Tutorial :Is there a good argument for combining Flex and Rails?



Question:

Since Rails is already an effective Rich Internet Application framework because of the way it makes Ajax so easy, what is the argument for combining Rails with Flex and using Flex as the front end instead of HTML? A programmer friend of mine said he uses this combination because Flex is great for RIAs. My argument is that Rails is already great at that - why add additional complexity? Another big disadvantage of doing this, it seems, is that you cannot use HTML in your front end any longer because Flex makes this extremely problematic. That seems like a very high price to pay for whatever benefits this combination of technologies offers.


Solution:1

It all depends on your definition of what a RIA (Rich Internet Application) really is. To some, an AJAX enable web application might fit the bill. To others, a RIA includes highly stylized elements, a high level of interactivity, and a good bit of animation.

If you're one of the people that think along the lines of the first requirements, then great. An AJAX enabled RoR app is going to be enough for your RIA. For those who belong to the second group, RoR is yet another way to provide the data backend for a RIA that uses Flex/Flash for it's presentation.

Personally, I believe that RoR combined with Flex is going to give you a much richer, dynamic, and engaging RIA than a standard AJAX enabled web application.


Solution:2

I think you want to consider this in terms of what your client app needs to do. If you can accomplish everything you need within rails, then there's no real need to go to flex. If you need more client-side control, then you can build a flex app and make the rails app just a web service.


Solution:3

I wasn't aware people used Flex and rails all that much. But using Flash/Flex does give you a bit more processing and visualization power. Also, you can have native AMF support from Flex for efficient data transfer.


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