Flex/Flash/Actionscript

Synthesizer Developer – Dan McWeeney’s thoughts on the future of software development

Here’s an interview from Dan McWeeney that he did for RedMonk.tv at the SAP TechEd conference last week. Dan and Eddie Herrmann are Flex developers that work at Colgate or SAP, depending on how you define “work”. They did a sweet demo, which you can see in the second video below, but the thing that really struck me was Dan’s interview where he discusses the “synthesizing” process of developing, which involves taking bits and pieces from the open source community and mashing it all together to make something cool.

There’s a whole new group of people that’s being created right now. Which are people that are really synthesizing things. And they’re programmers at heart but they’ve realized that there’s way more smart people in the open source community that they can tap and now build these things together. So it’s like mashups for programmers, where you’re taking all these little bits and you’re synthesizing all this crap together to create this whole new thing.

Dan gives a really cool shout out to me during the interview, so yes, I’m half posting the vid just for an ego boost 🙂 But seriously, I think he articulates a really important idea. So check out what he has to say.

Dan and Ed created a friggin sweet-ass demo for the SAP TechEd conference. Unfortunately that was scheduled in direct conflict with MAX, so they couldn’t make it to Chicago. Ryan Stewart already covered their demo a little, and you can read more at the RedMonk writeup. I’ve been talking to Dan and Eddie for a while and I’ve been seeing their progress on the demo they eventually showed. Without going into too much detail I’ll summarize what they did: take PaperVision 3D, add in full 3D physics, throw in fully interactive materials in the 3D space, then control the whole thing with a Wiimote. Did your head just explode?

I think one of the coolest things about this demo is how they went about doing 3D physics. I was talking to them about how I did physics in TileUI (which is really only 2D physics faked for 3D space). They wanted true 3D physics, and there isn’t anything like that available for Actionscript yet. So what to do? They got a non-Actionscript open source (I think) physics engine written in C (or C++, I think?). Then they run the physics simulation and pipe coordinates that represent all the objects and movement in 3D over a local socket connection that gets read by their Flex app. Fucking a. This is the kind of thing that’s awesome. Someone says “But we can’t do 3D physics in Actionscript” and they just say “Well fuck it then, we’ll do it anyway.”

Boys, I salute you.

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8 thoughts on “Synthesizer Developer – Dan McWeeney’s thoughts on the future of software development

  1. Pingback: judahs blog » Blog Archive » The Designer / Developer

  2. Doug,

    I think Dan has some fantastic points about the “library mashup” solution. I have found myself building my applications with break-out libraries, because I will use them elsewhere or see them eventually being put into flexlib. I have used flexlib to save myself the headache of creating those components myself.

    Great point he makes about supporting those solutions and who is going to be responsible. Hell, if I do not have to put 500 hours into creating some of these things in the application, that is 500 hours I can spend supporting the product. Support I would be doing for sure if I wrote it myself. This way I can do my part and debug problems and give back to the community. Who is the winner here? The user, of course. We just get the kudos.

    So, the adoption of the RIM (Rich Internet Mashup) is upon us and we must embrace it. Of course, I would be squawking at the choir to be telling you.

    Thanks for keeping us updated!
    Tony

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