Lots of the impromptu chats I have been having here at MAX have been focused on Flex, and specifically how it relates to ColdFusion. So, no, Flex is not a ColdFusion killer, it is not even a ColdFusion competitor. The truth is that I don’t think we’ve done an adequate job yet of articulating the ColdFusion / Flex relationship, this should be addressed shortly though (and in all fairness, Flex is not even in beta yet). But … at it’s simplest, Flex relies on back-end server technologies for transactions and business logic and processes, and ColdFusion is a great option there. Think of it this way, CFCs for your business layer, CFM files use those CFCs to generate HTML, Flex uses those CFCs to generate SWF. It’s that simple.

12 thoughts

  1. One thing that suprised me was that it appears Flex will only be able to work with ColdFusion via web services and XML. I was really hoping to see remoting support in there as well.
    "The CF scenario is not really different from the J2EE or .NET scenarios. The short answer is: you can provide business logic developed in the middle tier using CF with a RIA front end. You can do this, for example, using Flex’s WebService tag to connect to a CF-built web service, or use the HTTPService tag for plain XML over HTTP communication (with CF dynamically generating XML documents representing application data)." (see comments section here http://www.markme.com/cc/archives/003763.cfm)

  2. BUT … Ben, won’t the next version of ColdFusion (aka Blackstone) have Flash form generation built in (replacing and adding to cfform’s java/javascripts functionality)? I know these features are not definitely in, but they would give us ColdFusion types another way of developing RIAs or even RIAs-lite.
    I am prototyping a RIA (Flash front end integrating with a CFC backend) and am wondering which technology to use for the real thing. At the moment I have Flash MX2004 Pro which can do the job now but is for me a very steep learning curve; or I could wait to see what Flex can do, but imagine it will be an enterprise class product and an enterprise type price – nevertheless an option; or I could wait to see whether the new functionality in ColdFusion gives me what I need – albeit no doubt not as comprehensively as Flex.
    I imagine there are many others out there with this same dilemma (which development road to choose for RIAs) and thus I think it would be useful to know Macromedia’s ‘roadmap’ as it were.
    Eager; but confused!
    Ian

  3. This flex / coldfusion integration sounds a lot like flash / coldfusion. What will be flex benefits over flash? Why is remoting not included? To be frank why was it (remoting) release for just one version of Flash?

  4. Patrick, I don’t think we know version specifics yet, but I would *guess* that as Flex is a Java app (like CF) it should work with CF Enterprise (CF on top of J2EE). But, in truth, I don’t believe packaging or editioning has been decided yet.
    Ian, you hit the nail on the head. See my blog entry about the "sneak peak" session, the form stuff was indeed using Flex. And before you ask about what you get with ColdFusion and what not, the answer is, we don’t know yet.
    Sean, remoting is supported in Flash MX 2004 exactly as it was in Flash MX, so that makes two versions of Flash. What is not (yet) in Flash MX 2004 is a connector so as to connect to Remoting without code (the way you can SOAP), but stay tuned.

  5. Ben i was referring to the fact that remoting is still in AS1 and not AS2. I have had to use Joey Lott’s unofficial AS2 class file to use it with one of my projects which uses remoting and is written in AS2 as a seperate class.
    This is a known issue and one which has been promised to be tackled by MM (believe it’s in their FAQ on F MX 2004) but I have yet to see a resolution yet.
    But that issue aside, I am very interested in seeing exactly how Flex and CF will coexist. This might be too early in the game but, in what situation would Flex be used instead of Flash? Do they not both provide users with a Rich User Interface?

  6. I think that since each CFFORM control would be a separate .swf and everything is toast as soon as the form is submitted, it’s not really an RIA. This is to say that I expect that a FLEX application will load in each MXML page as an .swf into a main "app" .swf which will maintain objects/instances/user data across MXML "pages".
    I agree with the others that Flash is a stteep learning curve… but if you plan on using FLEX, you probably will need to know a fair amount of AS, so it’s not a bad idea to start learning now. The mistake I made the first time I tried was that I tried to jump right in and start building apps. It really takes a week of familiarizing oneself with the basics of flash outside of components, actionscript, and data integration, and then you can get a full head of steam. Ben’s old article http://www.sys-con.com/coldfusion/article.cfm?id=528 is where I started, but I had to go back to it AFTER I understood movieclips, frames, layers etc.

  7. Dave, nope. The demo that Nimer showed created a single SWF, the form with all of it’s controls became one big SWF. But implementation details are nowhere near finalized yet.
    Sean, yep, that is being worked on.

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