As you have probably heard, Flex 2 has been released. Everyone here is tired and excited. We have been working on this for a long time, and it is great to finally have it out there.
For those of you who have been following the public releases of Flex, the final release will not hold much in the way of surprises (although I will point out a few of my favorite changes below). However, if you step back a minute, the differences between Flex 1.5 and Flex 2 are pretty major. Imagine, if you will, that we had not done any public betas, and that all this news was coming at once:
- Completely rewrote the VM to be a modern, JIT compiled engine that runs 5-10x faster than before
- Reworked the framework to be more consistent, and thus easier to extend and subclass
- Added lots of new capabilities to the framework, including state management, transitions, new components, etc.
- Created a brand new tool based on Eclipse
- Decided to give the SDK away for free
- Decided to price the tool at $499 instead of the rumored $999
- Decided to give an express version of FDS
I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty excited by Flex 2, and I’m very curious to see what people will build with it.
Ok. On to my favorite changes since beta 3.
1) panel borders
As you have probably noticed, the default panel borders and title bars in Flex 2 are transparent. This allows panels to adopt a look that works well with any background you provide… as long as it isn’t white. Here is an old screenshot I had lying around that shows what panels looked like in beta 3 when placed above white backgrounds:
The window titled “Left” is supposed to have a title bar that goes all the way across the top. In the final version, the windows look good no matter what color background you use… even white.
2) code hints for events
In the final version, you can get code hints for event constants. You don’t get them automatically, though. You need to hit ctrl-space.
myObject.addEventListener( <– hit ctrl-space when you get here.
You should see a list of the available constants for you to use. Thanks to Chafic Kazoun who kept pushing for this when I ran into him at Flash Forward in Seattle earlier this year.
3) Smoother animations
For many types of animations (moves, especially), you will notice that the animations are smoother. The best way to see this is to download the trial and play with it yourself.
Of course, my favorite change since beta 3 is that instead of having to answer the question “when is it going to ship?” I can now point people to the website. Whoo!