Flex/Flash/Actionscript

Is that Flex on my Kindle?

Well, not really… but it’s a Flex book 🙂

flex_kindle1

While I was getting ready to travel for the holidays I was buying a few new books for my Amazon Kindle to read on the plane. As I was browsing through the online store right on the Kindle, there in my recommended books list was Creating Visual Experiences for Flex 3 by my friends Juan Sanchez and Andy McIntosh. Out of sheer curiosity I was forced to instantly buy it, wondering what it would look like on the Kindle’s screen.

Note that this isn’t in any way a review of the actual content of the book, since I haven’t read it yet. But knowing Juan and Andy I’m sure it’s fantastic. I just skimmed a few chapters trying to see what it looked like on the Kindle’s screen.

Text and Images
Turns out that reading the textual content of the book on the Kindle works great. The images leave a little to be desired, since they’re rendered (like all images in a Kindle book) in fairly minimal grayscale, but they don’t actually differ that much from the print book (also in black and white) and you usually don’t lose any important information by viewing the images on the Kindle’s screen. Some of the screenshots comparing different effects and blend modes didn’t work very well since they were so small and the low contrast makes it difficult to notice differences.

Tables
Tables actually turned out pretty readable, although quite small. But I was impressed how well the tables were actually preserved, and assuming you don’t have a problem reading small text (which I didn’t) then they’ll work just fine. If you’re old and your eyes are feeble then this might be an issue.

flex_kindle_table

Code Samples
The code listings are a bit more problematic. With the normal font size, the code listings become pretty unreadable on the Kindle’s screen. Pretty much all the code wraps in weird ways, breaking the lines up, often mid-word, and usually spilling over onto multiple pages.

flex_kindle_code

However, if you adjust the font to the smallest that the Kindle offers, then you get more readable code listings. Things still spill over across pages, and sometimes the lines wrap awkwardly, but overall the code listings are much improved. The smallest font size is really the only way to read a book like this. Truthfully, I imagined the code listings would be completely unreadable, but if you adjust the font size it’s much better than I ever imagined it would be.

The difficulty with code listings makes the Exercises section (section 4) difficult to get through. But the previous sections, which give you explanations of the skinning and styling techniques and discussion about all the particular components within the Flex framework, rely on much shorter snippets of code sprinkled in the text. The exercises are really code-heavy (as they should be), which makes viewing on the screen hard.

Of course, reading code on such a small screen (regardless of whether you’re reading a book or reviewing someone’s code or whatever) is far from ideal. I’d never choose to write code on a screen this size, and reading it here is certainly less than perfect. But reading code in any print book is always relatively awkward, with the only real difference between print and the Kindle being that print books have better formatted line breaks and the ability to see multiple pages at once (assuming the two print pages can be open side by side).

Overall, if you’re comfortable reading the entire text at the smallest font size, it’s pretty decent actually (again, I’m referring to the viewing experience, not the content of the text). I don’t think I’ll get any other programming books on my Kindle, instead I’ll buy the print versions if I have the choice (or more likely I won’t buy programming books at all, as I’ve written about previously). But if you’re traveling and you don’t mind the layout issues, there’s no reason you can’t learn Flex styling and skinning on an airplane.

P.S. For worry of breaking some unknown clause in my contract with my own publisher, I better tell you that I wrote a Flex book too! Deepa Subramaniam and I wrote Adobe Flex 3 for Dummies, which is awesome (although it’s not offered on the Kindle). Juan and Andy’s book and our Dummies book really target very different audiences, so if you’re just starting to learn Flex then you might want to check out our book first and then move on to Creating Visual Experiences.

P.P.S. Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

Legal stuff to try to keep me from getting in trouble
All images in this post are digital pictures I took of the Amazon Kindle displaying the Creating Visual Experiences with Flex 3.0 book, written by Juan Sanchez and Andy McIntosh and published by Addison-Wesley. All content is copyright Pearson Education, Inc. The images used in this blog post reproduce very small amounts of text and images from the original text, at very low quality in comparison to the original. The intent of this post is to explain the reading experience on the Kindle, not in any way to redistribute copyrighted content. I will, without argument, remove any images at the authors’ or publisher’s request.

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6 thoughts on “Is that Flex on my Kindle?

  1. Lucky you, I’ve tried to buy Kindle but Amazon doesn’t ship it to Greece 🙁
    I’m thinking of ways to buy it so could you please let me know if you can buy books and load them to Kindle from a pc via USB or something?

    Merry Christmas to you and your family!
    Take care

  2. Nick Sophinos says:

    My equivalent experience came from downloading PDF chapters of Jaun and Andy’s great book and reading them on the plane on my MacBook Air. Not quite as portable, but the chicks dig the Air.

  3. Good work Doug on your Flex for Dummies book. I think that there are enuff resources on Flex these days to do a Google search and end up with some fresh and useful content. But there is always a want to be “Spoonfed” market out there.

    Looking forward to reading Creating Visual Experiences with Flex 3. Sounds interesting at the least…..

    btw I sent you an email from your form on Flex and Rails. I was wondering if you had any expertise in that area => I’ve tried it out myself and its not too difficult to get them working together. It sure is sight to see tho.

    I am working with some smaller Rails Apps and trying to wire them up with Flex. Would you be interested in posting some information about that here or where you see fit?

    Cheers…

  4. Pingback: Kindle Link Love - 02 January 2009 | Kindleist.com - Amazon Kindle News Blog

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