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TSS2009: Sexier Software with Java and Flex

Sexier Software with Java and Flex
James Ward, Flex Evangelist

Flex is an open source framework used to build RIAs based on the proprietary Adobe Flash platform. Having done some work with another RIA tool recently, JavaFX, I was interested to hear what James had to say about Flex.

He started by giving a demo of a Car Insurance claim app and a sales tool called SalesBuilder, both of which use Flex. Both looked impressive.

Adobe Platforms

James covered some of the Adobe Platforms, including:


  • Flash Player in browers
  • Adobe Air in the desktop
  • Can also run Apps within PDFs?!

Designer/Developer tools:

  • Creative Suite 3
  • Flex Builder

Applications built on the above:

  • Buzzword
  • Adobe Media Player


He then went on to talk about Flex specifically.

Flex is really an an umbrella term, covering several technologies. For example, it includes the Flex SDK as well as the Flex Builder tool. It also incorporates 2 programming languages:

  • ActionScript (OO language with static typing; Much like although with no Generics yet)
  • MXML: Optional way to instantiate variables and set properties. Don’t have to use as you can do all the same things via the straight xml or ActionScript.

Flex code is compiled in to byte code (.swf) which can then run on various different browsers.

Flex with Java

Next up was how to connect a Flex front end to a Java back end.
You can use conventional approaches such as SOAP/XML&HTTP/WebServices.
But the approach that James advocated was to use BlazeDS – an open source remoting and HTTP based messaging technology created by Adobe. BlazeDS uses AMF (Action Message Format) which is a data format that supports all the ActionScript data formats.

Spring Integration

The essence of this seemed to be that Flex, or more specifically, BlazeDS, integration with Spring is well supported and fairly straightforward.


James slides for this presentation can be downloaded from here in pdf format.

See Tour de Flex at

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