360|Flex: Day 1

by Thomas Brady


Whew. It’s a blur. I literally had to look back at my notes to verify that I’d attended a session with a familiar name from this morning.

The Adobe Keynote was first thing this morning at 9:30. I wonder what it’s like having a bit of a beef with the iOS platform (and the Mac platform for that matter, and yes, you do hear grumblings from time to time when you’re in the room with the Adobe folks, but only from some of them) and having to face a large auditorium full of glowing white Apple logos at your keynote. 

I have to say, I’m swimming in Kool-Aid, and it’s starting to taste pretty good. They demoed an app during the keynote that ran in a browser, in a desktop AIR app, on a Galaxy S and a XOOM tablet, and on an iPhone 4 and iPad2. And it worked fantastically well in each place. The performance was indistinguishable from native. Granted, they’ve probably optimized the hell out of this demo, and they’ve got the platform engineers on their team. Still. Pretty darn compelling. 

Then I was off to a session about maximizing code reuse with multiple target builds. Basically, build a library of core functionality. Then build individual projects for each target build (iOS, AIR desktop, Android, etc.). It got more nuts-and-boltsy than that, with a particular method for MVC that adds a Presenter to the mix. I was a little shocked to realize that this is pretty similar to the approach I’ve been taking with the last couple large-scale projects I’ve done. I thought I was way behind on the MVC stuff. You can check out materials from the presentation at jasonhanson.com/360flex.

Next I got some Flex performance tips and tricks from two of the Flex engineers. Pretty sweet. Quite a bit of it was about mobile, but a lot of the recommendations work for any Flex build. They also recommended checking out this Adobe Max session.

Then I got a deep dive into Flex 4.5 features. They have a new media-query like feature that lets you use @media rules in CSS for DPI-dependent assets. Nice. The two focuses in 4.5 are mobile (in a big way) and compilation optimization (faster and just works better for larger projects). We were also given a near-final prerelease copy of Flash Builder 4.5. I’ve been using the public beta a bit, and the new project templates for mobile dev are pretty awesome. Speaking of templates, FB 4.5 adds code templates, and it looks like a very well executed feature. Very nice.

Next I attended a session that overcooked my brain. Dynamic programming was a new concept to me, and the example algorithms were a bit over my head. I did glean the concepts, but I’m not sure I’ll be using this in my own projects any time soon. I might need to do some interesting tabel searching that could use this, and I might even be doing some pathfinding, but other than that…

The Q&A session with the Flex, Catalyst, and Flash Builder teams was pretty cool. Working with product development at my day job, it was interesting to see the interaction between the product managers, developers, and evangelists. Adobe has a good team. Deepa is super knowledgable, a great communicator, and seems to have a great relationship with the team. The session bordered on airing of grievances at times, but the team was very gracious and was able to turn the mood around again. Good on them.

There have been some oddities about this conference. I had no idea there was a mobile app. I see no mention of it at 360Flex.com. I don’t recall any mention of it in any of the emails I got after registering. It was only this morning when it was pointed out that the schedule within the app was now wrong that I found it existed. And, by the way, what good is a software schedule if it’s not updating real-time? The paper schedule I printed out before leaving my home town is just as effective, and, in this case, actually accurate. It also doesn’t render correctly in the horizontal layout. I wouldn’t normally be so nit-picky about a conference app, but this is a mobile development conference, largely.

It’s really weird being surrounded by Flex devs. I think I only know like 3 in Austin. Here I’m surrounded by about 300, I think.

No music or downtown Denver exploration tonight. Lights out for me.