Monthly Archives: March 2007

Gone Diving!


I am departing on a 5 day dive trip at the Great Barrier Reef in AU. I am in Cairns today and will be headed north shortly. Did 3 dives on the reef yesterday and it is simply amazing here. I had a 7ft Rass swim up to me and it put AU diving in perspective.

For all my co-workers my appologies on not sending out a OOO message on email. I am on 36 discussion lists and would rather not upset folks with undo OOO emails. After a week of diving, I will be back to Flex/Apollo full time.

Recharging the Batteries!

Cheers,

Ted :)

Q1 Presentation/Code Dump


I have presented some 20 times this year and here are the collective slides and sample code from Q1. I am at WebDU this week in Sydney and I am currently in Robin Hilliard’s session on MVC and have some time to post em all. Enjoy the slides and examples, my plan is to post these more regularly.

ActionScript 3 Performance Tuning
AU Web Standards Preso on Flex/Apollo
DOM Events
Flex Apollo Partner Summit AU
Mashup University
360Flex MXML vs AS3
WebDU Flex 101

MXMLVSAS3 Project
WebDU101 Project
FlexCodeBehind Project
MXMLAS3 Project
FlexShakespeare Project
MyCodeBehind Project
YahooFlex Project
ReparentingMXML Project
SILVATrain Project
360FlexDay1 Project
YahooFlex2 Project
EngageDemo Project
Mashup Project

Mike Chambers recorded my sessions at WebDU and is posting these now.

Please pardon the delay in posting all this code and slides.

Cheers,

Ted :)

Rich with Reach


Having been involved in the Flash Player evolution since 1997, the value of “Rich with Reach” has become ever more obvious to me of late. The long term success of Flash Player and more recently AJAX, are based at their core on the idea of widely deployable rich technologies. It is a balance of devlivering the richest user experience that supports the largest customer base, ie. Rich with Reach.

I started a company in 1998 called Indigo Networks and we created an online shopping service. In our first round of venture funding we raised 1.2 Million dollars and within the deal we got a new CEO, Terry Johnson. Terry is a long time friend and taught me a great deal about business. The key is that Terry was brass tacks when it came to business. In Terry’s eyes my role as CTO was to make sure our technology choices excluded as few people as possible. At the time were were spending $$ to drive customers to our site and every incompatible user was wasted money. Reach was essential but we really valued Rich as well. To some extent, we were willing to sacrifice some reach to provide a better user experience. In using Flash, our user retention rates were much higher than our competitors and our site was far easier to use. In highlighting these statistics and showing measurable success, we sold the venture at the height of the .COM era. My goal was to make the most compatible site with the best end user experience possible. What is interesting is that at the time many people thought I was insane for targeting Flash Player 4 with a total market reach of 65% when we first launched. Within 3 months that stat moved to 75% and then 85% moving ever higher and higher. We were certainly early but we made the right decision in choosing Flash Player back then, it gave us a huge advantage at the time in terms of user experience.

I want to take a look at the various rich technologies from a RICH/REACH perspective. I have selected AJAX, WPF, APOLLO, WPFE, FLASH as the base technologies. I first provide a score on RICH and REACH and then explain the technology and my opinion on the matter.

HTML – RICH:3 REACH:10
SM-HTML+CSS+JS – RICH:5 REACH:8
LG-HTML+CSS+JS – RICH:7 REACH:6

The AJAX revolution is really is about providing the best end user experience using HTML, JavaScript, and CSS, again “Rich with Reach”. The problem is that browser compatibility and developer productivity continue to plauge development teams using AJAX for certain types of applications. If there were a sliding scale from document to application, AJAX technologies can get you a long way but as things get much more complex on the application side, the runtime differences cross-browser and the overall performance break down. AJAX is a great technology choice in the small but as it becomes more rich it looses reach in terms of compatibility.

WPF RICH:9 REACH:1

Microsoft’s Windows Presentation Foundation, WPF provides a way to deliver rich desktop applications on Windows Vista and XP (with surgery). These applications take advantage of specialized hardware, allow for all sorts of 3D/vector functionality, and leverage the .NET runtime. The problem here is reach. It is certainly rich, but Windows Vista adoption is expected to be much slower than XP. It will be a long time before this is a viable choice for desktop application development with the same reach that XP had. Also more generally the rise of Apple OSX and Linux are key indicators that the native desktop application market will only become more fragmented and platform specific.

“APOLLO” – RICH:7 REACH:? (Scored at M3 Builds, Reach not available )

“Apollo” made its debut last night at ApolloCamp and I think we are going to see some amazing things happen here. “Apollo” embodies “Rich with Reach” in supporting Flash and HTML technologies while being 100% cross-platform compatible. In allowing a single binary .AIR file to run cross-platform on Windows, OSX, and Linux we are going to see a revolution occur. “Apollo” isn’t the richest runtime (lack of feature XYZ) but over time I think it will support 90% of all desktop application and in its first release it will support a healthy 80%. If you look at applications in general, many are pure data entry and in this class Apollo is a sweet spot. Then again developers are going to innovate on Apollo and will push it to the limit. Last night EffectiveUI presented a framework that extends Apollo using a local server model. The developer used a Wii remote via BlueTooth as a light saber in an game written with “Apollo”. Given that Apollo is a 6MB runtime it should get very widely deployed as the runtime need only be installed once on an end users machine.

WPF/E – RICH:4 REACH:? (Scored at PR Builds, Reach not available )

Hard to say much about WPF/E here. It is 0% deployed and Microsoft has a bad reputation regarding cross-platform software as it is so contrary to their core business. Seeing the recent delay in adding managed code to the 1.0 release, I wonder if it will survive. At most I think it will become a video player technology for folks that have MS video assets. If MS force installed this technology via Windows update, they would reach 40% quickly but stall because of the lack of content in WPF/E. Having worked with the Alpha (Technology Preview), it is like Flash 4 without commands, unskinable components, vectors, and video. Scripting and logic is 100% JavaScript of the browser and without complex tooling this makes the solution fall into the not ideal category for me. Also using XML prevents content streaming and thus loading will need to complete before rendering starts. This solution is plagued by identical limitations that SVG encountered when it attempted to challenge Flash years ago while lacking the support of an actual standard like SVG. DOA?

FLASH PLAYER 7 – RICH:6 REACH:9
FLASH PLAYER 8 – RICH:7 REACH:9
FLASH PLAYER 9 – RICH:8 REACH:7

Flash Player 9 is hitting critical mass surpassing the 70% market penetration mark. Every day more and more end users upgrade Flash Player to the latest version at a rate of 5+ Million Flash Players a day and rising. Flash Player 9 is very rich (JIT AS3, graphics, vectors, animation, video, text) and reach improves every single day like clockwork. The growing buzz around Flash Player technologies is that Flash Player 9 is hitting critical mass. Businesses are choosing Flash because of the balance of “Rich with Reach” and a mature development toolset in Flex, Flash, and the CS3 Suite will unleash a set of designer tools that independently are best of breed with seamless developer integration. When a new Flash Player launches it starts with a wimper but over time becomes a huge bang. As Flash Player is backward compatible with all proir SWF files there is a huge market demand for Flash Player from content. And just when you wanted 3D support in Flash Player 9, an open source engine arrives like PaperVision3D to add features and richness that Adobe never anticipated. The Flash ecosystem adds a ton of richness that extends the base feature set of the Flash Player. This aspect is really key to seeing the full value of Flash. It isn’t that the raw technology is great, but that our customers make it even better by extending it and using it in innovative ways. The developer base of Flash adds tremendous value to the RICH side of Flash and in turn drives the REACH by delivering great sites.

What is really cool is that you are never limited to using one technology. Some of the best sites/application I have seen embrace a holistic approach and provide rich content where it makes sense. Using rich content is not an all or nothing choice but rather a wide spectrum from which to pick and choose. Over the next year we are going to see AJAX and Flash become ever closer and work better together. There are shared capabilities that make the use of both better. On the desktop we will see a revolution in “Apollo” in Flash and AJAX based technologies. Better together is the key.

Chose your technology wisely and balance “Rich with Reach”. You will have more happy customers and that is good business.

Cheers,

ted :)

Preparing for Scott Barnes and WebDU


I am getting ready for a 2 week trip to Sydney for WebDU, Adobe Partner Summit, and a dive trip! My WebDU sessions, demos, and Flex 3 sneaks/keynote are ready and I am mentally prepared for the trip down under. After a week of work, I have a 5 day dive trip planned on a vessel out of Cairns and I am bringing most of dive/camera gear.

As some know, I am a certified dive nut. Give me a window of time and I will cram a dive trip into any schedule. I have been posting my dive photos and videos online at diverted.org and motionbox.com but need to build out a better site. I will be sporting new builds of Lightroom, Photoshop, and Flex Builder and plan on rebuilding the site on the trip.

I am not holding back in preparation for Barnes, I included my trusty MacBook Pro, Nintendo Wii (Flash Enabled), 4 controllers, 3 wetsuits, and a Nikonos-V (just in case he gets out of hand).

Scott first rounds on me! Looking forward to WebDU!

Cheers,

Ted :)

( Scott: Maximium Comment Length Per Post: 150 words )

The Inconvenient Truth: The sun or politics?


This subject has always been one of my favorites. Is the earth warming or cooling and worse are we causing it? This YouTube video takes a look at the science and paints a very different picture. I guess if you want to get elected or funded, the right message is to say the sky is falling.

The Global Warming Swindle

Sorry to interrupt the regular programming, back to Flex!

Cheers,

Ted :)

360Flex – Thanks and Flex going big!


Wow what a week. I had a great time at 360Flex and I really enjoyed meeting so many developers. It was great to meet everyone in person and it was exciting to see so many people dedicated to building applications in Flex 2. Somewhere over the last month Flex showed its first real public signs of mass adoption. The demos at Engage and 360Flex were eye opening for me in that it highlighted adoption trends with Flex from key customers and the developer community. In short, Flex is going big.

Since the start of 2007 I have witnessed many signs of growth in the Flex ecosystem. Developers are learning the programming model and many applications are in development. The interesting part is that many of these applications are 100% off Adobe’s radar, we do not know what developers are making with Flex and often we find out when the applications launch. At 360Flex there were 8-9 teams that I talked to who had a) never been in contact with Adobe and b) were building substancial projects. It is also great to see the component ecosystem take off. I mentioned 5 projects in the day 3 keynote where third party developers were extending Flex. ESRI, FlexLib, Farata Systems, Yahoo, Ebay all have components/apis for ActionScript3/Flex 2 and are enabling integration of their services into Flex applications. Flex really is bigger than Adobe and as a medium is showing signs of real grass roots and corporate adoption.

360Flex really exceeded my own expectations for a conference. Ebay was so generous in providing the conference facility and the support onsite. The catering services were awesome providing meals and kegs like clockwork! The speakers made this conference a success, the track content was the best I have ever seen and spaned so many different element of Flex in the tracks, Components, Integration, Flex101, and Application. The attendees also made the conference great, as the conference was single focused on Flex, the questions, dialog, and tone were very targetted and provided a ton of value. As they say “Location, Location, Location”, well 360Flex was the center of the Flex universe for 3 straight days and being apart of that conversation was great. I could not have asked for better partners on 360Flex, John and Tom were amazing and made the conference a wild success, without their effort 360Flex would not have happened.

I am looking forward to the next 360Flex and the smaller 1 day 120Flex events coming later this year. Keep an eye out for some announcements coming soon and make sure to add yourself to the announcement list here.

I had a great time and made many new friends in the process. Thanks for a great week!

Regards,

Ted :)

onFlex.org removed from Google Search!


Not sure what is up but Google Search has systematically removed 100% of my direct blog entries from search results. I started getting complaints last week about this via email from folks looking for articles on my blog (still using blogger too!). At 360Flex several other developers mentioned they could not find my articles either. Hmmmmmm…..

When folks search for “Flex” on a wide range of topics I am typically in the top results. I even use Google search to find my own articles. But by majority they are 100% removed from the search engine.

1. I am using Google Blogger to write my blog entries.
2. I am using Apache + PHP on the server.
3. The posts are pure HTML and urls are clean.

I used to be the top post for all these Google search queries:

Flex DisplayList
Flex Event lifecycle
Flex ActionScript Performance

I am wondering if something changed in the search algorithm or if my domain was just excluded from results.

Weird how this sort of coincides with announcing my working with Yahoo. I know Google “does no evil” but this seems a bit off and looks very strange.

Google please change the logic that is excluding my blog posts in your search results. I am a customer of Google, I have relied on your services (even paid for them at one point), and use blogger so my posts are included in search.

I hate to point fingers here but something is amiss in Google Search as nothing has changed on my server at all.

Ted :)