Posts tagged "Flex 4"

Available Flex 4 Books

Often books are used as a measure of success for a technology platform. For instance, O’Reilly used to publish a bi-yearly report on the state of the technology book market. (They may still, though I can’t find one more recent than last year.)

And since today I received an email letting me know that a new book called “Effortless Flex 4 Development” was released (written by Larry Ullman, a well known author of many technology books), I decided to check Amazon to see how many Flex 4 books have been released.

A quick search for “flex 4” yielded 18 results for published and soon to be published books on Flex 4, plus one curiously titled “Handbook of School-Gymnastics of the Swedish System” (Note to Amazon: you may want to work on your search algorithm.)

The highest rated book is from Adobe: Adobe Flex 4: Training from the Source, Volume 1. The second highest is the Flex 4 Cookbook: Real-world recipes for developing Rich Internet Applications (Oreilly Cookbooks), based on recipies from the Adobe Developer Connection Cookbook site. Either of them would be great books for someone looking to come up to speed on Flex development.

There are 67 books available for Flex 3, which has been out for about 2 1/2 years. Flex 4 books are already nearly 1/3 of the way to that total, only 6 months into release.

Mirroring Layouts in Flex

Now that Flex 4 is out the door, don’t be fooled into thinking the Flex SDK team is resting on their laurels! We are planning a followup release to Flex 4 which should come out in the first half of 2010. This release will include support for Flash Player 10.1 and AIR 2 as well as contain some new feature work and critical bugfixes.

The feature I’m most excited about is the new “layout mirroring” feature. This feature allows developers to mirror their layouts for right-to-left locales. The intent of this feature is to trivialize repurposing a Flex UI designed for a left-to-right language (like English or French) for a right-to-left language (like Hebrew or Arabic).

To support layout mirroring, some new APIs have been added. The two most important are layoutDirection (defined by the new interface mx.core.ILayoutDirectionElement) that is settable on any UIComponent, GraphicElement, SpriteVisualElement or UIMovieClip. [Note: on UIComponent, layoutDirection is a style and for GraphicElement, SpriteVisualElement and UIMovieClip, layoutDirection is implemented as a property].

The new layoutDirection property can be set to “ltr”, “rtl”, or null. When set to “rtl”, a mirroring transform is applied to mirror the layout. This mirroring transform is implemented atop the advanced layout features that was introduced in Flex 4.

What about text? First off, applications that depend on layout mirroring need to use FTE text which supports bi-directionality. If you have a Spark based application or component, FTE is used by default. If you intend to mirror a Flex 3 application, you need to enable FTE text in order to have bi-directional text. Once the text in your application is FTE-based, all you need to do is turn “on” bi-directionality by setting direction=”rtl” on the text components (this style inherits, so you can simply set it at the top-level and it will percolate down). This will ensure the default embedding level of all text blocks in your application is right-to-left.

There are definitely some parts of your application you will want to hand-tweak as the UI gets mirrored. However, in order to get your feet wet, I’d suggest taking the application you want to mirror and setting layoutDirection=”rtl” and direction=”rtl” on the top-level container of your application. This will percolate down through the display list and mirror according to the default Flex implementation.

So, what does this all mean? Well, on Tuesday, 3/31/10 the layout mirroring feature signed off! This is a huge accomplishment for the SDK Dev and QA teams as this feature required a lot of coordination across multiple engineers on the team (as well as input from our globalization teams and external customers). I encourage people to use the multi-SDK feature in Flash Builder 4 to download a build containing the newly landed layout mirroring feature, and give it a try. The best build to download would be 4.1.0.15132 or any build posted after that changelist. To learn more about the layout mirroring feature, please read the specification and if you find issues, file them in JIRA.

Flex 4 SDK and Flash Builder 4 final releases are here…

On behalf of everyone on the Flex and Flash Builder product teams, it is with great pride that we can announce that the final versions of Flex 4 SDK and Flash Builder 4 are available for download today!

We’ve been working hard on these releases to make the Flash Platform the best RIA development platform ever and one that you can confidently bet on when you are asked to create your next generation applications.

In the Flex 4 SDK, we’ve implemented a completely new component and skinning architecture (Spark) that supports a level of expressiveness in RIAs not seen previously. With the new Spark component and skinning architecture, component logic is “divorced” from component visuals such that customizing either the behavior or look and feel of the component is much more straightforward. Additionally in the Flex 4 SDK, we have improved the Flex compiler performance, enhanced numerous language and infrastructure features and provided first-class support for the new runtime capabilities in Flash Player 10.

In Flash Builder 4, the team has made it easier than ever to connect to back-end services with a complete set of data centric development features, enabled new design and development workflows with Flash Catalyst and Flash Professional, as well as enhancing the core code development features that are essential to developer productivity.

In this area alone, we’ve implemented new refactoring options, improved the debugger to support conditional breakpoints, watchpoints and expression evaluation, added code generation features and made it easier to test applications with the new network monitor and FlexUnit support. It’s worth remembering that most of these improvements are available to developers building applications that use either the Flex 3 or Flex 4 SDK, so Flash Builder 4 will help in your overall development even if you aren’t yet ready to use the new Spark components.

As you can see, there are lots of great new features and enhancements in Flex 4 and Flash Builder 4 – too many, in fact to list here. We recommend that you read the “What’s New in Flash Builder 4?”, “What’s New in Flex 4?”, and “Introduction to Spark” articles, as well as check out the rest of the new content published on the Adobe Developer Connection site to learn more. Additionally, you can watch David Wadhwani, Vice President and General Manager of the Flash Platform Business Unit describe the new set of products being added to the Flex product family.

If you’re just getting started with Flex then we hope that the new TestDrive content will get you up-to-speed on Flex and Flash Builder in just a couple of hours. If you have a little more time then you should review the Flex in a Week video training materials, which have been completely revised for Flex 4. There are plenty of other resources you can draw upon as you work with Flex and Flash Builder, including the new community-based in-product Help, Tour de Flex, the Flex Cookbooks and a completely re-vamped Flex.org site.

As excited as we are to ship these new products, we are already getting started on the next versions – if you have a feature idea that you’d like the product team to consider then we’d love to hear from you! You can now submit your feature ideas on the Adobe Labs Ideas website, as well as review existing ideas and vote on the ones you’d like to see us work on.

We couldn’t have delivered the new features in these products without the feedback received from everyone who participated in our public beta process or our pre-release programs. Thank you so much for helping us to create an amazing release! For those that did install a beta release of Flash Builder, be sure to uninstall the beta before installing the final release, otherwise you may find that your trial period has expired.

We think you will agree that these products will allow you to develop truly compelling user experiences that exceed your clients’ expectations. The entire team is excited to see what you build with Flex 4 and Flash Builder 4 over the coming months and we look forward to receiving your feedback on these releases in the Adobe Forums.

Andrew Shorten & Deepa Subramaniam,
Flash Builder and Flex SDK Product Managers

Re-post: Beautiful Reading

Note: This is a mirror of Adobe Evangelist Anirudh Sasikumar’s post http://anirudhs.chaosnet.org/blog/2009.09.01.html which has been down due to too much traffic.

September 1, 2009 10:36 PM
I spend a lot of time reading articles on the web. Somehow, I miss the lack of typesetting and pagination especially when the article is captivating as well as long. This is my attempt at making reading content on the web (and the computer to a certain extent) more beautiful. With a lot of help from Flex 4, Readefine beautifies text, RSS and HTML content for easier reading. Text is laid out in multiple columns, sanitized of stray newlines and paragraphs and a nice font is applied.
What is it?

Readefine is a Flex 4 web application (a desktop one is coming soon) that beautifies RSS, text and HTML content by laying text in multiple columns for easier reading. Take a look at the screenshots below:

readefined - door.png

readefine - text.png

It can load content from the web, a file on your computer or via copy-and-paste. Readefine supports content in RSS, HTML or plain text format.

Text settings like justification, ligatures, column width / count, etc. can be fully customized and saved.

Some nice things about it:

  • Removes stray newlines, empty p, br tags.
  • Newspaper like layout for RSS – my aim was for RSS files to look like a newspaper1.
  • Paginates rather than supporting scrolling. I hate scrolling while reading a lot of text.
  • Makes long plain text files beautiful and also sections them for performance.
  • Copy paste or load a file from your computer (load, not upload)
  • Gives a new look to those valuable Gutenberg text files
  • Remembers the last 30 URLs you have visited.
  • Re-flows text according to the available size.
  • Resizes images to fit within the columns.
  • Tries to compute the absolute URL from a relative link.

Some not so nice things:

  • HTML support is experimental. Certain HTML (even from popular sites like the Wall Street Journal) will make it go crazy. Plain text and RSS work best.

For the Flex Community

This is my first full-fledged Flex 4 application. Flex 4 rocks!

The components used in this extend the existing Flex 4 and Text Layout Framework classes to add pagination, HTML cleanup and tolerant HTML import. I’ve also built a Scroller like component for the overflow of articles from top DataGroup to the one on the left side. I will be open sourcing these components shortly for the benefit of the developers out there.

Try it out and let me know. Any feedback is welcome.

Status of Flex Data Visualization Components

There have been some questions over the last few days on the status of the Flex data visualization components and I wanted to make sure everyone knows our intentions.

First of all, you may notice that the 3.4 downloads page has an updated copy of the data visualization components (charts and the Advanced DataGrid and OLAPDataGrid). While we have made it easier to view the source (you don’t have to run the DMV-source.jar anymore), we still consider these components to be under the Flex Builder license, and the source to be considered “Professional Component Source Files” as described in the Flex 3 SDK EULA. So I hope that clears up the licensing question.

The other concern I’ve heard raised is that Flex 4 is not seeing many changes to the data visualization components, and therefore folks are worried that Adobe is not investing in them. Data visualization remains a “core competency” of Flex, and we absolutely plan on further development of these components along with supporting partners who have expanded upon them like the ILOG team at IBM. In the Flex 4 time frame we plan on making some improvements to the GroupingCollection, a fundamental piece of the ADG in the hopes of addressing one of the larger performance bottlenecks. However, we chose to take on 2 significant agendas that preempted doing significant work in the data visualization components.

The first is the data connectivity features in Flash Builder; the way we’re making it even easier to connect your data from the back end into the data visualization components in the front. We hope that this will make the data visualization components even more accessible for developers, making it simple to get up and running and build powerful data-driven applications.

The other agenda is the introduction of the Spark architecture. As everyone knows, this is a significant improvement to the fundamental component architecture in Flex, but it is too much to bring every component forward into the new model in a single release. While the charting components do not need to be modified significantly to fit well with Spark, the DataGrid (and therefore the AdvancedDataGrid) will take significant effort, and that is work we intend to do in the following release. Knowing that a fundamental re-architecture of the DataGrid is coming, we decided not to make significant investment in the current one for this release other than addressing the most important bugs.

So that’s the status and we hope you’ll understand and agree with our prioritization. If you’ve got any questions, feel free to comment here or post to the forums!

Flex 4 Beta Update

The Flex 4 and Flash Builder 4 betas have now been out for a few weeks and we’re very excited to see so many folks playing with them, asking questions on the forums, and posting examples of what they’ve done. From the time we first started showing Gumbo we’ve been monitoring feedback, especially around the experience of using the Spark and Halo components together. While we know that in general using both models together is possible, we’ve decided that there are a number of smaller things that we can do (many suggested by you) to make the experience that much better for both new and existing users.

We’ve therefore decided that we need some more time to take your feedback into account, and are going to release a second public beta this fall. This will give us an opportunity to make the enhancements required, and get additional feedback from the community. Given the second beta, we anticipate the release of Flex 4 and Flash Builder 4 to move from late 2009 to early 2010.

On the Open Source Flex SDK side, we’re planning to host another open iteration meeting in the next few weeks to discuss all of the changes that we’re considering. We’ll also be looking for feedback on things we can do in our docs and messaging to make sure that users from all backgrounds are successful in adopting Flex 4. Stay tuned here for the announcement of that meeting. And keep using the beta, filing bugs, and communicating with us via the forums!