Migrating a Flash Application to Flex

Towards the end of last year, I was contacted by Macromedia to write an article for the February 2005 issue of their Macromedia Edge magazine. As the topic, I chose "Migrating from Flash to Flex" -- something that is made very simple when you architect your Flash applications with a clear separation of presentation and business logic and using the V2 components, the event model and a form-based approach. I saw the Edge article as a teaser for a longer DevNet article but things were not to be. At the last moment, I was informed that the title of my article had been changed from "An Introduction to Migrating Flash applications to Flex" to "Tips for Using Flash Assets in Flex Applications". The only reason I can give for this is that the article ran contrary to how Macromedia was trying to place the relationship between Flash and Flex at the time: Basically, that Flash and Flex were very different (partly to justify the huge price difference) and that Flash could be used to create assets for Flex. This is also why Macromedia was trying so hard to push Flex as a server when myself and several others (notably Darron Schall) had publicly stated from the very beginning that there was no reason for Flex to be a server. (All this was a tactic to lure J2EE programmers by creating an *expensive* nail to fit the hammers that Java folk carry.)

I've always believed that Flex 1 was an exercise in short-sightedness by Macromedia: We had a chance to really plant Flex as the primary technology for web application development but might have blown it while chasing some high-paying Enterprise accounts. What did Flex lose in the process? Developers. Flex beat Microsoft to market but you wouldn't know it by the number of Flex developers that exist today. What a wasted chance. I'm glad to see that Macromedia has realized this and is opening up Flex 2 to a much wider group of developers by radically altering the pricing. I just hope it's not too little, too late. This is a question of short-term profit versus long-term survival and with Flex 1, Macromedia favored the former at the expense of practically guaranteeing itself the latter. It remains to be seen what the dominant technology for web applications will be.

In any case, this morning I received an email thanking me for my Macromedia Edge article: "Please pass on our thanks to him for such a neat and concise overview of what will be involved in our migration. It has taken us some time to find any resources that contain practical suggestions, his article was like a breath of fresh air!" (Thanks for the kind words!) Furthermore, the email was inquiring as to where they could find the longer version of the article that's stated as being on DevNet. Unfortunately, there is no such article on DevNet. I had actually forgotten about it, while waiting for the go ahead for the article to go up on DevNet and have been sitting on it for a quite a while so now is probably a good a time as any to release it. I've cleaned it up a bit (removed instructions to the DevNet production team, etc.) and made it into FlashPaper and PDF versions which you can download from FlashAnt.

Flash to Flex migration is a very real issue for a lot of people and will, no doubt, become an even bigger one as time goes on and most (if not all) application development for the Flash Platform moves to Flex.

Read the paper:

Migrating a Flash Application to Flex (FlashPaper/SWF)

Migrating a Flash Application to Flex (PDF)

Migrating a Flash Application to Flex Copyright © 2004 Aral Balkan. All Rights Reserved. Released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 England & Wales License.