Apache Flex

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Apache Flex

Basic data

developer Apache Software Foundation
Publishing year June 20, 2004, January 6, 2013
Current  version 4.16.1
( November 23, 2017 )
operating system Windows , macOS , Linux
programming language ActionScript 3.0
category Software development kit
License Apache 2.0

Apache Flex , previously Adobe Flex , is a software development kit (SDK) for developing Rich Internet Applications (RIAs) on the technical basis of the Flash platform. In addition to the SDK published as open source , the framework consists of the fee-based Flash Builder (from version 4, before this was called Flex Builder ), LiveCycle Data Services and Flex Charting components. Although it was possible to create rich applications with Adobe Flash (formerly Macromedia Flash) before Flex was released, Flash as a tool did not offer the range of functions required by software developers from an IDE , but was still mainly used by web designers and graphic artists. Flex should therefore target software developers in a targeted manner.

Differences from Flash

Flex has several components that are based on the technology of the Adobe Flash platform as a framework.

MXML and Actionscript

A Flex application is developed using the markup language MXML for the user interface and the programming language ActionScript for the application logic. MXML is based on XML , with which a developer describes the composition of the user interface from visible and invisible components. In an intermediate step, the Flex compiler translates the MXML files into ActionScript source files, which are then compiled into a Flash file. The developer can therefore imperatively describe the user interface partially or completely in ActionScript even without MXML. Changes to the composition of the user interface are therefore also possible during runtime.

LiveCycle Data Services

The LiveCycle Data Services (formerly Flex Data Services ), the server component of the Flex 2 product family. The Flex application can use this service to address other server applications (for example Java applications). Parts of it are known as BlazeDS Open Source .

Flash Builder

The Flash Builder is the integrated development environment of Flex and is based on Eclipse . It can be used to develop complete and complex ActionScript projects, both for use on websites and for the desktop. Graphic interfaces are described in Flash Builder with the XML-based language MXML, whereby Flash Builder also allows a Design View of MXML code, with which the mouse-assisted composition of user interfaces is possible. The Flash Builder is chargeable and is available in a standard and a professional version, which differ in the scope of the available components for data processing and the presence of certain profiling tools. However, the professional version is free for schools ( Adobe Flash Builder Pro for Education ).

Adobe has announced that as part of the transfer of Flex to the Apache Software Foundation, the Flash Builder's Design View will no longer be developed.

Flex charting components

The Flex Charting ( Data Visualization ) components are an extension of the Flex SDK. These components can be used to represent diagrams in a simple and visually appealing way. The charting components are included from version 4 (previously only with Flex Builder 3 Professional).


Flex 2

The Flex Builder 1.5 was based on Dreamweaver MX 2004. From version 2.0 the Flex Builder is based on Eclipse 3.1. In this version it is no longer necessary to have the Flex applications compiled by a server. The compilation is now done by the integrated development environment or the command line compiler of the Flex SDK. ActionScript 3 was also introduced with Flex 2.

Flex 3

On February 25, 2008, Adobe released Flex 3. The SDK itself is now available as a free download. New additions to Flex 3 are mainly support for Adobe AIR as well as functions for profiling and refactoring.

Flex 4

Adobe released Flex 4 (codenamed Gumbo) in March 2010. The component architecture called “Spark” and the support of the FXG exchange format, which should enable an integrated workflow for the release of Adobe Flash Catalyst, are new . The layout model has been renewed with “Spark” and now allows the use of 2D and 3D-based animations on components as well as the automatic reversal of transitions, the use of pixel bender filters and keyframe-based animations. The status feature ( viewstates ), which enables different states of the application, has been improved. Compiler performance has been optimized. The ASDoc application documentation tool now supports ASDoc in MXML files. The data binding function now supports bidirectional communication and changing data. The text engine improved with Flash Player 10 has been integrated into Flex. The HTML templates for embedding Flex applications in HTML code are now based on the open source method SWFObject .

Further development of Flex

Adobe has given the Flex SDK, including the components named Spark and the new Falcon compiler, to the Apache Software Foundation , where it is being actively developed. The further development of the MXML-Designer in Flash Builder, the Adobe Flash Catalyst tool contained in the Creative Suite and the data-centric developer features called introspection have been discontinued. In addition, Adobe no longer wants to sign its own runtime shared libraries , which contain the Flex framework. In contrast to RSLs from third-party developers, RSLs from Adobe were precompiled and digitally signed, as Adobe Flash Player can make them available to all applications running at the same time, regardless of their domain . Own RSLs could only be used simultaneously by applications from the same original domain.

Advantages and disadvantages of flex applications


  • Applications developed with Flex run the same on all platforms that have a version of Flash Player installed. Flash Player is available for many operating systems, so Flex applications are considered platform-independent.
  • After the application has been loaded, only data that the developer provides as business data for the application is exchanged via the network.
  • The Flex SDK is open source and has been a top-level project of the Apache Software Foundation since January 2013.
  • Free middleware for the Action Message Format (AMF) is available for all known web languages ​​(e.g. BlazeDS for Java, FluorineFX for .NET, AMFPHP for PHP, WebORB for Ruby).


  • The integrated development environment Flash Builder is chargeable. However, there are alternative development environments such as FlashDevelop .
  • The LiveCycle Data Services Payable for more than one CPU.
  • HTML output is only insufficiently supported.


1.0 March 2004
1.5 October 2004
2.0 June 28, 2006
3.0 February 25, 2008
4.0 March 22, 2010
4.5 May 3, 2011
4.6 November 30, 2011
4.8 July 25, 2012
4.9 December 27, 2012
4.9.1 February 28, 2013
4.10 4th August 2013
4.15 January 11, 2016
4.16 March 14, 2017

See also

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. projects.apache.org . (accessed on April 8, 2020).
  2. Apache Flex 4.16.1 Released! .
  3. Flash Builder Help / Flex 4.6 SDK Release Notes. Using the Data Visualization Components with Flex SDK . English. Online at helpx.adobe.com.
  4. ^ Project History . English. Online at flex.apache.org.
  5. Kai König: Flex Summit - (how) will it continue? . heise developer, December 15, 2011. Online at heise.de.
  6. Kai König: The future of Flex . heise developer, December 23, 2011. Online at heise.de.
  7. Using the framework RSLs ( Memento of the original from December 23, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. . English. From the Flex 3 documentation, online at livedocs.adobe.com, accessed December 28, 2011. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / livedocs.adobe.com
  8. ^ The Apache Software Foundation Announces Apache Flex ™ as a Top-Level Project . English. Online at blogs.apache.org, posted January 14, 2013 by Sally in General.