Macromedia Bolsters Flex with New Development Environment

Macromedia is rolling out a new development environment for its Flex presentation server based on the popular Dreamweaver Web site tool.

Capitalizing on the rapid adoption of its Flex presentation server, Macromedia Inc. is rolling out a new integrated development environment for the platform based on the popular Dreamweaver Web site tool.

Officials at Macromedia, in San Francisco, said they expect that this weeks announcement of the Flex Builder technology will attract even more developers to Flex, which has already garnered more than 40 enterprise customers since its release in March.

"Flex is a code-based way of building applications that target the Flash run-time," said Jeff Whatcott, vice president of product management at Macromedia. "Flex Builder is to Flex what Dreamweaver is to HTML."

Formerly code-named Brady, Flex Builder offers an IDE with developer assistance such as code hinting, Whatcott said. In addition, developers can switch between code view and design view, and the tool facilitates team development. Flex Builder offers a design view for visual interface layout, an MXML (Maximum Experience Markup Language) and an ActionScript code editor, and sophisticated debugging capabilities to ensure quality results, company officials said.

Although Flex applications can be built with almost any IDE, "customers wanted a focused IDE for Flex," Whatcott said.

"Flex has really brought the power of Java to the Flash player," said Frank Dalton, a senior rich-media designer at Whittmanhart Interactive, a division of Whittmanhart Inc., in Chicago.

/zimages/5/28571.gifClick here to read eWEEK Labs review of Flex.

Meanwhile, Macromedia is continuing work on a variation of Flex Builder, code-named Partridge, that will help developers build Flex applications from different IDEs, Whatcott said.

In addition to basic support, Partridge will add advanced debugging, network monitoring, advanced code hinting and other features to help developers more easily and rapidly build Flex applications in different environments.

Steve Pruitt, chief technology officer at Exstream Software Inc., in Lexington, Ky., and a beta user of the Flex Builder technology, said his company "is developing distributed applications [aimed] at developing and tracking highly personalized content.

"We chose rich Internet application technology because the application is highly interactive with a complex workflow. Macromedias Flex offering was the best of the field for this type of framework."

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