Adobe and Salesforce.com have announced Flash Builder for Force.com, a special version of Flash Builder that lets you create Flex applications that interact with Force.com web services. The preview will be available for download today from developerforce.
I asked Dave Gruber from Adobe and Eric Stahl from salesforce.com what is really new here, since force.com has always exposed a SOAP web service API, and Flash Builder has the ability to import WSDL service descriptions in order to call them. In addition, a Force.com Toolkit for Adobe AIR and Flex has been available for some time.
Gruber explained that there is now a “custom interface to the Force API” that reduces the amount of code you have to write to wrap these services. In addition – and this may be more significant – some parts of LiveCycle Data Services have been integrated into the Force.com platform, including the data synchronisation piece. The illustration above shows an AIR application with a Sync tab, and this is the kind of online/offline application that should now be easier to build.
“We have a lot of customers asking us for that desktop connected, disconnected scenario. We want to give people a great set of tools for building those kind of apps,” says Stahl.
According to Gruber, Flex developers who want to take advantage of the new framework will have to purchase Flash Builder for Force.com even if they already have Adobe Flash Builder. “It’s a unique offering, this is not going to be built into the standard Flash Builder product”, he told me.
Salesforce.com has toolkits for many client platforms, but offering a custom IDE for Flex demonstrates a significant partnership. “Adobe is clearly the leader in rich internet applications, it’s a synergistic relationship,” says Stahl.