updated 07:35 am EDT, Mon June 20, 2011
Adobe Flash Builder, Flex go beyond Android
Adobe gave a boost to cross-platform mobile development with the launches of Flash Builder 4.5 and Flex 4.5. Both development tools can now build apps for iOS devices as well as the BlackBerry PlayBook and future BlackBerry Tablet OS devices. The app had supported Android as of April but can now harmonize publishing to multiple platforms at once with a sole core code base.
As an upgrade to version 4, it can also package and sign apps when relevant and can talk in both directions with Flash Catalyst.
Flex 4.5 serves as the open-source framework for Flash Builder and can serve as the only tool needed to target Android, iOS, and PlayBook apps for those that don't need professional debugging and performance tools. It can also make ActionScript code and deploy both that as well as Flex through offline or non-browser apps using AIR.
Those who only need Flex can get it for free. Flash Builder 4.5 is available to test out for free in a trial version but costs $249 for a Standard version; a $699 Premium version adds better performance for large apps, memory and performance profiling, network monitoring, and command-line level building. Flash Builder 4.5 for PHP is available in the same trim levels and brings common additions such as Zend Studio 8, a Flex-PHP debugging workflow, as well as the expected PHP code creation, testing, and server support.
Flash Builder needs any Mac running Snow Leopard with 1GB of RAM and a 1.5GB hard drive, or else a Windows XP or later PC with at least a 2GHz processor and the same RAM and hard drive requirements.
Cross-platform mobile development had already been possible with Adobe tools. The Flash Builder and Flex updates, however, further simplifies the write-once process and could encourage more simultaneous development. RIM gets one of the bigger boosts since it helps avoid the normally complicated PlayBook development process put forward by the company itself while still using the PlayBook's preferred Flash layer.