in a statement. "The adoption of the Adobe Flash Platform, particularly with the use of Adobe Flash Builder, has helped SAP create even better user interfaces and interactive content for our next-generation applications, like our new SAP BusinessObjects Explorer."
Moreover, "The UI components in Adobe Flash Builder deliver tremendous value to developers. For me, the wide range of components allows me to rapidly build tools and applications with little or no up-front design support and a lot less programming," said Andreas Heim, director of technology of Smashing Ideas Inc., in a statement "As a result, I can create iterative versions of RIAs faster than ever, and we can shorten production cycles."
In addition, Adobe announced the newest release of the open-source Flex framework that provides a common foundation for both developers and designers to create compelling user experiences that run on the Adobe Flash Platform. The updated Flex framework facilitates productivity and consistency, enabling developers to import functional UI created by designers using Adobe Flash Catalyst and completing the application logic while preserving the design and layout of the user experience.
Gruber said Microsoft has been hot on Adobe's trail in the RIA space. "They're really desperate to get into this game and have spent a boatload of money to get a place at the table," he said. They've had to build from the ground up with a player: Silverlight. And their first initiative was to try to compete with us on a video basis. And they've done deals with NBC for the Olympics and other deals, but the objective was to get the player out there. They've come out with adequate support for video and they've been playing catch up with us."
Meanwhile, "We continue to innovate and add new things," Gruber said. "You'll see them add things like what we have in Catalyst next year. They have the advantage of seeing what works for us and also what hasn't. And they can clone and build on top of it."
For instance, Gruber mentions Microsoft's Expression Blend as an example of this. Expression Blend is a Microsoft user interface design tool used for building interfaces for web and desktop applications.
Gruber said that to build Expression Blend, Microsoft hire a lot of former Adobe employees and built a product for designers to try to compete with Adobe's Dreamweaver and other graphics products, but the focus has been on the Microsoft platform. "We've been primarily centered around the non-Microsoft base -- with the Java developers -- because they had no graphics base."
Added Gruber: "We're going to continue to set the bar for where Microsoft is going. Mainly they fear losing their developer base. They see the world shifting more to support designers and they knew they needed some level of parity. We are continuing our innovation and we watch what the enterprise is doing."
Yet Gruber also said Adobe is looking to shore up its tools integration and provide a tooling experience like Microsoft provides with Visual Studio. If this occurs the game is over because Adobe is not wedded to Windows, he implied. "Microsoft has years of experience and a mature product, but they're trying to retrofit this product to fit into this new world. We're not feeling Microsoft is taking any of our customers. They haven't really committed to a cross-platform play yet, and we live in that world everyday."