Bruce Eckel On Flash And Flex

I was quite surprised to come across a post by Bruce Eckel, one of the founders of the C++ ISO committee as well as a popular Java author and trainer, essentially evangelizing the use of Flash and Flex to get around UI problems which exist in traditional web applications. I think it’s quite an informative post, and it’s interesting to see a response from one of the main voices in Java land about much of the recent hoopla about how “Java is dead”.

So here’s my question. Allow for a moment the possibility that, after 10 years, Java is not going to take over the world of RIAs. Further allow that Ajax is just “how JavaScript was supposed to work in the first place,” but that the limitations imposed by browsers, HTML and CSS committees seem unlikely to let it expand beyond its current bounds. What are we going to use to build RIAs?

In my own search, I’d really like such a system to solve not just some, but all of my UI problems. If I’m going to go to the trouble of learning it, I don’t want to run into a wall just when I start to develop some speed. That’s happened plenty of times already.

The only obvious solution is Flash. Flash has always been all about cross-platform multimedia experiences and user interfaces. People are very familiar and comfortable with Flash, and it is installed on almost all machines in the world. It’s trusted, stable and reliable.

Apparently we might also see him advocating Flex soon as well:

I believe that to solve the user interface problem, we need the equivalent of a domain-specific language dedicated to the user experience. For me, Flash-based technologies like Flex are the best solution to this problem. (Full disclosure: I’m in the process of working out a consulting contract with Adobe, to help them teach people about Flex. But long before this, I became convinced that Flash, and Flex in particular, was the best solution for the user-interface problem, and I began writing this article long before Adobe expressed interest in my assistance).

That is a pretty interesting tidbit in and of itself. I think having someone like Bruce Eckel behind Flex would be a really great move by Adobe.

My own personal take on the “Java is dead” type stuff is that Java is still going to be around for a long time and is still the language of choice to build enterprise capable services with, or any other application where horizontal scaling, uptime, and a fast, rock solid platform are your primary concerns. I would however certainly look for a different technology to use to build the UI into such a beast.

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