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Starter Toolkit For Flex Developers On A Budget Free tools and resources for Flex developement

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Most web-savy folks have some notion of what Flash is. From a purely user standpoint it is a browser plug-in (FlashPlayer) that enables users to view flash enabled sites. From the web designer's perspective Flash is an authoring tool for creating dynamic graphic content which when done right can produce web sites with powerful visuals and interaction.


Through the eyes of a developer, however, Flash is just one aspect of what we call the Flex platform. At the heart of that platform is Actionscript. Since the release of Flex3, what was once a simple scripting tool has evolved into a full-fledged Object Oriented programming language, complete with an extensive set of APIs(Application Programming Interfaces) out of which one can build a myriad of Rich Internet Applications(RIAs). Better yet, since Adobe acquired Macromedia, they have opened up aspects of the platform, effectively making code development for the platform open-source. The Flex3SDK can be downloaded practically free of cost (Adobe only requires that you register with their site). In addition they also supply extensive and thorough documentation. They also provide a robust IDE(Integrated Development Environment) called Flex Builder. It is an Eclipse plug-in with a suite of tools for Flex software development. Alas, Flex Builder comes at a price, and a hefty one at that. But there are open source alternatives such as FlashDevelop 3.


The goal of this post is to present a list of resources for programmers interested in Flex Development so they can quickly get up to speed.


So let's start with links to Adobe's site:


Most of Adobe's products can be downloaded and evaluated over a 30-60 day period. I suggest downloading Flash and Flex Builder but only after having downloading and reading the free documentation for them, that way when you do download them you'll be able to squeeze the most out of the limited time you get to evaluate the product. The Flex3 SDK is free of charge.



Adobe Products:

Flex 3 SDK project home page

Flash 9.0

Flex Builder


Adobe's documentation comes in one of three forms; PDF, html and livedocs. The PDf and html format can be downloaded, while LiveDocs can only be accessed online. In addition to having the standard docs LiveDocs also have extra annotations from the Adobe developers:

Adobe Flex3/Actionscript Documentation


Version 9.0.swf specification (PDF)

AVM2 overview (PDF)

OpenSource Tools:

*Note:Check the editor section for FlashDevelop 3

Open Source Flash

The great thing about Flex development is that you can develop software independently of the Flash authoring tool. The scripting language is no longer tied to the Flash authoring environment as the Flex 3 SDK comes equip with compilers that convert Actionscript and MXML(Flex's custom mark-up language) into SWF files. Once you download the documentation I suggest starting with the following docs; Building And Deploying Flex Applications(300+ pages), Programming Actionscript 3.0 (500+ pages) and the Flex 3 Developer's Guide (1300+ pages).


If anyone else has any other links to add to this list feel free to do so...

Edited by dimumurray (see edit history)

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