Heading to the Flex 360 Conference

I just booked my flights for the Flex 360 conference. From the look of the conference schedule, it should be packed with lots of Flexy Goodness ®.

I was one of the first 20 people to purchase a ticket to 360 Flex. Man, am I glad I didn't wait

I'll be flying into San Francisco on Friday night and staying over until Wednesday evening.

If you'd like to meet up at the conference or in the Bay Area, leave a comment or send me an email.

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Customizing Flex Components at NYFLEX

On January 18th, Michael Labriola presented 'Customizing Flex Components' to the New York Flex user group. There was a bit of bad weather which kept roughly half of the 40 prospective attendees from making the meeting. Those of us who went were in for an excellent presentation from a man who really knows his Flex.

In Flex, components are essentially wrapped functionality, quite similar to custom tags in CFML. You can extend a particular component with ActionScript 3 to have custom appearance or behaviors or whatever else you can dream up. When complete, the result is a new tag to use in your flex code.

In addition to what was the most comprehensive overview of the Flex framework and the internal states, we were also shown the underlying ActionScript code of the Flex Framework. This is quite useful when extending components as it is easy to find out what behaviors and parameters are available to subclasses. Now, when I wonder why a particular component behaves in a certain way, or if I can pass it an ArrayCollection in place of an Array, I know where to find my answers. This has already saved me hours of scanning the web, the flexcoders list and the help files.

I am a big fan of the "Teach a man to Fish..." theory and appreciate knowing how to get myself out of those sticky Flex knots I seem to get myself into.

Shlomy Gantz the leader of the NYFLEX user group, consistantly puts together practical sessions from excellent members of the Flex community. If you happen to be in NYC when the NYFLEX group meets, definately stop in.

Michael Labriola, one of the authors of Adobe Flex 2: Training from the Source, is an engaging and entertaining speaker. He is also very generous with his time. Baz Karam and I bent his ear for a while after the meeting, peppering him with question after question. Michael answered all of our questions clearly, insightfully and patiently. I can't say enough good things about him.

Michael is a principal with www.digitalprimates.net so if your organization is in need of a top Flex consultant to train your team, I give him the highest recommendation.

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Flex Mouse Events, Effects and functions

While adding some effects to a flex application, I noticed some strange behaviour. All of a sudden I noticed a function I had set to fire on the click event of a button was no longer firing.

I originally thought the effect intercepted the call in some way, but it turns out I had the effect set to fire on the mouseDownEffect. Changing the effect to fire on the mouseUpEffect brought the function back in to play.

A mouseDownEffect apparently changes the button before the click event fires. Hope this helps someone.

This is bad

view plain print about
1<mx:WipeLeft id="aWipeEffect" duration="1000" />
2<mx:Button label="Change More Text" click="changeText();" mouseDownEffect="aWipeEffect" />

This is good

view plain print about
1<mx:WipeLeft id="aWipeEffect" duration="1000" />
2<mx:Button label="Change More Text" click="changeText();" mouseUpEffect="aWipeEffect" />

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Flex Builder and CFMX RDS

Just a public service announcement for those using Flex Builder. Flex Builder really enjoyes defaulting to port 8500 at all possible turns. I was playing with the RDS extentions and couldn't get the server to connect. RDS was ( in fact ) enabled in the CFadmin. I changed the RDS password a few times and still had no connection. Turns out the default connection was to our friend port 8500. I found the configuration information in the helpful Flex Builder docs. The RDS configuration was tucked away in window/preferences. When creating a Flex project the docs say:

view plain print about
1To configure any ColdFusion servers that you want to connect to using RDS:
2In Flex Builder or Eclipse, select Window - Preferences - RDS Configuration.
3To configure the default localhost server, select localhost and specify the following:
5Host name (
6Port number (8500 if you are using the built-in web server)
7Context root, if necessary

Once the port was switched to port 80, I was in business. I want to do a full evaluation of the wizards available in Flex Builder. Dean Harmon has published three Adobe Connect sessions on Flex / CF wizards. I am going to give them a go and post my experiences later on this weekend.

Why I love Flex

Over the last 10 or so years, web based applications have used HTML. HTML describes the look and feel of the application to the web browser, a piece of software on your local computer. The web browser then interprets the description into a usable ( you hope ) application capable of interacting with users.

This process has worked extremely well, mostly for lack of viable alternatives.