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Flex 3 with Java Book Review

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Published by: PACKT Publishing
ISBN: 1847195342

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One Minute Bottom Line

Flex 3 with Java can quickly and succinctly get a novice Flex programmer up to speed on delivering web applications with Adobe's client-side (Flex) & server-side (BlazeDS) technologies. Jump-start your Flex development with this book, some familiarity with Java is assumed.


Flex 3 with Java is a quick read (<300 pages) that immediately gets you up to speed on what Flex is and how you can use it. Having worked with another RIA framework I was keen to see what Flex had to offer e.g. databinding, client-side validation, cache management, etc. The author covered most of these topics and more, giving me a basis for comparison, without a wasted breathe or screenshot.

Assuming no prior experience with Flex, the first chapter puts you right to work by introducing the Flex SDK, its installation, your IDE choices, the markup and script compilers and the documentation - where to get 'em and how to use 'em. By Chapter 2 your wrangling widgets with markup & script and exploring event handling.

ActionScript is covered in the next chapter and coverage of calling to/from JavaScript is handled in the following chapter. Working with XML in Flex also comprises a complete chapter.

Three chapters cover communicating with the server-side; this where BlazeDS (and it's pricier brethren LiveCycle Data Services) makes its appearance - your Flex RIA can use REST, SOAP or AMF (Adobe's binary data format) over HTTP to communicate XML, JASON or (Java) binary data. Flash player's security sandbox is also discussed at this point.

Before summing up with an all-encompassing code project in the final chapter, the author covers debugging, styling, packaging, deployment and i18n in the penultimate chapters.

If you're looking for a color-filled, flashy palette of possibilities for Flex any number of Flash'd websites would be a better choice. If, however, you're looking for a quick jumpstart to working code you could do worse than Flex 3 with Java. Concepts are explained well and illustrated with code snippets , usually within the same page. The text is presented in a pleasing layout and monochrome graphic elements occasionally illustrate relevant concepts or present helpful screenshots.

This Flex novice has few complaints: there are a few code errors on a single page (p.92) that should be obvious to the careful reader. Only occasionally do some odd-sounding (to this N.Amercian) phrases briefly interfere with digestion of the concepts and at one point a red graphic element is mentioned, referring to a B&W graphic insert.

All in all Flex 3 with Java is a fine way to jump into Flex development, irrespective of your backend proclivities.

For more information, visit http://www.packtpub.com/flex-3-with-java/book for website code download and errata pages. 

Published at DZone with permission of its author, Michael Shields.

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