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Flash Designer and Flash Builder 4

To be honest, I've been a closet purest for decades. I firmly believed in hand coding instead of using a WYSIWYG application that generates the code in the background. Most of this prejudice comes from the first WYSIWYG applications and the bad code that they generated. One of the worst jobs you can imagine is to take on a redesign project for a website that has been generated by one of these monsters.

That was then and this is today's reality. Most of today's web and desktop applications are very complex and require very complex source code. That's not to say that you couldn't hand code the source code for a web application but it would be extremely time consuming and not cost effective. Another reality is that the software, such as FlashR BuilderTM 4, has come a long way in being standards compliant and creating error free code. A third reality for the web and Flash developer is that "time is money" and the faster, more accurately you can work the better for your bottom line.

Although my readers are more interested in the design half of the Flash design/development equation, many need a basic understanding of what happens when they pass their Flash design over to the Flash developer. Most of today's Flash projects have two parts. The first half is the design process. The Flash designer decides what components are needed for the application, designs the layout of these components and assigns the interactions. The second half of the project is the back end programming process. The Flash developer creates the ActionScript code that will run the application and, if necessary, links the application to an application server. Flash Builder 4 is a software that Flash developers use to create web and desktop applications with the Flex Development Platform. It is designed to be as helpful as possible through the development process.

While building the application using the visual drag and drop Design mode panel, Flash Builder 4 generates the MXML code in the background. Of course, for those developers who want to get their hands dirty, there is a Source mode panel, with the familiar Flash Content Assist feature, that allows the developer to customize the code as needed. This MXML code works like most XML based code but when the project is complied with the Flex complier, it is generated again into ActionScript.

There are many new and enhanced features in Flash Builder 4 that help the Flash developer work more efficiently such as better data-centric controls for connecting applications to back end servers. Debugging is enhanced with expression evaluation from within the debugger and the new conditional break points.

Now that Flash Professional, Flash CatalystTM and Flash Builder 4 are part of the AdobeR Creative SuiteR, Flash Catalyst and Flash Professional project files can be opened into Flash Builder 4 making the workflow mush easier for both the front end designer and the back end developer.

*Adobe provided a review copy to me free of charge.



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