Category Archives: Flex

Apache Flex incubator vote has concluded

I’m happy to report the Apache Flex incubator proposal vote has concluded today and it has unanimously been accepted as a podling! There were a total of 23 votes of which 10 were binding (by Incubator PMC members). It was nice to see there were no 0 or -1 votes at all so think any initial doubts in the discussion period have been able to get addressed to everyone’s satisfaction.

The next step is getting the infrastructure set up for the project and then ultimately getting the initial code submitted. It is important to realize that now the hard work actually just starts and I look forward to seeing Flex move to an open development model and the community actively getting involved.

Apache Flex incubator proposal is up for a vote

The vote on the Apache Flex incubator proposal is now open and in 72 hours we will know the result. The vote on adding the additional mentors to the Apache Incubator PMC has not concluded but they have provisionally been added to the proposal.

In the unlikely event Dave Fisher and/or Anne Kathrine Petterøe are not accepted there are still at least two confirmed initial mentors on the project.

You can follow along on the mailinglist and show your support with a +1 (though your vote will only be binding if you are a PMC member). There is already quite a bit of activity on the thread and it is extremely likely we will have the go-ahead this Friday for the Apache Flex podling.

Exciting times!

Apache Flex incubator proposal is up for a vote

The vote on the Apache Flex incubator proposal is now open and in 72 hours we will know the result. The vote on adding the additional mentors to the Apache Incubator PMC has not concluded but they have provisionally been added to the proposal.

In the unlikely event Dave Fisher and/or Anne Kathrine Petterøe are not accepted there are still at least two confirmed initial mentors on the project.

You can follow along on the mailinglist and show your support with a +1 (though your vote will only be binding if you are a PMC member). There is already quite a bit of activity on the thread and it is extremely likely we will have the go-ahead this Friday for the Apache Flex podling.

Exciting times!

What it means for Flex to become an Apache project

The vote on the Apache Flex incubator proposal has not yet started but should only be a matter of days away – currently a few additional candidate mentors for the project (Dave Fisher and Anne Kathrine Petterøe) need to be elected to the Incubator Project Management Committee. Once that has happened it should be plain sailing to get it going.

With a bit of luck we will have the process wrapped up in the first week of 2012 – what better way to start the new year!

In the meanwhile, if you were anything like me and the Apache way of doing things isn’t quite obvious there are a couple of videos from the Flex Summit that are well worth watching. Roy Fielding – one of the original founding members of Apache, and well known for his work on HTTP and REST – who now works for Adobe explains the process, what it means for technology to become an Apache project and how you can make it thrive.

 
http://tv.adobe.com/embed/839/11798/

http://tv.adobe.com/embed/839/11799/

 
There’s also a great episode of “The Flex Podcast” you can listen to with Jon Campos, Michael Labriola, and Jesse Warden as guests talking about their take-aways from the Flex Summit and the future of the technology.

I’ve been running a poll on my blog for a little over a week now and am encouraged to see the sentiment around Apache Flex is largely positive and more of a “wait and see” than an immediate negative outlook on what is happening.

If you are active on Twitter you can follow @ApacheFlex (not sure who runs this account) which aggregates a lot of articles and tweets about Flex and the Apache Software Foundation or follow the discussion using the #ApacheFlex hashtag.

 
As you can see there are plenty of ways to keep up to date with what is happening and encourage everyone to do so and get involved in whatever way they can. Its important to realize that the community can now actively shape the future of Flex and it is an open process where contributions from anywhere are encouraged and on an equal footing.

Happy holidays to you all!

 

Update on the Apache Flex incubator proposal

The discussion about the Apache Flex proposal is now in full swing on the Apache Software Foundation Incubator mailinglist. I have to say its been great getting some outside perspective and it seems to generally be very positive and constructive.

If you haven’t followed along, here are some of the discussion points that got raised:

  • There was a point made about individual contributors versus company representation when the proposal talks about Adobe having minority representation. This was subsequently addressed in the wording of the proposal.

  • There is an interest in getting a list compiled of third party dependencies, their licenses and possible open source alternatives. Part of this will be addressed by Adobe lawyers and the findings will get shared as they become available.

  • The Flex trademark is planned to get donated to the project, there were some concerns about the request to let existing groups using this trademark continue to do so and how that would work under the general ASF trademark guidelines. This is something that would get addressed before the project can graduate from its incubator status.

  • Concerns about Flash Player and AIR runtime dependency and its proprietary nature. This has been largely addressed and the Apache Flex incubator would be free to decide how it proceeds with this and if it wants to target another export format. There is a keen interest in FalconJS and it was reiterated that there is every intention to propose this at some point as either a separate incubator or subproject.

  • There was a question about Adobe commercial Flex support. This could be partly driven by some poor wording in my reporting of the Flex Summit discussions. Alex Harui addressed this in saying “Adobe is not currently planning to offer support for Flex released from Apache, but that could change.”

 
Definitely some valid questions there and a good understanding of what the obstacles might be as well as clear opportunities. One of the quotes that stood out for me was by Greg Stein: “Let’s not strive for a perfect contribution from Adobe, and miss an opportunity for an excellent contribution.”. I agree there might be areas where we don’t have a 100% ideal situation but there is time and scope to get that addressed within the incubation period.

Bertrand Delacretaz – one of the project sponsors – issued a call for additional mentors (given the size of the codebase and large number of initial committers). These need to be existing Incubator PMC members and can register their interest on the mailinglist.

If I understand correctly how the whole process works, after the proposal is fine tuned and the discussion dies down a vote will be called on whether to admit Apache Flex as an incubator project. I look forward to seeing how this develops.
 

Apache Flex incubator proposal submitted

I’m happy to see things are moving along nicely – earlier today the Flex incubator proposal was submitted to the Apache Software Foundation.

http://wiki.apache.org/incubator/FlexProposal

There now is a discussion period followed by a vote on whether to accept the project. The voting procedure takes three days after which we will hopefully have some good news and initial source code can get committed.

If you want to follow along with the discussion, subscribe to the incubator mailinglist by sending an email to general-subscribe at incubator dot apache dot org.

 
Looking forward to seeing what the future brings!

 

Flex summit – updates on the open source strategy and runtimes

 
“Challenges that bring great opportunities” is how I’d summarize what I’ve seen of the Flex summit so far.

Adobe has invited some key Flex community members and enterprise partners to discuss the open source strategy around Flex and shed light on its commitment to the Flash Platform runtimes.

Here is some of the more interesting news that came out of the discussions:

 

  • Adobe has legal clearance to submit Flex to the Apache Software Foundation, the incubation proposal will be submitted in the coming weeks
  • Adobe will not be offering any commercial support contracts for Flex 4.6 and higher, though will honor existing contracts and continue offering support for the foreseeable future.
     
  • Flash Builder is continuing to be developed, the next version will not have Design View
     
  • Flash Catalyst is being discontinued
     
  • Adobe is investigating HTML5 but doesn’t have a framework in the pipeline that would allow migrating enterprise Flex functionality.
     
  • Danny Winokur acknowledges Adobe’s communication blunder and resulting trust deficit
     
  • Adobe wants to continue to innovate with the Flash Platform, gaming and premium video are features that will drive it – but will not be limited to just those areas.
     
  • There is a firm commitment to AIR on Android, iOS and BlackBerry PlayBook.
     
  • Discussion with Microsoft is ongoing about AIR application support in Windows 8 Metro.
     
  • Falcon compiler is under development, current timeline is early second half 2012 for AS3 support, late 2012 for MXML. Based on the discussions at the summit, there is a keen interest to get Falcon contributed as open source and have the community help work on it.
     
  • Falcon JS is a research project and Adobe seems very reluctant in making any promises that this will turn into a viable product to cross compile real world applications to HTML/CSS/SVG/JS.
     

If the news about Flex going open source came at any other time, I believe just about everyone in the community would be jumping for joy. The fact that it was announced in the wake of a general sense that Adobe is starting to abandon its Flash Platform technology is what made it problematic. That said, there are certainly valid concerns – especially for the enterprise market that makes huge long term investments and Adobe wil have a tough time reclaiming trust with them.

I was skeptical about what this summit was supposed to achieve but have to say the open discussion has been great and Adobe is clearly looking to find ways to recover from the horrible communication disaster of this last month.

I’d like to thank those attending, Mike Labriola and Leif Wells in particular for being so vocal in representing community frustrations and getting Adobe to acknowledge them.

There’s more news coming out today (here is a live stream and you can ask questions through twitter using the #flexsummit hashtag), I might follow up on developments in a later blog post. In the meanwhile there are recordings available that you can watch of yesterdays discussions.

 
Discussion, Q&A with Danny Winokur
Flash Platform and Flex updates
Falcon and Falcon JS

 

gotoAndSki("Switzerland") 2012 – Simple P2P for the common mortal

I’ve been meaning to attend gotoAndSki for several years now, but it never seemed to work out – until now. If you don’t know about this unique event you should definitely check it out! In summer it takes place in Norway, in winter in Switzerland.

This coming January 2012 I’ll join a fantastic lineup of speakers (Mario Klingemann, Mihai Corlan, Bhakti Pingale, Michael Plank, Steven Peeters, Dominic Graefen, Hugo Fernandes, Eugene Zatepyakin) in the beautiful town of Stechelberg. Its a relatively small scale conference, giving you excellent opportunity for networking and general “geeking out”.

During the day you can get out and see the Swiss Alps, ski or do other fun activities. The evening is conference time with several sessions over a period of three days.

 
My session is called “Simple P2P with Flash & Flex for the common mortal” and I’ll be showing the latest developments of the CocoonP2P framework. I’ll show how to set up device discovery, messaging, file sharing, video streaming (and hopefully some other cool surprises) between various devices *all without a server*.

The goal is to make it so easy your grandmother could do it – and I think we’ve pretty much accomplished that.

 
I hope to see you there, if you want to make it out – be sure to grab your ticket now – its without a doubt the best conference deal around (not to mention it includes accommodation and all your meals).

 

The Flash Platform saga… one week later

[update] There is now some more solid information on the future direction of Flex available here.

 
We’re a week after Adobe’s shocking announcements around its future vision of the Flash Platform – time to get some perspective and see what exactly has happened.

Unfortunately on a number of topics we’re no closer to having real answers but this is my personal take and summary of what is publicly announced:

 
Flash Player for mobile (e.g. on Android) will not be further developed nor receive any further updates after version 11.1 (which was made available earlier this week) apart from critical bug fixes and security updates.

The Flash Player is still available for download and existing SWF content is supported, at some point in the future SWF content targeting new features will likely no longer work on mobile browsers. There has been talk about Adobe allowing OEMs to license Flash Player and do their own implementation, something which RIM reportedly wants to do for their PlayBook and upcoming QNX based devices (lets hope for more willing OEM partners to do their own Flash Player porting).

Adobe will invest further in AIR to package applications to mobile across devices, the recent acquisition of Nitobi and the involvement in the PhoneGap project also fits into this picture.

Unclear to me is if Flash Player 11.1+ content will be supported in AIR for Android and other devices. I don’t see how that would work if they don’t want to continue to port newer versions of the Flash Player – unless they take a strategy like on iOS where the runtime gets cross compiled to native binaries for each platform.

 
The Flash Professional engineering team has had a number of layoffs, though the product is still under development.

Product management is located in the US but the development is being outsourced to India. The next release of Flash Professional will have a feature to export to HTML5. If its anything like Wallaby or Google’s Swiffy project, ActionScript support – if any at all – will be very limited.

My own personal take on this is that its only a feasible proposition if Javascript support is introduced as a scripting “dialect”.

http://www.mikechambers.com/blog/2011/11/10/flash-professional-and-the-future/

 
The Flex SDK is going to get donated to an open source foundation and the Spoon project and Adobe (unclear how active and to what extent) will be involved in shaping its future.

The blog post announcing this however goes on to mention that HTML5 and web standards will be the best long term strategy – which undermines their case for continued support of the framework.

 
Flash Builder will still be developed and reportedly some Flash Catalyst features will merge into that product. The Falcon compiler project is still being worked on.

That seems like a pretty sensible move to me, imagine that at some point soon HTML5 will also become an export format here too.

 
LiveCycle and Acrobat Connect are being “wound down” – best guidance I’ve found on it is that they’re cutting investment on it, though continue to support it for existing clients in the government and the enterprise financial services market.

http://www.underprise.com/2011/11/11/the-future-of-adobe-livecycle/

 
I am still baffled at what Adobe was thinking in the way they communicated these changes. Clearly serious mistakes were made and I’m already seeing consequences everywhere.

Flash Player on desktop technically has a bright future ahead for gaming in particular, the issue here is if the actions of last week have not undermined Adobe’s credibility to such a point that nobody is willing to invest. After all, they’ve now proven that the very thing you’ve been working on for months or years can be pulled out from under you at any point in time.

Most shockingly is still how MAX attendees were misled – thousands of people paying thousands of dollars to make it out to an event that claims to give them insight into the roadmap at Adobe. It is now also clear that Adobe employees did not know about these upcoming changes until the day itself, so this is no criticism on their part.

 
I still strongly stand behind my call for a leadership change at Adobe. Spending billions of dollars over the years on developing a mobile platform to then abandon it without any advance guidance or clear transition path to your user base is inexcusable. The enterprise Flex market is one few that actually prefers proprietary solutions, they want a strong company backing the technology they use and a roadmap they can trust on.

We’ll see how these decisions play out, the move towards web standards can proof to be a good one in the long run but the more critical problem is restoring confidence in Adobe.
 

Using a SQLite database in Flex Mobile applications

SQLite in Flex MobileWhen working with local data in mobile applications you might want to consider a SQLite database. Those are especially useful when working with large amount of data that you want to filter at runtime.

Flex Mobile projects can simply take advantage of SQLite support in the Adobe AIR runtime. You could certainly write it from scratch – meaning you create a File instance and SQLConnection, set up event listeners, wait for the connection to open and set up a SQLStatement with a SQL query and more event listeners.

For most uses though there is a much easier approach using some simple SQLite wrapper classes myself and Robert Turrall wrote a while ago.

 

Just to illustrate how easy these wrapper classes make things for you when writing Flex Mobile projects look at the code below. These two lines do everything you need to open a connection to your database file and select all the records.

[cc lang=”mxml”]

[/cc]

You can see that using the open event on the SQLite tag we can wire it up to automatically run the query that selects all the records from our database.

The only thing left to do is pass the result of the database query to a component to display it in our mobile application. In this case I’ll be using a List component and assigning the data property of the query instance when the result event fires

[cc lang=”mxml”]


[/cc]

Running the code above will query the database for all records and show it in the List component.

In a more advanced application you would set up more Query tags to correspond to different queries or maybe updating or deleting records from the database. Have fun!