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Is the only thing new with Flex 3 the version number?

Adobe has clarified the Flex 3 pricing and the good news is that The Flex SDK will remain free (not very surprising as it’s going open source). However, it won’t be much of an update from Flex 2, because the only real new feature will not be included.

Flex 3 is more or less nothing more than a new release of FlexBuilder. There is not much new in the framework, apart from the AdvancedDataGrid component. It is new and exciting and something that has been missing from the framework, but unfortunately it will only be part of Flex Data Visualization package, the successor to Flex Charting, and not of the SDK.

So, for me who don’t see the point with FlexBuilder (I’m not an IDE guy, I’m a TextMate guy), Flex 3 is quite disappointing. I don’t care for Flex 3 being open sourced (but it’s nice that it’s free), so there is nothing for me in this new release.

Perhaps we will see some new things before the final release, after all the current release is the first beta. And then there is the persistent framework cache in the new Flash Player, which is good news.

Update (2007-06-29) On The Flex Show episode 16 you can hear Matt Chotin, product manager on the Flex team, say that basically Flex 3 is all about the IDE and SDK and very little about the core framework (it’s in the first two minutes of the show), more or less confirming what I have written above.

There is a component in flexlib called TreeGrid that does some of the work of AdvancedDataGrid.

9 Responses to “Is the only thing new with Flex 3 the version number?”

  1. JabbyPanda Says:

    Hmmm. is AdvancedDataGrid component a part of free Flex 3 SDK or it is not?

    It is not that clear to me from the post made by flex-team.

    A hint: fix a hyperlink in your post, currently it requires some extra effort to navigate to flex-team blog from your post entry ;)

    I would expect in the future the Flex community to take over the development of Flex SDK and fixing bugs, making changes to API, may be extending SDK with new classes…

  2. Theo Says:

    I’ve fixed the link, thanks. WordPress had mangled it somehow.

    This is what the FlexTeam says about AdvancedDataGrid (follow the link, it’s item 2 in the list):

    “The charting components and Advanced DataGrid will be part of the Flex Data Visualization Package. This package will remain a commercial offering from Adobe, and source will only be available to those who have an appropriate license.”

    AdvancedDataGrid will be non-free (and non-open source).

    I have my doubts about the Flex community taking over the development of the Flex framework. I don’t see Adobe relinquising control over the framework, so I doubt we will see much difference. As it is you can write components that work just the same regardless of Flex being open source or not, so the only difference would be if you wanted to make changed to the core of the framework. And really, it’s very unlikely that anyone not on the Flex development team or someone they trust would ever be allowed to subit any code for that. I mean, how many people are allowed to submit changes to the Linux kernel? Not very many, and that project is one of the most hailed open source efforts. Bazaar-style development is a myth.

  3. Tim Says:

    I think there’s plenty non-IDE additions/changes for you to consider:

    Just a few things I could think of off the top of my head.

  4. Ted Patrick Says:

    You forgot to mention any of these features in the SDK:

    MXMLC/COMPC Faster compilation MXMLC/COMPC Class caching at compilation MXMLC Framework Caching MXMLC Cross-Domain Caching MXMLC Runtime Localization MXMLC Resource Bundles MXMLC/COMPC Class Exclusion MXMLC/COMPC Flash-Type support Added CSS properties for advanced skinning via SWF/PNG List Effect classes AIR Flex SDK Application Window AIR Flex Database Support Classes AIR FileSystemComboBox AIR FileSystemDataGrid AIR FileSystemHistoryButton AIR FileSystemList AIR FileSystemTree AIR HTML AIR MenuItems AIR ApplicationWindow AIR Cross Scripting support AIR Application packaging and signing Deep Linking AJAX Support Flex 3 Open Bugbase Flex 3 Nightly Builds and Milestone Builds Some 200+ bugs fixed since 2.0.1

    There is a ton of work that has gone into making Flex more robust and solid in Flex 3. To say we just changed the version number means you really have not looked into the release at all.

    Ted Patrick Flex Evangelist Adobe Systems

  5. Mark Says:

    Well for starters what about the framework caching !! that’s a huge benefit …

  6. Theo Says:

    Mark: “And then there is the persistent framework cache in the new Flash Player, which is good news”. RTFA.

    Ted & Tim: You are missing the point. Quote from TFA:

    “There is not much new in the framework”.

    I realise however that the title is a bit misleading. Flex 3 is the SDK, FlexBuilder and the framework (which is what I’m talking about). Faster compiler, caching of RSL’s, etc. are not additions to the framework. They are good things in themselves, but that was not

    However, you mention:

    - Deep linking
    Well, we already have that, of sorts. I guess that the new version is better, but from the description it sounds more or less the same, save for a better API perhaps.

    - List effects
    Wow, what a feature, beed dying for that one.

    - AIR
    I didn’t count the AIR-specifics as a part of the Flex framework, perhaps I should have, but in my mind AIR is not a part of Flex, but something built (partly) on top of Flex.

    - Refactoring (not the FlexBuilder feature, but of the framework code)
    This is a good thing, but by definition nothing new.

    Don’t get me wrong, as I said in TFA the RSL caching is good news, and so are many of the other things scheduled for Flex 3, but as far as working with the framework goes, it seems that I will see no differences in my day to day work.

    I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I was a bit disapointed when I read the release notes and didn’t find any new additions of changes to the framework (new list effects isn’t what I was looking for). But I was quite ok with that until I saw that the AdvancedDataGrid was in the not-free package. That made me feel that this release (of the framework, still only talking about the framework, because that is what matters to me) was a bit on the cheap side. The only truly new feature (in the framework) Adobe had to show was a $300 (or whatever) add on… I don’t care for the AdvancedDataGrid class especially, there are already similar implementations out there, it’s the presentation: here are the new features but you’re not getting the one thing we talk most about. It’s not hard to see Adobe’s rationale behing open sourcing Flex 3: give ‘em something that works, but then dangle the carrot that is the advanced features in front of them until they give you the $800 (or whatever) that they should have payed for to start with. Nothing wrong with that if you don’t deny it, but it’s being a bit cheap. (An that description is vicious, I know, you don’t have to point that out).

  7. Theo Says:

    Ted & Tim: see the update.

  8. JabbyPanda Says:

    Today I found a pretty interesting official doc: Flex 3 roadmap: http://flexwiki.adobe.com/confluence/display/ADOBE/Flex+3+Planning

    Flex 3 M3 release will include some enhancements to Flex SDK:

    -Baseline Alignment -Charting Enhancements -Compiler Performance -Enhanced Constraints -List and Data Effects -OpenType Font Embedding

  9. Iconara » There is actually more to Flex 3 than just the version number Says:

    [...] months ago I asked is the only thing new with Flex 3 the version number?, I was bit critical back then, but I take it all [...]

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