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Flex and the User Experience

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					?Ultimately, developers are using Flex to build applications for the user. As the
attention to the client-side experience grows, web applications have improved. Higher
quality RIA with more interactive features and a greater focus on design elements
have a bigger impact on the user experience. In this context, Flex as a development
platform provides a number of features that significantly affects the way people use
these web applications. Expressiveness, performance, real time responses, rich media,
and offline support are just a few of these features that change the end-user experience.
Moreover, these features work together in the Flash virtual machine to create
impressive RIA that are compatible with all major browsers and operating systems.

Expressiveness
Vector graphics are a feature that give Flex its expressiveness. More than other
development platforms, Flex allows you to use vector graphics, lines, shapes, and
images via geometric formulas rather than bitmaps. As a result, with Flex you have
total access to the vector graphics API but you'll likely find yourself relying on the
various components of the Flex framework. This means you are able to streamline the
code that you write and save yourself time and energy when it comes to developing
graphics.

While Flex is not exactly revolutionary on this front, image slicing can produce
similar results, Vector graphics allow for greater manipulation by the user. This means
objects can be stretched, shrunk, rotated, flipped, or changed in any way you see fit so
that they behave more like real life objects. Indeed, Vector graphics provide a range of
benefits. In a visual dashboard, charting components can be redrawn and animated at
the client-side which not only means more interaction from the user but also a better
understanding of the way data is used. Furthermore, Vector graphics allow for smooth
and animated transitions without the need for dealing with low level drawing API.
With Vector graphics, object behaviours are contained in the charting components.

Performance
An application that performs poorly will not likely be successful. For the most part,
this poor performance is due to some kind of issue with the browser but Flex and the
Flash Virtual machine can help to overcome these shortcomings. One of the benefits
of Flex and Flash is that they allow for desktop-like performance of web applications.
This is because Flex applications are delivered as bytecode and executed by Flash via
a JIT compiler. Whether you're building consumer or business applications,
performance is crucial. Flex helps to create a consistent user experience with regards
to consumer applications and can also improve the performance of business
applications. Large amounts of data can be processed by Flex which ultimately
improves the responsiveness of the application without sacrificing the benefits of web
deployment.

Real Time Responses
One of the drawbacks of web-based applications has always been their ability, or lack
of ability, to react in real time. Server or client processes and the request/response
time typically seen in web based applications have always limited their use, especially
when it comes to business applications. However, because Flash Player uses binary
sockets, real time, multi-directional communication is possible.

Furthermore, Flex improves upon this basic infrastructure as it allows messages to be
exchanged in real time between clients and servers. Via the Flex Message Service,
Enterprise solutions are integrated and communications are improved. Simply put,
these features allow Flex applications to benefit from collaboration and data push
applications that are built reliably without sacrificing the lightweight web-based
model.

Rich Media
The internet has become a very competitive environment that requires web
applications to not only be functional but interesting as well. Static images and
interesting graphics cannot compare with the quality of application that is built around
video and audio components. While online video is nothing new, delivering video to
the client-side still has many pitfalls. Even today, users have limited control over the
video/audio data that is delivered via RIA and there tends to be only limited
interaction between said videos and the application itself. Flash Player is great
because it includes all the media playing and streaming features the user is looking for.
This gives the user more control and a greater level of interaction with your
applications. Plus, Flash Player is estimated to be installed on approximately 98% of
all internet-capable computers and as such is being used by other video sites like
YouTube. As you can see, developing with Flex gives you more options as well as
access to a greater audience.

With Flex, videos transcend their position as a passive experience and allow users to
trigger various events. As videos in Flex are tightly woven with the core of the
application, developers are learning that they have the opportunity to build truly
innovative and interactive applications.

Offline Support
Flex can actually store a great deal of data client-side and applications can access this
data even when disconnected from the network. This allows the user and developer to
access information whether or not they are online. As you can see, Flex not only
changes the user experience but the developer experience as well. With Flex,
developers have more options available to them than ever before. While providing
power and elegance, Flex also gives developers a range of tools that allow for the
creating of visually stunning, interactive, and entertaining applications for a wide
range of uses. From consumer applications to business applications, Flex can help
developers create the highest quality applications more efficiently.Moonrise
Productions is a full services San Francisco web design company. They offer
complete design services, social network web development, ecommerce development,
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posted:4/23/2011
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