View Final Project for Macromedia Flex for Web Application DevelopersThis week I've completed a new Macromedia course, Flex for Web Application Developers, recently renamed to indicate the course's appropriateness for programmers from all web application backgrounds, rather than just ColdFusion. The course is designed to be a day longer than the existing Fast Track to Flex course and has a target audience of web application developers that may not yet be proficient with ActionScript 2.0 or Object Oriented concepts and programming.

The Macromedia Training web page has not yet been updated to include this course, but that is expected soon. I was forturnate enough to participate in the course in its final testing stage where the instructor sought feedback from technology professionals, to be used in carefully tuning the class towards the general skill set of contemporary ColdFusion MX Developers. In addition, this week's course in particular was also used to train Macromedia Training Partners who will later be teaching this course as well.

The Flex for Web Application Developers course demonstrates how to easily build robust Flex applications that provide a sharp looking user interface while integrating with ColdFusion components as the primary data provider. Knowledge of Actionscript 2.0 is not assumed, and the progressive use of Actionscript from day one builds fluency in the language through osmosis, so to speak. The course emphasises programming best practices for Flex's markup language MXML, as well as Actionscript and ColdFusion's CFML language.

The four day course culminates in a final project, built step by step in each lab, to yield the mock Boston Restaurant Portal web application. The application makes use of each learning objective including Flex containers and layout techniques, styles and themes, OOP, data binding, data models, remote data access, exception handling, event handling, custom events, drag and drop, and model-view-controller (MVC) architecture.

Users of the final project application can drag a selector across a map to specify the area of interest, and narrow down the restaurants by category. Once a matching restaurant list is obtained, a user can read a restaurant summary, find reviews, and write their own review.

This course was taught by Macromedia instructor Matt Boles. Matt is a fantastic teacher who has not only completely mastered both Flex and ColdFusion MX, but possesses the teaching skills necessary to convey complex ideas and syntax fluently to the class. He takes time to entertain questions while keeping the course on schedule, and makes sure that each student is making progress on every walk-through and each lab by checking up one by one.

While many concepts of Actionscript programming were challenging and left my head spinning at times, overall I felt a sense of achievement day by day so that by the end of the course my confidence as a Flex developer is quite high. This course definitely came through for me.

Having taken many courses at various IT course vendors such as Sun, Red Hat, IBM, and Macromedia, as well as many local university continuing education programs, I find that Macromedia and Red Hat courses rank head and shoulders above any other IT vendor course and most university courses in web technology. Macromedia's Instructor Certification Director, Sue Hove, and Macromedia Training Director, Robert Crooks, have strived to create some of the best course material anywhere on web technology subject matter.

Macromedia courses are designed to have walk-throughs to reinforce specific concepts of a given learning module, and labs at the module's end which build upon each other to result in a final project at course end. The labs are cleverly designed to included staged solutions where the starting material for each new lab is the completed result from the previous module prepared for you already. This prevents students from falling behind if they hit an earlier snag, and ensures that each student starts from the same place as the others. The various walk-throughs in a module are prepared so that any code not directly related to the learning objective at hand is already written for you, allowing the students and instructor to focus only on building out the remaining code that isolates the learning objective for that exercise. Program directors and instructors are especially attentive to student feedback from the Macromedia courses and employ it to shape, develop, and expand ongoing and new courses accordingly.

Keep watch on the Macromedia Training course list for this class to show up soon.

A brief outline as of this writing follows...

Macromedia Flex for Web Application Developers

  1. Introducing the course
  2. Introducing Flex
  3. Learning Flex Fundementals
  4. Handling Events
  5. Using Controls
  6. Managing Application Layout
  7. Managing Application Navigation
  8. Manipulating Size and Look of Components
  9. Using MXML Data Models
  10. Using ActionScript Data Models
  11. Retrieving XML Data
  12. Working with Data Sets
  13. Exchanging Data Between Components
  14. Accessing Web Services and Remote Objects
  15. Exchanging Data Between ActionScript and ColdFusion
  16. Implementing Drag and Drop