For Farata Systems the year 2007 started with a surge of requests for working on new Flex projects, which was expected, but a number of requests fall under umbrella “Save our project“. For consulting firms, it may sound good, because any repair job is more expensive than creation of the product from scratch. But it may also represent a bad trend – some enterprise development managers will fall into the same trap – the project should go to production in a month, but it’s not in a good shape. Let’s see what happened.
Adobe markets Flex as a RAD tool. The main threads of most of their Flex presentations is how to develop a working application under ten minutes or so. But seasoned enterprise developers understand that there is big difference between a short demo and development of a real world application, which most likely is more complex that reading an XML feed into a plain data grid. But what if your organization does not have seasoned Flex developers? What if you did not have a say during the budget planning? What if your project plan was painted in large brush strokes? It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that you might not meet your deadlines, which were set by some “bad executive”.
If you’ve been around in the industry for a while, you may remember that the forth generation client server tools like SQL Windows (Gupta) and PowerBuilder were the hottest tools on the market about fifteen year ago. Back than, if you knew how to disable a Button and how to write an SQL join (Hibernate was not invented yet), you’d get a job in no time. Then, you’d learn on the go. This was a Client-Server Wild West. Now we are entering the RIA golden rush. This is great, but do not expect Flex to be a silver bullet. It’s a great tool, but you’ll have to deal with same old issues like performance, application size, custom data renderers, dealing with J2EE components, and more.
That’s why we, and I’m sure many other Flex consultancies started to hear S.O.P. (Save Our Project) signals. Flex is a great tool but do not get overly excited, invest some serious money in training of your developers, and carefully plan your transition to the great RIA world, where every serious enterprise is moving.