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.

Trillian Astra Beta

I just got an invitation to join the Trillian Astra Beta and so far I’m very impressed. I’ve been a Trillian user for years and for me it’s always been the best way to manage my IM contacts across AOL, Yahoo, MSN, etc. Astra also adds support for Facebook and twitter, maybe I’ll start using those more now that they are in a familiar place for me. The main barrier for me not using Facebook or twitter much was because I didn’t want to constantly login to those sites or install a dedicated application. I always hated that about the old messenger applications when you had to have three different apps running. Looks like the Beta signup page is open for anyone, if you’re an existing Trillian users, I think you’ll really like this new version.

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.

Become a Better Developer

I’ve been meaning to post this for a long time, but I hadn’t gotten around to it until now. Back in September (2008) I was invited by Schematic to speak at their Technology Summit that was being held in Costa Rica. It was a great location and it was fun to see all the great people from Schematic. I gave my presentation on strategies for becoming a better developer and I thought I’d post it on my presentations page just in case anyone else is interested in what I think.

Plugin Adpotion Rates

To anyone that has heard me talk about Silverlight vs Flash you know I think the true issue is with the plugin adoption rates. Here is the first attempt I’ve seen that compares Flash Player and Silverlight plugin adoption. I find it interesting that Microsoft doesn’t publish its plugin adoption like Adobe does. But I guess if my plugin was at 16% and the competition was over 95%, then I might not publish it either.

http://www.riastats.com/

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.

C/C++ running in Flash Player

Probably one of the biggest things to happen to Flash….maybe ever. Last year at MAX Adobe gave us a sneak peak at a research project that took C++ code and compiled it into ActionScript. The demo they showed at the sneak peak at MAX 2007 of Quake running inside Flash Player. This got a lot of buzz. Well now they have released the toolkit (Alchemy) to the community. So you can go and start converting your favorite C/C++ libraries to ActionScript.

I’d personally like to see some XSLT and XML Schema libraries ported. And I’m sure there will be a lot of ports of physics and 3D libraries too.

Peer-to-peer Communication With Flash Player 10

You probably didn’t notice that Flash Player 10 (and AIR 1.5) shipped with a new protocol for p2p (peer-to-peer) communication. The RTMFP (Real-Time Media Flow Protocol) is a new protocol that supports direct connections between two endpoints.

What is the benefit of p2p communication? This will lower the barrier to entry for people to create real-time applications in Flash Player and AIR. No more bandwidth and server management expenses. The RTMFP protocol will also be a higher quality connection since it is over UDP and not TCP like the RTMP (Real-Time Messaging Protocol) used by Flash Media Server. RTMFP will re-establish a connection if there is a brief outage and maintain a session even if the client’s IP address changes.

This new protocol could be used for a number of applications like: text chat, VoIP conversations, video chat or multi-player games/applications.

Adobe announced Stratus the week. The is a hosted rendezvous service that allows two endpoints to establish a p2p connection. Once the connection is established the service is no longer used to send the data between endpoints. Stratus is currently in beta, but is not yet available for developers to start playing with it.

You can see a few of the RTFMP details in the ActionScript 3 Language Reference (see NetConnection).