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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. ;-).

12 posts in September 2003.

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New article

Tuesday, September 30, 2003 9:29:15 AM

I have an article on Community MX that shows Flash connecting to the Community MX SOAP-based web service using Flash Remoting. Although Flash MX Pro 2004 has SOAP support, the support is rather bulky AND does not allow you to connect to web services on domains other than your own or domains that have set up a cross-domain.xml file for you. Using Flash Remoting, you can call SOAP-based services from the Flash movie, but have the bulky SOAP operations parsed at the server rather than on the end user's Flash player.

The article is located at http://www.communitymx.com/abstract.cfm?cid=E5EA2A608932F770. It is part one of a two-parter.

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The Help -- or lack of help -- system in Flash

Friday, September 26, 2003 9:30:49 PM

Time for a rant. There is an interesting discussion going on at Mike Chambers' blog about Flash MX 2004. One of the gripes that seems to come up a lot--and is on the top of my gripe list--is the Help documentation for Flash. I'm a big proponent of documentation and contextual help. When Dreamweaver MX came out with it's horrible little reference panel, I released the Context Help extension which ties into Macromedia's Livedocs, depending on where your cursor is in the document. Well, even though Dreamweaver MX 2004 came out with the same awful little reference panel, the Help system in Flash has gone downhill even farther. I have yet to figure out a quick way to pull up help on a topic. For example, when I drop a component onto a form, I want to get instant info on that component to be able to write my code. If this were another environment (Homesite comes to mind) I would select the element and hit F1 and have instant help. When I hit F1 in Flash, a little tiny window pops open--obliterating my code window--that offers absolutely nothing. In fact, it doesn't even open up all the way. It just sits there like a book cracked open to the wrong page. Who thought this Help panel was a good idea???

The amazing thing is that the help files themselves are very well organized and set up as HTML pages in the Flash program directory. It's as if Macromedia gave us a bank account, but no way to get to the money.

One morning I was so frustrated with the help system that I decided to learn XSLT to transform the XML contents into a typical frameset. What a difference it makes. With one simple HTML page I am now able to view the help files as they were meant to be seen. The next step is to pull this info into an extension so that other people can use it, and tie it into the context of the cursor within the Flash environment (if it can be done) and the right-click menu. The hard part will be determining "which" help file to use. When you download updates to the documentation, the updated files get placed in your local user folder rather than the main Flash program directory. These files then override the files in the main Flash directory. For example, on a typical Windows 2000 installation, the local user help folder would be at C:\Documents and Settings\[username]\Local Settings\Application Data\Macromedia\Flash MX 2004\en\Configuration\HelpPanel\Help. As if I didn't have enough to do already. . . .

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Flash Remoting components for AS2

Thursday, September 25, 2003 4:41:08 PM

Justin Watkins just posted this on the AMFPHP mailing list, but it is of interest to anyone working with Flash Remoting. Here is his post:

"I've got a nice version of the remoting components working for MX 2004. I converted all of the sources to AS 2 classes so you can use them from within other class files. I built a RemotingConnector which allows you to use the IDE and the data binding panels to map the data.

I rebuilt the RecordSet class and the RSDataProvider to use the new DataProvider model.  (Extending Array, instead if internal item).

Cleaned up tons of the code and hopefully commented it well.

I have spent very little time testing any of this, so when you do find a bug, feel free to fix it and/or let me know about it.  All of the source files are included plus a simple readme.  If you do find and fix a bug please let me know and I'll commit it into my cvs and update the links.


or for those mac and linux users:


Justin "

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SOAP vs. Remoting article

Wednesday, September 24, 2003 8:52:51 AM

There is an excellent article that compares Flash Remoting with SOAP at http://www.flashorb.com/articles/soap_vs_flash_remoting_benchmark.shtml that further solidifies my belief that the new SOAP functionality of Flash 7 leaves a lot to be desired. The article compares equal numbers of SOAP calls versus Flash Remoting calls benchmarks the results. Perhaps it's not so surprising that the Flash 7 player consumes huge amounts of memory after making a few SOAP translations. Also, the more complex the object that is being passed, the greater the benefit of Flash Remoting. One example was passing an array of 20 elements which each containing a Person object. Flash Remoting was able to process 65 messages per second compared to 9 per second using SOAP. The memory consumption of the Flash player after this test was 22 megs for the Flash Remoting version versus 282 megs for the SOAP version. That is HUGE. Who's using this stuff? ;-)

The article does not get into the huge size of SOAP packets, though. I'll have another article in my Flash Remoting in Flash MX 2004 series soon that will show the size of SOAP packets versus AMF packets.

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New article, table of contents and sample chapter posted

Wednesday, September 17, 2003 11:00:48 AM

O'Reilly has posted an article I wrote entitled "Ten Tips for Building a Flash Remoting Application". Also, check out the O'Reilly site for a newly-posted table of contents, sample chapter, and the full index from the book. The book should be hitting the shelves later this month.

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