Adobe readies "Gumbo" upgrade to Flex

Company cites SDK component and skinning architecture cited as highlights

Seeking to bolster Flash and AIR (Adobe Integrated Runtime) application development, Adobe is working on "Gumbo," the next version of the Flex platform.

Adobe in blog entries and Web pages focused on improvements in the Gumbo open source SDK, which is due in the second half of 2009. Also planned is a version of the Flex framework geared toward form factors such as mobile devices.

The Gumbo SDK features three primary themes: Design in Mind, Developer Productivity, and Framework Evolution, according to Adobe presentations on the release.

"Design in Mind, in my mind, is probably our No. 1 focus for this release," said Matt Chotin, Flex SDK product manager at Adobe, in a July 2008 presentation on the Web.

"The biggest thing that you're going to see, I think, in the SDK itself is some of the new component and skinning architecture," said Chotin "It is a whole new architecture that really is meant to allow easy 'skin-ability' of components."

Plans also call for building out the MXML language to support more "tool-ability," Chotin said. MXML is the XML language used to lay out UI components for Flex applications.

Thermo, a planned Adobe tool for quickly building rich Internet applications, is serving as a big driver to making the SDK more tool-able, said Chotin. MXML improvements will make it easier to describe experience-oriented features such as states and transitions.

Also planned is a new MXML namespace and a file format called FXG, which is "about describing vector graphics in XML in a way that closely matches what Flash Player is capable of doing," said Chotin. Vector graphic information can be transferred between Thermo, Flex, and various tools.

With Gumbo, Adobe seeks to have designers more involved in building applications such as event-driven sites, item browsers, and product selectors. Gumbo will be merged with the Flex component model, which is called "Halo."

A lightweight framework anticipated in 2010 would support Flex on devices such as mobile units. Other framework improvements planned will support text features that are part of Flash Player 10. Developers will be able to make bidirectional layouts. Video improvement is planned also.

To improve developer productivity, Adobe with the Gumbo SDK is working on compiler performance and will add two-way data-binding and automation support for Flex in AIR and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) improvements.

The Flex Builder IDE uses the Flex SDK to compile code.

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