explorers' club

explorations in dev, science, sci-fi, games, and other fun stuff!

what’s after Flex?


Given that the hype over Flex has kind of reached its apex I think its high time I start broadening my skill sets.  I am not saying the Flex is a “done” technology, I am simply stating that Flex has reached a satisfying market share for RIA development and that the honeymoon is over.

So what does a Sr. Flex Developer decide to pick?  Well iPhone development is all the rage so that’s a no-brainer.  But then again that is just another client-side technology.  Java and ColdFusion are still hot technologies.  Going with either one would be a good choice (or both for that matter).  I know some PHP and MySQL but I am not sure what the opportunity costs are for continuing to develop those skills are.  I don’t really see myself doing too much in the way of web design nor do I see myself as a DBA.  I might still tackle those when I can do so without incurring significant opportunity costs.

This post is simply to post my thoughts and maybe get some community feedback.  Thoughts, comments, questions, concerns?  Let’s hear ’em.


18 thoughts on “what’s after Flex?

  1. As a developer, I see the same problem that Java has slowly manifesting in Flex too. For example, it wasn’t long ago that Adobe released Flex 3, now they are looking to put Flex 4 out very soon. For me, this makes it very hard for developers to focus on implementing enterprise application knowing that they will soon move on to a much new SDK.

    • I completely understand what you are saying. I think though that the changes in Flex 4 are so significant in development workflow that this is a necessary SDK update. For any agile-ish folks out there, you know what it means to have the proper tools to better collaborate with your design and UX counterparts.

      I do see Adobe taking some of the same steps that Cakewalk did with their audio suite Sonar. It seemed every year they had some new feature that they sold you on as a “gotta have it” feature. Like clockwork they went from Sonar 1 to Sonar 8 or 9 in as many years. Most folks got the impression it was just selling to the suckers. I still have Sonar 3.

  2. Director: 1998 – 2001
    Flash: 2001 – 2004
    Flex: 2004 – 2009

    I don’t know what’s next for me. Mobile provides no guarantee my code will actually work; same with AJAX (although the libraries are awesome now compared to what they were). It also doesn’t have the design breadth I want. iPhone… ok, 1 phone? I know touch, and their new HD phone, and their upcoming gaming platform may be fun, but I still feel like the web is still a large market that still has a ways to go. I mean, 99% of video is still viewed on TV, yet there has been an explosion of video on the web. So… that says the same thing to me about other verticals too that have yet to capitalize on it. Flex is moving in the right direction, but Catalyst has a ways to go.

    …so no clue. For now, I’ve been delving into processes and frameworks to ensure the projects I do work on, whatever the technology, actually have more than a snowball’s chance in hell of succeeding.

    • I def understand what you are saying about putting your eggs in one apple shaped basket. But the fact that both iPod and iPhone have been tremendous consumer products and that their user experiences have revolutionized many of the activities we take for granted, I think they are here to stay and the market is ripe for the picking. One scary thing to me is that their software is exclusive to their hardware rather than something like Android. Not sure what to think of that.

      Regarding frameworks, which have you been delving into with regards to say AS3? Just curious to know what the big dogs play with.

  3. Why not Ruby & Rails. I started looking into both of those a couple of years ago, but about 18 months after they first came to mainstream attention when Rails was released and I wished I had started earlier. It’ll give you a different take on programming I’m sure, Java code is so interchangeable with AS3 you could probably do that standing on your head.

    Coldfusion is an absolute doddle if you understand any language, it’s just a bit verbose, and not in a good verbose way like you get with a statically typed language.

  4. After seeing some of the improvements in the new Coldfusion IDE and some other areas I have started considering CF. Also on my list is playing with the Audrino/XBee hardware and hooking it up to Flex, and Unity 3D. All for my very limited free time.

    • I think you and Dave Spurr have me convinced to check out CF. Its easy enough to read. I would be looking at it from a backend services perspective. Not sure how scalable it is. Haven’t researched it enough. Do you folks recommend any forums that you frequent in your CF development?

  5. Have you taken a look at OpenLaszlo yet? Its an open source RIA development kit like Flex, but the interesting thing is that it will compile down to whatever you want…you have to see it to believe it. I’m a hard core Flex developer, but this has recently piqued my interest because IBM keeps raving about it. It might be worth a look for you.

  6. I would start learning the new features in Flex 4 and new workflow from imaging tools to Flash Catalyst to Flash Builder.

  7. Suggesting checking out Ruby on Rails and RESTful web services. Also recommend looking into Scala.

    • My only complaint with trying to learn RESTful web services is that if I were to develop for a flash-based client application, it cannot fully leverage the other methods aside from GET and POST. At least that was my experience a year or so ago. Has that changed?

      As for RoR, I have looked into it, but found that there wasn’t enough demand job-wise to incur the opportunity cost associated with learning it. That may be different since 2 years ago but I have since shelved my RoR “Hello World” project.

  8. I’d go definetely to HTML 5 / Google GWT : look at Googles’s Wave.

    The Java Google App engine is a nice integrated client / server integrated dev environment. One could also add that you can’t go wrong with Google’s tech.

  9. I have been using CF for about 5 years for most of my server-side dev, and if the client is Flash, there is no better/easier way to go. Remoting/amf is super slick. And if you are looking for some super cheap CF Hosting, check out Hostfolio.com. I was a little skeptical at first, but I have had my site on there for a year, and have no complaints.

    As for something new, Unity looks pretty promising.

  10. I’m seriously thinking of looking into HaXe. The technology is attractive, and I’m starting to see some demand for it.

  11. 1995-1999: DHTML & Design
    2000-2004: Flash
    2005-2008: Flex
    2009: Flash Platform

    For me, 2009 is about exploration within the bounds of the craft. Every time I think I’ve mastered one aspect of the Flash Platform, I discover something new I have not tried yet. This year I find myself going back to my Flash roots and using some of the generative design work that Erik Natzke and Josh Davis turned me on to back in the day, and applying that to create interesting data visualization components in a way that I’ve never seen done in Flex. So things have come full circle for me: now I’m using both the Flash and Flex frameworks together on a breadth and scope I’ve never done before. And there’s so much more I want to try, like augmented reality, or Flash-controlled hardware, or unique collaborative models.

    So I’m quite satisfied with staying with the existing technology. There are just too many cool things left to try for me to want to go elsewhere.

  12. wwwwooooooowwwwww… goodd.. thanks from your info brother

  13. Thanks for the Q&A session.

    I’ve been out of fine art school long enough to know, that there are some pretty vast mediums left for me to tackle. This leaves me about 7-10 years behind the times, but no better time then now. I just cleared a Computer Science introduction told through Python. I fell in love with Python, but it appears to be irrelevant in the market due to its young age. This basic theoretical understanding allows me to delve into a more specific, relevant language though. I’m going to spend some time with AS3. I hope I’m not wasting my opportunity cost. Iphone is tempting as well for all the reasons mentioned above. …

    Take the time to guide, warn, or encourage a NEWBIE with anything you may have to offer.

    Thanks again!

    • @metajake

      I too would like to explore Python especially since they now have a Python + AMF package out there. But yes, it’s not widely accepted as an enterprise-level language and thus not worth the opportunity costs to learn it at this point.

      I can say with certainty that you should AS3 and will not be wasting your time since doing so for the last 5+ years has paid my bills. As for iPhone dev, there are some concerns with coding for a specific hardware platform but then just look at what Apple did with the iPod. I am not sure of the market share or stats of the iPhone or iPod, but I would assume that Cocoa Touch would be a worthy language to pursue in your spare time. Not to mention that you are also learning the underlying language for building Mac apps.

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