InfoWorld review: Flash Builder 4 lights up rich Internet app development

Fresh out of beta, Flash Builder 4 delivers time-saving tools that speed data delivery for Flex apps, streamlines testing and workflow for Flash and AIR

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The only downside to the network monitor, performance profiler, and unit test framework is that they are only available in the Premium edition of the package -- but they're well worth the cost.

Flash forward
Many of the dev and debug features in Flash Builder 4 are hardly innovations; they've been available in professional IDEs for some time. However, having them included within the Flash/Flex environment helps to promote the framework and bring it in line with enterprise-grade development expectations.

Other improvements to the Flex 4 Spark architecture offer more flexible runtime layout opportunities, new transition animations, and the 3-D capabilities supported by the Flash Player 10.

There are new additions for Adobe-centric design shops as well, such as easy integration and editing of Flash Pro content directly from Builder. Although this seemingly lends to a reblending of developer/designer stratification, it could be a helpful shortcut in small shops.

Additionally, support for FXP graphics interchange format among the Adobe CS4 product suite extends to Builder as well, making for easy resource sharing.

The bottom line: Flash Builder 4 is a must-have tool for anyone developing data-driven applications on Flex. The IDE will demonstrably shorten the development cycle by exposing data, streamlining workflow, and simplifying change management so that your Flex apps will remain nimble.

Bottom Line

 Cost PlatformsPros & Cons
Adobe Flash Builder 4Flash Builder 4 Standard, $249 ($99 upgrade from Flex Builder 3); Flash Builder 4 Premium, $699 ($299 upgrade from Flex Builder 3)Supports ASP.Net, J2EE, HTTP/REST and SOAP Web services, PHP, BlazeDS, ColdFusion, and LiveCycle Data Services
  • + Excellent tools for introspecting data tables and service sources
  • + Clean code generation reduces errors, speeds dev.
  • + Quick wiring of data and event handlers to UI components
  • + Good debug and testing suite
  • - Catalyst designer tool still in beta
  • - Team dev tools still require plug-in

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