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Random thoughts on Flash Remoting:

This is where I get to ramble when I feel like it. Kind of like a blog, but it's not a blog. This is a blog. ;-).

3 posts in March 2004.

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Flex again

Wednesday, March 31, 2004 11:43:09 AM

Just to clarify my last post, I think that the Flex product is amazing and certainly one of the best things that MM has done. However, there are a few problems with the pricing as I see it, that will likely be the downfall of the product:

For one, Macromedia is marketing this as an enterprise level application for (MM's words) "5-50 person team, application needs to be extended and maintained over several to many years, 6-18 month development cycle...)". For an application that requires development for 6-18 months or more, Macromedia has never in its history delivered an application that either:

1. Maintained a consistent API between versions (even ColdFusion changed from version 5 to 6 to 6.1 and broke applications)
2. Wasn't discontinued within a year of being released.

Considering this is a 1.0 release, I don't think we can expect consistency to the next version -- if there is a next version. There is not even a consistent API between Flex, Flash, and Central, although all 3 apps share similar components. Macromedia's other RIA environment, Flash, undergoes yearly changes that completely break existing code.

Also, the $12,000 price tag suggests an enterprise-level server, when in fact the application is a compiler. You get great time-savings building applications, but that is because the language is efficient and the tool to build the applications is efficient. The server performs a simple compilation of the SWF and then does nothing after that. There is no reason to run an application like this on an application server, because once the SWF is compiled, it is simply passed to the end user as-is.

What gets me is Macromedia's constant comments that it saves development time, and hence is worth $12,000. There is nothing about the $12,000 server that saves development time -- the savings is in using the language and the development tool. MM should deliver this product as a $1000-$2000 package consisting of a development IDE and debugger with a standalone compiler. What they are doing is holding the developer hostage by bundling the compiler into a $12,000 (minimum) server that essentially does nothing other than compile the SWF one time upon first use. Do we really need another server for our admins to learn, configure, and maintain?

All I can say is, Microsoft may be our best option for delivering RIA's to the web. I can't wait to see what they are working on. At least I know I'll be able to get on a beta if I need to. With Macromedia, if you're not one of their chosen few, forget it.

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$12000 gui builder released by MM

Monday, March 29, 2004 1:39:31 PM

Macromedia released its $12,000 GUI builder, Flex, today. I have seen the product and all the examples posted, and while it's impressive, its cost is prohibitive. For what you are paying for, you are basically getting an archaic XML language variation that for all practical purposes exists solely for people who want to avoid the Flash gui for building rich internet applications. While it is certainly understandable that a programmer would want to avoid the Flash gui, it's not worth $12,000 to do it.

It also seems bizarre to compile a GUI at the application server level. Shouldn't a GUI be built in a development environment and compiled before it is deployed? I'll keep an eye on the technology, but it's probably not something I'll waste my time with at this point until MM relaxes their pricing. That may or may not happen. The product may just die a slow death. MM's marketing department seems to have unleased another Generator. Also, shades of Flash Remoting for ASP.NET and J2EE, which MM all but killed with their own pricing strategy. Who needs competitors when you kill your own products?

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Flash Remoting components in beta

Monday, March 08, 2004 1:46:18 PM

There has been a lot of chatter on the public forums about the future of Flash Remoting, but Flash Remoting is alive and kicking. Macromedia is working on the AS 2 version as we speak, which should be available in a month or two. They look great so far, and I'll have more information as it becomes available. There will be ActionScript 2.0 components, and a connector component, which was missing from the initial release of Flash MX 2004.

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