Flex 4 Critical Pieces – Data Centric Development

Flex 4 is a huge upgrade – after all it is a complete rewrite of virtually every bit of Flex code. It requires formal retraining or at least completely open mind and few weeks of going through samples that come with Flex 4 and understanding the differences and capabilities of the NEW platform.

This morning I went to the session Model-Driven Development with Flash Builder and LiveCycle Data Services. It was presented using newly minted Flex 4 beta and unlike the beta 1 that I had to fight through to make the sample to build, the wizards and code generators in beta 2 generally worked. There were some “gotchas” in the process but they were either simple to figure out or even had understandable error message so it is quite passable for the Beta product.

But the thing that was crucial for me to watch people in the room. Aside from typical problems of the front-end developers with Eclipse, a surprising number of people sailed through examples with reasonable understanding of the process. The crucial piece in making the non-trivial process of developing a multi-tier application manageable was correct placing of integration in the middle, and visual integration of the functionality directly into Flash Builder painters and property sheets.

There are other non-engineering components like pricing, but this release finally has potential of making LCDS easy enough for developers – assuming it works. It also gets Flash into top rank of RAD tools – for those who will adopt this development model.

As soon as I complete my current Flex projects in release stage, I am switching every new one to Flex 4/LCDS modeling. Flex community can expect the following new goodies from in a Clear Toolkit framework:

• Farata Systems will provide a native (SQL) adapter for data management compatible with Flex 4 later this year.
• Clear Data Builder will have a plugin to synchronize the data model and SQL adapters
• The missing features like client driven transactions will be added to Flex 4 code generators
• Forms and controls artifacts that are not to my liking as this is definitely the first version of this technology will be merged with the Clear Data Builder stack

Sincerely
Anatole Tartakovsky