Flash on the Beach ’07 – Session Files

Well these would have been posted MUCH EARLIER. If it weren’t for my continued Leopard issues (man it feels like Vista at times :p for all of the wrong reasons). Anyway, I’m not here to write a rant on Leopard – that’ll happen later on if I can be bothered :p.

I’m posting this to go over my session at Flash on the Beach ’07 and provide some insight in to why I decided to present what I did. As well as providing the session files and tutorial I mentioned at the end of my talk. For those who couldn’t attend my session was titled “Flex Application Development – Done in 60 minutes

So for those who just want the files, you can download the files here.

For those who are interested in finding out more about my session and how I came up with the idea (helpful if you didn’t attend), then read on…

When I initially sat down to think of a new session around Flex I as aware that if I decided to present something that was participatory there would be others who were there to just attend, but not actually join in. This drew me to a selection of key elements that the talk had to:

  1. Engage with those participating as well as those observing
  2. Be easy to follow (again for both parties)
  3. Work for beginner, intermediate and potentially advanced users
  4. Show off as many of the core Flex features as possible
  5. Fit into a 60 minute slot

A pretty tall list of things that needed to work. I initially put a prototype together and presented it at my local user group. Being a prototype I was expecting a few hiccups, but even so I managed to get those who were coding along side myself to create the application in just over an hour. In doing this I made mental notes where I could streamline it and add in greater functionality.

The first thing I did was compile down any custom components that would be used – this allowed for inclusion of greater functionality and saved time getting the audience to create them (as it happens I only use two). Secondly I needed to move from a pure MXML code view to something that those who were not coding could engage with without it getting too dry. This I achieved by using the Design View in Flex Builder for almost the entire develop. Obviously there were a few elements that have no visual assets, so those were the only times that code was entered “by hand”. And finally, I removed as much ActionScript code as possible. In the end we end up writing about 3 lines of ActionScript in the entire application.

So reviewing my initial criteria I got the following:

  1. Engage with those participating as well as those observing – Using Design View certainly helped
  2. Be easy to follow (again for both parties) – Again simplifying the process and using the power of the Design View
  3. Work for beginner, intermediate and potentially advanced users – This one is a discussion point in regards to the creation and implementation of the custom components. While not super advanced it does illustrate what can be achieved.
  4. Show off as many of the core Flex features as possible – Once again, by simplifying the process and harnessing the Design View I was able to increase the functionality within the time slot.
  5. Fit into a 60 minute slot – Well this one is split between practicing the session and the speed in which Flex Builder can tie elements together (I actually have it down to 50 minutes without rushing).

At this point a few of you are probably wondering what I actually built, well it was a simple gallery application that loaded an XML file in and displayed images along with a description. I have a couple of variants on a thumbnail view, that are accessed by changing state and implementing custom ItemRenderers. Finally I applied a simple bit of CSS to make it look only slightly less like a Flex application :p.

So that was it really, I enjoyed presenting it, and hopefully those who attended enjoyed the session. If you want the source files and the tutorial you can grab them below.


“Flex Application Development – Done in 60 minutes” Session files | Tutorial (coming soon)

Mike Jones