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360Flex / Day 1 / Sessions

Keynote - Ted Patrick, John Wilker, Tom Ortega
"Flex Charting 101" - Rob Rusher
"Building Stunning Flex Apps with FlexBuilder 3 and CS3" - George Comninos
"Understanding Flex-able Flash Video for Web" - Dave Hassoun
"Get Beyond Point and Grunt, or Better User Experience Through Alternative UIs" - Tony Hillerson

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Keynote - Ted Patrick, John Wilker, Tom Ortega
Today's 360|Flex conference sessions started with Ted Patrick's Adobe Keynote which divulged quite a bit of information about upcoming releases from Adobe. Flex 3 will have a new beta out before the current one expires - most likely released at MAX in October, with a full final product release coming early in 2008. Ted was quick to point out that the new beta would be out before the current one expires. Some new features in the upcoming beta include graphic tags (think MXML for the drawing API), better text (embedding fonts, clarity/rendering), and skinning/style enhancements.

Next Ted spoke about AIR. There are a lot of updates to AIR planned, including API revisions, SQLLite, and signing/security improvements. Look for AIR to be officially released with FlexBuilder 3.

And, lets not forget the announcement of 360|Flex Milan and also the next US 360|Flex to be held on the east coast in a yet-to-be-named city.

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"Flex Charting 101" - Rob Rusher
Rob's presentation did a good job of providing an introduction to charting in Flex. First, he covered the different types of charts (polar and cartesian) and then moved on to events and effects. Not having worked with charting in Flex very much, it was a good session to get my feet wet.

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"Building Stunning Flex Apps with FlexBuilder 3 and CS3" - George Comninos
I'd have to say this was one of the most exciting sessions of the day. Coming from Flash development into Flex, one of the things I find most frustrating in how all Flex apps look alike and there is usually very little graphical expressiveness. George previewed some upcoming features in FlexBuilder 3, including the new graphical skins and integration with Flash, Fireworks, and Illustrator. Basically, there will be one very large image (bitmap or vector) that contains all the components in each of their states. You can then select each state and skin it as you wish. There will also be built in commands and integration with the CS3 application suite, right down to FlexBuilder recognizing nine-scale slices set in Flash. Oh, and lets not forget one of the best new features in FlexBuilder 3: visual CSS style editing.

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"Understanding Flex-able Flash Video for Web" - Dave Hassoun
While Dave did a great job presenting his information, I think I chose poorly in going to this session. I have worked with video in Flash for a few years now, so I have had experience working with most of the techniques Dave spoke about. For those coming from Java or C backgrounds and have not worked with video much, this would have been a great session.

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"Get Beyond Point and Grunt, or Better User Experience Through Alternative UIs" - Tony Hillerson
Tony gave a great presentation about incorporating input methods for advanced users. As Tony said "Alternatives = happy power users = richer experience = better experience." Tony went over a lot of basics of HCI (human-computer interaction) and then went in to Fitt's law (a formula for determining the time it takes to 'point' at something on screen). However, it was all to explain why these alternative user interfaces were worth your time to develop. Tony then went in to some examples of the alternative UIs: mouse gestures, radial menus, command line interfaces, keyboard shortcuts and context menus. Tony has even created a few great AS3 classes for mouse gestures and command line interfaces.

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Update: There are also some other great wrap-ups on the day at these blogs: MyoT and Dave Coletta from BuzzWord.

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