an AIR pet hate : Forcing Windows UI on users of other platforms

An emerging pet hate of mine: AIR applications that do-away with the system chrome, only to then re-implement parts of it, but ignoring host-system conventions. Note this isn’t anything to do with AIR itself, more to do with designers and/or developers not entirely considering user-experience across all platforms.

window controls

The example above taken from Tour de Flex.

Personally for this app I see no reason not to have used the host system’s chrome. Doing so would have entirely avoided this issue. But to re-implement fundamental controls such as those pictured using positioning and icons based on only one operating system in an app which is cross-platform undermines the user-experience for users of other systems. In the example, a Windows arrangement and appearance is used which feels wrong on a Macintosh system, where the arrangement should be reversed and in the left rather than the right corner of the window. That it is Adobe setting this presedent in a number of their AIR applications is disapointing. I hope it is a convention other AIR developers will not follow. I certainly wont.

1st debug run following Flex SDK 3.2 update

Will probably yield scary looking error:

Process terminated without establishing connection to debugger.
“/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 :


and change the namespace to “”

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.

Peddling Tour de Flex

New Tour De Flex application looking like a very cool and a very useful resource. More information…

Basically it’s a Flex Component explorer as an AIR application and Eclipse plugin.

Just thinking I’d have preferred that the System Chrome was used in the AIR app to provide the min/max/close buttons rather than those alien windows style icons on the wrong side of the window. Mac user me! ūüėČ

brushing up on flex and effects

This week I’ll be mostly getting my head around effects. Unfortunately missed Tink’s LFPUG presentation, but just been doing a catchup with the video and resources, I think worth re-posting here…

2006 iMac? perhaps AppleCare more important

Having just read a tale of woe regarding  a dead 2006 iMac, and the indications that this may be a particular issue with those machines, it is looking like AppleCare should be considered by owners far more seriously than normally would be the case. If the logic board dies in the way described, the machine as a whole, which should realistically be good for a couple more years productive life, will become an echonomic right-off.

While initial cost of ownership of Apple machines stacks up with similarly configured PCs, the cost of repair – particularly of the logic board is shocking.


Dreamweaver CS4, Subversion and site Synchronize. Two cautions.

The following notes assume three file sets: A: the remote site; B: The local site; C: The repository.

We are linked to the repository using  the SVN+SSH method I discussed yesterday.

Caution 1

In this particular site, I have a folder within which server-side code generates and deletes server-side text files and modifications to MS Access databases. It is therefore necessary to sync from the server to the local copy.  This is done using the settings: Get newer files from remote, and delete local files not on remote server. As in the following dialogue.sync

However in my particular site my preview list of files appeared as follows. Can you spot what’s wrong?!


By linking your local site to a subversion repository, you make that local site folder a working copy. This creates a host of hidden files within your local site folder which are used to coordinate synchronisation with the repository. These files should only ever be touched by Subversion. Dreamweaver however has decided in its synchronisation process to check to see if each of these files are on the remote server. Of course they are not – nor ever should be. Dreamweaver has then listed them for deletion!

Important: DO NOT ALLOW ANY OF THESE FILES TO BE DELETED as part of this sync-down. Doing so will break your working copy and break your local site’s sync with the repository.

Of course in the preview list you can go through and set the files you wish not to be afftected to be skipped as I have in the following snapshot…


Clearly from the above Dreamweaver has not only given me a huge list to work through, but in doing so has wasted a whole load of time – the FTP commands for checking 900 files are quite time consuming.

I’m not sure why Dreamweaver is including .svn files in this particular synchronisation effort. I can think of no use-case where this would be desired. Dreamweaver is smart enough not to attempt to sync .svn files when updating to the remote server rather than from the remote server.Therefore I suspect this is an over-sight, and I have logged it as a bug via the Adobe Bug Report Form.

There is a quicker safer way to avoid .svn files being sync’d in this way, and that is to use cloaking. For each site at issue, right-click the site’s root folder and choose¬† Cloaking > Settings…, then enable cloaking and add .svn to the file list…


Caution 2

Deleted site files, either deleted via a sync operation or direct deletion in the Files window, do not get committed to the repository on your next ‘check-in’. In fact so far I have not seen any way for Dreamweaver to inform the repository of deletions and I am currently relying on 3rd party tools to undertake the commit. In my case I use SCPlugin and commit the site folder, at which point it will list the deleted files as ‘missing’. Selecting those and hitting commit records them as deleted to the repository.

Maybe I’m missing something as this seems a major omission of basic functionality. It is quite dangerous for deletions not to get properly recorded to the repository, running the risk that the deleted files may be inadvertently restored to the local copy and eventually to the live site.

Update (4 November 2008):

Having found the documentation, it is clear that Dreamweaver’s subversion integration really does not extend to committing deletions to the repository. They need to be done either manually or through a 3rd party tool as I describe above. Pretty unfriendly for anyone new to subversion and quite different from the workflows used within dreamweavers for sunchronistion between local and remote sites for instance. Personally I think the documentation should explain this fact much far prominently as well as describing in more detail how manage deletion and renaming if connected to subversion.

migrate from file to svn+ssh for Dreamweaver CS4 on Mac

I’ve been using subversion for a few years now. Initially used through subclipse within Eclipse/Flex Builder then later also used with Dreamweaver sites using tools such as svnX and scplugin along with the “Cloak SCM directories” command. In most cases to date, I have used the “file:///” protocol as this provides direct and efficient access to repositories which are available within the local system or local area network. I had been looking forward to subversion integration in Dreamweaver and when the CS4 public beta was released I had a bit of a moan about the absence of the file protocol. Despite my efforts in the beta’s forum and the Dreamweaver wish-list, it remains absent. So now to look to using a different protocol.

There is a helpful 3 part article on the Adobe site describing how to get started with dreamweaver CS4 and svn. In part 3, the author chooses to present how jump through the hoops to get Apache to serve and access a local repository over http. There are a number of reasons why this approach is not right for me:

  1. svn served using mod_dav_svn through Apache over http is less efficient than svnserve through ssh.
  2. I have multiple repositories, one per project and all stored on a separate project disc. To use the http method, I would need to edit httpd.conf to add a directory mapping and manage access rights for each repository.

By using svn+ssh, svnserve launches on demand (no need for a running daemon) and we have access to all the paths available to the ssh user logged in.

So, to get this going on Mac OS X 10.5…

Turn on ‘Remote Login’ in the ‘Sharing’ system preferences. Rather than using the default of allowing access for all users, I restricted access to only my user.

At this point you should be able to use sv+ssh urls from within terminal. e.g.

% svn info svn+ssh://[email protected]/Volumes/full/path/to/repository

However if you try to use the same connection in a tool such as svnX you are likely to get error : ssh_askpass: exec(/usr/libexec/ssh-askpass): No such file or directory

To get around this we really need to establish public key authentication, which also serves to avoid you having to use your user account’s name and password for the connection.¬† Based upon this article on OpenSSH, I did the following:

% cd
% cd .ssh
% ssh-keygen -q -f id_rsa -t rsa

If the .ssh directory doesn’t exist, then use mkdir to create it. ssh-keygen creates both public and private keys.

Update 16-Feb-2009: Since writing this and applying an number of mac system and security updates i today found that any attempt to ssh+svn would result in…

svnserve: Command not found.
svn: Connection closed unexpectedly

To solve the issue (based on notes here and here) I prefixed line 1 of with:

command="/usr/bin/svnserve -t"

As this is my one and only public key, I simply uses the following line to copy the public key to a file called ‘authorized_keys’. However if you are dealing with more than one key, you should use the guaidance in the OpenSSH article to append the key to that file.
%  cp authorized_keys
Once this has been done, attempting to use your svn+ssh  url within svnX should now work. Note: you may get the error re-displayed, but it will dismiss to be replaced by a current view of the repository. Also the first time, you will be prompted for the password. Here you need to enter the passphrase you used when you created the rsa key. I chose for this to be remembered in my keychain to avoid having to retype it in future.

With this done, you are now ready to contemplate setting up Dreamweaver. You need to be aware that an subversion working copy knows the url to the repository from which it was checked out. If your existing DW local copies of sites are subversion working copies checked out like mine via the ‘file:///’ protocol, you need to migrate them to ‘svn+ssh://’ so:

  1. Firstly ensure that everything you need to retain from your working copy has been committed to the repository
  2. Drag your working copy to the trash
  3. Create a new folder to contain your local site
  4. In Dreamweaver create a new site and manage the settings accordingly, pointing the local site to the folder you just created.
  5. In the version control category of the site definition, choose ‘Access Subversion’
  6. Protocol SVN+SSH
  7. Server address is your local computer. i.e. ‘computername.local’
  8. Repository path is a full path to the repository then further on down to the folder containing the site. In my case, each repository is split into trunk, branches and tags folders, and my site folder named ‘webroot’ is a sub-directory of trunk. So my path will read:¬† /Volumes/full/path/to/repository/trunk/webroot
  9. Server port remains default
  10. Provide your user name
  11. Leave password blank. The connection will be authenticated using the RSA public key
  12. Click the test button and you should get the message “Server and project are accessible!”
  13. CLick ‘Ok’, to leave the site definition
  14. In the file view, right-click the site folder and choose Version control > Get latest versions
  15. The latest versions of the files in the repository will be checked out of the repository into your local folder which will now become a working copy.

Job done.