Flex Test Drive in about an hour

by DeanLogic

According to the Flex Test Drive site, you can “Build an application in an hour”.  While that is definitely true for a simple application, I would say it takes a little bit longer in real life.  I started working through the Test Drive demo using the videos, which probably run less than an hour.  Since I am familiar with Flex/Flash Builder, it was easy enough for me to have the video running in the background while I built the application.  There were several times that I had to switch back to the video to get a better understanding of what needed to be done, but for the most part, I just listened and completed tasks.  I managed to complete the first module between last night’s post and about 9:45, which is around 2 hours.  However, I did have to upload the swf file to my website to see if it was working and my wife needed some attention on occasion.  Which means, I probably could have completed it in one hour, but I wasn’t timing myself.

The version of Test Drive I used required Flash Builder 4.5, which I was unable to upgrade to unless I buy an upgrade to the Master Collection suite. You save money by purchasing the suites, but in the long run, if you only need to update certain programs, it is a pain in the wallet.  Because I am on 4 and the demo was on 4.5, there were some small differences in the instructions.  When a search option is added, the search test field has a “prompt” option.  This is apparently a new feature with 4.5, because it is not available in 4.  Not a huge issue, but it will be interesting to see what else is new in 4.5 that will affect the Test Drive.

Overall, building this simple application was straight forward.  Creating stages was very simple in Display view.  Just create the stage, add components, create a new state and add different components.  Presto!  You now have to different stages.  Then it was as simple as adding a click option to a button to call each of the stages and then adding a very simple call.

currentStage = "stageIwantToPointTo";

The drag and dropping of data connectors was also very useful.  After you have your data connections working, you simply just drag and drop one onto a datagrid or form and do a few setup options and it is done.  Making a item detail view was also just as simple as a few drag and drops and some minor code.  The Test Drive so far could probably make anyone believe they could create awesome applications in no time at all.  However, you are just creating basic applications very quickly.  As noted in the last video of the first module, the instructor explains that doing a search to filter the employee table by calling the web service is not a smart thing to do.  Each time a search or refreshing to show all records was done, it did a call to the web service to get the data.  The instructor points out that it would be better to only call the data once and then use filters in the application to show what was needed.  It doesn’t look like Test Drive actually goes over this, so the newbie Flex/Flash Builder user will have to figure this out on their own or possibly through another set of tutorials.  For now, here is the result from last night’s work.

On a side note, apparently either Flex or Zend or something triggered a bunch of Twitter Spambots or something, because the Twitter widget on the Demo site is now filled with pointers to Zend post I created last night.  I guess it helps with search engine links or something, I don’t know.  I find it kind of funny.

About DeanLogic
Dean has been playing around with programming ever since his family got an IBM PC back in the early 80's. Things have changed since BASICA and Dean has dabbled in HTML, JavaScript, Action Script, Flex, Flash, PHP, C#, C++, J2ME and SQL. On this site Dean likes to share his adventures in coding. And since programming isn't enough of a time killer, Dean has also picked up the hobby of short film creation.

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