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Professional Adobe® Flex® 3 by Joe Berkovitz, David Hassoun, Andrew Trice, Tom Sugden, Todd Prekaski, Jun Heider, Peter Ent, Joseph Balderson

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Chapter 2. The Flex 3 Ecosystem

Before diving into the specifics of any technology, it helps to know the terrain. You may have heard terms such as the Flash Player, Flash runtime, Flex, Flex framework, virtual machine, Flash Platform, Flex ecosystem, and various Adobe server products. The previous chapter defined a few aspects of this ensemble of technologies but perhaps not enough for the uninitiated to get a grasp of how they are related. What else is there? And how do they all fit together? This chapter will attempt to categorize and enumerate as many aspects of the ensemble of Adobe and related technologies that we call "the Flex ecosystem" as possible. These technologies are divided into the following categories:

  • Runtimes

  • Languages

  • Development tools

  • Frameworks and APIs

  • Data communications

  • Servers

A (Not So) Brief History of Flex

Before Flex, there was (and still is) Flash. Flash started as SmartSketch in 1995, which was changed to FutureSplash Animator, which was then acquired by Macromedia in 1996 and rebranded as Flash (www.adobe.com/macromedia/events/john_gay/page04.html). Flash got its start as a timeline-based animation vector tool in 1996, which published .swf files, which was short for ShockWave Flash.

As the tools and its player grew, the extension name stuck even though what it stood for lost significance. At the time, Flash only had proto-scripting capability, and it wasn't until Flash 4 in 1999 that it acquired anything approaching a language. In 2000, Flash 5 was released, ...

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