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360 Flex conference update

Right now, I’m at the 360 Flex conference in downtown Seattle. It’s the last day and it’s been a great few days. There’s been some great sessions, given by some of the best of the best when it comes to Flex.

 

The Seattle Flex User Group (SeaFlex) put on the first Flex Charity Code Jam for Northwest Harvest. Northwest Harvest is Washington’s own, and only, statewide hunger relief agency. The folks at the code jam developed an online food drive application that allows groups to compete to reach a goal. This will be a big help to their organization. With a donation of $0.53, Northwest Harvest can feed a family of three. That is much more efficient than gathering physical food donations since that requires manpower to gather the food and process all the items. With money, they can purchase pallets of food for much less than the average Joe.

 

It’s been a great chance for Flex developers from all over to meet the people who created Flex along with other companies who have mastered development for large projects.

 

I’ve seen a lot of people who look sleep deprived but still smiling. Watch for the conference to come again, and take advantage of the chances to learn, network and code!

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Adobe in the drivers seat

I just read an article by Tom Yager describing how Adobe is actually making things happen in the Web 2.0 world, where others are slacking.

“…’browser as a platform’ has been on [
Microsoft, Mozilla, and Apple’s] to-do lists for years, and none has raised HTML rendering and caching performance, standards compliance, stability, or JavaScript engine speed to levels sufficient to support true applications. With Adobe doing the driving, I think we’ll soon see some action.”

Well put.

While being employed at Adobe, I’ve seen first hand how well Adobe listens to it’s customers, and many times proactively seeks thoughts from it’s customers, on what could be improved. What things are important to it’s customers. What ways Adobe can use it’s resources to best serve the customer. What an inspiring company!

Microsoft wants to be on top of the world. They have been able to position themselves there through their past success. Slowly, it seems they are losing the confidence of their customers and the only reason they haven’t plummeted to the bottom is that they are so big, they don’t move very quickly. Vista is disappointing, and they don’t seem to have many new ideas that impress. The “new” ideas they do have are not at all new – they take competitors ideas and try to use their massive resources to make something comparable. They’re reactive, not proactive.

The new products Adobe has coming out, namely Flex 3, AIR, ColdFusion 8 and LiveCycle ES, are truly a testament to the commitment Adobe has to fulfilling it’s customers needs. Adobe understands that it can focus on the needs of it’s clients and the profits will follow where many other companies focus on profits and respond to customers needs if it isn’t inconvenient.

This is an exciting time to be involved in web technologies. Where do you see it going?

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When the cat’s away

…the mice will teach Flex development.

The Seattle Flex User Group (SeaFlex) meets tonight. Being the co-manager, I’m going to be teaching some Flex fundamentals while Ali is out of town. We’ll be going over a lot of the beginning hurdles that newbies encounter. My experience has taught me that when you’re jumping into a new development tool (and this is especially true for Flex) the hardest part was getting past that initial “Where do I start?” phase. Once you are comfortable using Flex Builder, you can fairly easily poke around and answer most of your own questions. Some good places to get answers are

  1. the help system – one of the best I’ve ever seen
  2. mailing lists – flexcoders and flexcomponents just to name a couple
  3. adobe.com – if you haven’t discovered how helpful Adobe has been to new developers, check it out
  4. flex.org – this is the official site for Flex and has tons of great resources in it
  5. google – the community loves to blog and show off their skills, so do a search!

I’ll be giving away some books too, so that will add the resources you have available.

The user group is held at Adobe Systems, in Seattle. It’s in the Fremont neighborhood nestled between the Aurora Bridge and the Fremont Bridge on the canal. The meetings actually take place in the Adobe Conference Center, which is in the 701 building. Here’s the address:

801 N. 34th St.
Seattle, WA 98103

Meetings are 6:30 – 8:30.
Drinks are provided for those looking for more free stuff.

See you there!

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The AIR up there

There’s been way too much going on lately! Flex 3 beta is now available on Adobe Labs, as well as the beta of Apollo (now called AIR, Adobe Integrated Runtime). There are some huge advances for developers and users alike.

One of my favorite things that is a part of Flex 3 is the ability to cache the Flex framework. This means that swf files don’t have to contain all the framework components every time. This will make your compiled swfs incredibly smaller. I love Ted’s blog on the subject.

Here’s where I see the future going:
Flash content will become as prevelant as html on the web, since the hurdle of filesize (the biggest drawback to using Flash) is going away. Creating engaging Flash/Flex applications is getting easier and easier and with Flex going open source, developers will feel really good about using it.

Lately there seems to have been a step back in much of the design of Flex apps. Not with the bigger design firms but just in general. I admit I’m guilty of it too. Being that it’s so easy to drop in the default controls without changing the look and feel, it can be too tempting. But I urge the developer community to join me in breaking out of that, and developing RICH Internet Applications. Rich with customized graphical elements!

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Flex will go open source!

Today, Adobe announced that Flex will be releasing it’s source code as open source. Here’s the announcement:

SAN JOSE, Calif. – April 26, 2007 – Adobe Systems Incorporated (Nasdaq: ADBE) today announced plans to release source code for Adobe(r) Flex(tm) as open source. This initiative will let developers worldwide participate in the growth of the industry’s most advanced framework for building cross-operating system rich Internet applications (RIAs) for the Web and enabling new Apollo applications for the desktop. The open source Flex SDK and documentation will be available under the Mozilla Public License (MPL).

One of the things I love about Adobe is that they truly have the users in mind. They don’t force people to pay for everything under the sun. Adobe’s forward thinking mentality is what makes them so successful.

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Flash CS3 released!

Flash CS3 is now out. This means that you can create items for your Flex projects in Flash, and they will be able to communicate with the rest of your Flex app. In fact, the whole Web Premium Suite is available now to purchase from Adobe.com. Don’t delay, supplies are limited! (Ok, not really)

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So much time, so little talk

Apollo

If you haven’t seen, Apollo is now alpha and up on Adobe Labs! This is going to revolutionize the way people develop applications that need to run cross-platform and have network abilities. Heck, even some that don’t need network connectivity! It’s just plain easier to develop flashy applications using Flex Builder.

I’m sure I’ll end up posting examples of apps I’ve created in Apollo as soon as I get some time. Adobe has announced Creative Suite 3 and things are a little busy right now, hence the lack of blogging on my part.

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htmlText Editor v2.0

htmlTextEditor v2
Don’t you wish Adobe released new product versions this quick!

Ok, so after playing with the first version of the htmlText Editor, I realized there were some major improvements needed. The main thing I added is the ability to supress tags, so that you can cut down on unnecessary clutter in the htmlText. In doing this, I also gave the ability to “undo” those changes by unchecking the tags to supress and applying it again. There is a little help that gives some tips on how it’s used, nothing fancy since the app isn’t that complicated. If you use this or have feature requests, let me know. I’d like to hear some of the ways it’s being used. My guess is, it will be used mostly when giving a Text or TextArea htmlText or in specifying the htmlText in an XML file, like I’ve done. I hope it makes your work easier like it did for me!

 

htmlText Editor v2.0 (yeah, that was a quick dot release) 😉