Beginners Adobe Flex Tutorial

December 6, 2008 at 11:10 pm Leave a comment

case-disks1For users who prefer a visual approach we have a series of Flex Tutorial Videos that teach using hands-on examples and practical working files, these tutorials are also aimed towards the Flex novice.

Watch a Free Demo: Adobe Flex Tutorial Videos





Beginners Adobe Flex Tutorial

Part 1. This beginners Flex Tutorial that breaks down the complexities of creating RIA. To start with lets explain just what Flex is this may seem very fundamental, but many novices new to Flex have misconceptions as to what Flex actually is and what it can or can’t do.

An Introduction to Flex

In this tutorial we’ll explain what Adobe Flex is and what the software has to offer. So what is Adobe Flex? Well, Flex is a free open source framework used to create Rich Internet Applications or RIAs for short. These applications can be deployed to the web or even to the desktop. In essence Flex allows web designers and developers to create enhanced Web 2.0 applications. If you’re a Flash user you’ll notice that a lot of similarities in the two applications, for example they both use Actionscript and deploy their files in SWF format. You might be wondering what the main differences are? To put it simply, Flex is aimed more towards the developer’s perspective as it uses a programming model whereas Flash is more of a graphics tool with its use of the timeline. Skills in both applications can be combined and used to great effect to create enhanced web 2.0 content, so if you’re a Flash user it will be a seamless transition from Flash to Flex. Adobe Flex simplifies creating complex applications, to put together a web application you’d simply arrange the components provided by Flex to create a user interface, then skin or recreate the style of those components using other graphics applications such as Illustrator, Fireworks or even Flash and finally you’d add interactivity to the application using Actionscript code, it’s that easy.

What Applications Can Flex Create?

Flex can create a number of different application types such as E-commerce applications with vast shopping carts enhancing a users experience without getting away from usability issues. It also can be used to create widgets and plugins for popular social sites such as Facebook and Myspace. Another new feature in the latest release of the software is the ability to create desktop applications alongside another free software from Adobe called Adobe Intergrated Runtime or AIR for short. So there are a number of possibilities for the Flex user to think about, it isn’t just limited to web development.
Core Languages Used In Adobe Flex

Along with the 100 UI components Flex uses Actionscript and MXML to create the RIAs below is a brief description of both languages.

Actionscript 3.0

Actionscript 3.0 is an OOP object orientated programming language that’s used in Flash to add interactivity to dynamic applications. Actionscript is an Ecmascript language so it’s very similar to Javascript, so if you’re coming from a Javascript background learning Actionscript won’t be a problem. If you’re not familiar with Actionscript there are plenty of tutorials on the language on this site to get you started. Flex uses Actionscript to create client logic and user interactivity for the RIAs.

MXML (Multimedia Extensible Markup Language)

You’re probably not so familiar with MXML as you are with Actionscript ; MXML was launched in 2004 and is based on XML. As it’s an XML based language it follows the same syntax rules as XML, so if you’re familiar with XML it’s a bonus.   Flex uses MXML to create the UI interfaces of the Rich Internet Applications. However, you don’t need knowledge of MXML to create Flex applications.

Software Options

Flex Software Development Kit (SDK)
The Flex SDK is open source and free to use, the kit includes the complete Flex framework, component class library and the Flex compiler, which will allow you to create and deploy Flex apps.
Adobe Flex Builder 3
Adobe offers a commercial development tool called Flex Builder. The application is an Eclipse based development tool that offers debugging tools and the complete Flex framework including all the components and compilers needed to use Flex. You don’t however need to have Flex Builder installed on your system to use Flex; it’s an optional editing tool.

Commercial and free versions can create RIAs, you don’t have to purchase Flex Builder if you want to create great RIAs, as the SDK can be just as effective.

In the next Adobe Flex Tutorial we will be taking a look at creating some basic applications and introducing you the programming, so get ready to roll up your sleeves.

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