Archive for August, 2004

Get Macromedia Certified For Less

Register for a Macromedia Certified Professional Exam during the month of August and save 60% off the regular exam price. See the Macromedia Certified Professional Program for details and your promo code.

So how many of you are Macromedia certified, and in what technologies? What do you think of software certifications in general? Personally, I think they’re a good thing. If I were hiring, I certainly wouldn’t base a decision solely on certifications, but it could help tip the scale one way or the other if two candidates were close. That, and of course a small bribe, or perhaps a new watch. :)

Excellent Review of Flex

And by “excellent”, by the way, I don’t mean that it’s unconditionally glowing. I mean that it’s thorough, accurate, and objective.

In Peter Ent’s review of Flex, he discusses the processes and challenges of building five very different applications using Flex with J2EE back-ends. For each application, Peter describes the project, provides links to screenshots and zip files containing the source code, and discusses the benefits and challenges of using Flex (along with other technologies like Flash Communication Server, and even the charting components from B-Line Express). At the end he provides a short analysis of Flex as an alternative to JSP, and summarizes the processes of coding in MXML, debugging Flex applications, and using style sheets with Flex. And, of course, he has a few comments on Flex documentation, as well.

This is one of the most honest, straightforward, and comprehensive reviews of Flex I’ve seen so far, and it’s obviously written by someone who knows the technology he’s working with. (It also doesn’t hurt that it’s relatively short and very easy to read, as well.) If you looking for a detailed, objective perspective on Flex technology, this is it.

CAPTCHA and ColdFusion

While getting caught up on lists, I came across an interesting thread on CAPTCHAs, or programs that attempt to tell humans apart from computers. We most often come across such technology when registering or leaving a comments on weblogs and we are asked to type in a sequence of numbers and/or letters from a distorted image. Of course, this is to prevent spammers from leaving such constructive comments as “Great site! Visit texasholdem-mortgages-cialias-lolita.net!”.

Someone pointed out a ColdFusion implementation at emerle.net called cfx_captcha. I haven’t tried it, but it looks like it would do the trick. Is anyone else out there using something like this to protect their forms? If so, what are you using, and where can the ColdFusion community find it? (And please — no comments about “enlargements”.)

Using Images as Inputs

Just in case any of you have not seen this technique before, you can use images as submit buttons in your forms with code like this:

<input name=”submitButton” type=”image” src=”myButton.png”/>

The client will send the X and Y coordinates of where the button was clicked as the parameters “submitButton.x” and “submitButton.y”. The coordinates are seldom useful, however it is nice to be able to use images as buttons and have them work exactly as submit buttons do (without having to write any JavaScript).

These are all the basic ways of creating buttons to submit forms.

  1. Input of type “submit”.
  2. Input of type “button” with JavaScript to submit the form.
  3. Input of type “image”.
  4. Image with JavaScript to submit the form.
  5. Link with JavaScript to submit the form.
  6. CSS button with JavaScript.
  7. Flash button with JavaScript to submit the form.

Personally, I try to use standard submit inputs as much as possible since they tend to give users a familiar and consistent experience. Some might see the fact that various browsers render buttons completely differently as a disadvantage to using submit inputs since they feel it gives them less control over the look and feel of their applications, however I like the fact that users are presented with consistent and familiar buttons. I also like the flexibility of being able to use variable as buttons’ values, and even being able to change their values client-side using JavaScript.

How do you like your buttons, and why?