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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Adobe Flash Player onwards allows setting Authorization HTTP header

There were some issues with some earlier version of players, where it was not possible to set Authorization http-header for HTTP/GET requests. I tried to hack a way to do it using Socket or custom http-client in actionscript.

I just happened to read one of the technotes at Adobe's site, which says Authorization header is allowed for Flash Player onwards. If you are trying to send request to another domain (different from the one hosting the SWF), a crossdomain-policy file is required.

Live Documents - AIR app

After a long time, I checked out Live Documents' website and found they have released an Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR) application called "Live Presentation".

I couldn't resist to check it out and hence started looking at it. I am impressed, it has neat user-interface though there is a room of improvement. Overall, Live Presentations is nicely done.


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Mobile AIR - When is it coming out?

I have been playing with a lot of mobile widget-platforms. Some of these are Yahoo! Mobile Widget (Yahoo! Go) and S60 WRT.

Both of these are good, but I like S60 WRT when it comes to building widgets for S60 (Symbian) platform. If I have to build widgets for different mobile devices (running on different platforms), Yahoo! Mobile Widget (Blueprint) is good option.

I have to learn new things, which is good, but I was wondering - why can't I use my existing skills (ActionScript + JS/HTML/CSS) to build things for mobile devices without learning new workflow and technology?

When are we going to see Adobe Integrated Runtime for mobile devices - Mobile AIR? Life would be lot easier, I could transform a lot of my ideas easily into applications?

Hope it happens soon, really soon.

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Slowdown or recession - how do you take it?

I am not an expert when it comes to economics and finance, trying to learn things with each passing day. I have been watching and reading news, listening to people who are good at the subject.

After having known the slowdown/recession details, I spent good amount of time thinking, reading the causes and effects. Not sure, if I should have gone into all those details.

I realize, more I read worse it gets, I get concerned, upset and distracted after reading layoffs, dead(dying)-startups and future.

Ignorance is bliss, I guess that fits here, unaware of these details I was far more focused on what I do.

I am going to stop focusing on this whole slowdown/recession thing and just focus on how I can do things better than ever? How can I help my customers by providing better solution to their problems?

I am going to focus on building a team which is technically great, innovative, focused and very motivated.

Future means how well we do today i.e. foundations for tomorrow. If we do things better today, tomorrow is going to be alright. By just reading and spending time discussing, I am not going to achieve much - I would rather spend that time improving processes, practices and culture in my office.

BTW! Our company is doing well and we have good amount of work, perhaps it's because not many from our team know about what's going on, hence they are focused.

I am optimistic.

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Flash Player 10 (64bit edition)

Adobe has made available a 64-bit Adobe Flash Player 10 (pre-release) on labs.adobe.com. I believe, it would work on GNU/Linux and Solaris.

Would it work on FreeBSD also? If yes, then a lot of my FreeBSD friends (in Yahoo and elsewhere) would be happy :-)

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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OpenFiler - an opensource NAS

We wanted to have a scalable storage system. So I went ahead and checked out the cost of buying NAS from various vendors (NetApp, Dell, etc). I figured out, it was going out our of budget. Then I started learning, what it takes to build a NAS for a small teams like ours.

I started evaluating various FOSS NAS options for our office. I checked out FreeNAS and OpenFiler, finally decided on OpenFiler.
I chose OpenFiler for simple reasons - stability and production-quality. Whereas, FreeNAS has a lot more features, than OpenFiler, but doesn't look that stable. Perhaps, in future I might go for FreeNAS for it's various cool features (UPNP, iTunes streaming, etc).

We are using an old server based on Intel's Server Entry Board, Pentium 4 processor, one Gigabyte memory, one IDE drive and two SATA drives. Both SATA drives are under RAID 1 configuration using OpenFiler's software RAID. I am planning to get RAID controller card so we can use more disks.
OpenFiler boots from USB flash-drive, to make this happen it took some extra effort, Thanks to [email protected]. FreeNAS provides images for flash-devices, so it's lot easier to boot FreeNAS from USB flash-device. BTW! Booting OpenFiler or FreeNAS from USB flash-drive would save one IDE/SATA port on motherboard, which can be used to plug-in another harddrive for better purpose (not for booting small NAS OS).

Anyway, we are using Intel NAS Performance Toolkit to benchmark our NAS server. We are also doing a lot of tests (semi)manually. The idea is to cover all cases and also come up with disaster recovery strategy.
I would post more details on our findings/benchmark-tests, so it helps you, if you plan to go for it.

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Apple Service - my experience

My macbook has started having problems now, after 29 months. It had some problems around an year back but I got it fixed at a local reseller more on personal terms than professional (via Apple Support).

Apple has great products but any great product without good service is of no use. Specially, now I am in a city where I would not find any Apple reseller or service-provider. I don't want to travel to New Delhi or even Lucknow, there is no certainty that things would be done in time or would be done at all. I am not sure, if local service-providers are trained enough to do quality service?

Apple needs it's own centers.

Anyway, it seems Apple is yet to grow in India. Perhaps, they would, since their products are quite competitive with other brands in India.
BTW! My macbook might qualify for battery-extension program, but Apple tech support and customer relationship deny that. They say, your macbook is too old (29 months) and battery should be replaced, oh that means I am going to pay at least 4-5 K (INR)?

BTW! I am quite impressed to see HP's support in Kanpur, if not India. They are amazing, we have got some 4-5 HP notebooks and it's really impressive to see how HP has been good to us. They don't even keep our notebooks, if hardware procurement is required and it might take days, they would rather call us as soon as hardware is available and replace things on spot. That's nice thing, they really understand how important a notebook is to it's owner.

I was avoiding to write about Apple Service, but I couldn't resist specially after being denied to the support I am supposed to get, even when I explained them how hard it is to get service done here.