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Adobe Flex: Prefixing Fx

Adobe’s Flex team seems inclined to move away from clean design

Adobe’s Flex team seems inclined to move away from clean design.

Flex framework’s current stable version is 3.x and the Flex team at Adobe is actively working on getting the version 4.x ready this year. At this time, the core SDK of Flex 4, codenamed Gumbo, is evolving through an open source process. From peeking into its initial version, it looks promising as there are serious attempts to create a clean separation of behavior and presentation in the components, apart from the tons of nifty enhancements throughout the framework. (I promise to write about some of the forthcoming features soon)

However, one design decision in the midst of all this goodness seems rather odd and alarming. The Flex team is proposing to prefix Gumbo component names with the letters “Fx”. Lets try and understand what this means.

In Flex 3.x and 2.x you have a button component, which you access within a flex application using <mx:Button>. Here the name of the component is Button and mx is the namespace within which this component resides. Now in 4.x you still have the Button component but it deviates majorly from the component by the same name in the 3.x or the 2.x version of the framework. Its possible developers may like to use both versions concurrently and that’s where there is a need for the two entities, i.e. buttons, (with the same name) to be identified distinctly.

Simply said, how do you make sure the two versions of Button work together without causing confusion in the program. The answer to this question is simple and time tested: Put them in different logical buckets.

This solution of putting things with same names into logically diferent partitions seems to work well in many situations. This is how two classes by the same name are differentiated — they are put under different package structures. For example a.b.c.Foo and x.y.z.Foo can co-exist as far as they are referred with their fully qualified names. This is how XML elements with the same name but from different schemas are reconciled. This is how variables with the same name but within different scopes are resolved.

However, this simple solution seems to evade the Flex team’s considerations. They believe logical partitioning (which translates to namespaces in the case of Flex components acessed by their XML tags) can be confusing for the beginners.

 

Common Sense Reasoning

Common Sense Reasoning

So they propose instead that we prefix the names of all components whoes names clash with existing ones with the letters “Fx”. In other words our <mx:Button> in Flex 3.x or 2.x, which by the way is affectionately now called “Halo”,  becomes <FxButton> in Flex 4, which is also referred to as “Gumbo”.

If you use namespaces instead then this same Button in Gumbo will be <fx:Button>.

If we follow Adobe’s suggestion we may land up with something like this –

  • Halo — mx:Button
  • Gumbo — FxButton
  • Mumbo (or whatever they choose to affectionately call the next version) — Fx2Button or FxFxButton or MumboFxButton
  • Jumbo (possibly the following evolutionary version) —  Fx3Button or FxFxFxButton or JumboFxButton

Would you not just call a button a Button and have the namespaces decide weather its from the Halo, Gumbo, Mumbo or Jumbo clan?

If you would like to help Adobe make a sensible decision in favor of namespaces (i.e. using fx:Button instead of FxButton for now) then please go ahead and vote for this bug on the Flex JIRA.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Shashank Tiwari

I am a technology entrepreneur, innovator, author and, as some say, a “thought leader”. I like to solve challenging computing problems, especially those that drive innovation. Being a polyglot programmer, I can program fluently in many languages, including Java, Python, C++, C, Ruby, ActionScript, JavaScript, Objective-C, Haskell, Scala, Clojure, PHP, Groovy, Lisp and Perl. I must admit that I like to learn programming languages and if there is a new interesting one coming, I wouldn’t be far behind getting to grips with it. Over the last many years I have built some cutting edge enterprise and consumer software applications, many of which have leveraged large data sets and the web based programming paradigms. This means I also know a lot about data bases and persistence. I am very conversant with relational databases, embedded databases, object databases, text based data and XML. Having leveraged web based programming paradigms, I have first hand experience with a lot of web development frameworks, including but not limited to Adobe Flex, Spring MVC, Rails, Grails and Django. Not to forget, I obviously have worked a lot with HTML, JS and CSS. My experience and interest are varied and diverse and range a wide spectrum of application development realms that include the server, the client and the middleware. Besides, programming, I am also deeply interested in mathematics and theoretical computer science. This motivates me to bring my knowledge of applied mathematics, statistical modeling, artificial intelligence and sometimes simply data structures, to good use, when I build applications. A couple of domains like financial mathematics and scientific computing seem to have been good fit for such expertise. I am an ardent supporter of open source software and try and contribute to open source code bases and causes. I like the plurality and variety that software development offers; the choice of programming languages, the abundant availability of tools and libraries, the existence of multiple operating systems and the possibility of varied software development methodologies. As a member of the technology community, I am an active contributor to the ever evolving software development languages, methodologies and standards. I am an expert group member on a number of JCP (Java Community Process) specifications, for example JSRs 274, 283, 299, 301 & 312, and have been recognized as an Adobe Flex Champion.I run and organize a few community events like Flex Camp Wall Street, Show Ramp and Polyglot World. I bring together all my expertise in terms of services and products via my primary venture, Treasury of Ideas LLC, in which I play the role of a Managing Partner. Treasury of Ideas LLC, through its focus on innovation and value optimization, offers many best of the breed services and products and has incubated many ideas to help translate them to reality. Our clients range from large enterprises, government agencies, not-for-profit organizations to promising new startups. I write regularly in many technical journals and magazines, present in seminars and mentor developers and architects. I have authored a few books, including Advanced Flex 3 (friends of Ed/APress, 2008) and Professional BlazeDS (Wrox/Wiley, 2009) , and am in the process of authoring a few more. You can learn all about my books and public talks by browsing through the Publish & Present page at www.shanky.org.

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