Enterprise Flex and Java RIA with Clear Toolkit Framework

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A typical Java developer knows that when you need to develop a GUI for a Java application, Swing is the tool. Eclipse SWT also has a number of followers, but the majority of people use Java Swing. For the past 10 years, it was a given that Swing development wouldn't be easy; you have to master working with the event-dispatch thread, GridBaglayout, and the like. Recently, the NetBeans team created a nice GUI designer called Matisse, which was also ported to MyEclipse. Prior to Matisse, JBuilder had the best Swing designer, but it was too expensive. Now a good designer comes with NetBeans for free. Why even consider Flex for developing Rich Internet Applications (RIA)? First, we'll give the short answer. Just look at the code in Listing 1. This code compiles and runs in the Flash player and produces the output shown in Figure 1. Yes, it's a tree control with several no... (more)

Hey, Wall Street, Flex Your Muscles!

On August 14, I attended the seminar RealWorld Flex in New York City. I was really impressed by the endless number of presentations showing the use of Adobe Flex 2 technology in the real world applications. Real-time processing, vector graphics, collaboration, messaging, multimedia, shopping carts, geo maps, customer support, and more. This was a really interesting event about the technology that will become a hit of 2007. Each of the presenters was emphasizing that it does not take a rocket scientist to create these applications. This reminded me of the process of adoption of Java at the end of the nineties based on a similar premise that an average Java programmer could do things that only gurus could have done in C++. And now a similar story: an average Flex 2 developer will be able to do more that a Java Swing guru. I was co-presenting with Victor Rasputnis on u... (more)

Adobe Flex 2: Advanced DataGrid

In any GUI tool, one of the most popular components is the one that shows data in a table format like JTable in Java or Datawindow in PowerBuilder. The Adobe Flex 2 version of such a component is called DataGrid. In any UI framework, the robustness of such a component depends on formatting and validating utilities as well as a whole suite of data input controls: CheckBoxes, ComboBoxes, RadioButtons, all sorts of Inputs, Masks, and so on. Using theatrical terminology, the role of the king is played by his entourage. Practically speaking, touching up the DataGrid is touching up a large portion of the Flex framework. We'll start by upgrading the standard DataGrid to a "destination-aware" control capable of populating itself. Next, we'll look at the task of formatting DataGrid columns and that would naturally lead us to a hidden treasury of the Flex DataGrid - the Data... (more)

Open Source Alternatives to LiveCycle Data Services

Clear Tookit on Ulitzer Development of enterprise Flex/Java rich Internet applications benefits from using automated data integration solutions and productivity tools. Currently Adobe offers LiveCycle Data Services ES2 (LCDS) and open source BlazeDS 3. While LCDS is certainly a great piece of software for those who are looking to support thousands of concurrent users via the most efficient communication protocols, its high licensing cost makes LCDS unaffordable for the vast majority of the enterprise applications let alone small businesses and startups. If you are looking for an alternative solution for integrating Flex and Java EE layers, consider using GraniteDS, WebOrb, and Clear Toolkit. The first two products offer their own implementation of the AMF protocol, and Clear Toolkit uses the AMF libraries that come with BlazeDS . If you are looking for an open sour... (more)

Generating Ext JS and Java CRUD Applications with CDB

Clear Data Builder for Ext JS (CDBExt) is an open source tool that automatically builds Ext JS/Java EE CRUD applications given one or more annotated Java interfaces. The generated JavaScript and Java code enforce best Ext JS and Java EE practices and is deployed on the development version of the Tomcat ready to run. A tiny library of Ext JS components accompanying CDBExt – Clear components – enables transactional data sync with the application server, including deeply nested hierarchical data transaction, features not supported in native Ext JS 4. This short video opens a series of demos that will describe various modes of generating CRUD applications with the JavaScript clients enriched by the Ext JS framework from Sencha. At the time of this writing, CDBExt is in public beta and your suggestions are welcome. Please post your suggestions and findings at the Clear... (more)

Don’t Listen to Your Business Analyst

I’m a partner in two companies – an IT consultancy Farata Systems,  and SuranceBay - a 3 year old startup where we’re creating a software for insurance industry. Brian Morton, my partner at SuranceBay who knows everything about insurance wrote a blog delivering a message that Steve Jobs formulated in one sentence: let’s give our clients not what they want, but what they need. The wording may not be 100% accurate, but the message is. When three years ago we created that startup our software engineers knew nothing about the insurance industry. Brian knew nothing about software. Actually this is not true. He knew how computers were used by the small insurance agencies. He knew intuitively that these processes could be improved, which he explained in a 200-page long business plan. We’ve created a partnership using a tiny initial amount of an investor’s capital, which w... (more)

Business Intelligence in the world of Rich Internet Applications

There were  a couple  major shifts in the software industry in the past: from Mainframe and dumb terminals to client-server desktop applications (fat client);  from client-server to Web-based plain looking applications (thin client again). With the last move we've sacrificed some speed and power for transparency of deployment and delivery. Currently, we are about to enter a new era of Rich Internet Applicatoins (RIA), when plain looking Web applications will gradually be replaced with  RIA delivered over the Web. RIA applications run in a virtual machine deliver over the Web (Adobe Flash Player) and have a potential of becoming full featured desktop applications  (remember the Java promise "Write once, run everywhere"). How this will affect  the evolution of Business Intelligence (BI) applications? As of today, the most popular and inexpensive BI tool is Microsoft Exc... (more)

Creating PDF Documents from Flex Applications

There are three ways of creating PDF documents from Adobe Flex applications: (1) by using the forms/LiveCycle designer - this process is well documented and requires someone to create XDP form (an Acrobat XML Data Package file), the data model and establish a process of synchronizing Flex application with LiveCycle, (2) by treating PDF printing as one of the features of your Flex application, seamlessly providing printing functionality (with or without LiveCycle Designer), and (3) by using Snapshots available in LCDS, which uses bitmaps to represent Flash content While the first process provides guaranteed quality and predictable results, it also requires a double effort of developing XDP and Flex forms and introduces the model and communications that can be foreign to the application domain. The third type of printing is good for screen-only PDFs due to low DPI used ... (more)

A Complete Application with RPC Communications...

This is a book excerpt from the book RIch Internet applications with Adobe Flex and Java. Configuring the Server-Side Destination and Proxy For security reasons (similar to the Java sandbox concept), Flash clients can only access the domains they come from, unless other servers declare, explicitly or implicitly, trust to SWF files downloaded from our domain by a corresponding record in a crossdomain.xml file. But our portfolio SWF wasn't loaded from finance.yahoo.com, and we aren't allowed to install crossdomain.xml on the Yahoo! servers. We'll use another technique called Flex proxy. When the user clicks on the News link in the data grid, the portfolio client will connect to our FDS Web application deployed under Tomcat (JRun, WebLogic), which will proxy our communication with Yahoo!. To configure the Flex proxy service, use the following section of the proxy-confi... (more)

Boost Productivity of Your Flex-Java Project with Log4Fx Component

It’s hard to overestimate the importance of having a good logging facility when you develop distributed  applications. Did the client’s request reached the server-side component? What did the server send back?  Add to this the inability to use debuggers while processing GUI events like focus change, and you may   need to spend hours if not days trying to spot some sophisticated errors. That’s why a commercial-grade  logger is a must if you work with an application that is spread over the network and written in  different languages such as Adobe Flex and Java. Log4Fx is an advanced, yet very simple to use, logger component for Adobe Flex applications that use Java application servers. You can set up the logging on the client or server sides, and you can redirect the output of the log messages to local log windows or make the log output easily availabl... (more)

Picking the Right Technology for Enterprise Rich Internet Applications

We are entering an era of Rich Internet Applications (RIA), and many enterprise development managers are facing the dilemma - which way to go - remain with tried and true Java or .Net or experiment with such newcomers as AJAX, Flex, Silverlight, or JavaFX. While Internet brings a lot of noise where "it's cool" is the most popular definition, this presentation is an overview of what's out there on the enterprise RIA market. We'll talk about pros and cons of using various techniques and technologies for development of the front end for complex distributed systems. Speaker Bio: Yakov Fain is a managing principal of Farata Systems, a consulting, training and product company. He's authored several Java books and dozens of technical articles. The latest book co-authored by Yakov is "Rich Internet Applications with Adobe Flex and Java: Secrets of the Masters." Sun Microsy... (more)