Browsing: Flex

Rebranding of Flex builder, Flash Builder the hidden story, A Boy and His Flash

June 2nd, 2009 | By Cedric

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Introduction

Lately Macromedia, no no no, Adobe announced the rebranding of Flex builder as Flash Builder. I’ve read plenty of posts and interesting comments on this matter. I will not start here with giving my opinion directly on this matter, but start with a trip with a time machine to try to better understand what brought the current situation.
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Disclaimer

This post is supposed to be slightly humorous. What is expressed is personal and I hope this will not offense anybody icon wink Rebranding of Flex builder, Flash Builder the hidden story, A Boy and His Flash image

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What Flash do

As somebody who touched for the first time a Flash product with the version 2 in 1998. I feel that today’s confusion inherits from Flash’s evolution. Through time and various iteration our tool, our technology has evolved a lot from an animation tool to an ubiquitous way to produce a wide range of products from simple things to extremely complex one, but in a context where the simple one has a mission as important as the complex one, moreover each addressing a wide range of requirements and last but not least ubiquitous.

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theflashblob

I feel that Flash along its history has been like a blob whose flexible flesh were pull to diverse directions along what users made of it, trends, demands and future expectations. Through time your blob character has lost a (8)bit its well defined bouncy borders, but it is still there and as flexible as he used to be. I’m not sure that Macromedia were that much clear about what it would become of Flash when they bought Futuresplash back in 1996 (if you have internal info about it please let me know).
It started with something which addressed an issue: provide lightweight/vectorial animations for the web. A well thought tool which was very different from what existed before. But a tool which produce content which is difficult to identify by the end user as being “made by Flash” because it is available as would any image within an html page.

This technology offered an open field for creativity and MM was looking with awareness what was happening with this technology. This attracted people from a very wide range of professionals, gathering people from the developer side and from the designer side, and even giving birth to an hybrid class of people devsigners.
(by the way do not you feel like the Boy in “A Boy and His Blob” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Boy_and_His_Blob, feeding the blob with actionscript licorice jelly beans to make it transform into amazing “shapes” icon wink Rebranding of Flex builder, Flash Builder the hidden story, A Boy and His Flash image )

Amazingly fun but can you be serious?

Ok so now you have this wonderful technology which produce funky animated visuals (skip it) and interactive pieces, it works great still it is not very well recognized for what it is and what it could be…

1: Target audience has difficulties to identify it, well it is not much a problem because the important : point is that they enjoy it and that they will demand for this kind of content. (see what is happening with Flashlite which is rarely advertised in Mobile phones leaflets, it is the same reason.) It has the advantage that you are maybe a bit more free with what you do with the branding.

2: You have people convinced by the technology, but you’d like to attract more people and people who can also show that your technology is “serious”. I mean by that prove that your technology is a serious challenger to existing others in the field of Interactive Applications.
You have a very cre-active and devoted community (respectable in size), but you need a bigger workforce to promote your technology. They are out there a huge amount of developers, but currently they work with other technologies, you really need to appeal them to widen the spread of your technology and widen its possible applications…

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Let’s appeal the other side

The Apparition of Flex resulted from this will of Macromedia to make Flash more appealing to “historical/true” developers/Architect/Business Stategist/….

1: effort were put on improving Actionscript to be respectful of programming standards (as1->as2 -> as3).

2: changed the paradygm of the timeline to meet screen based paradygm

3: promote use of MVC (mxml= the view building language, actionscript= the controller and management of data)

4: improve management of external data

5: provide a set of tools to allow this kind of developers to find ready to use well know components

6: use a well known developer platform : Eclipse with features like syntax completion, break points, profiler, etc which makes their work more efficient and comfortable.

(7: target open source and offer the opportunity to people to work with the technology for free)

A compflexe case

Then you have a new tool which use the same technology but which is free of the burden of “time incremental evolution”. (not like Flash IDE) (I jump here, on purpose, over the intermediary phase of Flex 1.0 +1.5 which I feel were to test the market)

What would you do, you need to attract these people, now you have a way to speak their language but how would you call it? Flash something? No way! Developers, IT Stategist,… have being forged an image about the product which is not very positive regarding their field and does not fit what you want to communicate. Aka the “skip animated intro complex (of the death)”. So you create a new brand, which will identify your new approach and communicate it to the right people. FLEX! (Flexible, were other challenger are not so much flexible)

Strategically speaking you need to make this new brand appealing to decision makers, to make them trust it, then you ensure to have blue print companies starting partnerships to develop impressive RIA with this tool (like ebay, IBM), which will help promote the tool within other big companies and make them start to trust it.

To finish with this part, check this historical document, the press release of Flex 2.0 http://www.adobe.com/macromedia/proom/pr/2005/announcing_flex2.html, interesting to read it in today’s context.

END OF PART 1, NEXT PART the rebranding, preparation of the future.

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Gumbo Flex 4 Button Skinning with States and Transition

September 22nd, 2008 | By Cedric

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Presentation at the Adobe User Group

I made a one hour presentation at the Adobe User Group Geneva on Gumbo Flex 4. It included a conceptual description of the Design in Mind direction targeted by Adobe for this release. It included an introduction to the new component architecture, the new skinning approach, FXG and more along with a few demos.

Toc

Introduction and concepts
Drawing API + FXG (with Demo)
Skinning, States and Transitions (with Demo)
Thermo
New Text object, FTE and TCAL (Vellum)
Flash and Pixel Bender aka Hydra (quick)

Demo

Update 09.2009: beware the example below was made on an early release of Gumbo (Flex 4) (especial regarding workspaces changes) During this presentation there was an example which interested particularly people, I have cleaned it up and you can find it here, following the trend of demos with weather forecast element. It is based on the demo by Scalenine (simplified regarding the way states’ transitions are written) and I made an alternative skin
It shows how different a button’s visual and behaviour can be when you switch its skin without retouching any logic. It starts with the basic component then you can switch between two skins.

(Require Flash Player 10)
View sources

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Currently it is a bit hard to find sources or references about Flex4 Gumbo, but it logical and it is part of the fun icon wink Gumbo Flex 4 Button Skinning with States and Transition  image Stay tuned I will put more Flex 4 samples here. I might release part of this presentation in successive steps.

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