Flex/Flash/Actionscript, Uncategorized

What I learned from my 360Flex session

360Flex logoI’ve been reflecting on how my session at 360|Flex went. Overall I was very happy, I really enjoyed the communal vibe we got going with the discussions. The session ended up being a conversation among developers. I started out giving a presentation with slides and all that jazz, but that quickly got sidetracked and we ended up just sort of shooting the shit and sharing different tips on custom component development. Awesome. That meant I was able to chill and let everyone else teach the session. It kept me interested, and I hope it did for everyone in the session too.

David Coletta took notes during my session (as he did for all the sessions he attended at 360Flex, friggin good work with the notes David). I should also point out that David contributed a lot to the discussion while he was note-taking, impressive! Dan from polygeek.com has some thoughts on the session as well. He wrote that the “session itself was sort of open source,” which I think is really cool that that’s how it turned out. There are a few more notes on the session from some guy named Dave. Apparently he overheard someone say “will there be notes posted from this meeting? This is really kind of scattering my thoughts.” I worry that it was a bit too incoherent, I definitely jumped from slides to code to pulling up random websites to discussion. I hope it was a good balance for people, but I could see how it might have been difficult to follow.

If you have any thoughts about what you liked about the session and what you didn’t, please email me and let me know, or leave comments.

The thing I liked the most about the session is that I learned a bunch of stuff. I don’t claim to know everything about developing custom components, a lot of the people in my session knew a ton more than me. Here’s a list of the things that I learned during the session:

  1. I suck at properly using commitProperties and invalidating properties correctly for optimal component performance. This was pretty hilarious during the session because before the session I was talking to Deepa and she asked if I was going to go over when to use commitProperties and using dirty flags for property validation and all that. I said that I don’t know how to do that, I end up not doing it in my code, so no, I wasn’t going to cover it. She was appalled. It was like I told her I’m naming my first child Silverlight. So then the funny part is that I’m up there at the podium and the very first question that was asked was Andy McIntosh asking “Doug, can you explain when to use commitProperties?” I almost died, it was hilarious. So I promptly responded that no, I don’t know a good explanation of the proper use of commitProperties, would Andy like to discuss how he does it? And then Andy and Deepa taught the session for a while while I took notes. Awesome.
  2. Monkey Patching is a sweet term. I called it “underriding” classes in the framework, not sure where I got that term, it’s certainly not a “correct” term, but I didn’t have anything better. So then Tony Hillerson pipes up and tells me that in other languages there’s a term called monkey patching that is used to describe pretty much the exact same thing. Cool, I had no idea.
  3. There’s a [Mixin] metadata tag. I had never even heard of this. I was going over using a static function to initialize default styles for your component and then Adam Flater yells out that you could use the [Mixin] metadata tag and that would allow you to have an init() method that would get called once for your class. So in the session I pulled up the blog post on Adam’s site and we went over the code straight off his blog. Cool.
  4. I sound like Tom Hanks with Tourette’s. I disagree with this one, but it’s hard for me to judge my own voice. Doug Schmidt seems pretty adamant about this, so it must be true.
  5. Other random stuff. When we were talking about styles vs properties on custom components Tony talked about using both styles and properties to define the same property, which meant that a developer could take their pick and use either the property or the style (ie they could do it all with CSS if they want, or all via direct properties in AS). Nice, hadn’t thought of doing that. We all bitched about not being able to reference static variables for our Event names in the Event metadata. Doesn’t seem like anyone’s found a solution to that one (same for defining possible enumerated values for properties in the Inspectable metadata tag). Someone else mentioned that when I was showing my custom event code I had forgotten to have a Event.clone() function to clone the custom event. Yup, my bad, good catch. That’s what I love about participatory audiences.

We ended up covering a lot more material with a lot more expert knowledge than I would ever have been able to provide on my own. I think maybe instead of a single presenter running a session we should think about doing more panel-like discussions on a specific topic. Get four or five badass Flex devs together, have one person in charge of making sure things don’t get completely off track, and then just let the discussion take over. Let everyone share the tips that they know. It might end up being the worst session ever, but I think it would turn out really well. What do you guys say… Deepa, Tony, Andy, Adam, David, you all in?


10 thoughts on “What I learned from my 360Flex session

  1. Doug – your session was by far the best I attended at 360! I learned more than I expected and I think much of that learning was due to the conversation that you facilitated. I hope next time, the Flex 360 guys attempt some panel discussions. They are very valuable. Thanks again!

  2. Hey dude,

    I think it’d be great to have a panel. Count me in.

    Just so you know, I didn’t mention setting properties in css, I said that you shouldn’t do that… css should be for styles, although I admit that it’s a cool hack. I like cool hacks.

  3. I’m totally in – interactive discussions about the framework is what I live for (kinda). Also – the fact that the first question in your session was about commitProperties validates my nagging you to add it into your talk 🙂

  4. handitan says:

    Hi Doug,

    Big fan of your blog. I almost read it everyday…almost…
    I am very interested to know more about what you have learned on Flex camp especially about commit properties, and invalidating properties. I hope you will have the time to do a blog on your new gained knowledge ^_^

    Did I mention that I read your blog almost everyday 🙂


    Flex noob

  5. Pingback: ????? » Blog Archive » [??]??!Flex??????

  6. We’ve talked about Panels at the conference. When Ryan Stewart was with us and not Adobe, we were going to have him moderate the discussions with his wit and superstar talking skills. I suppose we can still let him moderate, but he’d have to stick around for the entire show to do it. (Ouch, did I really say that? It’s must be Doug’s tourette’s rubbing off on me. LOL)

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