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Foundation Flex for Developers: Data-Driven Applications with PHP, ASP.NET, ColdFusion, and LCDS (英語) ペーパーバック – 2007/12/17
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In Foundation Flex for Developers, Sas Jacobs explores in detail how to create professional data-centric Flex 2 and Flex 3 applications. In the first half of the book, she starts off with a brief exploration of Flex and ActionScript 3.0, before looking at application essentials in detail, including creating custom components, user and web browser interactions, binding, formatting and validating data, debugging, and more. The second half of the book focuses on connecting Flex to data sources and covers XML, Flex Data Services, PHP, ASP.NET, and ColdFusion in detail, via a series of step-by-step case studies.
Sas Jacobs is a Web developer who loves working with Flash. She set up her business Anything Is Possible in 1994, working in the areas of web development, information technology training and technical writing. The business works with large and small clients building web applications with ASP.NET, Flash, XML and databases. Sas has also spoken at conferences such as Flash Forward, MXDU and FlashKit on topics relating to XML and dynamic content in Flash. In her spare time, Sas is passionate about travelling, photography and enjoying life. One of her most fervent wishes is that Flash will take over the Web!
Firstly, if you are at all familiar with Flex, it was very wordy and basic. This meant that you had to spend a lot of time scanning over stuff to make sure it wasn't covering anything that you didn't already know.
Secondly, it really didn't explore the XML/AMF options or validation or data integrity or performance or data dictionary techniques. I was left with the feeling that the authors had never been involved in a large data oriented software development project.
So on the hole, rather a waste of time for me. I suspect that if you come from a Flash design background and want to move across to systems development, this might be a useful resource.
I am up to Page 27 and have worked through the first example with FlexBuilder3. The book is riddled with problems, including typographical errors, imprecise explanations, and even a conceptual error.
Example page 21: click="txtResult.text= = String(cboUnit.selectedItem.data ..."
While reading this I wasted about two minutes trying to puzzle out why there would be two equals signs in a row before deciding that this is probably a typo. By working the example on my computer I confirmed this.
Example page 23: The book refers to both a NumberValidator and NumericValidator.
An engaged student will have to wonder, are there two different kinds of Validator, or is the teacher lazy? No one wants a lazy teacher but that appears to be the case here.
Example page 23: "The CDATA declaration prevents Flex Builder from parsing the contents of the..."
I believe this is an imprecision that can seriously throw someone off who is trying to learn this stuff. In fact the CDATA declaration prevents the *compiler* from parsing the contents of the... Flex Builder only gets involved because it happens to invoke the compiler, but the compiler is a separate agent here, and the critical one that should have been named.
Example page 26: "This event object will also be dispatched when the user clicks the Convert button because the validator uses the click TriggerEvent."
I don't mean to be an impertinent student, but I would suggest that this is just plain wrong and it reveals a conceptual misunderstanding on the author's part. In fact, in the code the author presents, the validator is invoked by an explicit call to a validate() method; the correct validation is done because the NumberValidator object has its source property set to the TextInput object. The TriggerEvent is not necessary, as I verified by commenting out this part of the author's code.
To be generous, this book is indeed teaching me Flex, but by a very peculiar pedagogical approach. Maybe indeed one learns better by being forced to think very hard about the validity of every single statement and sentence. What worries me is if this author launches off on the wrong track with regard to coding style and program architecture. Since I now know that I cannot trust this author, I'm not sure how much longer I'll stick with the book.
My recommendation: find a better book.
It goes very in depth in covering XML in Flex builder with detailed information on understanding E4X expressions. Which I will refer back to many times in my development process for these great techniques. And great best practice information for MXML.
I would have liked more coverage of how to integrate Flex with the Flash IDE type workflow. Other than creating components. There's a good but brief overview of AS3.
The case studies for connecting to data-driven applications are pretty short but useful. The PHP chapter walks though a Flex blog management system with a tabbed interface. It walks through how to set this up in with PHP code and how to connect to a MySQL database. With all the sample files available for download on the Friends of Ed website.
The book is very long (over 500 pages) and most useful for me as a desk reference when needing assistance while working with particular items in Flex. It tries to cover so much in terms of data driven technologies that the individual case studies feel a bit shallow.
Overall, I recommend this book to anyone that wants to learn or improve their knowledge of Flex and best practices using AS3 in Flex.