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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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Hosts file blocks Macromedia

Wednesday, November 12, 2003 10:14:06 AM

There is a file named hosts, located at C:\WINNT\system32\drivers\etc by default on Windows machines, that allows you to prevent annoying ad campaigns by simply blocking the address of the server and redirecting to another page. You can find information about one such file here: http://www.everythingisnt.com/hosts.html. This is great for blocking inline ads in all browsers--even AIM and MSN. If you are using a file like this, make sure that the Macromedia web site is not listed in the file or you will be unable to obtain updates to the Flash player or download any other software from Macromedia. Typically these files block access to the following URLs:

# [MACROMEDIA][flash ads][entries may prevent updates]
127.0.0.1 active.macromedia.com
127.0.0.1 download.macromedia.com
127.0.0.1 pinger.macromedia.com
127.0.0.1 sdc.shockwave.com
127.0.0.1 macromedia.speedera.net

Remove these lines from the hosts file and you will be able to download Macromedia content again. I found out about the problem when attempting to download the new Flash updater.

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Babelfish web service down

Wednesday, November 12, 2003 9:35:09 AM

One of the examples in the book (chapter 10) shows an interface to the Babelfish web service, which was published by xMethods (at http://www.xmethods.net/sd/2001/BabelFishService.wsdl). The service was taken down, and because of that, the example will not work any more. The moral of the story is to never build an example that uses a public web service. Web services are created by companies and site owners that have good intentions, but they are almost never reliable. If you really must consume a web service, write the service yourself. Two exceptions to this might be Amazon and Google. They will likely be around for a long time. Can their service interface be trusted? Who knows. Most examples of interfacing with web services use either Google, Amazon, or Babelfish.

Of course, if you are going to write the service yourself, you have no reason to consume it using SOAP translators in Flash. You will get much better performance using Flash Remoting directly interfacing with your service.

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Multiple ComboBox example updated

Saturday, November 08, 2003 3:03:26 PM

Flash MX 2004 has a few inconsistencies when working with Flash Remoting. The Flash Remoting components have been updated to work with the program -- for the most part -- but some things do not work. DataGlue, for one, does not work with the new component architecture of Flash MX 2004. DataGlue is the fastest way to populate a combo box or other UI component in Flash MX. The Multiple Combo demo on the site does not work as it stands if you attempt to use Flash MX 2004 and the new ComboBox components. I've created a second example that works with Flash MX 2004, using a simple loop to populate the ComboBox instead of DataGlue. This is much slower, but works.

Another problem that has to do with an idiosyncracy of Flash Remoting is that the property names coming from the server are returned in all UPPERCASE, instead of the actual case that the recordset name is in. This causes any method that uses property names to fail as the result method in the example:

// This doesn't work in MX 2004
function getAll_Result(result) {
  ComboBoxFill(employees_cb, result.Employers,"--Choose an employee--");
  ComboBoxFill(suppliers_cb, result.Suppliers,"--Choose a supplier--");
  ComboBoxFill(regions_cb, result.Regions,"--Choose a region--");
  ComboBoxFill(categories_cb, result.Categories,"--Choose a category --");
}

//This works
function getAll_Result(result) {
// Remoting changes recordset names to UPPERCASE.
  ComboBoxFill(employees_cb, result.EMPLOYEES,"--Choose an employee--");
  ComboBoxFill(suppliers_cb, result.SUPPLIERS,"--Choose a supplier--");
  ComboBoxFill(regions_cb, result.REGIONS,"--Choose a region--");
  ComboBoxFill(categories_cb, result.CATEGORIES,"--Choose a category --");
}

The new example can be seen here: http://www.flash-remoting.com/examples/multiplecombo2004/. The example is not updated to ActionScript 2.0, but has simple code changes to make it work with the new components.

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New article on Web services

Friday, November 07, 2003 8:50:18 AM

I posted an article on Community MX (free article) about consuming a web service using Flash Remoting. Even though Flash Pro contains web service APIs, the best way to consume a web service is still by using Flash Remoting. This way, all the SOAP parsing and logic takes place on the server rather than in the slow Flash Player. Only a small binary stream of the data is sent back to Flash. The article is at http://www.communitymx.com/content/article.cfm?cid=ABB83E10AEF3F631

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Community MXtra for MM Central

Thursday, October 30, 2003 9:45:01 AM

Paul Newman has been busy over at Community MX. He just completed a new application for Macromedia Central that really shows a useful application of the Central concept: a listing and search of content available at the site. This concept could be used for any site, or RSS aggregator, to give a user easy access to current information. Find it at http://www.communitymx.com/content/article.cfm?cid=A2D2A836CDB0353C

Also at Community MX this week is an article from the newest member of Community MX: Joey Lott. Joey is one of the top authors in the Flash field and has written an article that should be required reading for Flash developers. It's called "Choosing the Right ActionScript Tools" and is at http://www.communitymx.com/abstract.cfm?cid=A37A3484F2931293

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