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Stuff I learned

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Things I took home from Flashforward. . .

1. What the heck was I thinking not using AMFPHP from the very start? I'd been avoiding it in favor of PHPObject just for simplicity's sake, but I was sold after a presentation on Flash-Database connectivity at FF. In retrospect, the Flash NetConnection Debugger (a Flash debugger extension that makes a detailed log of all remoting communication) would've solved so many problems for me that it would've more than made up for the small bit of extra code required. All future host communication will be done with AMFPHP.

2. The only unmitigated loser-presentation was "Prototyping and Deploying Visual Brain Storms" by Branden Hall. It was a presentation on his new product called "flow". It's not obvious from the site, but it's a tool that lets you make Flash files by connecting boxes together, like a CASE tool. I wanted to like the presentation, and Mr. Hall was enthusiastic, but there were a couple of problems. First, he was late. According to him, he was late because he was lost in conversation with somebody. Next, the product didn't work because he had been dinking around with it a few hours earlier and managed to break the runtime component.

Let's run some numbers, shall we? Let's say the average person pays $1,000 to attend FlashForward (which is probably well on the low side, given plane-fare, hotel, and registration costs). Assuming a person stays all four days and attends a full schedule of five seminars per day, that's 1000 / (4*5) = $50 that each person paid to attend each seminar. Assuming 150 attendees per 75-minute seminar, that's $7,500. Or $100 for every minute that the speaker couldn't be around because he was lost in conversation with someone else.

If someone's paying $7500 to hear you present for a 75 minutes, the very LEAST you can do is make sure you're on time and your presented materials are working.

Being a flake isn't cute. It's rude.

About a third of his audience had left by the time he got to Q&A (when I left). On the way out, another attendee looked at me and said "that was terrible". I don't think he made many converts that day.

3. FlexBuilder is about the slickest development environment I've ever seen. Much of that is certainly coming from Eclipse, but the integration between the XML-based programming editor and the design editor and the runtime stuff is really impressive.

That being said, if I had my choice, I'd probably go with OpenLaszlo rather than FlexBuilder if I wanted to re-do my site. Mainly because it can target multiple back-ends. While FlexBuilder targets Flash 9, OpenLaszlo can target either Flash 7 or DHTML, with Flash 9 and SVG back-ends in the works. And it'd be really cool to be able to re-target a site from Flash to AJAX (or back) with a compiler switch.
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