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Offshore Developers Irony

It’s funny how a once brilliant idea can often turnaround and bite you.

Take off-shoring IT roles. What a brilliant idea! We can cut our costs on junior developers and only hire the senior/architect level guys for planning and oversight.

That is, until your senior guys leave and there are no junior level guys gaining the valuable experience needed to be a senior level architect. Now what are you going to do genius?!

This is exactly what is happening in the UK according to some research written in this article by Nick Heath.

So, if you think its tough to find quality development resources now… brace yourself.

 

HTML6 is the only way to do things!

This post is an email from a forum with which I subscribe. All I can say is, I could not agree more! Thanks John.

“I’m sorry but HTML5 isn’t actually an official standard yet and therefore it is impossible for any browser (even the most modern ones) to be compliant with it!

HTML5 absolutely does NOT offer all of the features of Flex. Flex (hosted in Flash Player or AIR) was a truly object oriented language that would allow someone to write code once and deploy to many devices and browsers in a pixel perfect way with little or no compatibility issues.

HTML5 + JavaScript has none of the above properties. Yes, people have faked object oriented like features with hundreds of KBs of JavaScript that you have to load on every page but in my opinion that is bending a technology further than it was meant to go. And yes, people have also built hundreds of KBs of “polyfill” JavaScript libraries but they only support certain brands / versions of browsers to a point (plus you have to load so much stuff so performance will be impacted).

HTML5 is landing us right back into the browser hell of the late 90’s / early 00’s where most of your code was concerned with detecting the browser and working around each of their little quirks (or just simply making it clear that certain browsers aren’t supported).

Even taking into account that the HTML version of Workspace is still in pre-release stage, you’d have to admit that you cannot open the application in Chrome, Safari, FireFox and IE9 and get the exact same user experience in all 4 browsers – conversely, you can open the Flex based Workspace in any of those browsers and you are unlikely to notice a difference. Moreover, you can open the Flex based Workspace in IE6 & IE7 with no troubles at all…you cannot even get past the login screen in the HTML version of Workspace using those browsers. As our current client requires us to support IE7, we have had to build our own HTML Workspace application using “traditional” HTML4 technologies.

Eventually HTML5 will become a standard and every browser will implement it in its own way with its own quirks that will – one day – hopefully converge into a manageable set of known issues that can be easily worked around. Then all we need to do is wait for everyone to get rid of their legacy browsers and we’ll be fine…by which point people will start saying that HTML6 is the only way to do things!

Oh well…at least it keeps us all in a job I suppose.”

-John Nesbitt

 

Thanks again John, I enjoyed your rant. :)

 

What do you want from Flash Builder 4.7?

As a long-time Flex developer, I’ve used several different IDEs for development. I have to say, I always find myself going back to Flash Builder. Sure, it’s an Eclipse plug-in, but it just does some much… I can resist.

On Tuesday, Adobe announced Flash Player 11.4 and AIR 3.4 along with Flash Builder 4.7. I’m excited to hear about some of the additions (and a subtraction) to the upcoming version of Flash Builder by Adobe.

Here are some of the new features you can expect to see in 4.7:

First, the long awaited 64-Bit Support has finally arrived in Flash Builder 4.7.

It will also integrate the next generation compiler, Falcon, into the IDE.

  • Falcon will greatly improve the build process and is faster

There has always been a multiplicity of shortcuts built into flash Builder, like “fore” ctrl-space to insert a “for each” block or ctrl-o to jump to an object/method definition. Well, Adobe has added more to improve productivity.

  • Improved organize imports (ctrl-shift-o)
  • Assign a parameter to a new or existing field
  • Convert a local var to a parameter
  • Create a new local var with a cast type
  • Shortcut for adding else/else-if/catch/finally blocks
  • Convert an anonymous function to a named function
  • Replace conditional with “if-else”
  • Real-time error highlighting using Falcon compiler

Remember how you used to have to create a Flex Library Project to create an AS library? Not anymore. They’ve added the ability to create an ActionScript Library Project.

Apache Flex SDK integration.

Flash Player 11.4 adds the new ActionScript Concurrency (ActionScript workers) feature which is also integrated into Flash Builder. Each worker is a SWF and handled for you by Flash Builder 4.7. This will be great for mobile games and enterprise apps.

If you’re targeting Apple iOS, you’ll love the new on-device (USB) and simulator testing and debugging support.

They added the ability to configure multiple build targets for multi-screen projects.

There is new support for customizing arguments to the ADT and ADL.

The new version, 4.7, will have one thing missing that you most likely will not miss. Design View.

Looking forward to the release!

 

Most Enterprise mobile apps suck!

The market, and need, for enterprise mobile applications is skyrocketing. However, most enterprise mobile applications that are available are not meeting the core enterprise needs, according to research2guidance.

“Following the successful adoption of customer-focused mobile applications, companies are increasingly deploying mobile apps to connect to partners and employees. Companies are mainly sourcing these apps through internal or external app development projects. Nonetheless, both established enterprise software vendors and emerging, mobile only vendors have been targeting this market segment by publishing “off the shelf” enterprise mobile apps and making them available on main public app stores. As a consequence, the number of enterprise-relevant apps has doubled from 100.000 to 200.000 over the past 12 months (Q1 2011 to Q1 2012), but as research2guidance has found only 14% of those address core enterprise needs.” Daianna Bassi

Although I don’t dispute Daianna’s research, I would add that many corporations already know this and have been seeking out custom software companies, like On3, to help them build enterprise mobile applications that focus on their business. More importantly, these applications are being build to work across platforms due to the acceptance of the BYOD movement in corporations.

Custom enterprise mobile and desktop applications are the best way to optimize ROI because they focus specifically on the business needs and have optimized usability to better suit those needs.

 

 

No one is moving from Flex to HTML5

UPDATE:

You can’t make this stuff up. Someone sent me a couple of great graphics supporting my assertion. So please respond with anything that supports the contrary.

Update:

After getting a little splashback from some of my friends and colleagues, I thought that I’d add a little supporting evidence to my assertions.

“Moving” to HTML5 at this point is senseless gambling.

I’m not just blowing smoke up your pipe here either. Open your browsers to HTML5test.com and see for yourself. Come on… go ahead and do it!

The HTML5 support score on latest Windows 7 browsers that I have: IE 138; FF 330; Chrome 400. And then on the Mac OSX 10.6 that I have; Safari 319; FF 340; Chrome 400. That makes Chrome our top student with a whopping 80%. And I’m what many would call an “Advanced User.” Expect less from the general public.

Last I checked, 80% was a low “B-”. And with over 50% of the browser usage coming from browsers that have failing scores, you can see why I would not recommend HTML5 except in specific edge cases. And you thought IE6 was bad! (Browser stats from w3schools.com)

As a mobile or web developer, adding HTML5 to your list of skills is imperative. But with the severe lack of consistent support, moving an enterprise development project to HTML5 now is purely experimental or an exercise in ego.

If you think I’m wrong, please provide supporting evidence and I’ll gladly educate myself.


 

Original Post:

The fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) is being slung around by profiteers like folding chairs at a WWE event. The haters are still being haters. Nothing new there. But now I see JavaScript companies’ desperate pleas for Flex developers to start using their HTML5 software.
The context is all wrong here.  Very, very few Flex developers have shifted, moved, changed over, or whatever you want to call it… to HTML5 (or anything else JS-based.)

 

There is not a move to HTML5

I will go as far as to say that there is not a move to HTML5. The simple fact is that, developers are being developers. No matter the background, we are always trying to broadening our skill sets. This includes HTML5 since it started showing up a few years ago. For anyone to imply, or state outright, that there is some mass exodus from Flex is completely false!

The reality is still the same, Flash Player is still the most consistent cross-browser, cross-OS, and cross-device platform for software development.

It doesn’t matter if you are building business software or games, with one technology you are able to build for the desktop, Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Android, iPad, iPhone, Blackberry and Internet TVs.

What most haters fail to realize is how nice it is to go through your bug list and not find ANY bugs that are browser/platform specific. The only bugs I have, are actual bugs that I can fix. Not browser support related issues that you have no control over. For the first time in years I had to deal with browser specific issue when our On3 client embedded the application in a JSF, JSTL, ADF container. It reminded me of how good I have it. I don’t have to deal with this headache on a daily basis. In fact, it was one of the complete joys that drove me from building DHMTL development to Flex development.

So, the next time someone says, “Flex is dead” or “Everyone is moving to <insert tech here>,” take it with a grain of salt. In all likely hood, they have a hidden agenda.

 

Thank you Moai for this great graphic on the HTML5 Hype vs. Reality.

 

Video from 360|Flex 2011 on Flex Localization with BabelFx

One of my presentations on Flex Localization with BabelFx was recorded at 360|Flex in 2011. Zaa.tv recorded a bunch of the sessions at this event and they have recently posted the videos for free.
So if you missed 360|Flex, you will find several of the presentation (including mine) very helpful in your quest for mastering Apache Flex development.

 

Adobe Flex is open source… really!!

For years the Adobe Flex SDK has been “open source.” And it was, kinda. But they had never opened it up to the community to help work on the project. Then last 360 Flex 2011 in Denver, Adobe announced that they’d support the Spoon project which would essentially spoon feed updates and additions to the Adobe Flex SDK team that were created by the community. But that is really still in infancy.

That is until the other day.

Adobe announced that they were donating the Flex SDK to the Apache Software Foundation (ASF). It’s about effen time!

I give the Adobe Flex team a lot of credit for creating a really great product, but in the end… they could only put so many resources on it for it to make financial sense. Going ASF is the right thing to do.

Adobe, go make more great tools for us… so that we can continue to inspire and engage our customers with great software.

Oh, and I’m hiring Flex developers. Just thought I’d throw that out there in case you happened to have been recently laid off.

 

Flash Player is not open == big fat lie; HTML5 is the saviour

Flash Player is open and SWF is documented

The core of Flash Player is the Tamarin Virtual Machine, which is an open source project under Mozilla. While the SWF file format is not fully open, it is documented by the community on osflash.org. Additionally, there are numerous open source products that read and write SWF files.

The Flash Player’s product direction has traditionally been heavily influenced by the community and their needs. The core language for Flash Player is an implementation of ECMAScript 262, which is the same specification for JavaScript. Flex also uses CSS for styling of components/applications.

There are also several libraries included with Flash Player that are licensed through other parties (i.e. h.264) that are not open. Thus, preventing Adobe from making the whole thing open source if they wanted to. Not sure that they would, but this definitely kills the idea.

Come save us HTML5 in 2022 AD

HTML5 has been in the works since 2004 and is still in “draft”. Its primary intent is to reduce the need for proprietary plug-ins (like Flash Player and Silverlight).

I can definitely see the benefit of not relying on a plug-in for multiple reasons. There is a concern if users will have the plug-in, but the bigger concern is vendor dependence. I think Adobe has the install base issue covered fairly well, yet it should still be a concern for locked down environments. To the bigger concern, I’d say that we already depend on companies like Apple and Microsoft quite heavily and that Adobe is far from a fledgling start-up that would be considered very risky. Naturally, I understand to the concern and will help my clients choose the appropriate technology.

The reality is that HTML5 is not coming anytime soon

Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, claims that “the world is moving to HTML5″. How is that going to happen Steve when Ian Hickson, editor of the HTML5 specification, expects the specification to reach the W3C Candidate Recommendation stage during 2012, and W3C Recommendation in the year 2022 or later?[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTML5]

Should we hold off development for a few years while Google (Ian works at Google) finishes the specifications?

Finally, how many different implementations of HTML5 do you think there will be?. There will most likely still be cross browser compatibility issues to deal with.

Flash Player and Silverlight

I’ll sticking with vendor dependence that I can use now over incomplete technology with potential compatibility nightmares any day!

 

List, ItemRenderer, toolTip… oh my!

On my latest project, I was going through several areas of the application adding toolTips to make some of the data that is clipped visible if desired. In doing so, I found out that I needed to use a combination of the different types of tips available.

Most components have a toolTip property that you can set (typically bound to some data). But the List-based components are a little different. They use dataTipField and the dataTipFunction. The “data” version of toolTips is based on the list iterating through it’s dataProvider and then adding toolTip for each row.

So, while adding toolTips to a List with an itemRenderer, I ran into a problem. My toolTips weren’t showing up when I set the dataTipField. The dataTipFunction didn’t work either. What gives?!

Well, I had an inline itemRenderer for my list. And apparently the List doesn’t like adding toolTips, via the dataTipField, to a component that is inline.

The solution: Simply add a toolTip to the inline component. And in my case, bind it to the data property that is passed in by the list.

Note: You don’t even need to set showDataTips to true.

 

Free Flex Training in Denver

The event is Flex Training for ColdFusion Developers
A free full-day, hands-on training session, where attendees can learn how to build their first Flex application using the latest Flash Builder 4 beta software. This training is designed to help experienced ColdFusion developers get started in understanding how to add rich UI to existing and new ColdFusion applications.

Date / Time
November 16, 2009
Event: 9am – 4pm
Registration: 8:30am

Main Website / Registration
http://www.adobe.com/go/flextrainingforcfdevelopers

Monday, November 16
The Curtis Hotel, 1405 Curtis Street, Denver, CO 80202