Posted by:Shyam Sundar December 10th, 2010

Love it or hate it, Adobe Flash is the most popular RIA plugin out there. According to riastats.com, Flash is found on more than 96% of browsers, more popular than Java andMicrosoft’s Silverlight. Google’s Chrome browser has built-in support for Flash and most mobile browsers have a version of Flash on them (except for the iPhone and iPad). The bottom-line is that Flash remains one of the moststraight forward ways of delivering rich content to the user.

Benefits for the Enterprise

Due to its beginnings in advertisement and animation, Flash tends to get associated with browser games and online videos. However, thanks to Adobe’s constant improvement of theFlex programming environment, it is turning into an enterprise ready tool to develop applications that can be accessed through the browser.

Using Flex, you can connect to a wide array of web-services and data sources, increasing reuse of existing server-side investments. Furthermore, the underlying ActionScript code can also be reused to target different platforms by re-packaging it to work on Android phones, Blackberry PlayBooks, and AIR applications that can run on Windows, Linux and Apple desktops.

Leverage, Leverage, Leverage

For an example of how you can leverage your existing codebase to package applications to target multiple platform, have a look at StockViz. The heat-maps of the various stock-market indices you see are actually coded in Flex using an open-source library called flextreemap. The Flex widget for the website is packaged as a .swf that uses a JSON feed sitting on top of an IIS + .NET + MS/SQL infrastructure.

The same code was then packaged as a .air application that can run on desktops (windows, linux or mac). You can download it from the Adobe InMarket and give it a whirl. The advantage of InMarket is that it makes it easy to publish and manage applications across multiple app stores through a centralized portal.

The real kicker in the deal is that you can actually go one-step further and repackage the same code to target Android handsets! StockViz has a stock-market heatmap application out in the Android marketplace based on the same underlying code packaged as an .apk.

Win-Win for Business

When you take a step back, you can see that you can target multiple desktop platforms, multiple mobile ecosystems, use any server-side technology and reuse the same user-interface libraries and programming environment, compress development time and time-to-market.

Since this approach works without a hitch for most non-iOS platforms, it might make sense for a majority of businesses and app developers to first target the faster-growing Androidmarket, refine the product, and then port it over iOS and QNX(PlayBook).

So, eager to learn why your business MUST take notice of Mobility ? Or want to decide which app is a right fit for your business? Download your choice !

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