Farata wants to participate in 360Flex

360Flex is the best technical event for Flex developers and our company is glad to contribute to the 2011 version of this event. Yesterday, I’ve submitted the following presentation proposal:

Case Study: Using Adobe AIR on Android for Sales Automation

In this case study you will learn how to port  a  traditional RIA/AIR application to Android platform – both Smart Phone and Tablet. You will learn how to separate the functionality of the large application depending on the target device and create cloud/ occasionally connected services available across platform. Finally, you will see how to apply simplified Mobile UI to your RIA/AIR applications and maintain a single code base for all target platforms.

My colleague Yakov Fain submitted two proposals:

1. What it takes to be an Enterprise Developer

2. Hands-on 4-hour crash-course style workshop on Java for Flex/Flash developers

At this point we don’t know which of these proposals will make it to Denver in April, but we are certanly looking forward for attending this event.

Anatole Tartakovsky

360flex, San Jose 2010, Day 3

Community Keynote at #360flex is about to start to the sounds of beat sequences. Why hire a DJ if Sean Moore, a remote Flex developer can call in via Skype from Colorado with video camera on and start spinning his disks? Tom is projecting the video on three large screens and the music goes through the speakers.

Great job, @seantheflexguy! If we had more female Flex developers there, all 365 attendees would be dancing. How about introducing discount for girls at the next #360flex?

During the first part of this keynote the audience thanks speakers, volunteers, sponsors, and John’s wife Nicole for making this conference happen.
The second part of the community keynote is like an annual visit to an accountant. The organizers open up the books. Literally. It’s the moment of truth and transparency. The first slide showed the expenses “the money out”. Then goes the slide with “the money in”, then the pocket change – the difference  between the in and out.  I’m not going to publish these slides here to give Tom and John some room to play before they’ll submit the final numbers to IRS.

I sincerely hope that this public bookkeeping will stop soon, which will be a good indication that Tom and John are finally making some real money for all the hard work they put organizing this excellent independent conference for Flex developers.

There’s one more tradition of the community keynote: Tom announces that this was the last time he was organizing this conference, and he quits. I understand his feelings. I have similar state of mind after finishing writing yet another book. Last month it was the 6th time when I said to myself, “Never again!” But I realize that I’ll write yet another book too.

But let’s observe the protocol and thank Tom for his hard work and say,  “@lordbron good luck in your future endeavors!”

Then the mike goes to Ben Stucki who shows a quick demo of the Reflex framework of components that are a lot lighter than their Flex peer: 40Kb SWF vs. 400KB. Ben, as usual, wears his “always on” baseball cap.  @AmyBlankenship posted the following on Twitter: “Wondering if the top of @BenStucki ‘s head exists…”

Now seriously. Ben has very ambitious task. I’m not sure if Reflex will reach production quality any time soon, but I see at least three possible positive outcomes of this effort:

1. Adobe will learn from Reflex how to create lighter Flex components
2. Ben will create a niche job market for his company – the firms that need fast and light components will be hiring him for development of specialized custom components.
3. Tiny SWF may be in demand among the twenty minus one vendors of Smart Mobile devices.

Then I spent half an hour listening to Renaun Ericskon’s talk “ActionScript Tips for iPhone Games.” He’s the guy if you need to optimize your iPhone application written in ActionScript.

When I’ve heard that Adobe open sourced the data visualization code, my naïve mind took the price of Flex Builder Professional ($699 = $249  + datavisualization) and deducted datavisualization. My formula produced the new price, but I’m afraid that Adobe will apply different logic and the price of Flash Builder won’t go lower than $699.

Hint. If you want to be cool this season, keep saying that you never use the Design mode in Flash Builder. Or even better – use IntelliJIdea.

My final three-hour technical session was “Comparing Flex and Silverlight” presented by  Jun Heider and Eric Fickes. These guys did a very good technical comparison of two products. Start taking Silverlight seriously. I’d be very interested to compare the licensing costs of deployment of an enterprise data driven application utilizing binary protocols in Flex/LCDS/BlazeDS vs Silverlight/IIS. Without these numbers it’s hard to recommend one or the other technology to the enterprise customers.

During this presentation I’ve also enjoyed watching the monkey dance of one of the Microsoft’s billionaires.

On the way home, @jefftapper told me that the new version of the Flex 4 Training from the Source book will become available. This time it’ll consist of two parts, and the first part will be available in April. In the past, I bought the Flex 2 and Flex 3 editions of this well written training manual, and will definitely buy the Flex 4 version too.


Here’s a recap of some things I liked about the #360Flex circa San Jose 2010:
1.    Lot’s of power outlets and extenders.
2.    A vending machine with disabled dollar slot was dispensing the cans for free.
3.    80% of presentations are done by independent Flex developers.
4.    As always, this conference was very friendly and informal

When/where is the next 360flex? Anyone knows? I need to book the flight early.


360flex, San Jose 2010, Tuesday

On Tuesday, I’ve attended a couple of panels and 2.5 sessions.

The morning panel was titled “Principles of RIA” and was about bringing animation and effects to your RIA to make it more engaging. For some reason it didn’t get me excited as I have to deal with more prosaic issues on a daily basis.

The next hour and a half I spent sitting on the floor in the overcrowded room where Deepa was reviewing new features of Flex 4, which were not Spark components.

During the lunch I was invited to speak at a conference in Mexico and discussed specifics of working as a consultant on government projects.

Then, I made a wrong choice because of the misleading title – I was expected to see more advanced stuff, but it was an intro type session. C’mon, stop writing ANT manually – check out our free plugin FX2Ant that generates ANT script from your Flex project in seconds.

My next selection was the session on Test Driven Development (TDD) by Elad Elrom. This was  the best session of the day hands down. There are situations when TDD can save project development cycle. Writing tests before the actual application is written forces people to better understand the application being developed. Ten year ago using UML-based code generators would have a similar effect –  we had to think before code, but we’d had to test code manually.
In the 21-st Century, the legions of low skilled people rushed into software development and the more coding generated and tested automatically the better.

During Elad’s presentation I’ve learned a new term for something that we all experience in the corporate world: Asshole-Driven Development. Here’s the slide on the subject:

The technical part of the day was closed by another panel. This time it was on the business of software – how to estimate development cost, how to talk to clients, how to run teams etc. This topic drew a lot of interest among the developers, but to me, most of the answers were sugarcoated. The panelists were saying the right things, but to my taste, it was not open enough. There is a lot more BS in this area than it was presented.  I liked the comments made by RJ Owen (he was on the panel) – RJ has a good sense of humor.

A couple of takeaways from this session are:

1. Development can be good, fast, and cheap – pick two.
2. When you are developing a project, it’s like working in the construction business. The difference is that instead of wood and bricks you have to use live kittens – they move, play, fight…

The level of the attendees is different. For example, one person told me that he wrote a large Flex application – 8000 lines of code in one file. But he understands that this is not right. In today’s podcast The Flex Show one girl said, “We use a lot of Flex, especially for our front end.” Nice!

Organizers of the conference marked each presentation by a level of complexity: 100, 200, and 300. Mine was marked as 300, but one guy stopped by saying the he loved it even though it was of a level 400. He also said that during the preso I “sold” a lot of our copies of our upcoming book. I was not presenting to sell books, but hey O’Reilly, have you heard this?

At the end of the day I went for dinner to P.F.Chang’s with Shashank, Tom, Jeff, and John and group of other people. Five Adobe evangelists were eating there already. We’ve asked the waiter to give us a table far from them assuming they might need privacy to discuss some secret things, like the date of Flex 4 release. He-he, if they’d read my yesterday’s blog they’d know that I calculated that date already.

For me, it was the second day in a row at P.F.Chang’s. I was the only one who have been there already. At this restaurant, they bring you the bill and fortune cookies at the same time, I guess, to ease the pain.  Shashank’s cookie had something about multi-touch, which is a good sign since he’s presenting on Wed on this subject.

Wednesday is the closing day of the conference.

Another day, another dinner at P.F. Chang’s.

Yakov Fain

First notes from 360Flex 2010 conference

I’ve arrived to San Jose,CA late on Sunday. By coincidence, there were three other speakers on the same plane from New York: Shashank Tiwari, Elad Elrom, and Jeff Tapper.  A short taxi ride to Marriott and one of the conference organizers, Tom Ortega, gives us a warm welcome in the lobby, “Hello guys! Please don’t do it again. Don’t get on the same plane next time – I can’t afford to lose four speakers”.

After a quick check-in to a nice room I spent a couple of hours drinking with a flex crowd in a couple of bars.

The morning after.

The shuttle bus took us to the huge eBay campus. Most of the people on the bus DID NOT have iPhones, can you believe this? Tom was greeting everyone at the door.
Several hundred of people gathered to hear Adobe’s Deepa’s keynote. Her conference badge reads “I’m Deepa”. Nice! On the next conference I’ll steal this idea from her and will carry the tag “I’m Yakov”.

I’ve been looking at this crowd and was thinking to myself, “If Tom and John will keep 360Flex running, in two years it’ll become bigger than Adobe MAX for Flex developers.”

In the morning, I’ve attended a presentation on Web analytics (Google vs. Omniture) and after lunch, my yesterday’s drinking buddy Jesse shared with the grateful audience his use of Flex plus two (!) more frameworks in the same project. Jesse is a good presenter, and I always come to see him regardless of the subject he’s talking about.

At 4PM I delivered a preso titled “Boring Presentation on Libraries and Modules”. A hundred people gathered in the room (here they are), and I was talking for 80 minutes and then was answering questions for another 25 minutes. I was pleasantly surprised that a non-flashy subject of modularization gets such an interest. People started working on decent size enterprise RIA’s and need to properly cut them into pieces.

This presentation was videotaped and sooner or later will become available online. For now, I can offer you a video of its shorter version that I made last year at Flash Camp Wall Street.
The beer was served right at eBay and the networking part began. These are some things that I’d like to share with you.

1. After certain conversations with certain people and by applying the Sherlock Holmes’ method of deductive reasoning I came out with the release date of Flex 4. To be on the safe side, I’ll give you two dates: March 29 or March 31 of 2010. Let’s wait and see if I got it right or I got it right.

2. I met a guy who runs a tiny company of a couple of Flex developers. He was complaining that it’s very difficult for him to find Flex talent for his projects because he couldn’t afford to hire and keep on billing $100 per hour consultants. He was surprised to learn that our company can easily offer him senior (I mean it) Flex/Java developers working remotely for a lot more modest rates. This is not the first time I hear that people assume that Farata Systems works only for Wall Street giants. We have lots of happy customers and the smallest one has only two employees.

3. I met a guy who has a nice visualization piece that may compliment our ClearBI Flex reporter. For some reason, there’s a surge of interest to ClearBI during the last month or so. We haven’t open sourced it yet, but if you want to play with it, here’s the URL of the demo server.  You may find some old screencasts showing how to create a custom report based on the raw grid of data, but try just hitting the buttons on the screen and you should be able to figure out how to add grouping, sorting, computed columns with formulas, and other goodies to create a report to your liking.

The dinner at P.F.Chang with several flexers was closing my first day of this very friendly and high-tech event. Looking forward for today’s learning.

Another day, another framework.

Your’s truly,
Yakov Fain

Two weeks, two flights, two conferences

The first two weeks of March I’ll be vacationing in training rooms – teaching and learning Flex.  I used the word vacationing because I love this part of my work the most.

March 1-2: Advanced Master Class on Flex in Brussels, Belgium. This public 2-day training becomes more and more popular. During the last 8 months we’ve taught this class in New York, Boston, Toronto, London, and Moscow. To the best of my knowledge, no one else offers such an advanced curriculum as public training.  On the night of March 2 I’ll be co-speaking at the Belgium Flex Users Group.

Here’s something you may not know. Viktor Yanukovich, the newly elected President of the Ukraine will visit Belgium on March 1. The real reason is not to  meet political leaders of Belgium and European Union, but to attend our class to become more flexible and invite Farata Systems to teach the same class in Ukraine in June of 2010. We’ll definitely consider this.

March 7-10: On arrival from Belgium, I’ll just have time to laundry my Farata t-shirts and have a couple of dinners with my family, and then board the next flight to San Jose, CA. Yep, it’s time for 360Flex conference, which as of today is my favorite Flex gathering. This is a No BS event. For independent developers by independent developers. 40 sessions, 2 panels, 4 Sunday Hands-On sessions. Networking. Beer. Good energy.  Solid technical content.I even recorded a 40-sec video to share with you my excitement!

I’ll deliver an interesting and useful for enterprise Flex developers talk titled “Boring presentation on Flex libraries and modules”.  The rest of the time I’ll spend in the meeting rooms listening to what other developers are up to.

In the evening, I’ll be glad to join you for a Johny Walker. Be there. Join several hundreds of Flex developers who are in the know!

Yours truly
Yakov Fain

Going to 360 Flex in May

You can check out the other great 49 speakers on the schedule at: http://360conferences.com/360flex/downloads/schedule.pdf It’s looking like it’s gonna be another great 360|Flex conference, especially with yours truly speaking.  Tickets are cheaper on a first come, first serve basis! So buy your tickets asap at http://360flex.eventbrite.com to get the best possible price. See you there and you better go to my session!

Yakov Fain