Archive for the ‘Flex Builder’ Category.

Flex builder 4 help system (CHC) and backups

(Edit: Of course this should have been titled Flash Builder 4)

One of the changes with Flash builder over previous Flex Builder products is in the help system. The help files are no-longer bundled and indexed by eclipse help. Instead a new help application is installed which attempts to combine the documentation with community content.

I must admit to not receiving this application particularly well in the first instance. However I have seen it develop over a number of weeks and as an AIR application it is expected to continue to develop independently of major product release cycles.

Since it is a new product, some rough edges can be expected. There is already a technote (cpsid_83103) relating to getting context-sensitive help working correctly in a fresh install of Flash Builder 4.

Randy Nielsen’s post on using the help client provides a good orientation for new users.

However I think there are some other things that system administrators at least (and users who backup their user-directories – particularly to the cloud) should be aware of…

1. The many names of adobe help

On a Mac it installs application “Adobe Help” into /Applications/Adobe. The main application window when running is titled “Adobe Community Help”. And you will see this application widely referred to in Adobe communications as CHC or Adobe Community Help Client. If you ever look for the preferences files for the application, you’ll find them in ~/Library/preferences/chc.xxxx.1 (where xxxx is a 40 digit hex number). Note: missing is the usual “com.adobe.” prefix.

2. Downloading the help files.

The help files need to be downloaded to your local system in order for the application to work. The current version of the application (3.0.0.400) only displays local content if the network is not available. Otherwise it always displays content from the web. This seems slightly wasteful and slow. Though we can expect an option to default to local content irrespective of network connectivity in future versions.

3. Help file size

You can manually control the downloads via Preferences>Updater settings then  “Manage now”. This will show a table of help files, whether they are current or not and their size. The size however is slightly misleading. It refers to the zip file size and therefore the network bandwidth required to download the help package. Once unzipped however, the disk-space used is a considerably larger number. I find that the help packages for Fb4 and associated stuff expand to use 563Mb.

4. Where the help files are stored

On a mac the help files are expanded and stored in the user’s preferences folder. ~/Library/Preferences/chc.xxxx.1/Local Store/Help

To me this is not the right place to be storing such content. Help content is not preferences and is not necessary ‘per user’. Preferences are usually backed up. There is absolutely no need to be backing up this content – to do so is a waste of storage, network bandwidth and machine time. Once all Adobe products are integrated with CHC, the help folder will be considerably larger than my current 563Mb.

In summary

Adobe Help, Adobe Community Help Client (CHC), is currently in its infancy as an application, but will be soon in the hands of many, many users. As an AIR application, the development team have far more flexibility to make releases between major product cycles. I hope and believe that the points I highlight (and location of help files in particular) will be addressed in coming releases – they have all been submitted to the team – not just blogged here. However they are blogged here because I think storage suppliers could be in for a field day unless sys-admins are made aware, and add rules to their backup process to omit the help files.

No CMD-SPACE in Flash Builder since Snow Leopard

Ok so CMD-SPACE is the default short cut to launch Spotlight. But I wanted that combo for ‘content assist’ with Flex/Flash Builder. Until installing Snow Leopard, that is what I had for a few years, and Spotlight relegated to CTRL-SPACE. However since SnowLeopard, the CMD-SPACE combo is not transmitted to Flash Builder. I assume this is down to Snow Leopard somehow reserving the combination. So begrudgingly I have returned to defaults…

Spotlight : CMD-SPACE
Flash Builder content assist : CTRL-SPACE

SimpleOscilloscope : filter update

My SimpleOscilloscope component described in an earlier post has now been updated to include a few filters controllable through setting styles. Of course like any other Flex component, it can have additional filtering applied in the normal way. I just felt like including these : alphaDecay, redMultiplier, greenMultiplier, blueMultiplier, blurX, blurY, scrollX, scrollY.

As ever, the project is on google code, and the test bed is here.

SimpleOscilloscope snapshot - with filters

SimpleOscilloscope : my first opensource Flex component

In the majority of my projects to-date, I am the sole developer on the project team. I was feeling the need to get into writing Flex components to a level that they could be distributed. Essentially making sure I use meta tags correctly and adding appropriate asdoc comments allowing other Flex developers to easily include the component as they would any other from the Flex SDK.

SimpleOscilloscope snapshot

So, ccglib is an MIT license OpenSource project hosted on google code through which i plan to release a number of components. The first component released is SimpleOscilloscope, which plots the currently playing sound-wave. Designed to be easily sized, coloured and positioned through application of styles.

1st debug run following Flex SDK 3.2 update

Will probably yield scary looking error:

Process terminated without establishing connection to debugger.
Command:
“/Applications/Adobe Flex Builder 3/sdks/3.2.0/bin/adl” -runtime “/Applications/Adobe Flex Builder 3/sdks/3.2.0/runtimes/air/mac” /PathToProject/bin-debug/Project-app.xml /PathToProject/bin-debug
Output from command:
error while loading initial content

So, basically by setting the project to compile against the SDK 3.2 you are implicitly changing the version of AIR you are building against from earlier versions to 1.5. To fix you need to open file :

/PathToProject/Project-app.xml

and change the namespace to “http://ns.adobe.com/air/application/1.5”

This has already been logged as a bug (FB-15687) in the bugbase against Gumbo, by the release of which, hopefully it will be intercepted to present a more meaningful message.

what the feck is AOO TLP ?

(Update: 28/10/2008 here)

Having been chastised for using these ‘unknown acronyms’ in my comment on jd’s weblog, I thought it worth writing a brief entry describing what these acronyms stand for and how they may be of interest for those purchasing or upgrading Adobe software.

Essentially this is all to do with volume licensing as an alternative to purchasing products through the Adobe store or other 3rd party suppliers. Volume licensing sounds like it is aimed at large organisations purchasing site-license. However the Transaction Licensing Programme facilitates as little as a single product license. The way the scheme works is to provide a transaction discount should you purchase multiple products in a single transaction based upon a point value for each product. TLP purchases may be made through 3rd party suppliers, but also through Adobe directly as in my case. There is no published price list so you need to request a quote.

The key point of interest to me was the Upgrade Plan which allows licenses to be purchased over 24 month subscriptions. Essentially this means I effectively have already paid to cover my CS4 upgrade. This is the point I was trying to make on jd’s weblog. He acknowledges that trial versions of CS3 products not being available until mid November is a ‘Pain point’ and he provides some explanation including the phrase “The big shipping versions get released first.”. Well I’m a AOO TLP upgrade licensee who’s just been told I may have to wait until the ‘end of November’ for it to physically ship to me. If it is painful for ‘users’ who haven’t paid for the software yet, imagine the pain for those who have paid for the software, but may have to wait until the end of November.

So while the Upgrade Plan offers some value, fulfilment seems less than ideal especially given this Key benefit documented on the Adobe site: “Get timely notifications of new upgrades, so you can stay on top of new product releases.”.

This is now my latest bug-bear. For Adobe to see how the customer experience could be improved in this regard, they need only look back to the now discontinued Macromedia DEVNET Pro subscription, where serial numbers and downloadable installers were immediately available to subscribers from day one of a new product shipping.

If this was fixed, I could now be blogging about cool new stuff in CS4 rather than  fuming over this and wondering if I would actually be better-off purchasing through conventional means.

UPDATE : 28/10/2008

Received my Adobe License Fulfilment email on 26th. Logged in and was able to request media for the upgrades, but at the time couldn’t see serial numbers or any way of downloading. However just checked again today, and the serials are there and I now have downloads in progress – and at a good bit-rate. So I’m feeling a lot happier now than when this post was originally published. While the process has not been entirely seamless, this time is far better than my previous experience with CS3 where I had to wait for physical media.

more mvc with lfpug

Over the past few months I’ve been getting my head around the likes of Cairngorm, PureMVC and better use of design patterns in general. So looking forward to tonight’s LFPUG to see what the Slide Framework For Flex adds to the mix. The other stuff on large datasets looks pretty good too!

Flex and AIR updates

A little while ago I got around to building my version of an alert tool sampler, using it as an exercise to learn Cairngorm. (The documentation for which I have found particularly poor with the exception of a few gems such as David Tucker’s excellent Cairngorm ‘Getting started’ tutorials.)

Typically AIR developers will all want to take advantage of the Update capability, but in it’s original form requires some work. Rich Tretola’s UpdateManager did the job, but I wanted more programmatic control, interception of events and a slightly different UI work-flow, and set about creating my own.  Just as that phase of the work is completed, I find Adobe’s Update Framework on labs which although beta, does a much better job. I wish it was there a week ago.

Also, I just took the opportunity to update to AIR 1.1. Unfortunately updating Flex to use the new AIR is a little messy (in that it requires manually copying some files rather than running an installer) and means moving to the 3.0.2 stable build of the Flex SDK. However it is not difficult and the instructions to follow are here.

Flex / AIR / DataGrid / itemEditor bug?

If you are using DataGrid in a Flex/AIR application, the chances are you will at some stage hit the following RunTime error…

TypeError: Error #1010: A term is undefined and has no properties.

.. with a traceback indicating the error occurred within DataGrid.as. At which point you will stare at your own code for a while and wonder why.

In my circumstance I pinned this down to clearing the contents of the data provider and repopulating when there is an item renderer active on the DataGrid. A use-case that probably doesn’t come up that often in web-based Flex apps, since if the user clicks another control to trigger an update, the item renderer is exited at that point and the edit committed prior to the dataprovider changing.

In an AIR app, we have native menus available to us. When the user employs native menu selection, the item editor remains active. If that menu option triggers a repolpulation of the data provider (use-case example File>Open), we then get the error.

The workaround is pretty simple. A call needs to be made to destroyItemEditor() on the DataGrid instance before repopulating it’s data. In a simple application this is no great problem. But if you’ve gone to the effort of using something like the PureMVC framework to separate Data Object from View Components, the data object isn’t supposed to have any knowledge of the view. So in my case thefix is quite crude – when issuing the open command, a notification to destory item editors will be issued so any view component that uses them may destroy their editor prior to the repopulation.

My contention is that it should be the responsibilty of the DataGrid to destroy the item editor if the dataprovider updates.

I have this logged as a bug with Adobe (SDK-15280), along with sample code demonstrating the issue. Feel free to review and vote for the bug if you are in agreement with my point and comment further therein if you disagree or have better suggestions to offer.

DragManager workaround in final Flex3/AIR1

With today’s availability of release versions of Flex 3 and AIR 1, I’ve finally had a chance to apply the DragManager workaround that I had a moan about last month.

The flex documentation presents three configuration options for DragManager in AIR projects

[Extract]

  1. Your main application file uses the <mx:Application> tag. In this scenario, you use the Flex drag-and-drop manager, and cannot drag and drop items from outside of AIR.
  2. Your main application file uses the <mx:WindowedApplication> tag. In this scenario, you use the AIR drag-and-drop manager, and can drag and drop items from outside of AIR.
  3. Your main application file uses the <mx:Application> tag, but loads the AIR drag-and-drop manager as represented by the mx.managers.NativeDragManagerImpl class. In this scenario, you use the AIR drag-and-drop manager, and can drag and drop items from outside of AIR.

Sounds all well and good. Except to use <mx:Application> within AIR, you lose functionality. For instance in my case while the window was re-sizeable, the content remained at the default size. What I really need is to use <mx:WindowedApplication>, but with the Flex DragDrop manager. A scenario not represented in the documentation.

Fortunately the workaround with files described in bug SDK-13983 so-far appears to work. However it is worth noting that in using it, a number of mxml tags change their namespace from mx to comps. In my case this affects

  • <mx:states>
  • <mx:transitions>

which then become

  • <comps:states>
  • <comps:transitions>

Possibly my reliance on this approach is due to the now legacy nature of the project – it was written in advance of the Apollo 1 alpha. However apart from this issue, very little has had to be re-written through the beta cycle of AIR.