Publisher: O'Reilly Media / Adobe Developer Library
Final Release Date: November 2010
Learn Adobe Flex 4 in a fun and engaging way with this book's unique, hands-on approach. Using clear examples and step-by-step coaching from two experts, you'll create four applications that demonstrate fundamental Flex programming concepts.
Throughout the course of this book, you’ll learn how to enhance user interaction with ActionScript, and create and skin a user interface with Flex’s UI components (MXML) and Adobe's new FXG graphics format. You'll also be trained to manage dynamic data, connect to a database using server-side script, and deploy applications to both the Web and the desktop.
Learning Flex 4 offers tips and tricks the authors have collected from years of real-world experience, and straightforward explanations of object-oriented programming concepts to help you understand how Flex 4 works.
Work with Flash Builder 4 and the Eclipse IDE
Learn the basics of ActionScript, MXML, and FXG
Design a Flex application layout
Build an engaging user interface
Add interactivity with ActionScript
Handle user input with rich forms
Link Flex to a server with PHP and MySQL
Gather and display data
Style applications and add effects, filters, and transitions
Deploy applications to the Web, or to the desktop using Adobe AIR
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 Flash Builder
Introducing Flash Builder and Eclipse
Running Your First Application
Creating a New Flex Project
Chapter 3 Using Design Mode
A Blank Slate: Your First Project
Adding Components to the Application
Exploring Common Components
Modifying Properties Directly
Chapter 4 Using Source Mode
What Design Mode Does
Anatomy of a Flex Application
Adding Components in Source Mode
MXML in Depth
S, FX, and MX: Namespaces Explained
Chapter 5 ActionScript Basics for Flex Applications
Assignment and Concatenation
ActionScript's Relationship with MXML
Chapter 6 Debugging Flex Applications
Outputting Values to the Console Using trace()
Inspecting Event Properties with trace()
Chapter 7 ADDING INTERACTION WITH ACTIONSCRIPT
Listening for and Responding to Events
Collision! A Whirlwind of Events
Chapter 8 Using Data Binding
What Is Data Binding?
Applying Data Binding
Handling Complex Data with Data Models
When Data Binding Isn’t Appropriate
Chapter 9 Designing Application Layouts
Types of Layouts
The Display List
Controlling Whitespace in the Layout
Spacers and Lines
Chapter 10 Creating Rich Forms
Preparing a Form-Based Application
Combining Restrictions and Formatters
Linking Formatters to Functions
Chapter 11 Gathering and Displaying Data
Using List-Based Controls
Using XML Data
Implementing List Selection
Connecting to Search Results
Dragging and Dropping in Lists
Creating Custom Item Renderers
Working with External Data Services
Chapter 12 Controlling Visibility and Navigation
Creating a Photo Gallery Application
Chapter 13 Working with View States
Scenarios for States
Managing States in Design Mode
Making a Login/Registration Form
Applying States to the Search Application
Chapter 14 Applying Effects, Transitions, and Filters
Chapter 15 Styling and Skinning
Inline Style Assignments
Style Blocks and CSS
Chapter 16 Making Data Dynamic: Linking Flex to the Server
Some Background Information
The ContactManager Application
Linking ContactManager to the Server Using the HTTPService Class
Chapter 17 Deploying Flex Applications
Deploying to the Web
Deploying to the Desktop
Chapter 18 What Comes Next?
Appendix Creating a Development Environment
Use WAMP (Windows) or MAMP (Mac OS)
Add PHP Development Tools (PDT) to a Flash Builder Installation
Appendix MySQL Basics
Language Elements and Syntax
Creating a Database with phpMyAdmin
Appendix PHP Basics
Language Elements and Syntax
The PHP Scripts
Appendix Compiling Flex Applications on Linux Using the Command Line
Elijah Robison is completing a Master of Science degree in Geospatial Sciences from Missouri State University. As a graduate assistant, he built several hydrologic assessment utilities for ESRI's ArcGIS platform. Currently he works as a programmer with VillaGIS, Inc., where he helps develop mapping applications using Adobe Flex and Adobe AIR. Elijah brings a fresh perspective in Flex that helps to demystify the technology.
The book starts with a good introduction, where he leads the reader to know a little of the Flash Plataform, explaining clearly the differences between Flex for Web and Desktop, making a good introduction to the development environment. At this point, the developer who is starting in Flex already feels comfortable with his new tool.
In their sequence, the authors explains in very straightforward and clear the fundamentals of the ActionScript language, the way of spreading events. At that moment I felt a missing of explanation a bit more detail about the construction of custom events.
At the DataBinding there was a very detailed explanation with several examples, including about two-way databinding, however, some details have not been addressed, and generate many questions to the developer, for example, binding between a text field and a numeric attribute in an model.
The authors make a sequence of chapters designed to create forms with navigation controls, where they can be implemented include the validations, formatters, restrictions, with clear examples of how it can be done to implement each of these situations.
It was also made an explanation on the use of States, which suffered a major change in the Flex 4 SDK. The use of states has not been much explored by the authors, but for beginners in the new SDK is helpful explanation.
The book also shows techniques for creating Styles and Skinning in Flex applications. The book makes a very interesting explanation on the implementation of FXG and its use in Skinning.
The book is detailed enough for the most part, with clear examples for learning. I consider the book suitable for those who are starting the Flex development, and also for developers who are starting their studies in the Flex 4 SDK.
Here is the statement my all to the book, surely you can help your learning of technology if you are already a Flex developer, and certainly is of great help to those who are starting their journey.
Congratulations to the authors and Oreilly by excellent edition of the book.
I received access to an electronic copy of this book at no charge from O'Reilly Media Inc. for the purpose of writing this review
Bottom Line Yes, I would recommend this to a friend
"Learning Flex 4" explains all of the core concepts for developing Flex 4 applications. It is definitely a beginners book as it assumes only some basic programming knowledge, and the book doesn't really go much beyond the basics of writing a simple Flex application.
The book is well written and uses many examples to explain the core concepts of Flex application development. The book would be a good resource for someone completely new to Flex development and ActionScript, but it lacks depth for someone who already has a decent understanding of Flex development. The book also seemed to be rather wordy, and it took a while to get through even already understanding the majority of the content. Overall, I don't think this book is worth the money because it spends all of its time explaining the most basic level concepts of Flex development. Adobe has already put together great documentation and training materials on their website (see link below). I highly recommend these materials (which are free) over purchasing this book which contains pretty much the same content.
Bottom Line No, I would not recommend this to a friend
I have used Flex for some time now, and this book opened my eyes to a whole new side of Flex. It is full of tips and tricks that have increased my productivity, shown me some real world examples that have broadened my horizons, and helped me to understand object-oriented programming concepts much better. Even if you are not an advanced user, this book has great hands-on exercises that will help you understand the basics of Flex and bring you to the next level. Also, this book introduces you to some great free tools to use to create your FXG graphics online.
Bottom Line Yes, I would recommend this to a friend