Difference between Adobe AIR and FLEX

  • HTML/Ajax, Flash, and Flex are different approaches to developing web apps. These technologies can be combined in a single web app.

  • Adobe AIR is a runtime which allows you to take those web technologies and run them as a desktop app instead of in the browser. You can combine them in the same app.

  • Flash is a runtime that was originally created to provide a rich UI to browser based apps. AIR brings the Flash runtime to desktop apps.

  • Flash runs compiled SWF files and is scripted via ActionScript. Flex is a tool (SDK, MXML schema for defining UI, etc), which makes it easier to create apps that run on the Flash runtime (it generates SWF files).



The "Flex Framework" is a collection of AS3 classes and components used in developing RIAs.

"Flex Builder" is an IDE used to develop "Flex Applications."

Much in the same way HTML is a collection of tags to develop web pages and Dreamweaver is an IDE for developing web pages. However you don't need Dreamweaver, you can use Notepad, BBEdit, etc. as well.

If you use something other than Flex Builder to develop in Flex, you need to download the Flex SDK to compile. The end result of a compiled Flex Application is an SWF file (Same as Flash).

With the compiled SWF file, a user only needs to have Flash Player installed to run the application.

Most Flex apps are developed, deployed to a server and then a web browser is used to serve the application to the user for use.


AIR, also allows for the use of HTML, AJAX etc. So an AIR Application could be a collection of all these things, compiled together.

To run an Adobe AIR Application, you need Adobe AIR Runtime installed on your computer.


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