Flex 3: Training From the Source is a great textbook

Just finished teaching a week long online class using the book “Flex 3: Training From the Source”.  Now I feel obligated to write (immediately!) that this is a really great text book for both teaching and learning Flex.   Well organized,  each lesson was timed, each lesson’s source code is included in the CD.  And here’s something that it’s hard to believe in:   THE BOOK SAMPLES WORK!  I know you won’t trust me, but I’m telling you… eight people in my class just went through them!  

Actually, here’s the funny story. We are on lesson 18. One student complains that an example with the WebService doesn’t work. I look at the error code – it’s an issue with the Flex SDK – one of the SOAP supporting classes is missing. It took me a couple of minutes to figure out that she was able to make it through the first three days of training using Flex Builder 2 as this is the license their organization has…

In general  – teaching a live hands on class where people are located all around the world is not for the faint of heart.    Forget about the fact that I taught hundreds of Java and Flex classes in the real classrooms. This is different. Teaching online requires good technical tools too. The audio conference on Skype went  well.  Adobe Acrobat Connect did a decent job with screen sharing.  But this book was a really big help for me.  Easy to follow, gives students and the instructor lots of flexibility – want to do all the exercises , go ahead. Want to skip one or two – just copy provided completed solution from the previous lesson.  The students/readers have successfully built and deployed an online grocery store.

The book has some room for improvement too. The chapter  18 has to be re-written and expanded – Flex RemoteObject deserves more than a couple of pages.  Plus, using Coldfusion as an illustration of the  server site technology  is a not the right choice .  I had to add a unit on my own explaining how this works in the Java world.   I hope that the next edition of this book will include additional lesson giving an overview of LCDS and BlazeDS too.  The timing provided for the lessons is real only if you are using this book in the instructor-led class. If you  are planning to learn Flex on your own with this book, you’d need to double the time. 

But overall it’s a great text book. At work,  I wear different hats –  developer, architect, trainer… but let me take all my hats off  to the authors of this book!

Yakov Fain