Category Archives: Flex

Adobe Flash Platform and I

It appears to me (and perhaps others), I have distanced myself from Adobe Flash Platform during last couple of years. Not because I don’t like it, actually I love it, rather due to some other priorities here at our company, which does lot more (web-standards and design) than flash/flex stuff.

All this time, I have been keeping very low profile in flash-platform community, literally not talking about anything. I feel bad about it, I don’t know ‘why’.

I have done some trivial stuff (video players, flashlite and air apps) but nothing very cool or useful to everyone else.

My to-do list contains a long-list of applications targeted towards Adobe Flash Platform (desktop and other devices), I am supposed to do; Considering, my plate is full with all other responsibilities, I am not spending even 1/4th of the time writing actionscript.

Meanwhile, I have tried to encourage my team to learn actionscript and flex-framework. I even tried to hire some flash (or flex?) developers. I even managed to hire one flex developer last year.

Unfortunately, this person left the company as soon as when it was time to contribute back after 6 months training (no contribution period). That was big set back, a discouragement to me; I stopped looking for Flash/Flex developers.

I keep on promising myself, that I would do these applications; I keep on forgiving myself when I am not getting those done.

Anyway, there is still hope, I would building applications the on language (ActionScript), I am very good at. There is still hope, this blog would have more posts related to Adobe Flash Platform.

Adobe Flash Platform Summit 2010

One more day to go for Adobe Flash Platform Summit 2010, I am very excited about this event because of so many good sessions and my team has been busy building some cool stuff using web-standards and lamp-stack.

If you are going to be around, let’s catch up.

Flex 4 In Action – Early Access Available

Last year, I posted about Flex 3 In Action, a book by Tariq Ahmed,  Jon Hirschi and Faisal Abid. Not many people know, I was also among authors but couldn’t contribute beyond one chapter due to personal priorities, hence opted out. Thanks to Tariq for trusting me and providing an opportunity.

Tariq has again teamed up with different some smart guys (Dan Orlando, John C. Bland II, and Joel Hooks) this time, and all of them are working on Flex 4 In Action.

All authors have a lot of experience and are great at what they do. I always prefer to read a book written by someone who has done the stuff, instead of someone who has just theoretical knowledge.

I am yet to start reading draft version of the book, however, I am sure this book is going to be one of the best. To believe me, you need to check out authors’ profiles/websites and you would realize it yourself.

Sign up with Manning’s early access program (MEAP) and start reading chapters (completed as well as drafts).

Open Source Media Framework (OSMF)

A few days back, Adobe announced Open Source Media Framework (OSMF), which was known as Strobe earlier.

A few minutes back, I received an email confirming that Open Source Media Framework website is up with all the information, specification, developer-documentation, source (Subversion repository), downloads (binary and source) and bug-database.

Open Source Media Framework (OSMF) has an interesting list of features and goals. I like it’s plug-in architecture, that would allow a lot of extensibility and various amazing plug-ins from different providers in coming time.

If you are a developer spending a lot of time developing various work-flows around online media-players (audio, video, images – players), I strongly recommend you to check out Open Source Media Framework (OSMF). I am sure, you would find it worth start using it and also contribute back whatever you can.

Following are the reasons, I am going to use OSMF and give up my existing frameworks:

  • It’s open-source
  • It would solve core issues (video playback, delivery and workarounds for various limitations in Flash Player, etc)
  • It would adopt various standards (playback, cdn, advertising, etc)
  • Larger developer base, that means bug fixes and various features would be available very often
  • I love open-source and see myself contributing to OSMF in future, beyond my current projects.

Adobe India’s support to community

Mrinal Wadhwa started a discussion, in Adobe India Community Champions mailing-list, to raise concerns about Adobe India’s role in Flex India community, he raised some good points.

It’s unfortunate to see how one of the Adobe evangelists took it personal and reacted publicly and made some personal attack on Mrinal.

You can check out Mrinal’s post to read what happened.

This is what I posted during discussion in the mailing-list.

My two cents after reading entire thread.

1) Adobe India works differently, the hierarchy and culture is different. More focused one engineering and marketing (to whom – God knows) than anything else. So any such event is aligned with sales and marketing needs. A lot of people who work enjoy their work but beyond that they don’t do much. A lot of them even maintain low-profile for various reasons.

2) Adobe India Evangelist team works differently compared to their counter parts in USA. In India, they report to engineering director of Flex or platforms team, which is not the case in USA, if I am right.

3) Expecting Flex team engineers to participate would be too much, it’s individual’s curiosity/passion to do that. If their managers make it as on objective/gaol, most of them would show up for sake (performance review, appraisal, etc) – we don’t want that. I have been through it and opposed the idea when my manager wanted entire team to do what we (Manish and I) were doing our own, due to our own curiosity.

I have always asked these questions (what Mrinal is asking) to myself and during discussions, but could never really understand. I have learnt that it’s better not to expect much from the Adobe India, it’s not really Adobe USA. Culture comes from top to bottom, and top management is not really anywhere close to what it’s in USA.

I like Evangelists in Adobe India, most of them are passionate and are there because they love technology and what they do. Unfortunately, when you work for a boss who got a different agenda or things, you can’t do much. As said earlier, Evangelist team reports somewhere to engineering director or someone like that, now you can imagine things.

These are some of my random, but based on my observation and experience, thoughts. No offenses meant to anyone.

I am keeping kind of low profile myself in Flex community, I realize community is doing good – there are far more developers than we had couple of years back. I also see there are far more passionate developers than before, you can judge that by seeing some regular names in lists/forums.

I am also sure, there would be far more people who are religious about Flash Platform and one can see tears coming out of their eyes while they talk about technology. As it used to happen with me :D

Expect the unexpected – the formula for peace of mind. Let’s talk, inpsire and act to spread the words about things we believe in and love. I have been working hard to find a smart Flash Developer for my team, yet to find. I want to contribute in my way, I would love to have people in my team contribute to SDK and other opensource projects, now that’s what I can afford to do now :-)

Thanks

-abdul

I expressed above based on my observation and experience, might not have been put properly as I wrote it quickly. But you might get my point there.

Job Opening: Flash Platform Developer

We are looking for some smart Flash Platform Developers who can be part of our team in Allies Interactive Services Pvt. Ltd., Kanpur, U.P.

We are a design and development company in Kanpur, though we are small but we are ambitious and have a great vision.

I posted the details on Flex-India sometimes back, pasting the same (edited the typos and formatted) over here:-

I have been meaning to post this for sometime but thought would it be appropriate to do that here?

I am part of a small design and development shop in Kanpur, U.P. Where, we mostly do web development using FOSS, mainly LAMP.

I moved to kanpur around 10 months back with a desire to build a great Flash Platform Team that would work on non-trivial type service projects and some great product ideas.

I could now start doing it, after we have managed to fix a lot of issues mostly a nice office, a good culture and some projects and a product in pipeline.

I need an experienced Flash Platform developer in my team, who can help us to make our vision, desire and dreams a reality.

Since Kanpur is not a metro or fancy place to live, it takes more than just technical aptitude to be here. That is some more strong reason f.ex. A desire to be part of a growing team, desire to be close to family, desire to contribute in the development of IT ecosystem in North and/or a desire to prove, hell yeah we can do great stuff from anywhere, even cities like Kanpur :-)

If you think, you want to help me by being part of my team and understand what I meant above, please don’t hesitate to contact me on [abdul dot qabiz at gmail dot com] off-list i.e. Direct email to me, please don’t reply here on this list.

As far as job description goes, I have already given an idea. However, we are looking for someone who understands web very well that is HTTP and other standards. Fundamentally good at problem solving, the real world ones, ActionScript, Flex Framework, Adobe Flash Player and AIR fundamentals and APIs.

Of course, good experience that says about in your behalf. We would also talk to you so things would get clear, i.e. If we are match for each other.

If you want to know more about company, please check out http://www.alliesinteractive.com

Adobe Flash Builder as name – What I think

I just caught this news “Adobe Flash Builder instead of Adobe Flex Builder as a name for Gumbo” over AXNA.
I felt like writing my views on this i.e. renaming Adobe Flex Builder to Adobe Flash Builder for future releases. I kind of like it for reasons explained later.

I loved the move when, recently, Flash Platform was redefined. It brought a lot of clarity and removed the confusion built since Adobe (Macromedia) Flex was introduced.

A lot of people were confused and didn’t really think that even though there were different development paradigm but all targeted to Flash Runtime(s). I have been using the term for sometime, even before Adobe redefined it to bring all these different technologies/tools, which targeted Flash Runtimes (Player, AIR, FlashLite), under it.

I think, sooner or later Flex SDK should be renamed so no such confusion develops further. Having consistency increases simplicity and clarity in understanding things, developing, learning, talking and building brand.

It would be nice to have one framework with many sub-frameworks targeting various different Flash Runtimes and development tools (Adobe Flash Authoring tool, Adobe Flash Builder, etc). We need consistency that leads to shorter learning curve and better development platform, eventually.

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BugQuash

BugQuash is a great initiative to bring Flex community together to contribute in various ways (bug filing, fixing, patching, etc) to OpenSource Flex SDK.

I am sure, you must have heard about last BugQuash which was organized last month, by Flex community members: Nate Beck and Marty Mickelson.

Hundreds of community members participated including me.

I submitted some patches, which are not big ones, but I got a lot of appreciation from teams within Adobe and other people from community. It suggests that even small contributions matter, hence I should be contributing more often.

Dave Story (VP Developer Tools, Adobe Systems) sent some pictures from one of the all-hands meeting, where BugQuash was discussed, where entire team, along with Dave, thanked to each contributor for their contributions over phone.

Thanks to everyone who organized and participated. It helped me to get started contributing, which I always wanted to do. I am going to try to contribute as often as I can.

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Update:Next BugQuash is happening on May 17, 2009. Check out BugQuash for more details.
Update: BugQuash on May 17, 2009 was successful and your truely submitted two patches :-)

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Apple TV + Boxee.tv = Great Experience

I own an Apple TV for quite some time, I just loved the form factor of the device and figured out, it’s really good stuff. I could see all the photographs, watch all podcasts/videos and listen most of music, more often on Apple TV than before.

As we all know, Apple builds innovative products but at the same time, it does suck by keeping it’s platform very closed. Be it iPod, iPhone or Apple TV, it’s just really hard to do anything except the ones Apple wants you to do.

Anyway, thanks to the great community of hackers, who spend hours figuring out things and building some great stuff. Some great hackers came up with various ideas to open the closed Apple TV, well initially it was physically opening up the box but later on smarter solutions appeared. Now it’s so simple, one can patch (enable SSH and install some apps) Apple TV by using patchstick, it doesn’t require you to open the box physically.

I can mount my USB disks and use keyboard/mouse in the patched Apple TV. Well that opens to a lot of possibilities.
With the simpler patching process, a lot of applications for Apple TV started appearing, one of such products is Boxee.tv, which is a media-center application. Of course, Boxee is available for all other platforms (Windows, GNU/Linux, OSX, etc) but I believe, it’s the best companion of Apple TV like devices.

I have been having good time using Boxee on Apple TV. I can not only play all my media (pictures, videos, music) in much better way but also enjoy online stuff (music, videos, podcasts, pictures, etc), be it recommended by my friends in Boxee social network or various other channels/apps available on Boxee.

Boxee can download movie-subtitles and show with a great ease. It can also fetch a lot of metadata (covert-art, album-art, thumbnails, information, ratings, reviews, etc) for videos/music from various online databases (f.ex. IMDB, etc).

The latest version (still in testing: 0.9.9.5324 build) allows you to easily install various applications made for Boxee by community or Boxee developers?

I even noticed, Boxee can run applications that are based on Adobe Flash Platform, yeah Joost or MTV feeds/apps are Adobe Flash based.

The best thing, Boxee is based on XBMC, an open-source application. I think, it’s worth writing a post about Boxee, hence I just did that. Boxee.tv rocks!!!

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Interviews on ActionScriptHero.org

Pablo “aSH” PARRADO of ActionScriptHero has been doing fantastic job of interviewing Flash Platform developers. It’s great to see and read those interviews.

I was fortunate to get a chance to express my views and I thank Pablo for that.

I must say, it’s really inspiring experience to read what all developers say.

Check out interviews at actionscripthero.org.

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Flex In Action – The Book

Flex 3 in Action, I think, is the only book, which covers Adobe Flex, in-depth. I have been reading various draft versions over the time, totally love it and I can bet you are going to love this book too.

The content of book shows, authors’ (Tariq Ahmed, Jon Hirschi and Faisal Abid) years of experience as developers. Authors have put tremendous amount of effort to make things easier to understand. Authors in all sense have brought a lot of wisdom to the book.

Book starts with basic concepts of Rich Internet Applications (RIAs) and various paradigms, that’s great thing, it would really help to all kind of developers (beginners, intermediate, experts from any programming background).

Each chapter has a lot of details – background, examples, use-cases and of course best-practices. Book has detailed chapters on components, tools, testing, debugging, deployment, etc.

It’s a book you would not only want to read cover to cover but also keep it on your desk as reference material for your day to day development needs. I highly recommend anyone, interested in Adobe Flex, to read this book, whenever it’s available.

I have been meaning to write this post for last some months, just couldn’t manage the time. As you can already figure out from this post, it’s just an overview. I wish, I could write more details about the book now. Perhaps, a follow up post might have more.

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Flex Compiler Modules

In one of my projects, I was trying to use Flex Compiler Module for Apache. I was doing development on my Mac OSX and everything worked fine. As soon as, I uploaded application on server (CentOS 4.5, x86_64), it didn’t work.

After some debugging, I figured out Flex Compiler Module binaries are compiled as 32bit would not work on 64bit version of Apache. I could have used some third-party wrappers or rebuild it again for 64bit, unfortunately Adobe has not provided source-code for these modules.

There was another problem, it seems this apache-module has dependency on glibc, the required version of glibc is not available for RedHat/CentOS 4.5. Now that’s weird, even if I had source code, not sure I could build against 64bit of CentOS? Not even sure about CentOS 4.5 x86?

BTW! glibc seems to be an important library and one can not just go ahead and update for one requirement, it might actually break many other applications. Hence, I didn’t upgrade glibc on CentOS 4.5 to the required version.

So as an alternative, I used Flex Compiler API by writing some wrappers in Java and then invoke API using PHP. But it seems there is weird licensing i.e. I need to have license of Adobe LCDs in order to use Flex Compiler API?

I have fallen back on pure PHP implementation, I need to figure out about custom logging.

Flex Learning Paths @ Adobe DevNet

Flex Learning Paths, a new initiative by Adobe Developer Connection.

What is Flex Learning Paths? As it’s name suggests, it’s basically a way to point someone, new to Flex, to a relevant/right direct direction (design, development, architecture or management related).

I guess, it’s one of the best moves in the history of Adobe/Macromedia Developer Network. It would really take away a lot of confusion and information overloading and cluttered user-interface.

The best thing, there is section for managers, wow that’s time saver – now developers can just point their managers to that link :-)
Nicely categorized information can really save a lot of time and makes us very focused. I bet, you are going to like it too.

Flex Learning Paths

Flex Learning Paths Application (Beta)

I wish, Flex Learning Path can pick up information from some community driven wiki. Information on Flexcoders FAQ and CFlex are is great. I am sure, community can contribute a lot, of course wiki would require some moderation but again community leaders can be given that responsibility too.

That way, information on Adobe Flex Learning Path would be more useful and managers/decision-makers would take it more seriously when they see how other companies (community showcase) are using the technology and saying (company/start-up blog posts).

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IDE Factory – Extend your FlexBuilder

I heard about IDE Factory via AXNA a couple of weeks back. I managed to check it out today and I must say it rocks.

If you have done Java development using Eclipse IDE, you are going to love IDE Factory. IDE Factory brings a lot of features to Flex development. Following is the list of features (brought by IDE Factory in FB3), I think would be super useful:-

  • Package Explorer, I love the SWC and Flex/Flash framework stuff
  • E4X Expression Builder
  • Format Flex Source Files – Yup, it can format all source files in the project
  • Extended Wizards for creating ActionScript class/interface and MXML components
  • Cairngorm support

Apart from these, there are some other stuff like asdoc generation, flex-unit tests generation, UML generation, etc.
I am sure, it’s going to evolve to be super useful and would become must-have tool for Flex application development.

It would be great, if they can add support for other Flex frameworks (PureMVC, etc).

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