Going beyond Ajax with… both Ajax and Flash?

Adobe’s infamous and somewhat long-running Flex ad on Techcrunch boldly stated ‘Go beyond Ajax with Flex‘. It was a battle cry, when the only enemy, rather rival to Flash, was the plug-in free approach called Ajax. This HTML, DHTML, JavaScript language is credited with driving what we call web 2.0, putting a free dynamic web development solution in the hands of many Flash (and other proprietary plug-in driven platform) hold-outs.

As evidence of the “go beyond” ad, the Flash and Flex communities seemed rallied against an alternative approach such as this one and, believe me, the inverse was very true as well. Those were some glorious times. As part of Yahoo! Maps, I sat in many ‘this vs. that’ sessions, where the abilities and limitations of each technology were proudly marked on whiteboards time and time again. The rally was never more evident than the victory I witnessed one day back in March at Yahoo!, when a standing-room attended Flex course by Ted Patrick was responsible for the displacing one ‘Theory of the DOM’ mainstay class to a smaller conference room. Those were the days.

And then things changed. Adobe learned what real competition was to Flash when Microsoft announced what is now known as Silverlight. Apollo grew up into AIR and AJAX became a cornerstone technology as well as a key development contingent that Adobe needed to wrangle in to win universal adoption for the desktop platform.

The dust hasn’t settled completely yet, and many are not ready to see Ajax and Flash holding hands either, but convincing testimonies are coming out now more than ever about how these once anti-technologies can really work together. As a demo of their new presentation sharing platform, Slideshare uses a presentation on Ajax and Flash to show us how this combo may be better for humanity than even peanut butter and chocolate.

And now comes the part where we all say how we knew it all along. Truth is, I started to open up to it about a year ago while writing my Yahoo! Maps Mashups book. The publisher made me agree to cover the Ajax maps API in addition to the JS-Flash, AS-Flash and Flex Yahoo! Maps APIs I had already planned to write about. I agreed to it, nearly kicking and screaming. However, as I openly tell people, those 5 chapters on the Ajax API, culminating in a very cool Flickr JSON-based maps mashup, may have been the most fun, challenging and adventurous (in a good way) for me to write.

Like so many Flash platform developers now, I find myself embracing much of Ajax for what it will bring to AIR. There is something better than Ajax, yes, especially when Ajax itself is paired with some great Flash technology.




I looked at your book today on Amazon and I was curious what your thoughts were on the differences between Flex 1.5 which I assume your book used, and Flex 2/3 SDK which will hopefully be out soon for the Maps api. And also AS3 that’s currently available.

Are you planning on writing an errata/or possibly an update chapter ebook that would address the differences/gaps/improvements?



Michael, the book actually has 5 chapters dedicated to using the existing API with Flex 2. To my knowledge, there have been no major API updates to the component since the book hit the shelves, back in February of this year.


Great! I assumed that because the sdk was for 1.5 and everyone was clamoring for a 2.0 api, that your book was on 1.5. I’ll pick it up then.

Thanks for the clarification!

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