Welcome!

Adobe Flex Authors: Matthew Lobas, PR.com Newswire, Shelly Palmer, Kevin Benedict

Related Topics: Adobe Flex, ColdFusion

Adobe Flex: Article

Show Report: A Taste of MAX 2005

Including Mike Chambers' Session on Flash & AJAX

Wow, what a conference! If you couldn't get to MAX this year, you missed out on a great conference. MAX was held in Anaheim, CA, at the Anaheim convention center. It was four days packed with classes, and the grand finale was a fun-filled night at Disneyland/California Adventure.

There was so much information available at MAX that there is no way I can impart everything I learned at the conference in this article. However, I will do is give a flavor of the classes, a few tips, and provide an overall feel for where Macromedia technology is going.

I'll start with a taste of the classes, give some brief touch points from the General Sessions (Keynotes), and give you the lowdown on the Sneak Peek session (the in-the-works products).

A Taste of the Classes
Most of the classes I attended were about presentation and code design. The classes often had examples of good and bad designs and some tips on how to architect good designs, which stands to reason because, aside from ColdFusion, Macromedia is all about the interface between the person and the computer.

The classes I attended fell roughly into four categories: RIAs (Rich Internet Application) and Flex Builder 2, ActionScript 3, ColdFusion MX, and Flash and AJAX.

RIAs and Flex Builder 2 (aka Zorn)
Macromedia coined the term RIA to describe the new type of Web application with a Flash-based user interface. Initially, it was used only for Flash-based applications, but now it's been adopted to mean AJAX-based (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) applications as well.

RIAs look cool and have a great wow factor. However, the real benefit of an RIA is that the person using the RIA-based application is more productive, and has increased concentration. One of the classes I sat in on, "RIA Design - Best Practices," pointed out that making an application flow correctly and look pleasing engages the user and makes the application more usable. In the end, a more usable UI allows for a more productive user.

A tip for good UI design with RIAs is avoiding the use of excessive Chrome. Chrome in this context means excessive eye candy, animation, music, etc. Chrome can distract from the usability and the point of the application. In fact, it's easy to make your application completely unusable and confusing for your clients by using Chrome for Chrome's sake.

To avoid Chrome overload, try to only use transitions or sounds that orient the user when the UI is changing, for example, when a modal menu appears from the side and obscures the user's original view. This kind of transition is a good time to use a bit of animation to let the client know what just happened. Keeping the client engaged, in control, and oriented was a key theme in many of the UI/RIA classes.

The tools to build RIAs are evolving. Flex Builder 2, the IDE previously known as Zorn, was quite a highlight in the RIA track. Flex Builder 2 is the follow up to Flex 1.5 with a bit of a twist. For the uninitiated, Flex 1.5 is the Flex presentation server. Its purpose is to take MXML files, compile them into SWF files, and serve them to the client - it's the core of enterprise-level RIAs. Flex 1.5 needs to run in a J2EE server and its price can be as high as $15,000. The need for a server and the price point tend to turn off smaller shops from creating RIAs.

Flex 2.0 and Flex Builder 2, however, fix both these issues by allowing you to create SWFs based on MXML and deploy them without the server. You'll still be able to exchange data with Web services and raw XML, but instead of deploying them into a specialized presentation server, you can use your current Web server. Using Flex Builder 2 you get the power of rapid application development of RIAs using MXML with the price tag under $1,000 per developer.

Flex Builder 2, from a developer standpoint, is going to turn some heads too. The design view is very nice. It behaves like Dreamweaver or any graphical GUI designing tool. You can drag-and-drop your way to a beautiful-looking UI in seconds.

The IDE runs on Eclipse, which means it will play nicely with source control solutions like CVS, SVN, and VSS by adding the proper third-party plug-in. It has color coding and intellisence in both the MXML blocks and the ActionScript blocks, and allows you to run and test your Flex application with a single click.

The Flex Builder 2 debugger looks incredible. If you've done any Java programming before, it's just as powerful as the Java debugger in Eclipse. It has watches, breakpoints, and variable inspection. It's a very impressive piece of software and should help keep those late night bug hunting sessions to a minimum when developing RIAs.

To find out more about Flex Builder 2 and Flex 2.0 see Macromedia Labs (http://labs.macromedia.com/wiki/index.php/Flex_Framework and http://labs.macromedia.com/wiki/index.php/Flex_Builder).

ActionScript 3
Along with Flex 2.0, Macromedia is introducing ActionScript 3. I heard a quite a few people at the conference say something to the effect, "ActionScript is becoming a real programming language." It does indeed feel that way when looking at AS3, as they move the language to more closely conform with the ECMA standard.

ActionScript 3 looks and feels a more like C# and Java 5.0 than it does JavaScript. There is a new wrapping block around classes much like the namespace in C#, and there are quite a few new function modifiers like overrides - a keyword that might sound familiar to old VB.NET programmers.

Personally, I think the language looks cool. If you know C# or Java 5.0 you'll get ActionScript 3 easily. If you know JavaScript or ActionScript 2 well, you'll have a somewhat easy time picking up the changes. However, if you've never done object-oriented programming, you're probably going to have to crack open a book or two.

For an example of the language difference, here is a basic class definition in AS2 and the same definition in AS3:

AS2:
import my.classes;
class my.pack.TestClass
{
    ...
}

AS3:
namespace my.pack
{
    import my.classes;
    class TestClass
    {
      ...
    }
}

If you've done C# programming (another ECMA-based language), the new version should look familiar. The new keywords and when to use them, however, will be where most new study will be required. A good reference for the transition from ActionScript 2 to ActionScript 3 is available on Macromedia Labs (http://labs.macromedia.com/wiki/index.php/ ActionScript_3:Learning_Tips).

More Stories By Rob Rohan

Rob Rohan has been a developer and architect for over seven years. Rob is a YellowBadger.com consultant from the Bay Area and founder of the CFEclipse, Treebeard, and Neuromancer open source projects. He teaches Macromedia products through Shcoonertech, and flies through the air with the greatest of ease.

Comments (1) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
MXDJ News Desk 12/12/05 03:22:58 PM EST

A Taste of MAX 2005. Wow, what a conference! If you couldn't get to MAX this year, you missed out on a great conference. MAX was held in Anaheim, CA, at the Anaheim convention center. It was four days packed with classes, and the grand finale was a fun-filled night at Disneyland/California Adventure.

@ThingsExpo Stories
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
Michael Maximilien, better known as max or Dr. Max, is a computer scientist with IBM. At IBM Research Triangle Park, he was a principal engineer for the worldwide industry point-of-sale standard: JavaPOS. At IBM Research, some highlights include pioneering research on semantic Web services, mashups, and cloud computing, and platform-as-a-service. He joined the IBM Cloud Labs in 2014 and works closely with Pivotal Inc., to help make the Cloud Found the best PaaS.
As data explodes in quantity, importance and from new sources, the need for managing and protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and cloud environments grow with it. Managing data includes protecting it, indexing and classifying it for true, long-term management, compliance and E-Discovery. Commvault can ensure this with a single pane of glass solution – whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enter...
Cloud-enabled transformation has evolved from cost saving measure to business innovation strategy -- one that combines the cloud with cognitive capabilities to drive market disruption. Learn how you can achieve the insight and agility you need to gain a competitive advantage. Industry-acclaimed CTO and cloud expert, Shankar Kalyana presents. Only the most exceptional IBMers are appointed with the rare distinction of IBM Fellow, the highest technical honor in the company. Shankar has also receive...
"We view the cloud not as a specific technology but as a way of doing business and that way of doing business is transforming the way software, infrastructure and services are being delivered to business," explained Matthew Rosen, CEO and Director at Fusion, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com), held June 7-9 at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
The Founder of NostaLab and a member of the Google Health Advisory Board, John is a unique combination of strategic thinker, marketer and entrepreneur. His career was built on the "science of advertising" combining strategy, creativity and marketing for industry-leading results. Combined with his ability to communicate complicated scientific concepts in a way that consumers and scientists alike can appreciate, John is a sought-after speaker for conferences on the forefront of healthcare science,...
WebRTC is great technology to build your own communication tools. It will be even more exciting experience it with advanced devices, such as a 360 Camera, 360 microphone, and a depth sensor camera. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Masashi Ganeko, a manager at INFOCOM Corporation, introduced two experimental projects from his team and what they learned from them. "Shotoku Tamago" uses the robot audition software HARK to track speakers in 360 video of a remote party. "Virtual Teleport" uses a multip...
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, discussed the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
In his session at Cloud Expo, Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, presented a success story of an entrepreneur who has both suffered through and benefited from offshore development across multiple businesses: The smart choice, or how to select the right offshore development partner Warning signs, or how to minimize chances of making the wrong choice Collaboration, or how to establish the most effective work processes Budget control, or how to maximize project result...
"Akvelon is a software development company and we also provide consultancy services to folks who are looking to scale or accelerate their engineering roadmaps," explained Jeremiah Mothersell, Marketing Manager at Akvelon, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
IoT is rapidly becoming mainstream as more and more investments are made into the platforms and technology. As this movement continues to expand and gain momentum it creates a massive wall of noise that can be difficult to sift through. Unfortunately, this inevitably makes IoT less approachable for people to get started with and can hamper efforts to integrate this key technology into your own portfolio. There are so many connected products already in place today with many hundreds more on the h...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that ICC-USA, a computer systems integrator and server manufacturing company focused on developing products and product appliances, will exhibit at the 22nd International CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO. DXWordEXPO New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City. ICC is a computer systems integrator and server manufacturing company focused on developing products and product appliances to meet a wide range of ...
JETRO showcased Japan Digital Transformation Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo® at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. The Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) is a non-profit organization that provides business support services to companies expanding to Japan. With the support of JETRO's dedicated staff, clients can incorporate their business; receive visa, immigration, and HR support; find dedicated office space; identify local government subsidies; get...
René Bostic is the Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America. Enjoying her career with IBM during the modern millennial technological era, she is an expert in cloud computing, DevOps and emerging cloud technologies such as Blockchain. Her strengths and core competencies include a proven record of accomplishments in consensus building at all levels to assess, plan, and implement enterprise and cloud computing solutions. René is a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and a m...
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Red Hat's Chief Archi...
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
Personalization has long been the holy grail of marketing. Simply stated, communicate the most relevant offer to the right person and you will increase sales. To achieve this, you must understand the individual. Consequently, digital marketers developed many ways to gather and leverage customer information to deliver targeted experiences. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lou Casal, Founder and Principal Consultant at Practicala, discussed how the Internet of Things (IoT) has accelerated our abilit...
Organizations planning enterprise data center consolidation and modernization projects are faced with a challenging, costly reality. Requirements to deploy modern, cloud-native applications simultaneously with traditional client/server applications are almost impossible to achieve with hardware-centric enterprise infrastructure. Compute and network infrastructure are fast moving down a software-defined path, but storage has been a laggard. Until now.
Digital Transformation is much more than a buzzword. The radical shift to digital mechanisms for almost every process is evident across all industries and verticals. This is often especially true in financial services, where the legacy environment is many times unable to keep up with the rapidly shifting demands of the consumer. The constant pressure to provide complete, omnichannel delivery of customer-facing solutions to meet both regulatory and customer demands is putting enormous pressure on...
The best way to leverage your CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at CloudEXPO. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audienc...