With a public beta of Flex 3 reportedly hitting Adobe Labs in a matter of days, Ted Patrick has been giving out sneak peeks all weeks as to what to expect. Its all exciting stuff, CS3 integration, great new workflow for skinning components, refactoring, a full-fledged profiler, advanced DataGrid component etc. Yesterday however something was announced that is bigger than all this and will fundamentally change the end user experience when dealing with Flex applications.
That new feature is the ability for the Flash Player to cache the Flex framework on the local machine, meaning the file size of a Flex based SWF will be dramatically smaller. The release of the Flash Player that supports this is codenamed Frogstar and will be available along with the public beta of Moxie aka Flex 3.
It appears you can host your own copy of the Flex framework and define it as a failover URL in the unlikely event the Adobe hosted version is not reachable. Just imagine what an impact this has on bandwidth, a drop of several 100Kb in Flex-based apps. I imagine this will also drastically speed up initialization since its coming from the local drive.
Emmy Huang posted some interesting additional information in the comments on Ted's post. The Flash Player cache is independent of the browser cache, it supports caching multiple versions of the Flex framework, cached default size is 20Mb but this is totally controlled by the user (even turned off all together) through a new item in the Flash Player settings menu. Also at this point only Adobe's own frameworks (digitally signed) are enabled in this cache.
What this essentially means is that one of the biggest barriers in getting clients to adopt Flex is now lifted, Flex-based SWFs will be in the same file size range as SWFs created with the Flash authoring environment. Combine this with the promise of going open source with the Flex framework I think this can only lead to even wider adoption of the technology.
Keep an eye out on labs.adobe.com for more on Moxie and Frogstar in the next few days.