Differences in the Flex SDK: Open Source vs Built-in

A brief note regarding a difference in the Flex SDK of the same version depending on how it was obtained.

I have Flex Builder Professional installed which shipped with Flex SDK 3.0 as the highest version. I wanted to update it to use the latest Flex SDK so I went to opensource.adobe.com, downloaded the latest stable build of 3.2, and unzipped it next to my existing 3.0 SDK. In Flex Builder under my project properties I then added 3.2 SDK as a new Flex compiler option, and set the project to use the 3.2 version.

Everything was going fine until I went to use charting I discovered that FB couldn't find the component implementations of things like mx:PieChart.

I later realized that the downloadable Flex SDK 3.2 is different from the Flex SDK 3.0 that shipped in Flex Builder in a rather broad way having nothing to do with version number. The open source SDK does not contain the subdirectory fbpro/ which includes "Data Visualization" components for AdvancedDataGrid and Charting.

It would have been my expectation that the SDK bits of any specific version would always be identical, and that a license key would unlock functionality not available to those without a license, siimilar to how the bits for ColdFusion Enterprise are identical to ColdFusion Standard, and your license determines the available feature set. However, this is not the case with Flex.

Upon updating Flex Builder to 3.02, I confirmed it installed a new Flex SDK 3.2 with it (yes, the versioning of the two products is confusingly similar unfortunately). A diff of the directory structure for that 3.2 SDK against the open source 3.2 SDK proved that fbpro/ was only present in the one that shipped with FB.

So, the only way to update your SDK *and* get the Advanced DataGrid and Charting components is to update your Flex Builder to get the built-in SDK. Even if your are using a licensed FB Pro, the open source SDK does not provide all the functionality that your Pro license entitles you to. There was no warning about this difference on the open source site when I went back to research the issue. A big blinking warning would have been helpful.


UPDATE I tweeted a brief rant about how to do this with useful links:

Adobe shud b MUCH clearer abt how 2 get Flex datavisualization comps for newer SDK. Not here http://bit.ly/HGhf4, Here: http://bit.ly/1BYjx

Perspective on ColdFusion's Big Question (TM)

Just wanted to share a reply I made on GetSatisfaction to provide a historical perspective to the question "What really is the future of ColdFusion?". Before you ask what the future holds, its good to look back to see where ColdFusion has been since its inception in 1995.



CFMX 7 (released Feb 2005) was the release where product adoption saw the first major boost since the "MX" overhaul. Since CFMX 6 (released June 2002, in a down economy) was a re-architecture in Java/J2EE from the earlier CF5 (released May 2001) written in C++, there were few new features introduced and there was an associated learning curve now that the product had a Java foundation.

Problems in the re-architecture surfaced, slowing new adoption of CFMX6, leading to the point release 6.1 (released July 2003) which for the most part corrected all the issues and restored the waning product reputation.

ColdFusion MX 7 was a feature rich release, which attracted many new developers, most of whom had begun to grok CFCs and Java integration. The post 9/11 economy had generally recovered as well, adding to an increase in technology spending.

With most product release cycles, there's a decline in sales or tail at the end, and ColdFusion 8 (released August 2007) saw another major boost in adoption over the tail as it too was a feature rich release that provided solutions to many contemporary problems in Web Dev.

Frankly, IMO, nearly all negative connotations (i.e. "Legacy Software") about the ColdFusion Web Application Server are due to anachronistic experiences with earlier versions of the product in the mid/late 90's. Those opinions seem to be expressed from developers that are less familiar with the revisions and enhancements found in recent ColdFusion versions. (Case in point)

[Added note: The easy learning curve, weak typing, and case-insensitivity in the product are among some factors that may have been conducive to poor programming practices... i.e. give them enough rope to hang themselves, so to speak. Does anyone remember memory corruption from not locking shared scope variables? That whole conundrum went away with CFMX]

Personally, I think ColdFusion is a fantastic product and I love using it. It has an extensive, contemporary tag library on a stable Java base and Web application development time can be short and sweet due to its perpetual focus on RAD.

ColdFusion 9 is well known to be underway and will further address solutions to where technology is going. Furthermore, risk due to proprietary software is mitigated by the release of third party CFML engines which can provide a core of language features if not the full, rich diversity of language found in Adobe's product.


To throw in a plug for myself, I'm currently seeking full time, permanent employment in the greater Boston area. See: Adobe Expert Seeking ColdFusion / Flex Dev or QA

View Steven Erat's profile on LinkedIn

To Flex Camp, and Beyond!

A week from today will be the 2nd annual Flex Camp Boston at Bentley University. At a very modest cost, this is a full day event packed with sessions at the intermediate to advanced level given by industry experts. Register for Flex Camp Boston.

For the last year I've been on the Flex SDK team as a Quality Assurance Engineer, and before that I had excellent run of more than 7 years testing and supporting ColdFusion. I know most of the speakers that will be presenting at Flex Camp and can attest to their passion for building the next wave of Rich Internet Applications, so I fully encourage you to attend if you haven't signed up yet to share in the excitement and mingle with your peers.

This will be an unexpected reunion of sorts for me as I suddenly find myself as a customer rather than employee. With the extra time as I seek new employment I'll immerse myself in training with Flex and AIR, and try to produce an application as an online reference to demonstrate as an example. The odd thing about QA'ing a software product is that you are exposed to narrow facets in which you dive very deeply, and don't often get the chance to practice the breadth of the product. My success in ColdFusion QA was largely dependent on the many preceding years where I provided "gold" level support for the product, something which required me to constantly explore and exercise every nook and cranny of the CF app server and language.

My first inclination for a Flex app is to build my own photography business website in Flex to avoid the cost of purchasing one of the reputable but expensive prebuilt websites from places like LiveBooks, BigFolio, or A Photo Folio.

Finally, I'd like to thank everyone from coworkers to customers to local cfug friends for taking a moment to contact me and express their thoughts and show their concern. People have been writing and chatting intensely while offering job tips and advice. As I mentioned on Facebook, I've never before felt the online community to be as tangible and real as I do now. Thank you all, and I hope to see those of you in the area at Flex Camp!

2008 Codie Awards: Adobe ColdFusion 8, Captivate, & Connect

Earlier this year the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) announced finalists in the 2008 Codie awards. The SIIA describes itself as "the principal trade association for the software and digital content industry."

Yesterday the winners were announced. As a contributing member of the Adobe ColdFusion 8 QA team, I'm especially proud that ColdFusion 8 won for Best Web Services Solution, a category described as:

Best Web Services Solution
Awards the solution that best connects disparate applications and data across an enterprise or between enterprises using web services standards such as SOAP, XML and WDSL. Includes Web services enabling technologies, infrastructure, middleware, system integration tools, etc.


In addition to comprehensive, across the board regression testing, the specific CF8 features I worked on include testing support for all new RDBMS versions, integrating new JDBC driver versions, LiveCycle Data Services Integration, and CFReport HTML support. I also performed installation testing across J2EE servers such as WebLogic, WebSphere, and JBoss while emphasizing the Linux OS. Currently I'm working on SOAP-based Web Service testing in Flex. Speaking of Linux, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 won the Codie award for the Best Open Source Solution.

More information about the SIIA 2008 Codie Awards can be found at InfoWorld

CDIA Web Development: A mix of LAMP and RIA that lacks focus

The B.U. Center for Digital Imaging Arts has just added another core curriculum to their stable of information technology certificates by introducing the Web Development Certificate. As you may know, they completely won me over with their Digital Photography program, and one of my coworkers at Adobe has been raving about their Audio Production curriculum as well. As such, I have high expectations that they will deliver great instructors for the chosen curriculum.

Their Web Development certificate program, founded on more than 20 courses, emphasizes the use of PHP and MySQL as core technologies, including a Rich Media Web Development subtopic focusing on the use of Flash and ActionScript. Along the way there's a sprinkling of Javascript, XML related technologies, and AJAX, and the course is capped off with some Content Management and Web 2.0 social network topics.

[More]

Using the CFC Proxy in a ColdFusion Cluster

The CFC Proxy API was introduced as a supported feature in CFMX 7.01. It allows you to call ColdFusion Components (CFCs) from Java classes such as a standalone servlet running in the same JVM. In order for this to work, the Java class must be loaded by the ColdFusion classloader rather than a higher level classloader in the J2EE container. To load a Java class with the ColdFusion classloader, the class's jar file must be specified in ColdFusion's web.xml under the cf.class.path parameter. To avoid managing multiple copies of a custom jar file between ColdFusion instances clustered on JRun, you can put a single copy of the custom jar file under a central location outside the JRun root directory. Then modify the web.xml for each CF instance to point to that jar file in the cf.class.path entry. Surprisingly, there is no documentation on using CFCProxy on livedocs.adobe.com, but instead you can find this reference on Ben Forta's website. The reference describes the API and provides a brief example implementation. A few details are left out such as how to compile the custom Java class, so I'll provide a quick walk through of how I set all this up...

[More]

Linux Magazine on using Flex with PHP

In the August 2007 edition of Linux Magazine, the editor contributes an article about the usefulness of integrating PHP with the free Flex SDK to achieve a Rich Internet Application (RIA) in a Web 2.0 world.

Flex and PHP
by Martin Streicher
Linux Magazine (full article available online with free registration)


The author begins by a short comparison of the RIA technologies of AJAX vs. Flex, and goes on to suggest that while AJAX is touted as an alternative to Flex UI's, AJAX suffers from a lack of rich media integration such as video, music, or animations and carries the risk of varying JavaScript behavior across different browser implementations.

The article does a great job describing architectural differences between classic web applications and RIAs. In a multi-tiered Rich Internet Application the application server technology such as PHP, or better yet ColdFusion, acts as the controller to implement business logic and interacts with deeper service layers that interface with the database. However, on the client side, Flex runs in the browser to perform data input validation, displays data visually via drill-down charts and graphs or via paginated data grids, and provides real time updates to changes in data (via Live Cycle Data Services a.k.a. Flex Data Services).

Furthermore, Flex provides a smart looking user interface and seamless user experience akin to typical desktop software while lacking the notoriously painful white screens of death during page refreshes that are commonplace in the Web 1.0 world. In effect, more work is done in the browser as a means of distributed computing, leaving the application server to focus on business logic and freeing it from having to generate the UI again and again across requests.

[More]

Total Training is Going Online

As a very satisfied owner of Total Training DVD video tutorials on Photoshop, Flash, Dreamweaver, and Flex, I literally recommend their training to everyone I speak with that might have an interest... really, and half the time I chew their ear off because I won't shut up about how great their tutorials are.

Now they're launching online training as well, in HD and available 24/7. Here's some quotes from their website:

Premium Training Goes Online
Total Training is a pioneer in innovative video-based training for creative design, digital video, and office productivity software programs. Our mission is to deliver premium training to our users enabling them to quickly learn new software applications. Now, for the first time, our award-winning videos are available online.

  • Access award-winning training 24/7
  • High-quality content produced in HD
  • Explore the customized interface


  • Customized Controls
  • Search Content Within Lessons
  • Lesson Progression Tracking
  • Ability to Bookmark Lessons




Get the Entire Total Training Online: Adobe Library for FREE!
In celebration of our upcoming Total Training Online release, we're offering this once in a lifetime opportunity. For every purchase of $150* or more, you will receive the Total Training Online Adobe Library absolutely free for 1 year that's over $1,000 worth of DVDs accessible online! View our Adobe Library below.

Hurry! Offer expires June 15, 2007.



P.S.

Dear Total Training:

Please add ColdFusion 8 training as a part of your web technology stable of training products.

Thanks!

Forums and Support for ColdFusion 8 Public Beta

ColdFusion 8 on Adobe LabsThe ColdFusion 8 flood gates have opened wide in the blogosphere, and ColdFusion developers everywhere have begun to consider and experiment with the wide range of great new features. As you know, Adobe Labs is hosting the ColdFusion 8 Public Beta, so if you haven't downloaded and installed it yet, now's the time.

Surely you'll have some questions about features and functionality as you play with the Server Monitor, Flex / LiveCycle DataServices Integration, Ajax integration, PDF documents and forms, Image processing, database driver enhancements, performance improvements, and all the other new features. Be certain to read the Installation Instructions and the Release Notes for known issues. Adobe Labs has set up a ColdFusion 8 Forum where you can begin discussion of your development ideas and experiences.

Questions are welcome, and remember that, for now, this is a public beta, so your input is wanted to help shape the final release. If you feel confident that you've uncovered a bug or have an urgent enhancement request then you can enter a report here. All reports are read and evaluated on technical merit and distribution of impact (i.e. how many developers or sites may experience the reported problem).

I'm thrilled that I've been able to contribute to the development and quality assurance testing for this upcoming final release of ColdFusion 8, and I'm completely certain you will be too.

But work is not done yet, so get ColdFusion 8 Public Beta and provide your feedback.

[More]

Spring
Conference 2007

Spring
Conference 2007
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Athens, OH


Join us for our fifth annual event. This year the conference will be bigger than ever. 35 sessions to choose from in 7 tracks, plus three hands on sessions! Ben Forta, Adobe's Chief Product Evangelist will be speaking at the General Session Key Note plus, Ben will be back to give a presentation at the Lunchtime Session as well.

    Choose from session in the following tracks:
  • Design & User Experience
  • Using Tools: Tips & Tricks
  • ColdFusion, Java, PHP & ActionScript
  • Maximum Development
  • Web 2.0: Ajax, Flex & Video
  • Application Security & Performance
  • Vendor Showcase
  • Boot Camp: Beginner Level Hands On


Some of this year's speakers include:
Ben Forta, Phillip Kerman, Joseph Lowery, Chris Bate, Rob Gonda, John Cummings, D.Lee Beard, Bob Paquette, Dan Switzer, Bailey Bruce, Doug Ward, Steve Drucker, James Shore, James Shore, Joshua Logsdon, Scott Cantor, Kevin Hoyte, Jeff Carnes, Joel Stanley, Gary Kraeger, more.

We'll have the Vendor Expo where you can meet with the companies that provide the software and services you're looking for!

Registration Fee: $35 [includes your lunch]

Registration is available at http://www.sbconference.com

We hope to see you there!

Spring
Conference 2007 is presented by the Southeast Ohio Creative Adobe Technologies User Group in partnership with Ohio University, the IT

Previous Entries / More Entries