Flex is now an Apache project in incubation (as PhoneGap under the name ‘Cordova’). The community is hyper-active and it’s not a surprise. If you look at what the community has achieved around Flex since its creation, you’ll directly understand why Apache Flex will be successful. Macromedia, and then Adobe, defined Flex’s vision, launching and promoting the concept of Rich Internet Applications. Basically, this trend promotes the development of “software-like” interfaces in web browsers. RIA can answer large organizations needs who want to migrate legacy client-server applications to a modern web architecture. That’s why the Flex community is so unique and developed very specific and valuable skills. In my opinion, the only serious competitor on that market is/was Microsoft with SilverLight: great technology combined with a huge community of software developers (VB, .Net, C++…). They even introduced the concept (or the utopia) or a seamless workflow between designers and developers with Blend. I guess that this healthy competition boosted the Spark architecture in Flex 4 (and the birth of Flash Catalyst). JavaFX by Sun (and then Oracle) is also trying to embrace this market.
But today, the Flex community is by far the strongest one on the RIA market and it’s not only due to Adobe. Flex is still the first-choice to build RIA because it’s consistent and because… it works. You should all read this fantastic article by Joao (RIA expert in Portugal). It’s also due to the fact that a lot of Flex developers were coming from various technical backgrounds: Java (mainly), PHP, AS3, .NET… And they tried to bring and translate their knowledge investing in areas not covered by Adobe’s engineers: data-visualization, backend integration, continuous integration, micro-architectures… As a tribute, I just wanted to summarize on one graph (inspired by Michell Zappa) some compelling projects developed by the community around Flex. All these projects are used by large organizations in strategic Enterprise applications. All these talents can now become official Flex contributors thanks to the Apache foundation. Flex is successful thanks to this constellation of talents, not thanks to Adobe.
Some projects are of course missing, I’m sorry for that, it’s not an exhaustive list; but this graph expresses all the efforts made by the community to make Flex a successful framework in a professional Enterprise environment. Just a few projects, such as BlazeDS, were initiated by Adobe on this map. Flex has been successful in the past thanks to the involvement of its vibrant community of talented developers… why would it change? If you want to follow the Apache Flex project and get involved, check this page: http://incubator.apache.org/flex/
Thanks to all the folks who helped me build this list on Google Docs.