Flex Loves Flash? Embed and Beyond.

Last week I had the pleasure of speaking at the 360Flex conference at EBay’s North Campus in San Jose. My presentation was titled “Flex Loves Flash? Embed and Beyond.”, where I explored the different methods available to Flex developers to work with rich assets. I started by covering existing approaches like asset embed, and Flash symbol embed, and discussed strategies for organizing those assets. From there I looked at more advanced techniques for using Flash content, like “shake and bake SWFs” (embedding a SWF as a bytearray, then extracting full classes from it), and using classes/symbols from SWFs that are loaded at runtime. I finished off by looking at new integration techniques that will work with Flash CS3, and some of the approaches I am working with Adobe to develop that will help simplify this integration. I also touched on some related topics like font / svg embed issues, data embedding, and how to use bitmap fonts in Flex.

You can check out the session notes at gskinner.com/talks/.

Over the next few days I will release some of the code I showed, and blog about a couple of the more important topics, like Shake and Bake swfs. You’ll have to wait for some of the more advanced pieces until after Flash CS3 ships though.

Above all, I want to get people thinking about this topic. Flex applications are so much cooler when Flash is involved in the workflow. If you have any tips or ideas on enhancing this workflow, please feel free to leave them in the comments.

Grant Skinner

The "g" in gskinner. Also the "skinner".



  1. Hi,

    I love AS3 but i don’t care too much of Flex, well I don’t see the point, why I have to learn a new tool when I can do everything with Flash yet. Why I have to learn mxml unuseful syntax when I’m enough overwhelmed from html, css, php, as, js, java, sql, uml, …….

    I love the first idea of components in flash, for me that way have to be stronger.

    With Flash and AS3 we will see great applications with strong OO design behind.

    Maybe i’m totally wrong 😉

    P.S. Ship Flash CS3 quickly…:-)

    P.P.S I love the AS3 documentor.

  2. Marco,

    I just wanted clarify some things when it comes to Flash and Flex.

    1. Flex and Flash are not in competition with each other. Flex is Flash. It compiles to a SWF. Flex is a framework that allows you to perform common and more complex operations during application development. They have an IDE that allows you to interact with the framework and components. And its supported by Adobe. Nuf’ said.

    2. Flex is here to stay and in the future Adobe will focus more attention on it for application development than on Flash (which they are really gearing for design with this next release).

    3. I have used Flash for 9 years now. Don’t plan on stopping, but I am a Flash Platform developer. Part of the platform is Flex. I now do a lot of Flex development.

    Don’t limit yourself or skill set. In the long-run it will benefit you to know both how to develop in the Flash and Flex environment. You don’t want to have to turn down a contract or employment job because you don’t know how to work in the Flash environment (which includes Flex).

    My 2 cents.

  3. Hi Rob,

    I think that Flex is only a matter of business they want to make more money with the same thing.

    In Flex what is cool and useful is the components framework expecially layout components.

    I built a cool interface in a day in Flex without knowing quite nothing bout it, but after I lost my time figuring out how things work behind the scene and if you want to do something cool you have to do it.

    What is really useful is the AVM2 and AS3 but all this things are the obvious evolution of Flash with components architecture v3 and some preset publish settings, we don’t need another tool with a lot of different problems and a different workflow to learn.

    Flash is a lot more “Flex”ible and is there yet from years.

    You see here yet Grant Skinner posting all the problems he found with Flex and asset creation.

    In Flash is so easy if i want to create some test assets, in Flex??

    Practically with Flex Adobe reduce my possibilities, I remember also a post of Grant saying that Flex help do things quickly, but if you want to do things in your own way Flash is the solution, if you want to go out of Flex boundaries Flash is better.

    The approach of Macromedia, and Adobe now, of keep changing things is not helpful, for this reasons I start to be attracted from more professional environment like Java, they think really well before introducing new stuff.

    I would appreciate to hear the point of Grant too and of other people.

    We really have to think at the next release of Flash as a less powerfull Flash for programming?

  4. Marco,

    I can see you are coming from a strong design background, where Flash provides you a more intuitive way to achieve what you need. Yet for heavy ActionScript developers, Flex Builder gives them more programmer centric approach to create Flash. Yet, for any large complicated Flash projects, you would need a team of designers and programmers working together, and now they can use different tools to achieve the same result.

  5. Hi

    Great presentation, but there is one ting I am missing and I just cant find a solution to this out there, if I like to use Flash CS3 to make my assets and all the graphics to my app, and than use Flex builder as my Actionscript editor but not using MXML just purely Actionscript, let’s say I a gray square in Flash assigning it to a GraySquare class and export the swf file in flex I import the swf file and with actionscript I like to access the “GraySquare”!

  6. I second Morten’s comment. I see the value of Flex, and love the Flex Builder AS Editor, but am primarily a designer and for me Flash is still the best tool to achieve what I want to achieve. Still, it would be great to be able to use the Flex Builder editor with Flash projects. I’ve heard talk about Adobe labs releasing integration tools but I guess this hasn’t happened yet.

  7. Hi!

    I am a AS3 programmer, and i have a similar requirement to import swf into flash, but the problem is that, swf is created by purely AS3, and when i am embedding it into flex i am getting errors, even i am not able to see swf in flex. Can’t say what’s the reason, but i am stuck here if u can help me that will be highly appreciated.


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