Apparently Microsoft's entry into the RIA space with Silverlight is spurring Adobe to keep its lead in this space by going open source with Adobe Flex. For those of you that don't know, Flex is a pretty good Flash hosted application framework that is squarely geared at the application development market. I've farted around with Flex a bit and it's actually quite nice. And you can actually quite easily hook up to ASP.NET backend data by using XML or Web services as your messaging interfaces. It's fairly straight forward and produces very usable results in short order.
I'm no fan of any Adobe products, but Flex caught my attention a few months back as I was working on a project that had a Flex front end. My job was to interface the server side with the client front end building an application service. The end result was pretty flexible app that takes advantage of .NET and Flex together.
One thing Adobe got right is that it has many easy to use adapters that make it VERY easy to consume data in a lot of different formats from a number of sources - Xml, Web Services, Flash Remoting, remote data adapters and a couple others - with extremely easy to use components and data binding mechanisms. They also have done a nice job to ship with a solid set of controls that are required to be productive quickly.
There's nothing there that you can't do with Microsoft tools - WPF can do most of this stuff if you build a full WPF application today. But Microsoft currently lacks the clean packaging of the components into a coherent whole. With Microsoft tools you'll be building a lot of plumbing and controls on your own.
Now I really have high hopes for Silverlight to bring a similar model to the Microsoft Platform. The big advantage of Silverlight will surely be the ability to write .NET code to run on the client to hook up the logic. A lot of people have been chomping at the bit to get .NET down to the client in combination with the browser and this is where Microsoft has a big win. The real question will be how much of .NET and WPF will be able to fit into the micro version of Silverlight and what kind of component model will Microsoft offer to allow building of an infrastructure for developers and third parties to fill the need to custom controls.
Looks like some of the vendors like Telerik are already on the ball creating components, although I'm not sure how much use I really have for rotating cube and carousal selector/list controls... <shrug>. How about the basics to build applications that are missing in WPF as a whole?
Mix this week will tell...