These days I’d be surprised to find a person in charge of a company’s marketing who didn’t know the pros and cons of Flash. (Even though I still come across websites built entirely in Flash, which is awful for search engine optimization). However, I’m not sure they would necessarily know the benefits of Flex and how it relates to Flash. Let’s take a closer look.
- Visually stunning web pages with capabilities for intermixing rich media such as video, graphics, and animation.
- Interactivity that is persuasive and creates a positive user experience.
- Flexibility for use in many different business applications.
- Extensibility for use in different platforms and devices.
- Small file sizes for quick initialization and load times.
Asynchronous Flash and XML give you greater control over applications, and it can also be used to trigger additional interactions, launch supporting communication channels like email or sms text messages, and store valuable data for reporting and analysis.
Early on, Flash presented many positive use cases but faced significant hurdles dealing with compatibility and lack of installs amongst personal computers. These days 98% of computers have Flash installed, and it works seamlessly with a variety of different programming languages and devices. Furthermore, recent news from Google reports they have made significant steps towards improved Flash indexing for search engine optimization (SEO).
Now enter Flex.
Think of Flex as Flash for web developers. Instead of using it for visual design, Flex is better suited for business applications that require data manipulation and visualization. It has more components than Flash for achieving this, and the resounding feedback from our Technical Services team is that it is much faster and easier to use. Flex can integrate into any database or work with any web programming language. Flex is a framework for Flash, so you can build something in Flash and then export it as a Flex application. It will work with Mac or Windows, so you don’t have to create separate versions to work on both.
Part of the framework of Flex is that it gives you a lot of different libraries that are at your disposal. For example, Flex easily consumes RSS and XML to parse the feed to display whatever information is needed. This is great for something like a widget where you would want it to check for the most recent information to display.
Sound complicated? Here are a couple of use cases to give you a better idea.
One of the ways Twelve Horses has been using Flex is for Kiosk interfaces. It works very well for getting things to work like.
- Touchscreen Technology
- Text to Speech
- Ticket Scanning
- Credit Card Scanning
- Braille and ADA Compliance
Flex also works well for the backend management of the Kiosk. You can check the status of the Kiosk, as well as update it with new content from anywhere in the world. Because all of the interactions with the Kiosk are fed into a database, you can also use it to run reports based on customer behavior and total sales generated.
Because Flex does a great job of visualizing data, it works really well for running visual reports like Gannt Charts and graphs related to new business, productivity, status, resource forecasting, profitability analysis, and so on. Combine this with the Salesforce.com toolkit for Flex, and now you can pull data through their API for any object in Salesforce.com. Ordinarily you have to build all those functions into the application, but instead it is done for you. Combine Flex with Adobe Air, and now you have a desktop application that is easily deployed across the entire organization to facilitate everything from time entry to new business opportunities.
As you can see, Flex is another great tool in our quiver of programming languages and frameworks to pull from. It is fast, flexible, and capable of being customized for a variety of different business applications. Contact us to find out how we can further integrate your online marketing endeavors with Flex.