Flex, AIR, RIA, Thermo, What is this Stuff?

May 5, 2008

Adobe Flex and AIR icons

I’m not the code writing developer type so this is my simple understanding which I’m hoping is what some of you might need?

RIA stands for Rich Internet Applications. They are basically web applications that have some of the functionality of regular desktop applications. They can be developed using Flash, Flex (a framework that developers can use to build user interfaces with MXML and XML which is then compiled and turned into SWF file to run in Adobe Flash Player). I’m sure that developers could also hand code all of this but I know nothing about that so if someone wants to further explain comment below. I am a graphic designer and as much as I would like to learn to write code it’s really not my thing. I still plan on learning more in the area of development but I’m not sure when I will have the time or commitment to do it.

Here’s an example of what can be done with Flex and to give an idea of what RIA interfaces can look like.

FlexStore

Go to the Products page and make different selections to the left of the products to see the results of how Flex makes it easier for developers to create very interesting and visually pleasing interface animations if you will.

As a designer I am VERY interested in a newer Adobe Labs project which is currently called Thermo which will make it really easy for designers to create functioning user interface designs that they can then give to a developer who can implement the back end functionality. The big deal here is that the designer can create interfaces that actually have functioning buttons, sliders and other really cool interface elements to show clients a mock up and then when they hand it over to the developer the developer only has to implement the connections to data (what makes the application actually work and calculate results) instead of having to first take an image only mock up and rebuild the entire interface into something that actually functions. This seems much more the way the workflow between designers and developers should work and I think it will make both designers and developers much happier.

Please if I have any of this wrong or you want to add something do comment. As I said I am a designer so this is my simple designer understanding. Having said that seeing what Flex can do it makes me want to go ahead and put in the time to learn development. I do know some CSS and basic HTML but that’s about it.

For more on this and other interesting developments from Adobe visit Adobe Labs here.

Flash tutorials

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