Saturday, April 19, 2008

AdvancedED Flex Application Development : Book Review

Book Cover : AdvancedED Flex Application Development

AdvancedED Flex Application Development offers a well written extended case study on the details of developing the Rich Media Exchange (RMX). The RMX was built using Adobe Flex and numerous OpenSource tools (i.e. Drupal, OpenAds).

Now straight off any book that talks about Drupal and Flex is going to get my attention. At work we are currently looking into the best way to use Flex and Drupal together for a range of projects. From my perspective having Drupal provide accessible access to content for all users while using Flex to provide rich usability for most users is a great solution. It also means less time spent with CRUD and more time spent on the user experience. Consequently I approached this book with great interest.

The first few chapters did nothing to quell my interest. They provided an engaging perspective on web 2.0, the Flash platform, their planning process and the OpenSource technologies used.

Unfortunately my interest abruptly stalled in chapter 5 (Flex styling) and only intermittently recovered throughout the rest of the book. The problem for me is that this book tries to do too much. If you’re ready to start developing applications on the scale of the RMX there is a good chance you’ve already spent quite a few hours on the Flex learning curve. You don’t need chapter after chapter of detailed code examples and their explanations.

Essentially I think the RMX is almost two good books. The first book is for developers who are relatively new to Flex and are interested in a cookbook style book of common problems and techniques for solving them. The RMX case study would make these examples more real and therefore engaging for that audience. Add a few chapters to introduce Flex basics and you would have an excellent intermediate level book. The second book is for developers who are familiar with Flex and would be interested in the processes and thinking behind building a larger Flex application and integrating it with OpenSource tools.

This is a well written book and if the individual chapters were available online as articles you would read and cherish some of those articles. Unfortunately, I feel the concept gets in the way of, and ultimately lets down, the writing. There will be developers who are at the right point in the curve to appreciate the whole book. Less experienced developers might eventually grow into the whole book. Experienced developers should borrow the book from a friend and cherry pick the bits they need.

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Tink said...

We've found a few interesting/helpful things in this book.

I've not actually read it, as I rarely get time to read anything nowadays, but have pulled it up for reference now and then.

geekglue said...

Thanks for the comment Tink.

I have certainly implemented a few of the things I learned from this book and I'm sure I'll reference it again in future.

Chris Charlton said...

Right on, thanks for reading our book.