Potomac - OSGi-inspired Flex framework

Monday, August 24, 2009
Before I post my next 'Extending FlexBuilder' post, I figure I should talk about why I'm doing such a thing. Truth is, I'm working on a Flex framework. Cue the collective groans from the Flex community. Do we really need another framework? .. Well this framework is a bit different. The primary focus is on modularity. Specifically, the Potomac framework (the name we're using) will be an OSGi-inspired modular UI composition platform. For the last few years I've been working in the Eclipse Rich Client Platform (RCP). Essentially, Potomac takes the principles and goals of OSGi and the Eclipse RCP and brings them to Flex.

Why not just use the normal Flex module system? A couple of reason. First, the IDE support for Flex modules is very simplistic. Modules are defined inside application projects. This makes large, enterprise-level development difficult. When you have multiple teams working together to produce one large application, you want each team to be working on their pieces in their own projects. Also, having the modules inside the application project prevents them from being reusable in other projects. Once we start thinking about modules being reusable, we can quickly count off many reasons why the current module system is lacking. Thats not to say we should throw it away. In fact, Potomac 'bundles' are built and delivered as Flex modules (just with a lot of stuff thrown in).

Potomac will be:
  • New module system for Flex including new FlexBuilder 'bundle' support
  • Extension mechanism inspired by, but quite different than, Eclipse extension points
  • UI Composition and templating framework

Stay Tuned. We'll be releasing Potomac in a few weeks.

18 comments:

  • Patrick Paulin

    This sounds extremely interesting! I'm looking forward to seeing what you've done. As a fellow RCP developer, it's great to see people pushing modular UI development into different areas.

    Best of luck!

    --- Patrick

  • Chris Gross

    Thanks Patrick. I'll be posting some more details in the coming days.

  • Alex

    Very interesting.

    I have once developed a prototype of a system that had a backend based on OSGi based server app and exposing services and Flex modules with Eclipse extension points through BlaseDS. Client app was a very thin Flex app that dynamically loaded/unloaded Flex modules and exposed through them contributed UI controls.

    In you case I have a concern about scalability. Building similar framework in Action Script and pushing it up on the client is a very heavy load.

  • Chris Gross

    Hi Alex,

    Potomac is pure Actionscript. No Java or server-side requirements. Scalability hasn't been a problem so far. The core Potomac pieces are very small (currently less than 2000 lines of code). But we do require that you use Flex framework RSLs. I'd bet most large enterprise applications that would use Potomac are (or should) be doing that anyway.

    -Chris

  • Good luck for your team and you...

    -Yad Tahir

  • yad

    it will be my honor to contribute in this project.
    -Yad Tahir

  • Chris Gross

    Thanks Yad. We're not setup to accept contributions just yet. When we have the Potomac website setup and the initial code working then please offer again!

  • Tom

    Not sure how to contact you in a better way because it looks like you IBM mail is bounceing (Tom Schindl). Did you change your mail and didn't updated your bugzilla account?

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  • pet paintings

    Wow man,thank you so much for this tutorial about Potomac.You really helped me for my future project,so keep up with the good work.

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