The oohs, aahs and waahs of working with the new RIAs

13 06 2008

Just went to an Adobe AIR camp the other day in Sydney.

I must say, the free t-shirts were a great touch. As much as I abhor supporting any company by wearing their brand name,  the triangular AIR logo is pretty nifty.

But I digress.

Even though you can’t look a gift horse in the mouth (or complain about a free lunch), I confess I was more than a trifle disappointed with the whole day.

To summarise, it was a free one day conference put on by Adobe to showcase AIR and relevant technologies.

It was hardly a cheap affair, so I cannot fault Adobe there, and clearly they are trying to introduce AIR as much as possible. Problem is, converts (like me) would have found little to keep them on the edge of their seat. The Adobe evangelists might be great at gathering new sheep, but the rest of the flock are getting restless.

OK, so clearly I’m the one with the problem. But hey, I’m a pretty straight up, garden type variety developer. And I’ve got to some point with Flex and the whole Flash world and gone, hang on, wtf, I need to use Flash Remoting but I don’t understand anything about how it works. Where’s the complete documentation on it? Where are the other developers who know anything about this stuff? I’m crawling through a wasteland of irrelevant Google results.

Imagine if you will:

You’ve started from the ground up, learning Flex. You got a book on Flex, researched it’s capabilities.

You’ve researched various server techniques to enable Flex to handle to goods. Everything out there seems to conclude that flash remoting (using remote objects) is THE solution to remote procedure calls. You’ll end up with cleaner code, and faster service than using Web Services or HTTP Services.

You’ve spent six months developing a sexy little product in flex and using flash remoting to interface with .net. To do this, you’ve used either WebORB or FluorineFx as a solution to handle the remoting (as per the Adobe documentation Flex.NET).

Then you’re going to deploy to Production. Hang on, am I exposing my data here to malicious attacks? Is this a vulnerability? If I deploy as an AIR application, what are the implications then? I want answers, but can’t find them.

I was hoping I’d get some answers at the AIR camp, and maybe I approached it the wrong way – by walking up and hassling Andrew Spaulding whilst he was setting up for his next presentation.  Come to think of it, I couldn’t have done it any worse. But hey, I’m a developer aren’t I?

There was one tidbit that was very interesting from Matt Voermann about skinning up using Flash CS3 – and I will blog it next.




3 responses

26 06 2008

“Then you’re going to deploy to Production. Hang on, am I exposing my data here to malicious attacks? Is this a vulnerability? If I deploy as an AIR application, what are the implications then? I want answers, but can’t find them.”

Hey there Justin.
I have been searching google for similar answers and feel completely confused on what direction to go in for my project. WebOrb seems to be where i will be heading but how Adobe are handling data access in Flash and Flex is completely baffling to me. I am more at home in Flash and know that i could create my app far more quickly than Flex, but with the advent of AS3 Adobe seem to have removed features to push people towards Flex (such as web services). I am now in a position of A: Having to learn Flex and B: Having to use a remoting technology that is third party and that i have no real understanding of under the hood!

27 06 2008
Justin J. Moses

Hey Crunchie. It’s painful I agree. However, everything on the topic suggests the BEST way to move data in and out of Flex is via Flash Remoting. Web services can be used but they are both slower and not as robust with type checking. If you don’t mind coding Java, then go for Adobe’s Blaze.

I personally prefer Flex Builder massively over Flash Professional because its much more geared towards developers; I prefer full event handling control and a robust framework to a movie clip hierarchy and timeline. But that’s just me. Flash never really clicked with me.

To get a better idea of Flex’s capabilities, I’d suggest going through a Flex book – such as Flex 2 Professional (this O’Reilly publication is great) or the Flex 3 Cookbook.

If you can get away with less features, I’d suggest the open source FluorineFx to WebORB just because WebORB is pushing their bottom line heavily. And I’d wish that Adobe would step up and help out the FluorineFx, rather than focusing solely on Blaze. But another reason for FluorineFx is that you have full access on the .NET source code, which, if you have the time, should explain to you everything you need to know.


26 07 2008

Totally agree: “Flash never really clicked with me.” Flex does; but then I started on VB….
The whole FluorineFx, WebORB is vexing to me also. Both are unsatisfactory for what I want. I need the ‘client’ to have a database and be connected to each other and then to also be able to push/pull data from a central server. Loading the remoting and comm stuff on the central server is easy since it’s under my control. The 10 users that mainly need to talk amoung themselves could use weborb but I’m looking for silent install and assuming my end user wants a install as close to the simple flash or air install they did before. The whole deploy features is touted at times for Air/flex but when you need the midsize of a multiuser sqllite db all the room goes quiet.

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