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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.

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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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.

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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Flex 3 Beta 2 and AIR Beta 2 Are Released

The Adobe Max release of cool new stuff has begun. Go to Adobe Labs to get the new releases. Also, many of the new “showcase applications” for AIR are also being released – including the much talked about Ebay Desktop application.

AIR Sample Application – Movie Trailers

If you haven’t heard Adobe announced that the next dot version of Flash Player will include support for h.264 video and AAC Audio Support (I realize that this is over simplifying it a bit – there are some things that are supported and some things that aren’t – if you want more info – Read Here). Daniel Dura also stated that h.264 / AAC support with be in AIR no later than Air 1.0.

I already have big plans for this. Just for fun, I decided to try and make a prototype of an application that would display movie trailers from Apple. This initial version of the application does nothing more than display an interface very similar to Apple’s Frontrow (see Frontrow at Flickr). Once AIR supports the new h.264 standards, I will integrate the video into this as well. As for now, selecting a video simply opens a web browser to the trailer page. Pressing “f” goes into fullscreen mode.

WARNING: With the Beta version of AIR – if you use the navigateToURL function [ Flex | Javascript ], Firefox will occasionally not take “focus”, especially if you are in Fullscreen mode. So, if you click an item 3 times, if just opened three tabs.

NOTE: Just another great comment about Flex – I build this whole application in about three hours (and most of that was figuring out how to best parse the Apple RSS).

I will release the source code once the full application is complete (this will be part of a bigger application). However, the sample AIR (and again, it doesn’t do a whole lot yet), is available below.

Whoa. You need to install Adobe Flash Player.

Announcing Blog Series – AIR Tips

If you haven’t started working with the Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR) – you need to. For web developers it opens up the whole world of the desktop – using only the tools that you are already familiar with (Flash/Flex or HTML/Javascript). The AIR Tips Series will deliver quick examples of specific AIR functionality. You should be able to take 5 minutes and read through the entire tip. For most topics, we will cover both HTML / Javascript and Flex examples. I will also intersperse some applications that I am currently working on. I will post roughly 5 tips a week for the next several weeks.

Setting Up Your Flex Development Environment – Intro

I am going to be doing a multi-part tutorial on setting up your development environment for Flex. We will cover both Coldfusion and PHP Development as well as ways to track, control, and deploy your projects. This tutorial is for both people with and without FlexBuilder. Stay tuned.

Flex 3 Beta Now Available

There was a huge flurry of announcements today over the release of Flex 3 on Labs. The Flex 3 SDK is available as well as both version of Flex Builder (Standalone and Eclipse Plugin). In honor of this I will be starting a blog series on “Setting Up Your Flex 3 Development Environment”.

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