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The case against Flex-based application UIs

I have once in a while discussions with Jettro on Flex, Ajax and what we do at ISIS Papyrus with our Papyrus EYE user interface. Post on Adobe`s Flex attracks a lot of visitors to our blog. So, now I ask all of you with real-world experience with Adobe`s Flex to be honest to your self and ask yourself is Flex something a business user can use to define his own User Interface? Or at least is it Flexible and manageable enough to do quick changes based on changing user requirements?

I recommend to read the two post below and also to leave your response.

Tony Byrne, analyst with CMSWatch, put out an interesting blog”The case against Flex-based application UIs“.

Max J. Pucher has written also an interesting blog-item on “Flex versus EYE“.

4 comments to The case against Flex-based application UIs

  • First of of, just an article to be different. His arguments are understandable, but he also has a hat on. The most important question to ask is what does the customer wants? Does the customer want an application that he needs to click together. Does the costumer want flexibility based on what a whole lot of developers can give him?

    I do like flex for some applications, I like the programming model, the users like the UI’s that are easily created by developers. Of course flex has some things that are not perfect. Maybe even a bit complex. But you will always have some complexity, if you do not immediately see it, it is just moved to an invisible location. Sometimes this can work, but sometimes it does not. It is a similar discussion as with MDA (Model Driven Architecture). It does not remove complexity, the complexity is just moved into UML. A strange language that is not well suited for complexity.

    But maybe we can ask the customers to create a UI for a web shop in Front-page, very flexible, if you can work with word, you can create websites with front page. Do you get good results out of it, well it depends on what you define as good. Sometimes this can be good enough.

    In short, I think it is just not right to say flex is bad for everything, just like it is nog right to say that flex is good for everything. We tend to choose between technologies like html/jsp/css, Google Web Toolkit, Wicket and flex. Based on requirements, and a bit of fashion we can make a good choice.

    greetz Jettro

    Did I mention flex is Open Source? You can build it with Maven? You can easily integrate it in your continuous integration? You can easily integrate it in you existing Java, Cold Fusion, php, and other server side applications?

  • John Smith

    Tony Byrne is bashing Java Applets, not Flex. He just assumes Flex will have the same problems without any evidence.

    Flex never was designed for an end user to build their own applications. It is a tool for programmers. It is every bit flexible and manageable enough to do quick changes based on changing user requirements in my experience.

    I don’t know what EYE is so I have no comments on that.

  • Ed, that is very true! Businesses should understand that with Flex they add another layer of development complexity to their applications. This is what Tony Byrns of CMSWatch complains about. Adobes response was: ‘Good coding techniques avoid those issues.’ Right. Coding. With all the drawbacks which we needed to avoid and therefore decided to do something totally different. The problem is to make people understand the benefits of the life-cycle managed approach of Papyrus WebRepository that also allows the GUI to be deployed to a PC client (QT based). Adobe calls its workflow/content environment ‘LiveCycle’ making many believe that it does life-cycle management on an application level, when it is only performed very rudimentary on content. Adobe LiveCycle is mostly hardcoded. For each functional request they have to write a lot of custom code, like for example for FLEX.

    Papyrus is in difference the same product at all customer locations, but each one has a very unique application that is setup through the business architecture functions in repository. At Euler-Hermes they asked us to expand the change management and it did not require any coding! But then again the management did not understand that we did not have to change the product to do so. It is that hard to get the differences in benefits across.

  • Freddie,

    No doubt: Flex is not something a business user can use to define his own UI.
    Flex is per Adobe’s own definition a framework for building applications.
    A development tool.
    Is it flexible and manageable enough? Compared to what? Java? DHTML/Ajax? C#?, C++? …?
    They are not fundamentally and significantly different.
    Does ISIS offer something unique with Papyrus EYE? YES THEY DO! But you don’t me to tell you that.

    Cheers,
    Ed

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