I'm excited to announce that the Adobe Flash Builder for Force.com is now available. What is great about Flash Builder is that you can choose to deploy a Flash-based app or Air-based desktop clients. And because it is fully integrated with Force.com, using the Force.com Flex framework, you can start developing truly game-changing, cloud-based, enterprise productivity apps.
I often get asked when promoting desktop clients: isn't that against the whole notion of the cloud? The answer I usually give is "it depends". If I am writing an desktop application that requires a whole bunch of installation, configuration, and IT and network management just to get to the point where you can enter your username and password to login, then yes, there is something wrong—this is not cloud computing. But a desktop client which leverages a cloud platform is completely different. Utilizing Flash Builder for Force.com is a perfect example of such a client—you don't need to worry about infrastructure, this is all provided by the Force.com platform. You are simply offering different ways to access the information. These type of desktop clients which are delivered by the browser and source their information from the cloud are often referred to as Rich Internet Applications , or RIA.
Taking another example which you may be able to relate to is gmail. Gmail is a cloud based email service—you don’t need to install anything to access the data and can do so via a web browser. But you can also access gmail through many desktop clients. This doesn't limit the 'cloudness' of gmail at all, in fact the reality that you can access the information however you want only strengthens the idea of cloud-based services.
My mind is already ticking over with a few ideas on how I could build rich internet applications (RIA) by leveraging the ability to manage online and offline data sync within a slick UI especially as it relates to say call centers who need sophisticated, highly interactive screens to interact with hundreds of calls a day. As a developer, however , I don't want to build two systems—one for offline and on for web-based—thankfully the Flash Builder has that covered. What it means is that I can focus on rapidly developing interactive business functionality. And that is what is is all about!
If you are interested in building RIAs using the Adobe Flash Builder for Force.com, we have set up a developer page containing all the information you will need to get started quickly. Once you build something, please make sure you share it with the rest of the community!!