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On September 19-22nd, I attended 360 Flex, courtesy of InsideRIA and 360 Flex organizers John and Nicole Wilker. (BTW, thanks for providing the ticket ๐Ÿ™‚ !) This was the first time attending a Flex-centric conference. Of course, not all of it was Flex centric for there were quite a few people who came from a Flash/AS background. The main take-back from this conference was the awareness of using IOC-based frameworks. Although there are quite a few notably: Mate, Swiz, Parsley, and etc. (Cairngorm was dissed. It was suggested to not even go that way.) Robotlegs seems to stand out for me because of the flexibility to use the framework under the Flash CS5 IDE. Of course, I also have a copy of Flash Builder 4 (I even purchased the Sourcemate extension for Flash Builder), but knowing that I am free to use whatever IDE to implement an IOC-based framework looks very appealing.

Another feeling I got from the speakers and attendees is that Flash Builder is not up to par (e.g. Jesse Warden’s rant) to comparable IDE’s for Java development or MS Visual Studio. However, Flash Builder 4 is taking a step in the right direction about changing the framework to separate visual graphical assets (Spark) from the code. The Hero build is expected to be released around Adobe MAX for Flex Mobile development.

All the sessions are now posted by the conference organizers online.

Here is a rundown of all the sessions I attended:


Sunday, Sept. 19

PushButton Engine (Ben Garney): This was a rundown of the PushButton Engine API. It takes care of the hassle of creating games and helps you to focus on the coding the game itself. I spoke to Nate Beck who also contributes to the framework. It was very kind of him to give me an overall view on how it worked. If there was something I would love to do is to create a simple mini-game hands on, but that would require a whole day to do instead of the 4 hours allocated to the session.


Monday, Sept. 20

Adobe Keynote (Christian Cantrell): Obviously, mobile is the focus this year. It was a good general overview of what Adobe is doing for mobile development. Of course, it seemed like propaganda to attend Adobe MAX of which, I would be unable (or can’t afford) to do.

Tangents (Doug McCune): Doug McCune is very much alive. (This is an inside joke in the Flex dev community.) Doug’s creative inspiration on what he does when he goes off on a tangent while creating his projects.

Advanced FTE and tiny-TLF (Paul Taylor): This just blew me away. Okay, well text doesn’t really impress people visually. However, as a developer and incorporating dynamic text for my courseware, this presentation was a godsend. One of the main criticisms of Flash involves the lack of support of the flexibility of text rendering. This was resolved with the advent of the Flash 10 player with the “Flash Text Engine” framework, a low level text API. With the release of CS5 Adobe incorporated the Text Layout Framework (TLF) for designers and developers to ease development with the FTE. Of course, after a while, one is bound to encounter some limitations. Paul Taylor created tinyTLF is an alternative TLF to write advanced text layout controls. Please check out his blog.

What’s Getting Under Your Skin (Jeff Tapper): A general overview of using Spark for graphics integration in Flash Builder 4.

IOC Concepts with examples (Jeff Roberts): My favorite session because he introduces the concept of IOC, and Dependency Injection (DI). He could relate to the concept by showing some old BASIC code. It was a trip down memory lane. ๐Ÿ™‚

The Art of Computer Science (Ben Stucki): Ben brought out some reflections during his computing career.


Tuesday, Sept. 21

The Invaluable Freelance Flasher (David Ortinau): David’s presentation wasn’t just applicable to being a freelance developer. His talk is very relevant in a company or working for a client. Networking, and NOT BAILING OUT is so ever important.

Re-architecting the Designer-Developer Workflow (Richard Lord): It was impressive to see his use of IOC to create smart components which eased development for other projects. This helped out the designers to know pick out exactly which component was needed for their projects and developers could move on to other more interesting creative projects.

SWFAddress and Google Analytics (Dan Florio): Dan is famous (or infamous?) for working on a site which tells you when it is ideal to leave in the middle of a movie to do your <i>urgent business</i>. He incorporated SWF Address for deeplinking and Google Analytics to monitor his visitors.

Framework Debate – General Session: This was a a presentation which introduced Mate, Swiz, and Robotlegs. No one would say that one framework would be better. (There is no such thing is a perfect framework anyway.)


Wednesday, Sept 22nd

Enterprise Actionscript: Writing Clean Code Fast with Swiz 1.0 (Ben Clinkinbeard): By this time, I think I was too tired to grasp the concepts here.

Decrapping Your Flex App (Garth Braithwaite): This wasn’t a best-practices on Flex coding. It was a best-practices on UX session.

Okay, got to go. I will post images and videos of my experience later.

My next and final conference for 2010: RIAUnleashed in Boston, MA.

– David

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