Last tuesday Adobe organized a Flex event for NLJUG members. James "RIA Cowboy" Ward and Bruce "thinking in stuff" Eckel, both experienced speakers were 'around' for JavaPolis in Antwerp anyways, so they came to Adobe Amsterdam and presented some stuff on Flex 3 and AIR there as well.
I had a great evening. The presentation was very interactive and informal. I kind of wondered what Bruce would be able to tell on Flex, since he really is not a known authority on the subject.
It seemed to me he was mainly there as a Java programmer magnet, being the author of the "Thinking in Java" classic.
It turned out I was right. 🙂 Bruce played the role of a Flex noob with a 'vision' on
how to do UI development, and James talked about how Flex realizes this vision. This created a nice balance of technical depth and an overview on the topic. A lot of interesting questions from the audience made it a very practical session.
Flex 3 adds yet again a lot to the Flex platform and it seems getting really mature. With Flex you can do pretty advanced stuff on the web, and it aids UI development in general.
You do need someone with Flash and Actionscript skills pretty quick though. James showed that are "easy" ways to do stuff and "best practice" ways (which are obviously less easy, but better maintainable). It kind of reminded me of the good old ASP days where I'd better not forget "Option Explicit". 😉 The Flex core is open source but the tooling is not, and Flex evolves around other Adobe products, so there is quite a bit of potential cross-selling and cross-skills there.
However, Adobe seems serious on going open source on the Flex platform, as they announced today that the core of the current LiveCycle Data Services product is open sourced as BlazeDS. Also the custom protocol, AMF, is open sourced as well. Curiously, James and Bruce did not mention this, so I am pretty sure they did not know yet. That's kind of a missed opportunity, because that means they couldn't announce this at Javapolis either. Update: my colleague Paul Bakker who attended both Flex sessions on JavaPolis told me that they were just holding out on us until the keynote at thursday.
Adobe provides a lot of Flex documentation on the Adobe devnet. To answer some questions in the audience, James just used the provided docs or google (to show off, or just because he didn't know the answer himself). Interesting stuff on client architecture and user interface design there. A lot of the content is high level enough to be very useful, even if you do not use Flex. I guess I've got some reading to do!