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Random thoughts on Flash Remoting:

This is where I get to ramble when I feel like it. Kind of like a blog, but it's not a blog. This is a blog. ;-).

98 posts.

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Flash Remoting Updater Release 1

Tuesday, March 11, 2003 8:22:57 AM

Finally we have a Flash Remoting updater for all versions (CF, Java, ASP.NET)! There appear to be substantial bug fixes, but I have not tried it as yet. The URL is:

http://www.macromedia.com/support/flash_remoting/updaters.html

http://www.macromedia.com/support/flash_remoting/releasenotes/mx/releasenotes_updater.html

The major news is the disconnected RowSets in Java can now be serialized into RecordSets on the client. This was perhaps the biggest problem with Flash Remoting for J2EE. Without the use of a RecordSet, there was not a huge advantage to using Flash Remoting.

Be sure to read the installation instructions at http://www.macromedia.com/support/flash_remoting/updaters/release_1/installation.html

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New Macromedia site

Thursday, March 06, 2003 6:48:16 PM

By now everyone has seen the new Macromedia site. This could have been a huge shot in the arm for Flash Remoting, but I think that the site is not really living up to the promises of Rich Internet Applications. For one thing, the navigation between pages is confusing at best, and many key links are hidden or buried where they are hard to find (such as the Exchange link buried on the Downloads page.)

The real problem with it is that it does NOT promote the technology that it is using. . .it simply makes it look bad. I know from my own experience how fast and powerful a Flash site can be using the Flash Remoting technology with a ColdFusion back end. The Macromedia site does not take advantage of any of it. There are way too many pages that load in separate applications. The whole concept of Flash Remoting is that you can create an interface that remains in the user's browser -- you should not have to load in a separate application each time you switch to another page. The AMF packets that Flash Remoting utilizes to pass information back and forth are tiny -- something like 1/4 the size of a similar XML packet.

The best example I've seen yet of a Flash Remoting application is the Pet Market app. This app really demonstrates what is cool about Flash Remoting. The MM site shows us everything that is wrong with Flash. I really want MM to succeed with Flash Remoting and I would love to see HTML become ancient history, but it needs to be promoted in such a way that people will want to use it. . .not shy away from it.

The Exchange is actually a complete FR application, and it has some great new features that make it better than the old Exchange. . .but that really isn't saying much because the old Exchange was absolutely horrible. I remember searches that took minutes and uploads that had to be done 5-10 times because of timeouts. There are still problems though:

All in all, I think they need to go back to the drawing board on this one. Sure, it has some really cool functionality, but on the whole it's not a good experience. I really wanted this to be the killer site that would bring Flash Remoting into the limelight, but as it stands I think it is doing the technology a huge disservice.

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Out of the loop

Thursday, March 06, 2003 6:24:35 PM

I realize I haven't written in a while, and I plan to get some tutorials and examples up soon. I've been hard at work on another book, and that usually takes all my extra time. I'll have some news about that soon. Also, at some point I'll turn this into a real blog. . .since it's not a blog yet. . .and get some Flash Remoting content up here.

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Macromedia support forums not working correctly

Friday, January 17, 2003 9:20:02 PM

Many people use the Macromedia support forums to get answers to questions about Macromedia products. The forums at one time were NNTP only, which allowed for quick access in a news reader, like Outlook Express or Netscape Messenger. Recently Macromedia merged the old Allaire forums (web-based) with the NNTP support forums. The idea is that people should be able to post from either the web-based forum or the newsgroup based forum and there would be mirroring between the two--in other words, you can post a question on the web, someone can answer the question from either location. The posts are supposed to be mirrored between the two places.

The problem lately has been that questions answered on the newsgroup have not been propagated to the web, so people using the web-based forums are thinking that their questions have not been answered.

I think the best solution to the problem is for Macromedia to fix the forums so that they work correctly. They certainly have the technology to do it.

For people who are unfamiliar with the newsgroups, here are some links to the Flash newsgroups:

news://forums.macromedia.com/macromedia.flash.flash_remoting

news://forums.macromedia.com/macromedia.flash.actionscript

news://forums.macromedia.com/macromedia.flash.flashcom

news://forums.macromedia.com/macromedia.flash.flash

news://forums.macromedia.com/macromedia.jrun.flash_remoting

The newsgroups are much, much easier to use than the web based forums. You can scan the posts instantly, and be in and out in a matter of seconds.

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Security issue with Flash Remoting and web service

Wednesday, January 15, 2003 3:23:42 PM

There appears to be a security problem with Flash Remoting. Maybe someone has a workaround, but I've been unable to find one.

When you create a Flash Remoting app using a Web service, the Web service can be a URL that is anywhere, as in the following:

#include "NetServices.as"
NetServices.setDefaultGatewayUrl("http://www.mysite.com/flashservices/gateway");
var my_conn = NetServices.createGatewayConnection();
var myService = my_conn.getService("http://www.somewhereelse.com/someservice.aspx?wsdl", this);
myService.getBlah();

The Flash Remoting code calling a Web service will work from anywhere. If you have the SWF file on your desktop, it will work. If you have it on another server somewhere, it will work. And. . .here's where the security problem is. . . .if someone else uses YOUR Flash Remoting gateway to call a Web service, it will work also. That means that I can use someone else's gateway in my Flash movie, and call a remote web service, and the processing will be done by the gateway--Web service stub files will be created and the service will be proxied through the gateway, in effect hijacking the gateway of another server.

In ASP.NET you can get around this problem by removing the write permission levels to the ASPNET user--the proxy stubs will not be created--but for J2EE and CF MX, I am not aware of any way around this problem.

The other known security issue that I'm aware of is that ServerSide ActionScript files (*.asr) are browseable by default (as plain text). You need to manually remove this functionality from your web server or your ActionScript code will be viewable by anyone who knows the URL to the file.

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