Monday, March 30, 2009

APUGS Round-Up: Bzoo, AIR, & Eclipse

Tonight, despite half of Sydney CBD being in a blackout (and zombies attacking the city), I attended the monthly APUGS (Adobe Platform Users Group Sydney) meeting. 3 developers gave talks, and I learnt a great deal of random information. I realize that all of my Flex experience currently comes from supporting the Maps API for Flash - so, if a developer hasn't asked it, I've never learnt it - and apparently, developers haven't asked me all the questions in the world yet. Here's a roundup of the topics covered:

  1. Developer Bachir El Khoury spoke about his AS3 library for creating a client-side database with full CRUD operations, called Bzoo. It can create the database from JSON, YAML, or ArrayCollections, and optionally, it can store the database persistently using Flash Shared Objects. Shared Objects are basically super cookies for Flash that are persistent across all browser sessions on a desktop, and can take up to 100 KB per domain. Cookies can be useful in Flash apps for remembering game configurations, backing up data before a save, or user sign-in state.
  2. Developer Andrew Muller showed off Bowernest, an AIR app he's creating for a client (BookTagger). It's a desktop app with a slick interface for managing books and other media. Andrew used the Mate (Mah-tay) RIA framework for creating the app, and the award-winning skin from ScaleNine's contest. Cleverly, the app can import files from Shelfari and LibraryThing, the two big competitors to BookTagger, so its easier for users to switch over. It then stores all the data locally in an AIR SQLite DB, and offers the user the option to export back out to the Booktagger file format. As a heavy user of web-apps, I find it a bit shocking that the data isn't constantly backed up to a BookTagger user-account, but hey, apparently some users are into the whole desktop-only app thing. When I asked Andrew about other apps out there that were desktop-only, he showed us Balsamiq Mockups, an awesome app for mocking up web prototypes in a sketchy way.
  3. APUGS organizer Chris Velevitch showed some tips for working in Eclipse. I only work in FlexBuilder, but it was useful to see the similarities and differences to Eclipse development. Eclipse has a cool feature called local history, which lets you see every version of the files in your project - for up to "9,999 days"! Also, in both Eclipse and FlexBuilder, you can right-click on a file tab and select "New Editor" to get the same file opened in two tabs. In FlexBuilder, you can then put one tab in Design mode and the other in Source mode, and drag one so it's below the other. Highly useful.


LeBard said...

Thanks for covering the Booktagger desktop app. The continuous data sync is on the way. Were the presentations done by candle light with the Sydney power outage?

Pamela Fox said...

Nope, somehow the building was un-affected! It did affect the attendance though - I think several people thought the event was off.

Now that I have your attention, here are some more random suggestions for BookTagger:
- Offer a publish/embed functionality. Some people might want to use it just so they have an easy way of showing off a collection to the world. (For example, I could catalog my monkeys).
- Recommend new products based on current stuff they have. Amazon has an awesome similarity service for this. I used it to create a crappy Flash similarity web, but you could create a better UI for it.

- pamela

LeBard said...

The idea is to extend the cataloging from books to anything and provide publisher services through the BowerNest app. So like our book widget but for anything right? See for a sample widget (what are we reading). Very good ideas, definately worth implementing. Now just to schedule in the time :). I like how you've plugged into Amazon's similarity service. Definately a good idea.