With the release of Adobe Flex 4, and the growing demand for RIAs, it's a great time to learn Flex. Edge Managing Editor Julie Campagna attends Flash Camp to interview several Flex developers to find out about their learning experience and to get tips on how to best approach learning Flex. Transcript.




JULIE CAMPAGNA: Hi, I'm Julie Campagna, I manage the Edge newsletter. Tonight we're in Boston attending Flash Camp, where we're celebrating the release of Flash Builder 4 and Flex 4. In this video we're going to talk to several seasoned developers and find out how they got started with Flex, and get some tips on how to learn Flex.


JULIE: So when did you first start learning Flex?

RUSS FERGUSON: I first started learning Flex when Flex 2 came out, when they moved everything to ActionScript 3. When I was learning Flex, the thing that I really needed to start thinking about was writing code in a much more object-oriented way, than I was probably used to before in Flash. Then getting used to the MXML components.

The way was able to get past it was to really start thinking about MXML and ActionScript similar to the way that you have HTML and JavaScript. You have your tag-based language, and then your scripting language that makes it all work.


PHILLIP CAMP: So I learned Flex, originally, in school. Then I got into the enterprise. Some of then enterprise applications that I was working with really required a lot of formed data integration. It just made it easier than just using Flash in general.

With Flex you really can do some very powerful things. But with MXML, any developer can develop really complex applications without getting to deep. If you want to do some really serious stuff, and you can, get into the Flex component LiveCycle, and you'll make some really powerful applications.


BRIAN RINALDI: Well I had been watching what was going on with Flex 1.1.5 and was very interest in it. But when Flex 2 came out, and I moved to a company that had adopted it, so they gave me the opportunity to learn it. I just kind of dove right in.

I learned Flex at the lynda.com videos. I was able to sit down and go through them, and work through all the example as well as build a sample application of my own.


MICHELLE YAISER: I teach object-orient ActionScript, RIA development, physical computing and interaction design, and then the senior portfolio class.

JULIE: How did you learn Flex?

MICHELLE: It was Flex 2, and the first thing I got was the "Adobe: Training From The Source." And just sat and did all the tutorials in the book, from cover to cover.


LEIF WELLS: We decided to start learning Flex because we were building a lot of Flash applications using ActionScript 2. We wanted to have a more professional environment to build that in, so we started using Flex. Flex was built for making rich Internet applications and really helped us speed up our process.

Learning Flex wasn't all the difficult. I 'd already mastered ActionScript 2. The difficult part was learning ActionScript 3, making that leap.


BLAINE BRADBURY: Originally, I thought I wanted to learn Flex simply to put a better front end on what I was doing with Cold Fusion. Since then, I've learned that it's so much larger. It's almost the other way around for me now, Cold Fusion's a neat back end that I just happen to know for the Flex stuff that I do.

Probably the most challenging thing about learning Flex, for me, was transitioning from the Flash IDE, over to what is Flex. Learning that the timeline isn't used the same way, and that the stage isn't something that I'm going to be looking at the same way.

I got past my challenges with understanding how Flex works, really just by digging in and doing it.


JULIE: How would you suggest that somebody go about learning Flex?

LEIF: If you're brand new to Flex, I suggest you take "Flex in a Week."

RUSS: If you all ready know ActionScript, then Flex is immediately available to you, it's really easy to learn. Take a look at some of the videos online, some of the learn "Flex in a Week."

PHILLIP: I would probably suggest going to the Flex Dev Center. Because that really spiders out everything. It links to blogs, it links to forums, it links to Tour de Flex, and really everything out there.

MICHELLE: Read a few things, but then just experiment and play with it. See what you can get it to do.

BRIAN: The Tour de Flex is awesome. I've sat there and gone by the examples one-by-one. I have to say, every time I go in there, there's new stuff.

BLAINE: If somebody had a Flash background and they wanted to learn Flex. I think the first thing that they should probably do is either get a book, or attend a conference and find out the very basic differences.

In fact, they may have less challenges if they were doing ActionScript in flash, in terms of the way that things are different.

RUSS: For people that don't know ActionScript, I would tell go over to tv.adobe.com. A lot of students that I get are very visual, so having some of those videos are really helpful for them.

BRIAN: Of course, join your local user group. I know in Boston here, there's a Flash platform group, there's the Flex group. There's CFUG also, the Cold Fusion Users Group, often talks about Flex.


JULIE: So as you can see, we're winding down at Flash Camp. But I'm glad we got the opportunity to talk a bunch of developers about their learning experience with Flex. So if you're interested, definitely check out the getting started resources in the Adobe Developer Connection.

I hope you enjoyed this edition of The Edge.