Adobe Flex is on fire


Marco Casario from italian Comtaste had a good presentation at Web 2.0 Expo in Berlin today comparing Adobe Flex to JavaFX, Lazlo, Microsoft Silverlight, AJAX and XUL (full name of the presentation is “Choosing th Final RIA Path or Choosing the Appropriate RIA Technology”). In this comparison Adobe Flex won both on the level of maturity, size of active community, small learning curve, multimedia features, usability and spread of the Flash plugin that now reaches 98% of internet users. Of course your choice of technology depends largely on the specifics of your project, but this is another indicator that Adobe Flex is on fire.

Flex & AIR
Adobe Flex is a way to easily develop Flash programs. It is based on MXML and when compiled Flex code becomes a Flash .swf file. That means that it can run in any browser that has the Flash plugin installed. What I really like with Flex is that you can write the frontend in Flex and then use whatever language you want for the backend. Using REST services in Flex is super easy, so as long as your backend can talk REST you can connect to the frontend that way. I like this idea since I would prefer PHP for the backend of whatever app I do since it is widely supported, have a very active developer community and there are lots of PHP programmers all around the world.

AIR stands for Adobe Integrated Runtime (formerly Apollo, see my “How to be cool in a Web 2.0 crowd” on tips on how to use this fact to increase your geek coolness) and it allows you to develop desktop applications using Flex or HTML/JavaScript. AIR applications can run on most platforms (Mac, Windows, Linux etc) and can access local files etc just like any other desktop app. The fact that it is now simple to write platform independant desktop applications using only HTML/JavaScript is really powerful.

Adobe MAX
About a month I was at the Adobe MAX conference in Chicago. Since that is where all Adobe-fanboys gather there were quite a few Hallelujha moments, and maybe I am somewhat influenced by that. One thing was clear from MAX though, Adobe are pushing Flex and AIR with all it’s marketing might. After having an almost 100% market share on software for web designers (Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver etc) they are now really focusing on the web developers. They are doing a great job making powerful tools that makes development a charm, their Eclipse based Flex Builder is one of the best IDE’s I have used.

Mashups & Flex
Building Mashups in Flex is easy since the REST support is really good. I had a presentation at Adobe MAX dealing with the need for mashups and webscraping in general and combining Kapow Mashup Server and Adobe Flex in particular…

5 Top Tips on How To Be Cool in a Web 2.0 Crowd


In the 50s a black leather jacket, smoking, pink cars and greasy hair was cool. None of that will get you far in a Web 2.0 crowd. As in all crowds only very few acctually knows what they are talking about and the rest are faking it (I am not, I promise, I really really belong!!!!). The trick is of course to sound like you know what you are talking about, and the rest does not matter that much (that is good old Marketing 1.0 or How-to-survive-High-School 1.0). Just follow the 5 tips below and you will be considered cool by any Web 2.0 crowd. A bit of a warning though, it won’t get you chicks and the chances it is going to land you a job outside of Sillicon Valley are slim to none.

1. Know when to be new school and when to be old school
Adobe Apollo is now named Adobe AIR, where AIR stands for “Adobe Integrated Runtime” (this means that the name includes Adobe twice, what a great feat or marketing!). Right now the correct thing to call Apollo is AIR, since that shows that you are hip to what’s happenin’ (forgive my non-techie slang here, it might be a bit out of date). However, in a few months when Adobe throws all it’s marketing might behind the name AIR, you should once again start using the name Apollo. That will show that you are old school cool and don’t care about marketing dollars. From new school to old school in a few months, that took Hip Hop years to achive.

2. Social X 2.0
Use the word “social” and “2.0” for everything, it does not have to make sense. These buzz words of the day will soon go out of style since all kinds of uncool Media 1.0 are talking about it, but for now it is the in thing to use. It is a bit like the Dilbert mission statement generator, just take an existing term and add Social in the start and 2.0 in the end and voilá, you’re cool. For example “Social Work 2.0”, “Social Search 2.0”, “Social Latte-Grande-with-an-extra-shot-of-expresso 2.0”. To be extra cool you might wanna start mentioning “Web 3.0” – it is such a badly defined term that it can be used for anything from the full semantic web to the latest improvements on Flickr, very practical.

3. The Power of the T-Shirt
T-Shirts have worked well for many generation of Geeks. Power of the Sys Admin is displayed by the wild beard, the pizza built body and, most importantly, the dirty and worn “Linux Rules” T-Shirt. ThinkGeek has built a good business on this fact, and Threadless is doing the same thing for the “damn I am creative, I have a Mac and I understand the inside joke” crowd. Everyone has blogs (at least everyone that will read this), everyone has accounts at the lastest cool sites, but not everyone has the T-Shirt from just that event. The Social Events 2.0 (yay, I got a cool point there, see how easy it is) now has unique T-Shirts where you can add your own little personalization sentence. That was the thing both at the Web 2.0 Expo a at JavaOne (bonus tip: mention the events you’ve gone to lately) and it was really popular. T-Shirts can show the pure mortals that have only read about Web 2.0 in Times Magazine that you are a hard core Geek 2.0!

4. Use a Mac and make off-hand comments about it
This is not as complicated as it sounds. It involves using a Mac, but you have to keep from making the blank-eyed-freaky-smile-all-with-Mac-is-wondeful-and-Steve-Jobs-is-my-God statements all the time. Instead just happen to mention every know and then how great that latest Mac utility you found is and how much time is saves when you do [insert technical babbel here]. For extra coolness just end the sentence with mumbling a bit about “or maybe you don’t have a Mac…”. A given is to just happen to mention how great a Mac is to use when you are using Ruby On Rails, that is 2 coolness points for the price of one.

Disclosure: I don’t use a Mac (but I do own a fully working Mac Classic II)

5. Get in on those Beta programs and use them as if you were Social Machiavelli 2.0
Register for all beta programs you can, the earlier the better, they are the currency of Economy 2.0 (to really beat the 2.0 analogy to death). Once a beta has been mentioned on TechCrunch your hard work will have paid off because you can just happen to forward to article to your “friends” (term used loosely), of course via Jaiku (Twitter is soooo over), and mention that you do not agree with what Michael Arrington is writing (bonus tip: dont refer to TechCrunch, refer to Michael Arrington, this buys you some cool) and you should know since you have tested the mentioned app for a few weeks.

By the way, I have a Microsoft Popfly beta account and I don’t agree with whatever Micheal Arrington is writing about it!.

A Cry for Help
Let me know if I have missed any key points. I am soon going to Mashup Camp to talk about Social Mashups 2.0 and comparing that to Microsoft Poplfly and, what is then called Adobe Apollo, so I need all the help I can get!