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Why Education Matters to Flex

Adobe recently made a major announcement regarding their strategy for Flex promotion. To quick summary is that Adobe will be offering Flex Builder for free to faculty and students at education institutions worldwide [news article]. Many of you know that I work at Georgia Tech (and previously at Middle Tennessee State University), and I believe that this announcement is huge.

Initially, some developers in the commercial field might not see the importance of this announcement. However, students eventually become developers, employers, potential clients, consultants, and decision makers. If these people can become captivated with a technology, they can begin to see its value in their work. This became even more clear to me as one of the senior Georgia Tech administrators accompanied me to Adobe Max in Chicago. He was extremely impressed with the GIS demo that utilized Flex (one of his areas of expertise is GIS). Since the conference he has included a Flex project in at least one research proposal. He saw the potential and has embraced the technology as a means of visualizing his research.

By allowing Flex Builder to be free for students and faculty, we will see not only more Flex projects, but we will see even more important Flex projects. Sure, I can code a search engine that mashes-up data from many different sources and displays the results in a three dimensional view, but what if I could develop an interactive experience where Civil Engineering students could better understand the development of complex structures? These kind of ideas are already being discussed, and Adobe’s move only accelerates them.

Update Your Blog Software

Just a quick reminder to all bloggers – keep your blogging software updated (I realize that this is common sense, but sometimes we get too busy and just don’t do it). My blog was minimally hacked last night, so I had to spend this morning putting the pieces back together. For WordPress bloggers, be sure that you are at Version 2.3.1. There are some newer expoits that target the 2.2.x branch (and a more recent one that targets 2.3.0). If you are a BlogCFC user – sit back and enjoy the fact that you don’t have to worry about this one.

And as always – backup, backup, and backup.

Getting Started with Cairngorm – Part 3

Now that you have isolated two specific elements of the Cairngorm Micro-Architecture, you will now create a more complete Cairngorm application. Up to now the tutorials have covered only one design pattern, the ModelLocator, but now you will be introduced to the most crucial element of Cairngorm, the Service to Worker design pattern. The explanation of this pattern will span two tutorials. This tutorial will cover the basic flow inside of a Cairngorm application, and the next tutorial will expand this flow to include server interaction. However, before you can properly implement this design pattern you need to learn about the organization of a Cairngorm project.

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My New Developer Center Article

I recently completed an article for the Adobe AIR Developer Center on Managing AIR Updates with ColdFusion 8. Check it out and let me know what comments you have.

I will be extending the UpdateManager in the weeks ahead. I will be covering all of the details here. It will be the next blog series after I finish with Cairngorm.

Getting Started with Cairngorm – Part 2

Recap: In Part 1, I discussed the basic implementation and use of the ModelLocator pattern. This pattern is one of many design patterns contained within the Cairngorm micro-architechture. This design pattern will be used in Part 2 as well, so it is assumed that you are familiar with the concepts in Part 1 of the tutorial. At this point, we still are not working with a “complete” Cairngorm application (that will come in Part 3).

Part 2 – Using a ModelLocator to Manage the View

Note: As with all of the tutorials that will come in this series, this lesson has two parts. First, in the article you will learn the theory behind the topic, and then in the video you will do an actual “code-along”. The article will give some instructions in how to set up your project for the “code-along”.

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Cairngorm 2.2.1 Released

Alistair McLeod announced the release of Cairngorm 2.2.1. Read about it here and download it here.

AIR Tips – Update Coming

With the release of AIR Beta 2 – I will be updating the current tutorials. I should get everything updated within a a week or so.

Getting Started with Cairngorm – Part 1

I spoke about Cairngorm 2.2 in the Flex Bootcamp at Max this week. Many people were interested in Cairngorm, but I only had about 10 minutes to explain the basics of Cairngorm. I guess the easiest way to assist these people is to do a quick blog series on the benefits of Cairngorm. This series will combine articles with “code-along” videos.

Disclaimer: I do not claim the be “the expert” on Cairngorm – I am far from it. However, I have used Cairngorm on several large projects (both at Georgia Tech and in my own business). I am certainly open to corrections if you see that I have made an error on this project. If you want “the experts” check out: Steven Webster, Alistair McLeod, Alex Uhlmann, and Peter Martin.

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Max Classes – Day 3

I made some last minute switching on Day 3 classes. I chose not to attend the “Boot Camp for Mobiles and Devices” or “Leveraging Coldfusion in AIR Applications”. I still don’t have any projects with mobiles in the near future, and I feel that I have used Coldfusion every way that it could be used with AIR (including a few ways that probably were not what was intended).

Flex Boot Camp – This was good because I got to speak on Cairngorm (even though it was only 10 minutes – and how can you explain Cairngorm in 10 minutes). There were several other presenters, including several people from the Flex Builder Team. The downside: the wireless did not work on that end of the building, so I couldn’t show some of the material I was planning to show. The boot camps were a good idea.

Designers and Developers CAN Love Each Other – Two guys from EffectiveUI did this presentation. It was great to have a sneak peek into their workflow. The other cool thing was that I was able to take the class with my boss at Georgia Tech who is a designer. I honestly believe that this class will truly help our workflow. The presenters were amazing. They had recorded the actual process on the computer – and then spoke about it as it was playing. I am now going to do all of my demonstration presentations this way. You don’t have to worry about error windows popping up, rambling, or making simple mistakes that just “slow down the presentation”.

Building Applications with Cairngorm and LiveCycle Data Services – This class was good, but I felt the title was a bit misleading. This class should have been titled “The Future of Cairngorm and How Adobe Consulting Utilizes LCDS”. The presenter, Peter Martin, demoed some items from the mfg.com project that had been highlighted in the main keynote sessions. There also was a great deal of talk about where Cairngorm is going. Some of the ideas were very interesting, and I must admit that there were a few that I did not like at all. I guess we will have to wait and see. I must admit though, my projects (even the big ones) are generally smaller in scope than the ones that Adobe Consulting does. The mfg.com project was roughly 95,000 lines of code. Your needs change drastically when you have a code base this big.

Max Classes – Day 2

Sorry that I am a bit late getting these out. I learned one more thing about Max – it wears you out. I have totally crashed upon arriving back in the hotel the last two nights.

Coldfusion Server Monitoring and Troubleshooting – I quickly realized that I am not using enough of these cool server monitoring features. The snapshots are amazing and do truly allow you to get a good picture of your server’s health. This presentation did a great job of just outlining the benefits of each different type of server monitoring: monitoring, profiling, and memory tracking. Overall: Awesome Class.

Continuous Integration with Flex, FlexUnit, and Ant – This was an amazingly in-depth class. Daniel Rinehart did a great job of outlining their automated build tool at Allurent. He showed their system that incorporates their SVN with Ant- and how the system builds the application every time a “commit” is made. This allows the developers to know if the build is broken (did I mention that it also sends an email with all of the build errors), and the QA team to have the absolute latest build each morning. This class was great for any Flex developers that have large teams (over 5 people).

Live Streaming with the Flash Media Encoder – This class was a great way to end the day. The presentation was pretty good, but the value came when they described different delivery methods for a live streaming event. I must admit that I did not know that you could stream to your own Flash Media Server (and have a custom main.asc file) but then have a CDN (such as Akamai) come in and grab that content and re-distribute that to increase your reach. Very Cool! This keeps you from having to buy a couple new servers that would only be used on your live events (and we do maybe 2-3 a year, so that would be pointless).

After the BOF sessions and some late night coding, I started the day exhausted. I decided to not hang out for the party – but I certainly stayed for the “Sneak Peek” Sessions – which were amazing!

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