Building Rich Internet applications can take a long time for those who do not have whole teams of newly graduated programmers. For those who are trying to put a rich application together with efficiency and in a time frame that is realistic there is a solution.
The name of the program is “Flex“. Flex is a flashed based programming environment which uses XML as a main datasource. Once you have mastered Flex, you can build very functional and useful applications that run via the internet. With the advent of Adobe Air, you can also deploy these applications for use on desktops.
I do not consider myself and advanced PHP coder and yet I have built some very complex applications. One application that I built was an online course creation system which enabled someone to build online courses without having to know any coding/html. I built this for a company who delivers online courses on many subjects. They privately use it for course creation.
I have also built whole admin systems to track jobs for a publishing company. All of the applications that I have built were built on a part time basis. This is why I suggest learning Flex.
The main benefit of using Flex is that you spend less time creating the interface and more time writing your custom code. Flex has a very intuitive interface builder and data connection system that takes away a lot of the wasted time used on doing these kinds of things. If you know PHP, then Flex should be easy to start learning. You don’t even need to know Flash at all to build a flex application.
Flex interfaces can be customized using basic CSS and also and Illustrator template for graphical sections of the interface.
I suggest downloading the trial of the Flex Builder and trying it out — I think you will get hooked on it’s simplicity. Get the trial here.
Some examples of Flex applications are listed here:
Aviary. All of the applications that Aviary has created were created using Flex.
Volkswagen. This online car locator was created using Flex.
Klok. A personal time tracker for freelancers, built on flex and deployed as a desktop application.
There are many more eaxamples as can be found here.
Keep in mind that a lot of these flex applications are mainly interface and data processing based which is what Flex makes easy to do. I hope to write additional tutorials on using Flex.
Learning Flex in a Week by Adobe. Learn flex fast using these free comprehensive tutorials by Adobe
Very simple flex tutorial. A simple tutorial with downloadable file for reference.
Tutorialized Flex tutorials. Some basic tutorials, hopefully more to come.
Making a desktop application with flex. Once you have learned the flex basics, see how to turn Flex appliations into Desktop Applications.