This Short Cut is all about getting up and running with Adobe Flex 2; a perfect title would be "(Almost) Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know about Flex 2 But Were Afraid to Ask." It consists of conversational instruction, along with demonstrative examples, in order to give developers an efficient grounding in how to get their arms around using Flex 2. Especially helpful for those coming from the Flex/AS/Flash universe, but also designed for those coming from Java, .Net, and elsewhere.
Six small sections cover:
Quick background on Flex 2
What's new in ActionScript 3.0
How to use Flex right out of the box (so to speak)
"Making It Look Good": Design and UI issues
Little-known features and capabilities
Roger Braunstein is a developer and designer living in Brooklyn. He's obsessed with beautiful code, motion design, graphics programming, and video games. He also cultivates an interest in cooking, photography, biking, and 8-bit music. One day he hopes to have a real website at www.partlyhuman.com.
As a senior software developer for Schematic, Roger Braunstein drives development of interactive applications, leading teams with extensible architecture and following through with solid, reusable, and tested code, all while keeping a keen eye on usability and design. Roger took on the role of Flash platform lead for the NBC Universal video player project, overseeing architecture and acting as the lead developer. Roger developed reusable frameworks for internationalization, layout and reskinning for Schematic's clients. He is also active in teaching his peers, presenting and contributing frequently to both internal groups at Schematic and the Adobe User Group NYC.
With a background in computer science and mathematics as well as a successful freelance business, Roger brings a balance of skills to Schematic. His independent work includes film titles, motion graphics, poster design, game programming, video art, identity design, and server scripting. Previous to Schematic, Roger was a Developer at Firstborn where he garnered awards and developed a Flash 3d engine for realtime topographical visualization. He has also worked as a designer at Sony BMG Music Entertainment, a Software Developer at AOL, and a VisualEffects artist at Modern Video Film.
Roger holds a B.S. in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University and enjoys video games, photography, cooking, and biking.
To start off I have to say that I'm not a programmer. I know Flash AS2, and the basics of a few simple languages like perl, php, C++, etc. I can get around fairly well for the most part, but I don't understand all programming terms since I haven't had a formal programming education.
I expected to get a quick run down of how to go about making Flex applications - what all basic Flex applications have, the bare minimum, and then add items to a myriad of different examples to see how they work. I expected basic, simple applications since it was a short book and there is a lot of documentation out there for further study. There were less different examples than I expected, but it worked well for the length of the book, and for the purpose of learning.
What I was pleasantly surprised with was the run down of how Flex compares with Flash, and what's new in AS3. I liked the comparisons and explanations of how to code using mxml as well as AS3. Not only that, but he explains various ways to go about doing the same thing, or getting the same results. This, I find, is most helpful because then when you are creating your own files you'll be more likely to think of other ways to go about structuring and creating things. He also tells you tips and tricks and little known items about how Flex does things and how the underlying structure of it works.
What I didn't like about the book would probably be not being able to understand all the programming terminology, I couldn't follow along with some of the explanations. There was a nice section about REST, SOAP and WSDL but I don't know a thing about them other than they'd probably be interesting to learn more about. So if you know more than I do about these protocols and terms you'll get much more out of it. I also wish there was a bit more time spent on the connections between pieces of code. There is his companion site to download the code from, but it's hard to piece together where things are when you're reading the book and trying to connect one piece of code to another. Several times I wasn't sure which files I should be typing code in, and to learn I need to write it myself instead of just looking through code that's already written.
I got a quick and fairly detailed understanding of Flex out of this book. It by no means goes through all components or some such thing - the online documentation for Flex can do that - but it gets you through a few examples that show you how to use Flex for a few of the most-used capabilities it has to offer. He also points you to where you can learn more, and it's not like it's hard to find more information about it beyond the book. I think developers/designers, current Flash users (if you know AS2 already it would be helpful), or others who are interested in Flex could learn from this book - I would only warn people who are like myself that it might take a bit of struggling through the terms and there may be parts you don't understand.
As a java developer, I wanted a quick introduction to flex 2, enough to get my head around it without having to wade through lots of technical specifications. This book delivered.
The examples were effective and relevant, although at times it felt that some previous flex knowlege would have helped to bind them together (the source code on the web site helped on at least one occasion).
There was a significant amount of "what's changed" to keep the pre 2.0 flex developer interested, although I did find reading about previous version features to a bit distracting at times.
The informal writing style was easy to read and engaging (except that I have obviously missed a major learning experience by never having heard of Bubble Bobble).
Overall, a book that gives a lot in a small package.
Good Introduction to MXML/AS3, but the Email Reader code needs some rework...?
By Dirk V. Schesmer
Comments about oreilly Introduction to Flex 2:
I was buying "Introduction to Flex2 today maily fo rthe reason to get in touch with the document explaining who to get the EMail Reader Flex 2 found at http://partlyhuman.com/books/flexshortcut/ running.
The book BTW contains a very good detailed in introduction to MXML/AS3 convincing me on more time to go the AS3/MXML way.
But then, unfortunately, I think that the email reader example demo app has not been finished in code and documentation...
It does not describe and show in AS3 how to use the Send-Inbox-button to indeed send an email composed before.
I did not find a way how to invoke the Compose.mxml, neither.
Can you please get me a hand and tell me to use the Email Reader to indeed send mails. Then your article indeed is a good Introduction to Flex 2!