Regardless of your decision about using Flex frameworks, you should be aware of a number open source libraries of components. The Flex community includes passionate and skillful developers that are willing to enhance and share components that come with the Flex SDK. For example, you may find an open source implementation of the horizontal accordion, autocomplete component, tree grid control, JSON serializer, and much more.
Following you’ll find references to some of the component libraries that in many cases will spare you from reinventing the wheel during the business application development cycle:
The FlexLib project is a community effort to create open source user interface components for Adobe Flex 2 and 3. Some of its most useful components are: AdvancedForm, EnhancedButtonSkin, CanvasButton, ConvertibleTreeList, Highlighter, IconLoader, ImageMap, PromptingTextInput, Scrollable Menu Controls, Horizontal Accordion, TreeGrid, Docking ToolBar, and Flex Scheduling Framework.
as3corelib is an open source library of ActionScript 3 classes and utilities. It includes image encoders; a JSON library for serialization; general String, Number and Date APIs; as well as HTTP and XML utilities. Most of the classes don’t even use the Flex framework. AS3corelib also includes AIR-specific classes.
FlexServerLib includes several useful server-side components: MailAdapter is a Flex Messaging Adapter for sending email from a Flex/AIR application. SpringJmsAdapter is an adapter for sending and receiving messages through a Spring-configured Java Message Service (JMS) destination. EJBAdapter is an adapter allowing the invocation of EJB methods via remote object calls.
Geographical mapping libraries are quite handy if you’d like your RIA to have the ability to map the location of your business, branches, dealers, and the like. These libraries may be free for personal use, but may require a commercial license to be used in enterprise applications. Please consult the product documentation of the mapping engine of your choice.
The Astra Web API gives your Flex application access to Yahoo! Maps, Yahoo! Answers, Yahoo! Weather, Yahoo! Search, and a social events calendar. The Google Maps API for Flash lets Flex developers embed Google Maps in their application. The MapQuest Platform has similar functionality.
Text Layout Framework is a library that supports advanced typographic and text layout features. This library is requires Flash Player 10. It’s included in Flex 4, but can be used with Flex 3.2 as well.
To stay current with internal and third-party Flex components and libraries, download and install the AIR application called Tour de Flex. It contains easy-to-follow code samples on use of various components. It’s also a place where commercial and noncommercial developers can showcase their work (Figure 4-13).
Although most of the previous components cater to frontend developers, because Flex RIAs are distributed applications, some of the components and popular frameworks will live on the server side. The next two sections will give you an overview of how to introduce such server frameworks as Spring and Hibernate.