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Flex vs. Prototype/Script.aculo.us

Jeff Walker
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Joined: Apr 25, 2004
Posts: 116
Hi,
I'd like to get Christophe's opinion on Flex vs. Prototype and script.aculo.us. I have a very experienced architect friend who tells me Flex will beat all others.

But I don't know where Flex fits in compared to what the technologies mentioned in this book offers.

(E.g. Lay-of-the-land in frontend development is hazy to me).
Thanks for your time.
-dream_ryder
Christophe Porteneuve
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Joined: Jan 28, 2008
Posts: 43
Hey Jeff,

I'd like to get Christophe's opinion on Flex vs. Prototype and script.aculo.us. I have a very experienced architect friend who tells me Flex will beat all others.

But I don't know where Flex fits in compared to what the technologies mentioned in this book offers.


Oh my.

We're talking about two very different things here.

Flex is a full-fledged development environment that spans both the server side and the client side; sure, it has bridges of sorts to play with various server-side techs, but you'll really get the most of it if you play with the Adobe runtime on the server side as well.

Flex is proprietary, as is Flash. It has powerful UI features and graphical capabilities (as it relies on Flash), but is also essentially closed, closed-source, and from a single vendor.

As far as I'm concerned, Flex is not part of the web standards, and therefore sits outside the realm I'm interested in. Adobe has numerous wonderful engineers on staff, and their technology is certainly impressive, but once you cast aside all the marketing mumbo-jumbo, Adobe tries to do the same thing Microsoft has been trying to achieve: replace open web standards with proprietary technologies of theirs. I'm not interested.

I certainly believe there are situations and markets where using an integrated, Flex-based solution can make a lot of sense, most likely in the intranet/extranet space for graphics-intensive apps. But I'm into webapps, not yet another tech toolset.

Prototype and script.aculo.us go entirely web standards, which means they run on all major browsers without extra plug-ins. It also means you can leverage quality semantical markup for SEO purposes and other Semantic Web uses, and can leverage existing knowledge in web techs such as XHTML, CSS and JavaScript.

Still, Prototype and script.aculo.us are mostly middle-ground libs upon which to build more integrated solutions; Flex would probably be more aptly compared to larger toolkits such as Dojo.

'hope this helps.


Christophe Porteneuve aka TDD
"They did not know it was impossible, so they did it." --Mark Twain
Pragmatic Guide to JavaScript: http://books.pragprog.com/titles/pg_js/
Prototype and script.aculo.us: http://books.pragprog.com/titles/cppsu/
Jeff Walker
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Joined: Apr 25, 2004
Posts: 116
Thanks for the reply Christophe.
I have a better feel for where they all fit now.
-jeff
Gregg Bolinger
GenRocket Founder
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Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 15299
    
    6

Flex is proprietary, as is Flash. It has powerful UI features and graphical capabilities (as it relies on Flash), but is also essentially closed, closed-source, and from a single vendor.

I'm no Flex advocate but the above isn't entirely true. while Flash is proprietary Flex 3 will be completely open source from the SDK to the VM it runs on. And if you do make this argument about Flex/Flash you have to make the same argument about Java when it comes to Applets.

More Info.
[ February 13, 2008: Message edited by: Gregg Bolinger ]

GenRocket - Experts at Building Test Data
Christophe Porteneuve
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Joined: Jan 28, 2008
Posts: 43
Hey Gregg,


I'm no Flex advocate but the above isn't entirely true. while Flash is proprietary Flex 3 will be completely open source from the SDK to the VM it runs on. And if you do make this argument about Flex/Flash you have to make the same argument about Java when it comes to Applets.


Thanks for the info. Do you mean the source will be accessible, or that the whole development process will abide by open-source standards (patch contributions, forks allowed, and the lot)?

About Java: yes and no. Java became open-source recently. But I'm no applet fan either, you got that right :-)
Gregg Bolinger
GenRocket Founder
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Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 15299
    
    6

Originally posted by Christophe Porteneuve:
Hey Gregg,



Thanks for the info. Do you mean the source will be accessible, or that the whole development process will abide by open-source standards (patch contributions, forks allowed, and the lot)?

About Java: yes and no. Java became open-source recently. But I'm no applet fan either, you got that right :-)


From the link I provided:


Adobe is announcing plans to open source Flex under the Mozilla Public License (MPL). This includes not only the source to the ActionScript components from the Flex SDK, which have been available in source code form with the SDK since Flex 2 was released, but also includes the Java source code for the ActionScript and MXML compilers, the ActionScript debugger and the core ActionScript libraries from the SDK
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://aspose.com/file-tools
 
subject: Flex vs. Prototype/Script.aculo.us