Adobe released today early versions of its AIR rich-client runtime, the open-source Flex SDK, and the FlexBuilder IDE on Linux, enabling cross-platform Flex development and deployment. The company also joined the Linux Foundation with the aim to further the cause of rich UI experiences on Linux desktops.
While Adobe's Flash virtual machine has been available on Linux since the late 1990s, Flex, Adobe's toolkit for programming for the Flash VM, and AIR, a Flash-based rich-client runtime, were only available on Windows and OS X until now. With the release today of an early version of Flex and FlexBuilder, as well as AIR, for Linux, Adobe made good on its promise to enable cross-platform Flex development and deployment.
In keeping with Flex SDK versions for Windows and OS X, Flex 3 for Linux is available as an open-source toolkit. The SDK includes a Java-based Flex compiler, and the entire Flex API, including user interface components. Several open-source and proprietary IDEs on Linux provide some level of Flex development support already, such as Aptana's Eclipse-based Aptana Studio as well as the highly-regarded IntelliJ IDEA.
For developers needing a more integrated development experience, including graphical user interface design tools, Adobe offers FlexBuilder on Linux, a payware Eclipse-based IDE. A "professional," higher-priced version of FlexBuilder includes advanced data visualization components, such as a table component suitable for displaying the results of OLAP queries, and high-quality, animated charting tools.
Adobe also announced today that it is joining the Linux Foundation with the aim to make rich user experiences easier to develop and deploy on Linux desktops. Among the initial platforms that will see the benefit of Adobe's contributions in this area is Ubuntu, already among the most UI-rich and user-friendly Linux distros.
What do you think of the possibility of rich user interfaces on Linux? Do you think Linux would gain more ground as a desktop OS if it had all the UI capabilities of Windows or Max OS X?
I think this is good news. I use Ubuntu Linux as my preferred OS. Some years ago I missed a lot of things from the other two propietary operating systems (Windows and Mac OS X). But now I can tell you things have improved a lot. I don't know if it will gain more ground because of this, but without any doubt, that a company like Adobe supports linux more and more is good news for all, because Adobe has some de facto standards in the web that can't be ignored, such as Flash.