It has been over a week since James Ward and Chet Haase of Adobe gave a talk on Flex to the SDForum Java SIG, and I am still trying to get my mind around what it all means. Adobe has a bunch of technologies and products in the Rich Internet Application (RIA) area, but it is difficult to work out what they are, how they fit together and which one I should use for any particular application. Here is the story as I understand it.
MXML is an XML based declarative language that compiles into ActionScript. Basically it is a shorthand for defining the static parts of an ActionScript environment. By the way, when I entered MXML into the Adobe site search engine, the first thing that came back was the question "Do you mean MSXML?", where MSXML is a MicroSoft technology.
Flex is the framework which means that it is a overarching name for the whole pile of technology. The one piece of technology called Flex is Flex Builder, the Eclipse based development environment for ActionScript and MXML. As they have done with other products, Adobe has open sourced a lot of technology surrounding Flex to bring more developers to the platform.
Overall, I am not sure which is more impressive, the melange of technology in Adobe Flex or the marketing effort that tries to make the whole melange of technology seem like one coherent whole.