February 1st, 2010
I finished up an offline Case management POC a couple of weeks ago using the new Adobe Flash Builder for Force.com and was really impressed with it features and functionality given that it is still pre-beta. I’ve built a number of Flex apps for Salesforce.com but the new Stratus framework makes it a breeze with the new Salesforce.com-aware components. You can drag and drop a new LabelAndField component onto your application, wire it to a particular sObject field and it generates the functionality specified by Salesforce.com. So if your field is a picklist it automatically displays a populated combobox and configured default value, a boolean displays a checkbox, a text field displays a text box and so on. The really slick feature is if your field is a lookup to another object, it allows you to either type a value or click the magnifying glass button to search for values from the related object. The framework syncs the values for the related object to the SQLite database for you automatically! No worries. Another huge productivity gain is field validation. The framework generates the same validation you would see in the native Salesforce.com UI. This is a huge time-saver as validation rules typically change often during the lifecycle of a project.
James Ward, the Technical Evangelist at Adobe that works with Salesorce.com, introduced me to Markus Spohn who is the product manager for the Stratus framework at Salesforce.com. I sent both of them my feedback on the product and they were very responsive and eager for input. I have to give Salesforce.com credit as they really listen to customers. My only real concern was related to Flash 4 directly. I am by no means a Flash developer but I can produce Flex application by sheer will of force and brute determination. There are A LOT of really great new components in Flash 4 that will require a substantial investment of time to become proficient. James replied that Adobe is aware of the learning curve for Flash 4 and is working on ways to make the transition as painless as possible.
Markus demoed my POC at the Silicon Valley Flex User Group last week to a couple hundred developers and he said it was well received. These guys are much smarter than I am and I’m sure it gave them a new perspective on Salesforce.com. There are a lot of great possibilities for cross platform applications that can be built when you have access to Salesforce.com, the local file system and an on-board database.