Managing Editor Julie Campagna and Technical Evangelist Ryan Stewart catch up with several developers at Flash Camp in San Francisco and asks them about their first impressions using the Adobe Flash Builder and Adobe Flash Catalyst betas, now available on Adobe Labs. Transcript.
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JULIE Campagna: Hi. I am JULIE Campagna. I manage the Edge newsletter.
RYAN Stewart: Hi. I am RYAN Stewart, a platform evangelist here at Adobe.
JULIE: Tonight we are at Flash camp at San Francisco where a bunch of people are showing up for sessions. And unbeknownst to them, they are going to have access to the beta release of Flash Catalyst and Flash Builder.
So since we have all these developers here we thought we would take this opportunity to talk to some of the developers who have been using the pre-release version and kind of get some first impressions. Ryan, who are we going to be talking to?
RYAN: We are going to talk to Juan Sanchez who has been working with the Flash Catalyst pre-release list. And we are going to talk to Michael Labriola who has been doing things with Flash Builder. And we are also going to talk to Elad Elrom who has been doing a lot of integration with both Catalyst and Builder.
JULIE: Before we interview them, one question. Everybody always asks me, at least the Edge readers, how do people get involved with the pre-release program?
RYAN: Come to events like this, talk to the engineers and product managers, show them what you have got and show them that you are going to provide good feedback and good bug reports. And then it is pretty easy to get added.
JULIE: Since you are like the Flash platform guy, you know the beat. I think I am going to have you do all the interviews. How is that?
RYAN: All right. Sounds good.
RYAN: Why don't you tell us about a couple of your favorite features about Flash Catalyst from the design perspective?
JUAN: One of the big things is being able to maintain pixel perfect designs as I move from creative suite tools, and I am familiar with Illustrator and Photo Shop. But also states in transition so I can add animation and stuff like that very easily without the help of a developer. It is basically up to me what I want to do. So I can create a transition, and then when I give it to the developer, the transition is there intact.
RYAN: So do you have something you can show us?
JUAN: Yeah. Let's take a look.
We did the design in Photo Shop and then brought it over to Flash Catalyst to start converting some of the artwork to components and adding some transitions. So you see I have got these nice transitions. I can scroll through the horizontal items. I can make a selection and you get a nice transition with a representation of what that shirt design looks like.
RYAN: Then is there a detail mode there?
JUAN: Yeah. I can click on details. I get a nice transition, which was defined by the designer. And I can easily move back and forth between those two states.
RYAN: Cool. Well thanks a lot Juan. We will hopefully see a lot of stuff that you are doing with the Catalyst beta now that it is public.
JUAN: Yep. I am excited about getting into it.
RYAN: So what are your top two favorite features in Flash Builder Four that are enhancements over Flex Builder Three?
MICHAEL: I am going to have to say that they tend to be around debugging and profiling. They say that 80% of your time is actually spent hunting down bugs in an application, right? So I want to do that as fast as I can. Well the network monitor actually lets me see traffic from the Flash Player to the server and back. So this is a very quick way for me to validate that that traffic is right without doing things like setting break points and looking through code and trying to step through things.
RYAN: What are the big changes in the debugger?
MICHAEL: The ability to manage break points more effectively. In Flex Builder Three, break points were sort of a binary thing. We either turned them on or turned them off. In Flash Builder Four we have the ability to be really smart with our break points. So we can say things like, "This break point should exist only after the third time we have reached it, " or maybe, "This break point should only be here if this value is true."
And that power of being able to like, much more conditionally, and much more of a - a sort of fine granularity, figure out where exactly we want to be - is huge to me.
RYAN: Well it sounds like there are a lot of cool enhancements for developers inside of Flash Builder Four and we are really looking forward to see what you are going to cook up, so thanks very much for sharing your favorites.
MICHAEL: Yeah. I appreciate being here. Thanks.
RYAN: You have got a lot of experience with how you actually bring Flash Catalyst into Flash Builder. But first I want to ask you, what is your favorite feature in each one?
ELAD: I think that in terms of Catalyst the biggest feature is really the ability to work with a file format that both Flash Builder and the Adobe CS product recognizes.
Right now with the CS4 there is a new format which is called FXG, which stands for Flash XML Graphic. It basically enables us to take graphics and convert them into a declarative language that Flash Builder understands.
There is also a new project format called FXP, which stands for Flash XML Project, and that enables us to compile all those files into a project file, almost like an archive file, and basically import and export it and export from and do all that roundtrip in between the two products.
RYAN: Can you give us an example of where the integration between catalyst and builder really made your life a lot easier and more productive?
ELAD: Yeah. I think with every single product or every single project that I worked on, you can see the difference, because of us all being there and the designer giving us some kind of PSD or Illustrator file, and then we have to convert it to XML or Action Script, and then we get a phone call or an email that we have to move it two pixels to the left, we don't have to do that anymore. SO every project small or big, Catalyst gives you a huge advantage.
RYAN: I am looking forward to seeing what you are going to be able to show us now that the Flash Catalyst and Flash Builder Betas are public.
ELAD: Yeah. I am very excited to keep working with those products and I am happy to be here.
JULIE: Ryan, nice job on the interviews. What did you think?
RYAN: I thought it was awesome. I thought we got some great information. We saw some really cool stuff and I am really excited to see what people are going to do now that we have got the public betas out there.
JULIE: Well, you know now that Flash Catalyst and Flash Builder betas are now available online, so go get them. And there is tons of information in this edition of the Edge to help get you started. I hope you enjoy this edition of The Edge.