FlexBox: A directory of Adobe Flex components

Mrinal Wadhwa has created a really nice application for cataloging flex components that float around. The way it has been categorized is really neat. Its a must see! I really liked the information summary he has included for each component. You get all information in one screen. Flex box goes into by de.licio.us immediatel 🙂 .

A couple of feedback pointers on the UI –

  • It would be nice to have Last Updated Date
  • It would be nice to have version history
  • And The FlexBox UI will look a lot sexier in a brighter color 😉

Just my two cents 🙂 .

[ Check out FlexBox here ]

1 in every 10 java developers moving to flex??!!??

Many would have read or heard this before. I stumbled across this at O’Rielly’s onjava.net in a post by Shashank Tiwari.

Today we have between 3 and 4 million Java developers and we assume that this number grows to 5 to 6 million within the next three to five years. (Which itself is very optimistic, though Sun thinks they can grow the number to 10 million).

Now as per current estimates the number of Flex developers are still in thousands. Assuming that half of the 1 million developers that they claim they will have come from the set that are with Flash, ColdFusion,
PHP or any other skill set, we still have half a million coming from the set of Java developers. Considering that the server side for Flex is Java, this even sounds logical. This implies that 1 in every 10 or at worst 1 in every 12 Java developers is learning Flex or already knows Flex today. What do you folks have to say about this?

Ok. Now, this is an interesting topic 🙂 . When we started looking at Flex for our application and were building the team, we had a really hard time finding actionscript developers (atleast in southern India). So, we got together a team of Java developers and started learning Flex. Eight months since, we are on the verge of our beta release. I can really see why Java developers would like Flex.

  • The package like imports
  • Availability of Classes in the scripting language
  • Capabilities Arrays & ArrayCollections
  • On the UI end, similarities to SWING

So, given the similarities in the coding patterns and the componentization features. There is a definite possibility that java developers could choose Flex as the presentation layer for their application. But, I really doubt whether they would move into full time from ejb development to gui development. That’s my honest opinion.

Shashank, interesting blog post, but this is also preposterous. Flex has very limited market penetration, and almost every Java developer (and some Flash programmers) that I’ve spoken to, don’t consider Flex to be anything more than a very limited use proprietary framework.

Flash is king when it comes to rich clients on the web, it can certainly trump AJAX, but Flex. I’d say it is more like 1 in 100 Java developers is learning Flex today.

Tim O’Brien

I kind of disagree with this reply. Flex has more than a limited market penetration. I think its just a matter of time, before flex has a 100% market coverage. With adobe acquiring macromedia, more than 80% of digital content delivery on the net is Adobe’s domain. Adobe already had PDF, Photoshop, Framemaker etc. Adding Flash, Flex and the other macromedia suite of products definitely gives it a clear headstart to many of the wannabes in the industry. I can clearly see how Flex can be used as the front-end for most java or .net thin client and thick client applications out there.

Flex, along with other Flash-based solutions like Laszlo, sucks because Flash is not an integrated part of any OS or browser. A Flash app running in a browser window is an even more ridiculous thing than a crippled 32-bit application running on Windows3.1 through win32s thunk. The splotches of Flash UI, which appear here and there in increasing numbers, do not react properly to keyboard, have fixed size, have fixed-sized fonts, have non-standard widgets, cannot be nicely printed (though I’ve heard that ActionScript supports CSS, so targeting print media should not be a problem in theory), are not integrated with other elements of a page or even with another Flash splotches on the same page, the UI itself is painstakingly slow and juddery, Flash objects are reloaded every time you go forward and back (even Google Finance does that, when you return to a page the stock value graph does not recover the parameters you set before leaving the page)

Leave Flash to what it does best — annoying ads and video clips.

I have only one thing to say here – Wait till Apollo is out! 😉

[ Read original post ]

[Asual] SWFAddress v1.1

The stuff looks neat. But, am still not sure whether we need it as now we have History Management built in as part of the Flex project compilation. Checkout the demo.

SWFAddress is a small script that sits on top of SWFObject and provides deep linking for Flash websites and applications. In other words it enables the Back, Forward and Reload buttons of the browser and creates unique URLs with page titles that can be sent over email or IM. SWFAddress uses the ExternalInterface functionality introduced in Flash Player 8 and comes with a technique that enables search engine indexing for deep Flash links.

[ Read more… | Flex Demo ]

Open-source TreeGrid Component

Derek Adams has posted a Treegrid Component at sourceforge. Darron Schall had created this “different” component sometime back. Check it out. It looks pretty cool. Sometime back, another version of a treegrid had surfaced. It was more of a DataGrid with Data Grouping capabilities. Check out the details here and the Demo here. One catch I saw in this grouping datagrid component is that it is distributed as a swc. Personally, I would rather prefer to have the source than work with a compiled mystery (!!!) 😉 .


[ Check out the project @ Sourceforge ]

Coloring the DataGrid Background

Peter Ent has posted a really neat tutorial on extending the Datagrid widget to support more options of background coloring. This is one of the most elaborate and precise explanations, I have come across so far. Its not just a DataGrid component, he walks the reader through each method that has to be written so as to achieve each individual style. Especially if you are not used to Overriding protected methods, extending Classes etc., this post should really get you started.

Peter also explains various options available to color the background of a cell – with itemRenderer, without itemRenderer, setting alphas etc. It’s a must read for all! In my CustomGrid component, I am using the RowColorDataGrid component by Mike Nimer to facilitate the highlight search. Though, I have to admit, that I haven’t quiet walked through the code of the RowColorDataGrid component yet. Peter’s post rang many bells!! 🙂

The Flex DataGrid is probably the most commonly used control (after Labels and Buttons). One question that keeps popping up is, “How do I color the background of the cells?” I’ll answer that question plus show you how to color the background of columns and rows, too.

[ Read more… | Source ]

Time Entry Component

Brenden Meutzner from Stretch Media has created a slick Time Entry Widget. It would be a real handy component for all application developers. Now, you can forget about all those messy time format validations etc.

The component has some pretty cool properties like is24Hour, showSeconds etc. To customize the component in your mxml, set the following properties this SM_TimeEntry tag – showSeconds="true" is24Hour="false"

To set values to the variables in the component, set the following – hour="{currentTimeDynamic.hours}" minute="{currentTimeDynamic.minutes}" second="{currentTimeDynamic.seconds}" am_pm="{(new Date().hours > 12 ? 'pm' : 'am')}".

Check out the demo and source to learn more :).

[ Demo | Source ]