Up-leveling the Flex User Interface Discussion

higher_levelLast week in New York I got a chance to present and watch at DelveNYC. It was a great conference and I wish I could have caught more of it; very valuable for designers of all stripes and a great set of speakers. One of the things that I thought was so valuable about it was that it focused on a lot of design theory. My favorite talk of all came from Theresa Neil who spoke on Rich Patterns in UI Design. It was a phenomenal talk and it was clear that Theresa is well versed in all of the RIA technologies as she talked about controls for each technology, accessibility, and pointed out great examples of her patterns being put to use in Flex applications and other RIAs.

What struck me was that this woman with an amazing grasp on theoretical user interface design for rich Internet applications hadn’t gotten my attention before. I like to think I track the Flex world pretty closely and I totally missed her. I’d imagine others have also. I think part of the problem is that we’re still thinking about RIAs and Flex on a development level. This talk at Delve completely up-leveled the conversation for me and got me thinking about the wider world of user interface design and how we, as Flex developers, should be thinking about it.

I’m not smart enough to dive into this myself but I want to point out some of her great resources that I think all Flex and RIA developers should look at and take to heart.

  • 12 Standard Screen Patterns – A great list of standard UI patterns that you can leverage in your Flex applications. She literally has 100 examples of RIAs that use these patterns.
  • 30 Essential Controls – A list and examples of 30 controls/components that she thinks are critical for RIA user interface design. It includes a check list of major RIA frameworks to see which frameworks have which controls. Flex component developers, this is a great place to start if you’re looking to sell/create custom controls in Flex.
  • 6 Tips for a Great Flex UX – a six part series with some great tips and getting started links for Flex RIAs.
  • Slides from Theresa’s talk at DelveUI – I’m sorry you couldn’t be there, but I encourage you to grab her slides and walk through them.

What made me so impressed after hearing her speak and reading through her blog was how Flex-saavy she was while coming from a completely different background than most of the Flex community. Having people like this thinking about Flex and where it fits makes me feel very happy and hopeful for the future of Flex as an RIA technology. We need so much more of this kind of conversation within our community; I see this as the next level. Beyond the prefix debate, beyond the ActionScript debate, beyond the spark/halo debate – this is the stuff that will ultimately help people create world class applications that change how people work with information.

Photo from oddsock.