In a flurry of press releases and publicity on its website, Macromedia this week announced the Flash Platform, which really isn’t anything new — just a, er, flashy reminder of everything that Flash can do.
What is new, and of particular interest to Java developers, is the news that the next-generation development tool (codenamed “Zorn”) to replace Macromedia’s custom-built Flex Builder IDE will be based on the Eclipse platform.
Flex is a platform for rapidly developing Web applications that use rich, Flash-based interfaces generated on-the-fly on the server side, and that interact in real time with server-side applications, typically written in Java. Although this is an amazingly slick and powerful development environment, I think it’s safe to say that uptake has been slow among Java developers, who are typically reluctant to leave their development tools of choice to try a custom IDE.
Moving Flex development to the Eclipse platform will not only put the technology directly in the sights of millions of Java Web developers, but it will also enable them to continue using their favourite Eclipse plugins as they build rich Internet applications with Flash. With Borland JBuilder also on its way to Eclipse, developers who favour that popular IDE will also have the opportunity to discover Flex in their IDE of choice.
Whether designing Web applications with Flash interfaces is a Good Thing or not is a debate for another day, but Macromedia definitely seems to be giving this technology every opportunity to flourish.