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Archive for July, 2007

Attending 360|Flex and Flash on the Beach

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Just a quick post to note that I'll be attending 360|Flex in Seattle in August, as well as Flash on the Beach in Brighton, UK in November.

I had previously posted how the cost of attending FlashForward in Boston was greater than flying to and attending Flash on the Beach in Brighton - so the decision to attend was not a difficult one.

If you are planning on attending either of these events, keep an eye out for me (at 6' 6", I'm easy to spot) and be sure to say hello!

ActionScript 3 as a Server-Side Language

The more I code in AS3 the more I want to be able to use it as a server side programming language - mainly as a replacement for PHP. I might be missing something, but at first glance, I don't see any reasons this wouldn't be possible with a little effort from Adobe.

Let's look at the current manifestations of ECMAScript 4, the standard on which ActionScript 3 and the new version of JavaScript are based. There is Flash/Flex (SWF) with delivery to the web browser via a plug-in, JavaScript for direct interaction with the web browser, and AIR (Apollo) for desktop delivery. The only missing piece is server-side deployment, a fact of which I'd bet Adobe is well aware.

PHP is a great server-side language which I use very often, but every language has its own nuances, and switching continuously between PHP and AS3 often opens the door for several small bugs due to the syntactical differences.

As a framework for how much effort it would take to port AS3 for server-side usage, let's look at how PHP5 and AS3 compare on key web development factors. These core features are supported in both PHP5 and AS3:

- MySQL/database integration (PHP built-in, AS3 through classes)
- Open source and free
- Extendable (PHP through plugins, AS3 through classes)
- Large developer community
- Class-based development possible (Full OOP in AS3)

So with most of the features needed already included in AS3 or written by the community, why not take the extra step and port it to the server side? I'm sure Adobe doesn't want to sell Coldfusion 8 short, so there is that corporate hurdle. I could see it being integrated with Coldfusion in a similar manner that ActionScript can be included in MXML through the usage of a code/cdata block.

All said, nothing is stopping the community from developing an open source project based around this concept. A quick search of Google reveals that at least one other person is having similar thoughts.

Would you use AS3 if it was ported for server-side usage?

Essential ActionScript 3 is a Bestselling O’Reilly Book

Moock AS3 According to Mike Downey and Ryan Stewart, Colin Moock's Essential ActionScript 3.0 is the bestselling O'Reilly book and number four (or five now?) on Amazon's best seller list.

I had previously posted about my problems finding a copy of the book, including the major delays by Amazon.com. Apparently others are having the same issues (see the comments at the bottom of Mike's post), which I am sure is a result of unexpected popularity on Amazon's part. Either way, if you are still wondering why you can't find a copy of the book -- now you know!

Helvetica the Movie Encore Showing in Portland


If you missed the first showing of Helvetica in Portland a few months back, this is your chance to set things right. The documentary has been touring for awhile now and has sold out across the country to mobs of designers, typophiles, and anyone else who can appreciate a classic font that is seen everywhere but seldom noticed.

I highly recommend seeing this film, either at the Hollywood Theater in August, or in a couple of months when the DVD is released.

Tickets for an encore showing, presented by the director Gary Hustwit, are on sale now through the film's website:

Portland Screening
Q&A with director Gary Hustwit
Saturday, 8/4/07, 7pm

Hollywood Theater
4122 NE Sandy Blvd
Portland, OR

on AIR Bus Tour – Portland Style

on AIR BrandingFirst off, a huge thanks to the team at Adobe for throwing such an awesome event last night. They didn't miss a beat while making sure everyone enjoyed themselves and learned as much as possible during the one evening AIR camp.

Great free beer, check. Great free food, check. Great swag, check. Great sessions, check. Great people, check.

The sessions were well done, especially for those who have not been following Apollo/AIR very closely. As a developer, I particularly enjoyed the sessions with live coding where the power of AIR was shown in very few lines of code (usually 20 or so).

Some of the juiciest news coming from the evening, however, was release dates. Mike Downey noted during his keynote that at MAX in Chicago, Adobe would be announcing and releasing the AIR Derby winners, the AIR Extension for Flash (Publish to AIR), Livecycle (Flex Data Services), and the Coldfusion 8 release build. So lots to look forward to in the coming months.

As a Flash developer, I had not played around with the Dreamweaver CS3 AIR Extension, so it was also great to see that in use through demonstrations of building an AIR app with only HTML and JavaScript. Oh, and being able to access the Flash API classes through JavaScript is killer.

I _highly_ suggest you check out the tour when it comes to a city near you this summer. It will benefit not only Flash and Flex developers, but also HTML and JavaScript web developers. With the effort Adobe is putting into AIR through promoting and training, it is sure to be something you'll want to keep an eye on.

Photos can be found here on Flickr -- I'm even in a few of them (few rows back, light blue solid color dress shirt)!

I got my Nabaztagtag

tags lightTonight the UPS delivery man dropped off two Nabaztagtag wifi-enabled smart rabbits and an extra set of ears! Ever since I read Aral's post on his, I have been waiting for my order to arrive. If you haven't heard of these amazing devices, I highly suggest you check out their website to see all the cool features this little device can handle. Basically, the Nabaztagtag can play internet radio, send and receive messages to other 'tags, complete voice activated commands, tell you the weather, act as your alarm clock, and a whole world of other internet-enabled services.

I've only had a few hours to play with my new rabbit, but I have to say, this thing is at one of the highest levels of usability I have seen in awhile. The developers (Violet, out of France) went to great lengths to make sure the thing just works. Their website is extremely easy to use, and setup was a breeze once I found a small note with a bug fix for those with Apple's Airport wireless routers.

tags darkThe best use I have found, however, is why I purchased two of the devices: you can "marry" two 'tags and then whenever you move the ears on one device, the ears will move in the exact same position on the second device. So the rabbit in the photos with the pink ears is for my girlfriend who is moving out of town this week. I thought the rabbits might be a cool way to keep in touch over the long distance, and "marrying" and sending messages between the two rabbits will allow for just that.

One other quick thing I should note is that there is a very large developer community surrounding these 'tags. There is a public API that is fairly well documented, and developers have made a ton of cool services available including NabAIR, an Adobe AIR application that allows you to control your (or someone else's) 'tag through a simple desktop application.

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