Flex is getting bigger day-by-day. Many businesses add Flex to the list of technologies to evaluate. We start seeing some great Flex-based applications going to production. There are several reasons for gaining popularity of Flex. Some of them include speed- and ease-of-development, almost ubiquitous and truly cross-platform runtime environment and richness of the client API. Additionally, Adobe's marketing is pushing pretty hard to get the word out and to establish the vision for Flex as The platform for the next generation of enterprise applications. It certainly sounds as Flex (especially combined with Apollo) is the next big thing for Adobe. As a developer I cheer and love seeing the waves Flex is making. However, let's not forget, Adobe is in the business of making money, so there are business reasons for pushing the technology out. Hence is my question - is Adobe becoming a tool development company to empower us, developers, with fantastic software development technologies, or is there something deeper than that? What is the business strategy behind the push for Flex?
Last week, the technology known as Flex Data Services is renamed to LiveCycle Data Services. You can grab the latest release (2.5 beta) from the Adobe Labs website
. I heard about the upcoming change while at 360Flex earlier this month. I think it is quite interesting to observe the name change and see some new features added to LCDS so I decided to look further.
Let's rewind back to the Macromedia's pre-acquisition times. Macromedia is a designer/developer-oriented company with general-purpose web/software development tools. Adobe is classified as a 'document management' company well-known for Reader, Illustrator, Premier and other tools in the same categories of products. At the pre-acquisition time, the next big thing pitched by Adobe is LiveCycle - a suite of tools designed to orchestrate document-oriented workflow in a business. A search on LiveCycle led me to a presentation by Mike Potter
. When listening/watching the presentation, be sure to check out slide 14. Specifically, the slide mentions the following integration points between LiveCycle and Flex:
- Use Flex for web-based inputting of data
- Create a Flex form
- Input data from Flex
- Submit data to LiveCycle Forms
- Working offline with data from Flex application
- Users can submit data back to server when ready
If you are familiar with Flex, you will certainly recognize many of these. However, what I'm wondering if LiveCycle is the driving force here. Would a public company spend millions of dollars on development and marketing (let alone $3.5 billion in the acquisition costs) just to have a great, general-purpose development platform? It sounds like the vision for Flex as a tool supporting LiveCycle is pretty clear. And the name change from FDS to LCDS supports the theory. So what's the true reason for Flex being out there? Is it to create a new general-purpose development platform or establish an ecosystem for pushing LiveCycle applications? If you were Adobe and had a suite of tools (LiveCycle) you could sell for a hefty price tag, wouldn't you want to have an army of developers familiar with how to build applications on top of? If I were in the business of selling LiveCycle, I would love to have that.
I might be completely off-base here (and I hope I am). Please let me know what you think. Do you see yourself as a LiveCycle developer? You might become one if you know how to code in Flex... :)
p.s. btw, since the name of Flex Data Services is now available, should we rename WebORB to FDS??? :)Technorati tags: WebORB, Flex, LiveCycle