Flex/Flash/Actionscript

I’m Speaking at Flash on the Beach! (what should I present?)

FOTBI’m speaking at the Flash on the Beach conference in Brighton, England in September! I’m really excited about this conference because it’s not a Flex conference, it’s a Flash conference (but of course there will be plenty of Flex represented). I’ve got a little notoriety among you Flex developers, but Flash guys are like, “Doug McWho?”, so that’ll be pretty dope to get out in front of a different audience.

I’m going to be presenting on a yet-to-be-determined Flex topic, and I’ll likely ask for some suggestions as I’m refining my presentation ideas. Here are my current potential topics:

  • super-sweet data visualization in Flex
    I’ve been reading lots of Edward Tufte books and other information visualization books. These are fantastic resources to help you think about effective ways of visualizing information, and I’m thinking about taking many of the principles and applying them to the Flex framework. This would involve the creation of a bunch of altered charting controls (new axis renderers, different chart types, etc). And I’d analyze what’s good and bad about the current set of data visualization components available (in the Flex SDK, the iLog component set, and the open source community). I’d probably throw in some brief mapping examples too.
  • Maps, maps, maps
    I’ve been doing a ton of Flex mapping applications for work. Unfortunately a lot of that stuff can’t be shared (I certainly can’t show much of the code, and I can’t even show demos of some of it). But I’m thinking about doing a session that goes over all the different options for AS3 map components (we now have ESRI, MapQuest, Google, Yahoo, UMap, Poly9). A year ago or so ESRI was pretty much the only game in town, now there are a bunch. So I’m thinking about showing some demos of how to use the different map components, and some data visualization techniques for working with geospatial data.
  • advanced open source Flex projects
    My presentation at the last 360|Flex conference in Atlanta was on using open source projects in your Flex apps. I’m thinking about doing a part 2 of that topic anhd going into more depth with a smaller number of projects. My last preso was sort of the shotgun approach (ie show many projects with only cursory information). This preso would be focusing on creating two or three demos that combine a handful of projects and dive deeper into the code and how I went about creating the demos.
  • Decompiling Flex applications for fun and profit
    I’ve been playing a lot with SWF decompiling tools and ripping apart lots of Flex applications. There’s a lot you can learn from this (it’s not an inherently bad thing to decompile someone’s code). I’m thinking about stepping through the process of decompiling an app and talk about what you can learn, what decompiling actually gets you, how you can piece things back together, etc. I figured I could rip apart one or two main example apps (like Photoshop Express or Buzzword). I toyed with the idea of submitting this as a topic for MAX, just to see if Adobe would let me rip apart the Buzzword code base and show it off to everyone. But I figure at FOTB it’s all fair game.
  • Using Flash 10 features in your Flex apps
    I’m considering a presentation that focuses on taking advantage of all the new features of Flash Player 10 (specifically in relation to the Flex SDK). I’m considering this topic because it would force me to stay on top of the new technology and know my shit. I haven’t yet played with FP10, so this would force me to do some cool stuff.

I’ll be holding down the Flex front with a few other guys, I know that Ben Stucki and Tink are both going to present on Flex topics. I’m also excited to meet some Flash peeps I’ve admired for a long time.

So if you’re looking for a European vacation near the end of September, then come to FOTB and hang out in Brighton! It’s gonna be sweet.

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  • I'm an official sponsor of the 360|Flex conference! I think I am the first and only "just a normal guy" (not a company or independent contractor) to be a sponsor. I'm not looking for clients, I'm not looking for work... I'm just a dude who likes the conference. I like…
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15 thoughts on “I’m Speaking at Flash on the Beach! (what should I present?)

  1. Ped says:

    JediMaster McCune,

    I’ve had very positive personal experience using the supremely elegant and flexible charting APIs (all hail Ely!) for custom enterprise-level business-analytic apps, and am at the same time am a devout member of the Church of Tufte/Few et-all when it comes to data/information visualization. This API is constantly overlooked because current presentations fail to convey the totality of its power to the uninitiated (even flex-experienced) developer. What it needs is someone to dive in from the outside to finally show its true capabilities, stripped of all its bling, nothin’ but the thing: raw, unadulterated, shining content.

    Be fore-warned, the current commercial offerings for Flex data-viz components suck very hard when it comes to Tuftean “content above all else” principles: the ILOG demos are prime examples of the worst kind of “chart junk” (unnecessary 3D, transition, color effects); and the new flex-based XCelsius offering from Business Objects is even worse. So you’re bound to end-up heavily bashing the most well-known uses of the API (which you probably wouldn’t have a problem with; just don’t expect to re-present it at Max!).

    That being said, it’s all in how you use it: even with just a little CSS, the API turns into pure-data. The dataDrawingCanvas, perItemLabel, chartItem renderers – there’s a universe of untapped wealth in there, and no one knows it yet (they probably have Ely in solitary confinement working on Flex 4). Business Objects is the largest BI component vendor in the world, but XCelsius couldn’t be a worse example of how not to dress up data with extra schlock. This API needs an ambassador to bring data-viz out of the dark ages, and if you ever finish your Dummies book, I think you’re a perfect candidate to lead the charge into the next era. You could be the one, Neo. 🙂

    cheers,
    -Ped

  2. Doug, I’d suggest showing the Flash folks just how animated, engaging and interactive YOU make Flex! Start with the coverflow component, show how it’s built, how it uses Papervision, and go from there. Your components and contributions to the Flex world are a big reason why many Flex apps aren’t looking/working like Flex apps anymore!

  3. Christian says:

    I disagree with Chuck, there plenty of coverflow examples out there for people to look at and use. I would suggest the decompiling route. This is one where people will learn new things the most from.

  4. Christian says:

    Ha ha, I just realised that chuck is of Ribbit fame!!
    now that would be an ideal example of a flex app to decompile and study!

  5. I’d say either very Tufte-an visualization topic with not-yet-before-seen-flex-charting-customization tricks. Or a decompilation topic that indeed goes into deep analyzis of some big app like Buzzword and discusses how to best digest decompiled code and figure out their overall architecture and design goals.

  6. Better bring a friggin jacket! September in the UK is cold as balls!

    @Christian Doug wrote the Ribbit API, so I don’t think he would need to decomile it to see how it works…funny suggestion though.

  7. IF(presentation == postedOnline){
    TRY(Presentation = “Using Flash 10 features!”;)
    CATCH(OutOfTime Error){
    Presentation = “super-sweet data visualization”;
    }
    }
    else{
    Presentation = “Maps,maps, maps”;
    /*Comment: Sorry, everywhere I hear maps, maps, maps. But I find that while neat, most of us just don’t need this. And if we do, there seem to be dozens of API examples for Google & Yahoo. So if this presentation won’t be viewable online for me to watch. I’d much prefer that Doug McCune present on a less appealing topic to me – such as maps.*/
    }

    END

    Using Flash 10 features in your Flex apps
    I’m considering a presentation that focuses on taking advantage of all the new features of Flash Player 10 (specifically in relation to the Flex SDK). I’m considering this topic because it would force me to stay on top of the new technology and know my shit. I haven’t yet played with FP10, so this would force me to do some cool stuff.

  8. I was going to go to Flex360, as it’s closer to home, but if you decide to go after decompiling, I’ll have to find a way to convince my boss to ship me overseas instead.

  9. Definitely Mapping please.

    Entirely selfish request I admit – being that I manage a dev team in the Brighton area using Flex now, and we’re looking at adding mapping/geo features to our app soon. Half the team will be at FOTB – see you there!

  10. ‘advanced open source Flex projects’ or ‘Using Flash 10 features in your Flex apps’ would be my pick.

  11. But decompiling is also something that would be very beneficial to the larger Flash/Flex community and seeing that SWF is an ‘open format’ like HTML & Javascript it would be good to show developers the best way to open SWF’s extract and understand the way it works.

  12. Just to point out that the comment above wasn’t me, or if it was me I was real pissed and don’t remember making that comment at all 😉

    I don’t ever decompile anything (not that I’m particularly against it).

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