Thursday, December 04, 2008

Catalyst Changes Flex

There is an incredible tool coming from Adobe Labs that will profoundly impact how Flex development is done. I've been involved in developing a complex online Flex RIA and one of the most tedious pieces was getting the app to look like the designer's requirements given to me as PDFs and PNGs. I find this skill of transfering a design into code very scarce, and so are the online examples. Just as a picture can say a million words, so can a design be converted a million ways into code, but only one combination works best.

Catalyst will fill this scarcity and you can see a preview at Adoble Labs. Sitepoint also has a nice review. In a nutshell, this tool will do the conversion from design to code. One limitation I see is the interactivity of charts and graphs and this might just have to be done the old fashion way.

For it to be successful, designers will need to learn how to work with it and get familiar with all the new interactive elements a Flex RIA can have. It is a new step in a designer's work flow. The designer still has to work within Illustrator, Photoshop, or Fireworks and then import that file into Catalyst. At that point, the designer would need to work with the tools within Catalyst to convert design elements into interactive Flex elements.

Developers on the other hand, just need to import the designer's Catalyst file into Flex Builder and get rolling.

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