How to get off Startbuck and overall development in Flex

After at least 10 years of daily trips to Starbucks for my daily fix I am finally off. It happened gradually over the last three months after they installed one of those fancy Italian automatic espresso machines in the office. It started as just convenience to provide the same or better espresso. Well, coffee came out way better, especially when our perfectionists got into raw materials like fresh/freshly roasted coffee and few experiments of their own. Suddenly, Starbucks coffee is not much different from .70$ one from a  newsstand at the corner. Over the years we tried everything – single-serving machines, hot sand plates for Turkish coffee, manually operated espresso, presses – you name it. All previous methods sacrificed either on quality of the results or manual labor and failed to please everybody’s taste. Routine job can be done automatically.

Over the last half year I started handful of projects in Flex for our clients. They came for a taste of Flex development and see how it will fit their application domain. After a day or two of “prototyping” with pure Flex controls and methodology I would find myself facing the wall of code I had to write to make clients specs “alive”. At that point TIME AFTER TIME I took our home-made libraries and plug-ins to break that wall. I was really surprised to see how automated tools and components were able to adopt themselves across very different domains.

Here is the list of the tools I believe no Flex project can survive without – they are not a part of standard Flex: Controls – TreeGrid, MaskedInputs, EnhancedButtons(all radio/checkbox/tabs go there), DataCollection (maintaining state), UIResources,

Data entry – DataForm – merge-in of DataGrid concept with Form container – do not start your Flex project without one. Proxy/deployment generator for your host environment – I use Clear Data Builder as it has extensible set of code generators for all common tasks. Reporting – both plug-ins that allow to build reports and end-user wizards to provide layout, grouping, filtering and sorting. Also, for the productive automated environment you need these plug-ins – Ant script generator, documenter, logger (if you use “trace” statement you need one).

Back to the coffee machines. After doing the math it seems that automatic coffee machine is less expensive (including operational costs) then cheaper manual ones. I got one at home now, and hopefully, will be able to blog more from now on.

Sincerely, Anatole