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Flex 4.1 and the Next Flex SDK

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Flex 4.1 and the Next Flex SDK

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Adobe has made several big announcements in the past few days related to the Flex framework, its SDK, and Flash Builder.  The new Flex SDK under development, named "Hero",  will improve a number of components and features while bringing full multi-screen development.  Flex 4.1 final was released with some major bug fixes and support for layout mirroring and bi-directional text.  Flash Builder 4.0.1 comes with bug fixes and minor feature enhancements.  Both new releases include support for Flash Player 10.1 and AIR 2.

Hero

Originally, Adobe was thinking about forking the mobile applications aspect of the Flex framework and calling it Slider.  Instead of separating a small feature set of Flex, Adobe decided to deliver a full Flex SDK, called Hero.  It builds on the previous versions of Flex by bringing full multi-screen development to the SDK, along with Spark component updates and improved features for building large-scale applications.  Developers will be able to leverage many of the existing Flex features with the mobile features for mobile apps.

The new SDK is currently being built for the next versions of Flash and AIR.  The SDK will have a beta release in the second half of this year, with a final release in 2011.  The releases should be in sync with the releases of the new Flash and AIR runtimes.

Flex 4.1 and Flash Builder 4.0.1

Flex 4.1 contains quite a few bug fixes along with some feature improvements.  The main new features in this release are layout mirroring and bidirectional text, which make it possible to support written language that reads right-to-left.  

The following example shows two Panel containers. One sets the layoutDirection property to "rtl" and the other to "ltr":
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<!-- mirroring/SimpleLayoutMirroring.mxml -->

<s:Application xmlns:fx="http://ns.adobe.com/mxml/2009"
xmlns:s="library://ns.adobe.com/flex/spark"
xmlns:mx="library://ns.adobe.com/flex/mx"
height="400" width="400">

<s:layout>
<s:VerticalLayout/>
</s:layout>

<fx:Script>
<![CDATA[
import mx.core.LayoutDirection;
]]>

</fx:Script>

<s:Panel title="Panel With Non-Mirrored Content" width="350"
layoutDirection="{LayoutDirection.LTR}">
<s:layout>
<s:VerticalLayout/>
</s:layout>
<s:Label text="This panel contains content that is not mirrored."/>

<s:Button label="This Button is not mirrored in the container"/>
<s:DropDownList requireSelection="true" selectedIndex="0">
<s:ArrayList source="['Drop','Down','List']" />
</s:DropDownList>
</s:Panel>

<s:Panel title="Panel With Mirrored Content" width="350"
layoutDirection="{LayoutDirection.RTL}">

<s:layout>
<s:VerticalLayout/>
</s:layout>
<s:Label text="This panel contains content that is mirrored."/>
<s:Button label="This Button is mirrored inside the container"/>
<s:DropDownList requireSelection="true" selectedIndex="0">

<s:ArrayList source="['Drop','Down','List']" />
</s:DropDownList>
</s:Panel>
</s:Application>
This new version of Flex also sees some significant performance improvements.  Flex 4.1 also updates the way it interacts with the Text Layout Framework.

Flash Builder 4.0.1 contains mostly small feature changes and a list of bug fixes.  It's updated to work with Flex 4.1 and both updates include support for the recent releases of Flash Player 10.1 and AIR 2.  Native support for these technologies means Flex/Flash developers can start putting Flash apps for smartphones into production.  The arrival of Hero later this year should make the tooling and workflow even more refined.

Download Flex 4.1 SDK here.   

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