The big news is Adobe Flash Builder 4.5 for PHP software – providing for the first time an IDE that contains the combined capabilities of Flash Builder and Zend Studio. It’s an Eclipse based tool that enables developers to create applications for Android, Blackberry Tablet OS and iOS from a single code base. There are also some significant workflow advancements in Flash Catalyst that enable designers and developers to work in parallel throughout the project.
Interesting snippets from one press release tell us:
“New in the suite are updated versions of Dreamweaver, Flash Professional, Flash Catalyst, Flash Builder, the all-new Flex framework for mobile devices, Adobe Device Central and Adobe Acrobat X Pro. Key innovations include substantive HTML5 advancements in Dreamweaver, new tablet and smartphone application development capabilities in Flash Professional CS5.5 and Flash Builder Premium 4.5, and enhanced cross-browser testing as well as mobile emulation and on-device debugging…
“New HTML5 support in Dreamweaver CS5.5 includes jQuery mobile framework integration for browser-based content and PhoneGap integration for native and mobile application design and development. Enhancements to the multiscreen preview panel in Dreamweaver have also been made, supporting the latest in media queries, WebKit engine updates, and CSS3 attributes, enabling side-by-side renderings of what a single design looks like on different form factors.”
You can read the full release here, and a video previewing the new features here.
We asked a few developers for their initial impressions:
“There's a lot of money in building truly portable applications and a lot of developers are now seeking to extend their skill sets to include the mobile domain,” says web developer Mike Mackay. “Being able to build and deploy from a familiar IDE will allow developers to comfortably achieve this.
“Despite having wizards available, it won't be a simple case of click, build and deploy - knowing and understanding the language(s) you are using gives the developer the flexibility to deploy more advanced applications and to understand where and why things go wrong. There's always the risk with a convergence of technologies in this way that the market could be flooded with poor, unstable releases. Over time I'm sure that will change; hopefully it will inspire people to pick-up and ultimately learn the language.
“The CS suite has been core to many designers and developers alike and I'm sure this will help increase their market share. If anything, this is a good indication of just how well the web and mobile divide is coming together and is a solid indication of the future of the web.”
"I see no problems with the Android and Blackberry aspects of this as both run AIR,” says mobile developer Mark Kirby. “What does concern me is the iOS element which is being achieved through translating Flash to HTML5. Translation tools can often introduce a world of pain, introducing bugs, producing potentially unoptimised code and removing control from the developer. If a developer wants to target iOS as well as the other platforms they would be better off developing in HTML5 from the outset, gaining the ability to create code on their terms, not Adobe’s."
"Overall what these updates do is cut out most of the pain of the back and forth between different teams working on projects,” says designer Paul Wyatt. “Anything which improves the work flow between designers and developers gets a gold star in my book. What the update to Flash Catalyst does is allow for “last minute” creativity, brainwaves and niggling client changes by not completely locking down a project when it reaches the development stage. This way work flow becomes more organic, more collaborative and quicker. This equals less stress – and we all want less of that don’t we?"
"I think they're wise in the way they are actively building tools onto the existing Eclipse platform,” adds PHP developer Lorna Mitchell. “PHP forms the logic layer for websites, mobile sites, apps and so on - which makes it the perfect partner for Flex. Having the consolidated toolchain will help all developers looking to combine these technologies."