Although the day at CSS is usually long enough (from 8.30 until 7), Hans and I stayed a little later this evening to attend a BOF (Birds of a Feather session) on the topic of web UI development.
The main reasons mentioned for choosing Flex were:
- browser compatibility
- good client-server architecture
- many considered AJAX to be a hack to get around browser deficiencies
- accessibility (Flex is 508 compliant)
- great tooling (though at a price)
- excellent charting support (an optional extra, again at a price)
- declarative way of defining user interfaces
- slick user interface
- skinnable user interface
Of these, the point that user interfaces are built declaratively is interesting, as it has the side-effect that user interfaces can be prototyped or built very quickly, giving opportunity for a developer and a user interface designer to work together very closely and quickly build the user interface. This seems to me to have a lot of potential in an agile environment.
The only real concern about using Flex was that it was proprietary, but this did not seem to concern most people.
The message I came out of the BOF with was “if you want to build a rich web application, use Flex”. In the words of one participant “for me, Flex is first, I would only not use it if there was a veto on using Flash”.