Publisher: O'Reilly Media / Adobe Developer Library
Final Release Date: June 2008
How soon can you learn Adobe Flex 3? With this book's unique hands-on approach, you will be able to tinker with examples right away, and create your own Rich Internet Applications with Flex within the first few chapters. As you progress, you learn how to build a layout, add interactivity, work with data, and deploy your applications to either the Web or the desktop.
Learning Flex 3 offers step-by-step instructions that are clear and concise, along with tips and tricks that author Alaric Cole has gathered after years of using Flex and teaching it to fellow developers at Yahoo! You'll understand how Flex works, how to use the MXML markup language and work with ActionScript, how to deploy RIAs to the desktop using Adobe AIR, and much more.
Whether you're a beginner, or an experienced web developer coming to Flex from another platform, Learning Flex 3 is the ideal way to learn how to:
Set up your environment with FlexBuilder and Eclipse
Create a new Flex project
Use the different design views in Flex
Write code with MXML
Lay out your Flex application
Embed images and graphics
Build a user interface
Add interactivity with ActionScript
Handle user input
Move, display, and collect data
Add custom components with MXML
Add sound effects, filters, and transitions
Style your applications with CSS, skins, and themes
Deploy applications to the Web, or to the desktop using Adobe AIR
Also included are brief explanations of objects, classes, components, properties, methods, types, and other Flex attributes. You will find that Learning Flex 3 is not only the most complete tutorial for Flex, it's also the quickest way to get going with the latest version of this powerful framework.
Chapter 1 GETTING UP TO SPEED
What Is Flex?
What about AIR?
Where Flex Fits
Why Use Flex?
How Flex Compares to Other Technologies
When Not to Use Flex
Chapter 2 SETTING UP YOUR ENVIRONMENT
Using Alternatives to Flex Builder
Introducing Flex Builder and Eclipse
Running Your First Application
Chapter 3 USING DESIGN MODE
A Blank Slate: Your Canvas
Adding Components to the Application
Moving Components Around
Exploring Common Components
Modifying Properties Directly
Chapter 4 USING SOURCE MODE
What Design Mode Does
Anatomy of a Flex Application
Components Added in Source Mode
MXML in Depth
Chapter 5 LEARNING THE BASICS OF SCRIPTING
MXML and ActionScript Work Together
ActionScript's Relationship with MXML
Chapter 6 ADDING INTERACTIVITY WITH ACTIONSCRIPT
Handling Events Inline
Using Event Constants
Making Things Happen
Debugging for Kicks
Chapter 7 USING DATA BINDING
What Is Data Binding?
How to Use It
Implementing Two-Way Bindings
Storing Complex Data
Creating Bindable Variables in ActionScript
Determining When Data Binding Isn't Appropriate
Putting Data Binding to Work for You
Chapter 8 LAYING OUT YOUR APPLICATIONS
Types of Layouts
The Display List
Layout Container Options
Chapter 9 CREATING RICH FORMS
Preparing the Application
Formatting Data for Display
Chapter 10 GATHERING AND DISPLAYING DATA
Using List Controls
Using XML Data
Implementing List Selection
Connecting to Search Results
Dragging and Dropping in Lists
Using Inline Item Renderers
Exploring Other Types of Service Components
Chapter 11 CONTROLLING FLOW AND VISIBILITY
Creating a Photo Gallery Application
Chapter 12 WORKING WITH VIEW STATES
Scenarios for States
Creating New States
Modifying State Properties, Styles, and Events
Putting States to the Test
Chapter 13 APPLYING BEHAVIORS, TRANSITIONS, AND FILTERS
Alaric Cole has been using Flex since its introduction three years ago. Before this he had been working primarily in Flash, so he immediately saw the benefits the Flex framework would provide. He also knows the shortcomings of Flex and tips to be more productive. He uses it in his daily work at Yahoo!, providing training and consultation for the company. He also has a close relationship to Adobe and has met with the Flex team to champion new features and report issues.
* How to use Flexbuilder
* Using MXML
* ActionScript 3
* Styling your application using CSS
However, if your professional background is in web-application development using Java or other OO languages, then you are probably more likely to skip or cross-read sections of the book. This is because the book starts out with practically no initial pre-requirements, and thus you might be familiar with some of the discussed areas.
The book gave me an excellent overview of Flex's capabilities, and they are all explained thoroughly and are easily understandable. Also, this may sound silly, but I particularly liked the refreshing fact that the book is in color, unlike most other IT books.
Furthermore, the book explained Data Binding (Chapter 7) very well. This is something I was not familiar with coming from the Java world. The chapter illustrates the concepts of one-way binding, two-way binding and making your own variables "bindable" using a metadata declaration, which is basically an annotation in Java parlance.
Another feature I liked a lot was View States (Chapter 12), which allows you to rearrange, group and reuse components within your application.
I wish the book provided more information for further reading. I understand that certain concepts are beyond the scope of this book, but it would have been nice if those had been mentioned and links or recommendations for further reading were provided.
For example, while AMF is mentioned on page 8 and on page 157 the book briefly talks about the Webservice and RemoteObject component, the book should have also mentioned BlazeDS as one of Flex's core technologies for communicating with back-end servers.
And for more complex applications, the book could have at least pointed out some of the available MVC frameworks for Flex and some pointers of where to read more about them (E.g. Cairngorm and PureMVC). Well, and then there is Degrafa, the declarative graphics framework...
While the author explains the aspects of using CSS in Flex applications very well, he could have further stressed that Flex uses a subset of CSS, which in certain areas behaves differently compared to CSS you more typically use in HTML pages. He should have enumerated some of those pitfalls.
Having said all this, these issues mentioned above are minor in nature. Overall, the book was a fun read! And particularly to Java web-developers, Flex may very well be THE contender for application user interfaces moving forward. One of the great things about Flex is that even the standard components look very good (and should be good enough to please your boss), and your application looks and behaves consistently across various browsers. Oh, and yes you can run the same application on the desktop as well (Chapter 15).
This book will definitely help you learn and master Flex, and you should be able to produce functional user interfaces quickly. In order to learn more about integrating Flex with your Spring powered back-end you may want to also consider looking at "Pro Flex on Spring" by Chris Giametta.
Excellent book, not just for Flex beginners, but for beginners in web development as well
By Ivan Ilijasic
Comments about oreilly Learning Flex 3:
Since I am a senior web developer with solid knowledge of Flex technology, I wanted to see does this book offers a good overview of Flex environment and can my partners use this book to teach junior developers about Flex.
I was really suprised how this book is easy to read. It contains almost everything you need to start working with Flex. And what is really unique for this book is the approach of the author. The whole book is written in a way that almost anyone can understand the materials - even the absolute begginers in web development.
Alaric Cole really gave an effort to describe everything that you need to know about Flex basics and his effort to describe some basic models of development. I was really suprised when I've seen the explanation of coordinate system in the first chapter.
Handling and binding data, adding behaviors and styles, working with states, working with components - all these topics are presented in a way to give beginners a overview how to create solid rich internet applications with good interface and 'look and feel'.
What would be nice to see in the book is how to work with server-side technologies, how to create a simple HTTP service with AMF, maybe to give more examples how to work with custom components, item renderers, how to implement custom drag & drop functionality.
Still, this book is an excellent choice for all 'want-to-be' developers and all web developers who want to learn about Flex technology in a good and in a quick way.
This is great work, explaining for the truly uninitiated many concepts and products that are integral, (or at least adjacent), to programming with Flex builder 3.
Only issue is that it doesn't address using the Coldfusion CFC wizard to connect the data bindings to a backend database. Since that is the reason I bought the book, (for a step-by-step example) that is disappointing. On the other hand, only nine chapters currently exist (of 14 chapters referenced in the book itself) so I'll keep my fingers crossed.