Category Archives: Flex

Adobe's Flex Builder rebranded as Flash Builder

As you may have heard, Adobe has decided to rebrand Flex Builder as Flash Builder to go along with the Flash Platform initiative. I actually think this is a really good idea. Flash Player has always been the platform and the vehicle that has allowed developers to deliver amazing experiences for years. Flex is a great framework that I personally use on 90% of my projects, but I don’t think the IDE (Flash Builder) should be limited to a single framework.

The only problem I have with the name change is that it doesn’t go far enough. When I say Flash, what is the first thing you think of? If you’re a Flash developer, you probably think of Flash Professional. This is an authoring tool that has been around for years and until Flex Builder it was our only “Adobe” tool for creating SWFs. It’s NOT a programming tool. Therefore most Flash programmers welcomed Adobe’s attempt at a real programmers IDE with Flex Builder. It isn’t perfect, but it’s better than any alternative. (Yes I’ve tried FDT, but I can’t live without the debugger.)

So my problem with the new Flash branding is the name of Flash Professional. This tool is based on a timeline and is geared toward designers. I personally think this should be renamed to Flash Designer. This would help reduce confusion for new developers to the Flash Platform and put clarity into the entire Flash product line.

Peer-to-Peer Presentation at MN.swf Camp

I gave a presentation at MN.swf Camp on Peer-to-Peer communication in Flash Player 10. That presentation is now up on my presentations page. The Library that I created to simplfy the P2P commcunication is also posted on my labs page.

I also created two sample applications. The first is a Video Chat application that runs in the browser and the second is an Collaborative Shopping application that runs in AIR. The shopping application was created by Jason Grey, I just added the collaborative functionality.

Object-Relationship Mapping with ColdFusion 9

I haven’t done anything with ColdFusion in a long time, but I may need to reconsider it as a middle ware between my Flash/Flex/AIR client applications and the database. Adobe released the ColdFusion 9 beta (Centaur) at MAX and one of the features that caught my eye was the object-relationship mapping. This will make it really easy to go from Flex-to-ColdFusion-to-Database using a consistent object model.

Adobe Provides Hosted Real-Time Data Services

Adobe announced the Cocomo beta at MAx last week. This is a service hosted by acrobat.com that allows developers to add real-time social capabilities to their applications. Cocomo also has Flex components that should make building these social applications really easy. You can sign up for the beta on labs.

Once I get some free time I plan on playing around with these new services and components. It looks very exciting. :)

MN.swf Camp 2009 Call for Speakers

Yes, we’re going to do it again! MN.swf Camp was such a huge success in 2008 that we’ve decided to make it an annual event. It will be held at the Library again this year on Monday, April 6, 2009.

We’re currently looking for people interested in speaking. If this is you, please go to the MN.swf Camp web site and fill out our speaker form. You don’t need to submit your session topics yet. We’ll be holding an orientation meeting for all interested speakers. After that meeting you will have a couple weeks to submit your final topic ideas and selections will be made.

AIR Distribution Kit

Tomorrow at FlashBelt I’ll be giving a presentation on Installation and Distribution Strategies in AIR. Since AIR applications are built using web technologies like JavaScript and ActionScript, many of the AIR users aren’t used to thinking about the installation and distribution strategies that desktop applications require. My presentation will cover a couple of these issues and show some sample solutions to these problems.

I’ll also be announcing the AIR Distribution Kit open-source project. This is a ActionScript 3 library for creating update functionality within AIR applications and for creating custom browser-based install applications (otherwise known as install badges). You can see more information about this project on my labs page. I just started this project, so there might be some bugs. Check it out and let me know what you think. Please let me know if you see anything you wish working differently or what features you’d like to see added in the future. If you’re interested in assisting with the development, please contact me.

Speaking at FlashBelt again this year

FlashBeltI’ll be speaking at FlashBelt again for the fourth straight year in June. I’ve spoken at this conference every year since I moved to Minneapolis in 2005. It’s a great conference that brings in both local and national attendees. My session is titled Distribution and Installation Strategies for AIR and will cover the following:

Flash and Flex developers have been spoiled by the fact that most of our applications are distributed over the internet through the browser and Flash Player. We didn’t have to worry about installation or updates within an application. This session will walk you through the process of building a custom badge using Flex that handles the installation, update and launch of your AIR application from within a browser. We’ll also look at how to implement an update feature within your Flex AIR application so your users can always have the most recent version of your application.