This is oN-tHe-FlY reporting from the front row of 360Flex. (ignore the numerous typos)
Introducing Mark Anders, Sr. Principal Scientist at Adobe.
Mark just took a poll of all the attendees and asked whom was the flash developers. Not suprisingly there was less than 15% flash developers. Now he is talking about the Flash IDE and talking about how confusing the Flash Timeline is and asks the question "How do I build an application with a Paintbucket tool?" Having tried flash development around the Flash 5 time, I can completely agree.
Mark is giving us the background behind the Flex framework. Flex is a programmatic framework for building Flash based applications.
What makes Flex Magical?
- MXML - an XML based language to specify creating object trees and also provide a Domain Specific Language for actionscript objects and classes.
- Data Binding - Allows updating of the User Interface when the underlying data changes. This is a foreign concept for folks used to HTML development. In HTML development there really is no state, simply a post-response model. In Flex, bound data, when changed, will change all over the Flex application wherever the bound data is used.
- Composition -
- New components can be built by assembling existing sets of components.
- Templates are placeholders within a component to be parameterized on use. Mark points out code fragments can be passed in to customize the llok and feel.
- States - States represent configurations of an application. You can add, remove and change components for a particular view state.
- Based on Flash. Flash is a very powerful render
Mark Anders Mac locked up during the presentation. Someone in the audience made a joke that due to Mark's Tenure at Microsoft, the Blue Screen has been implanted in his mac. Now he says, it is probably Microsoft software because he is using MS Powerpoint. ;).
Mark has shown several examples and applications that were very compelling. It is pretty amazing what can be done with Flex. One example of an MXNA reader used a fisheye component to switch between MXNA channels. When a specific channel was clicked, the channel icon bounced up and down and when the channel was loaded, the channel icon had smoke pouring from the top of it. It was VERY cool and the visual model made perfect sense even for an uneducated user. For me, this is the BIG power of Flex because no only can you design and create these types of applications but you can guarantee cross platform consistancy.
Mark mentions the Virtual Machine for ECMA script was donated to Mozilla. Engineers from Adobe and Mozilla will be working on the Flash Player 10 engine. This is very nice as it will help adoption of the standard.
Now Mike Downey is on. Mike is the Senior Product Engineer for the Apollo platform. Apollo Features:
- Local File access
- Online / Offline detection and events
- Full Drag and Drop capabilities
- Clipboard access
- Background Processing
- Multiple Windows support
- Customized chrome. ( This is cool because spectra didn't allow this.)
Mike says making a Flex application an Apollo application should be pretty easy. This is good news and when apollo comes out we can build on what wwe have rather than a top-down rewrite. Mike is now showing a demonstration of an Apollo application called Buzzword. Buzzword is a Word Processor application built with Apollo. The performance with entering text is quite fast. None of the latency I would have expected. Since Apollo can write to the file system, it is a better choice for Word Processing than a web based word processor application.
Mike is now showing a Google Maps integration. This shows Flex + AJAX. The vCards from Mike's address book are shown on the left. He drags a vCard over to the gMaps interface and the address is zoomed to in gMaps. Very cool. Now he is showing a Firebug like implementation done in Apollo. I don't think it will overtake the Firebug utility, but it is cool to see the hooks into the browser runtimes.\
Mark has taken the stage once again. He is talking about the upcoming Flex 3 release. The main ideas for Flex 3 are:
- Enhancing the Designer / Developer workflow
- Better integration with the Adobe Creative suite.
- Adding and enhancing data components
- Integrating Apollo into Flex Builder
- Enhancing the framework to take advantage of new Apollo concepts and services
The release schedule is as follows:
The first half of 2007 will see the Apollo public labs release, the Flex 3 'Moxie' release and Creative suite 3.
The second half of the year will see the 1.0 release of Apollo, Flex 3, Philo 1.0 and Flash Media Server.