Published: Wed, 28 Sep 2016 03:23:43 -0700
Last Build Date: Fri, 17 Aug 2012 09:34:00 -0700
Tue, 22 Nov 2011 08:39:00 -0700It has now been a little over a week since Adobe revealed its plans for the mobile Flash player and the Flex SDK. Now that the dust has started to settle and some additional information has been made available, I wanted to give my candid impression of what these announcements mean. I'll begin by stating the obvious: Adobe did a very poor job of coordinating and delivering these announcements. Anything I say at this point will simply be beating a dead horse. This was a PR disaster and one can only hope they learn something (ideally, many somethings) from sifting through the wreckage. I won't dwell any further on this since we have no control over what happened and I'm interested in looking at what these announcements mean going forward. I suspect that the news that Adobe was stopping work on the mobile Flash player didn't actually surprise very many people. Further, I doubt many people actually care much. Yes, it's nice to be able to view Flash content on my Android tablet. And yes, its easy to forget that the existing 11.1 player will continue to work for a long time and allow people to keep viewing the vast majority of Flash content. But no one was building browser-based mobile Flash sites. Why? Because you still had to create a non-Flash version of it if you wanted to target all mobile devices. Once the sting of all the "Steve Jobs Won" gloating wears off, I believe most people will see the wisdom of this decision. Some people appear to have a problem with this choice, but no one I know really cared at all about this part of Adobe's recent announcements. So now we move on to the other big news: Adobe announcing that the Flex SDK would become an Apache project and would go forward under non-Adobe governance. This took a lot of people by surprise, to put it mildly. First off, let me say that I don't have an issue with the idea of Flex going fully open-source. Yes, Flex was already "open-source", but we all know it really wasn't. You could view the code, but Adobe still exerted complete control over what changes were made. Anyone who ever tried to submit a patch or improvement can attest to this. Those restrictions are now gone. I firmly believe that if this announcement had been made at MAX, rather than in the middle of this PR breakdown, the cheering from the audience would have brought the roof down. I know a number of the people on the Spoon project, many of whom will probably be part of the group which will govern the ongoing work on the Flex SDK. They're all very bright people and I have little doubt that the SDK will actually see some nice benefits from this move. So from a purely technical standpoint, I think this can and probably will be a good thing. However, regardless of what you think about the SDK move, another portion of Adobe's announcement overshadowed even this news. In a post that will probably live in infamy, some of the Flex management stated "In the long-term, we believe HTML5 will be the best technology for enterprise application development." How Adobe failed to predict the resulting uproar I have no idea. But apparently they didn't. As a result, we saw an explosion of questions and concerns that essentially boiled down to: Is Adobe saying Flex is dead? I'll admit I wondered this myself. Given this statement, what was I supposed to tell the clients to whom I've evangalized Flex? Is my investment in Flex now ashes? I was angry and confused. Then I tried to detach myself from my emotional reaction and consider the situation objectively. I want to share a few of my thoughts and conclusions about this. First, one has to consider the harsh reality that Adobe never really figured out how to make any money on Flex. Their only real revenue came from Flash Builder, and it seems highly unlikely to me that sales of FB offset the money they've spent on Flex. And even that revenue is further reduced by the presence of competing tools like FlashDevelop and IntelliJ IDEA. Considered i[...]
Wed, 14 Sep 2011 09:11:00 -0700I'm working on a project that is performing "real-time saving" of data in a Flex UI. In other words, if they do something in the UI, that change is saved to the database automatically, rather than waiting until the user presses a save button. One concern we had was what happens if multiple requests are sent to the server, and for whatever reason some take longer to complete than others? i.e. you send RequestA then RequestB, and RequestA takes 10 seconds but RequestB takes 1 second. Which would mean the database would end up being wrong, with the data from RequestA being the last version saved. How can we make sure that the final state persisted in the database is actually the current state, and not the last request that happened to complete? A number of options were thrown on the table, including implementing a client and/or server-side queue, or building logic to verify that the current state in the client matches the persisted state. While mulling this over, one of my colleagues noticed an interesting line in the LCDS documentation:
Channels also impose an order to the flow of messages sent to the server and the order of corresponding responses. Order is important to ensure that interactions between the client and server occur in a consistent, predictable fashion.It's rather vague, but we read that to say "even though you think your calls to the channel are asynchronous, they actually aren't." Which, even though it is not what I thought was going on at all, would mean that the problem I mentioned earlier actually isn't a problem at all. Tom Jordahl was kind enough to respond to an email and discuss this. I then ran a number of tests locally to confirm the behavior. It turns out that calls to Messaging Channels are totally asynchronous, but calls by the same client to the same RPC Channel are synchronous. Which means if you send RequestA then RequestB, they will be processed in that order and the results will come back in that order. Regardless of how long either of them take to complete. You can still run asynchronous RPC calls from the same client, but they would have to call different Channels. So the option is there if you need it. I wanted to blog this because I've been using remoting for a long time and never knew this. In fact, I always assumed the opposite was true. So, this is a big deal for two reasons: if you need to ensure the order of your RPC calls, you can. And conversely, if you think your RPC calls to the same Channel are running asynchronously, they actually are not! And this applies whether you're using a Java back end with BlazeDS/LCDS, or using ColdFusion with its BlazeDS integration.
Tue, 06 Sep 2011 13:11:00 -0700In case you missed it, the Swiz team has made Swiz 2.0 Beta available. It includes the much-anticipated Aspect-Oriented Programming (AOP) features that have been in the works for a long time. AOP is incredibly powerful, and having done a lot of work with Spring, ColdSpring, and Spring.NET, it is hard to overstate the potential impact of AOP for Flash. I also want to give a shout out to Maxim Porges, who spearheaded the effort to bring true bytecode generation to Flash with his Loom project. Without his effort this just wouldn't be happening. For now, you can find full details on the new AOP features in the Swiz blog! As things get more stable, you can expect the Swiz documentation to incorporate this as well.
Thu, 14 Jul 2011 12:37:00 -0700In the Flex 3.x world, I adopted the Presentation Model pattern and applied it just about everywhere. Separating the non-view logic made perfect sense, far better than the code-behind approach, and cleaned up the view components wonderfully. Then Spark came along in Flex 4, and things have changed. The framework now has built-in support for separating the "view" (skin) from the "controller" (host component). As I've been using skinning more and more, I've come to wonder if or how the presentation model approach applies in the Spark skin world. To try and answer that question, I created a fairly simple but non-trivial test application that creates the same views and behavior in three ways. I've heard each of these three ways mentioned at various times by various people, so I used them as the most commonly proposed options:
Wed, 06 Jul 2011 10:35:00 -0700First just a quick note that I have updated the Swiz Console to version 1.2, which maintains parity with Swiz version 1.2. This update adds a tab to show views that have been processed with ViewAdded and ViewRemoved. As always, you can grab the swc or the source at my GitHub repository. In other news, Chris Scott put up a blog entry on the Swiz site with an overview of aspect-oriented programming in AS3. One might speculate that this is a lead-in to some very cool stuff coming in the Swiz framework, if one were so inclined...;-)
Tue, 14 Jun 2011 14:11:00 -0700Just a very quick entry to say that the Swiz Team has pushed version 1.2.0 out the door! This has a few small tweaks and bug fixes, but also adds the ViewAdded and ViewRemoved metadata tags to support the use of the View Mediator pattern. We also did a bit of consolidation related to conditional compilation. We still have two versions, but one is now just for the Flex 4.x SDK (including the 4.5 Mobile SDK), and the other just for the Flex 3.x SDK. Get it while it's hot!
Mon, 13 Jun 2011 08:27:00 -0700I put together a 30 minute screencast on creating a simple Flex application using the Swiz framework. This also shows off some of the great Swiz integration that comes with Sourcemate 3.0, as well as using the Swiz Console for debugging and runtime introspection. If folks find this helpful, I'll try to do some more. So please let me know what you think! Thanks.
Wed, 08 Jun 2011 12:38:00 -0700Just a note for anyone who uses Subclipse within Eclipse to work with a Subversion repository. In the past, you could easily assign keyboard shortcuts within Eclipse for SVN update, commit, etc. In the newer builds of Eclipse I couldn't get this to work. After searching Google, I found the answer in this Subclipse ticket. In order to get the shortcuts to work, you must go to Window > Customize Perspective, then under the Command Groups Availability tab, check the SVN option. It may require a restart of Eclipse, but the Subclipse keyboard shortcuts will now work.
Thu, 19 May 2011 12:47:00 -0700Just a quick note that I've uploaded the Dependency Injection presentation which I gave at cf.Objective(). Feel free to let me know what you think! Thanks.
Tue, 10 May 2011 07:49:00 -0700I recently installed a pretty cool add on for Microsoft Outlook called Trog Bar. Not only does it offer some nice features that Outlook alone doesn't have, but it wraps a nice task management system as well. To the left you can see what Trog Bar looks like. It docks to the edge of the screen, and can be set to autohide if desired. Across the top are quick links to mail, calendar, task list, contacts, compose, and send/receive. The calendar is great for the simple reason that you can specify more than one calendar to show events for. The fact that the Outlook To-Do bar would only show events from one calendar always drove me crazy. I have a personal account and a work account that uses Exchange, and Outlook will only show one. People have been asking for this simple feature for years. It's great to see someone add this. The main area is your task list. You can quickly search, view all tasks, view complete tasks, incomplete tasks, etc. If you use Outlook's categories option, you can also assign categories to tasks and view the list by category. Last but not least is a view called Task Sense. Trog Bar has some nice algorithms that populate this list automatically to show the most likely tasks to do at the current time. More on this in a moment. (And no, the tasks shown here aren't my tasks, I grabbed this screen shot off of the product page. Feed mammoth??) The notepad lets you quickly type in new tasks and store them as "unprocessed". It's very easy to fire off tasks into this application (as it should be). When you have more time, you can click on the Unprocessed Tasks link to show the tasks that still need "processing". If that sounds annoying or time consuming, don't worry, it isn't. Processing new tasks is really easy. You just click the task to open the task editor (see below). For a task to be processed, you have to enter in a due date and ideally one or more Categories (think Tags) and Projects (a parent task containing multiple child tasks). This takes about 10 seconds, and then you save it. That's it. The way Trog Bar works is largely based on the Due Date you specify. It is smart enough to treat the Due Date as both a target date as well as an indicator of the urgency of the task. So you are free to treat it as a sort of strength indicator if you choose. The Task Sense list seems largely based on this "urgency value". In other words, if you set the Due Date for two weeks later, it isn't that "worried" about you actually doing it on that date (though you can, of course). Instead, this is an indicator that the task is probably of medium-ish priority, and it places it in the Task Sense list accordingly. Three weeks out, lower priority. One week out, higher priority. You get the idea. It is also has some extra configuration options which, if you choose to set them up, make this list more accurate. For example, you can define a category as an "80/20" category, meaning 80% result for 20% effort. In other words, biggest return on investment. Task Sense will rank these higher in your list. You can also set up an additional calendar containing high-level time blocks, like 8-5 M-F is Work, 6-12 is Home, etc. If tasks with a corresponding Work tag are created, Task Sense will weight them higher between 8 and 5, and Home tasks between 6 and 12. The point being that it builds up the Task Sense list in a fairly intelligent way. Anyway, I've been using it for a few weeks now and I really like it. First, it is a handy, souped-up version of the Outlook To-Do bar. Second, it is a rapid task entry and organization tool. And third, it does a pretty good job of predicting and showing you relevant tasks at the right time. The full version costs $35, and there[...]
Thu, 05 May 2011 08:12:00 -0700This is a few days late but maybe that is a good thing since several folks blogged and tweeted about it on Monday in case anyone missed it. The Swiz team has released version 1.1.0 of the framework. This is mainly a bug fix release, but we've also added a version of the swc that works with the Flex 4.5 Mobile SDK. The release notes have full details. So give Swiz a try with your new mobile apps and ask any questions or provide some feedback on the mailing list!