Over on the Flex Team Blog, there was an interesting announcement that I think people may not quite understand. They've released the Flex Module for Apache and IIS which will give developers the ability to code a Flex application and then run that code on the server just like most web technologies including ASP.NET or PHP.
So what does this mean? Well, currently when you build Flex applications, you compile the code and then run a browser that just points at the SWF file to test it. With big applications, compiling can be a huge time sink especially when you're making small changes. With the Flex Module, you no longer need to compile your application at each change; you simply modify the code, browse to it, and the module quickly compiles it and runs the application. For testing and for development teams working off of a single source code, this is going to be invaluable because it will be more conducive to multiuser version control.
It also lowers the barrier to entry for Flex a bit. While Eclipse takes the work out of compiling applications, the Eclipse learning curve can be steep for developers not used to it. The compiler that comes with the free SDK is even less user friendly meaning that it's tough for brand new developers to try Flex without investing a lot of time learning an IDE as well as the language. With this, they can set up a server, start coding and see results. They can download source examples, make changes, and instantly see the resulting application. I'm excited to see how developers adopt this and if it does anything to make Flex easier to try. It's a great move by Adobe and should make everyone's lives a lot easier. Mark Anders has a great write-up of what this means.