Monday, January 02, 2006

Flash Forms. Validation and Pre-Population

I've been doing a lot of work lately using flash as a front end to web data. I've become a big fan of Flash Remoting using both Flashorb from Midnight Coders and the open-source AMFPHP. Remoting makes moving data back and forth from the server to the flash movie so much easier than using xml or web services and is quite a bit faster.

Unfortunately, flash is still a lot of manual work when developing the forms themselves even when leveraging form components. I've been trying to find a better way to handle this side of it especially the validation side and pre-filling out the form from the server side. A recent project has a very complicated data model and I want to update the data across a multi-page form and then update it. The remoting side works great. Considering that the backend developers don't know anything about flash, it was a very easy process to get a usable object from them.

I'm really surprised at how much manual wiring up I'm having to do to get the forms to populate from the backend. This is one area where with most modern html frameworks I think it would have been a lot easier to do. When I using Struts (a popular java framework) all this was fairly well worked out and .NET handles it pretty well. (This is one of the few areas I think .NET really handles better than Java). In this case I think the data model is probably too complicated to make this easy no matter what the framework was but I do wish there was a simple way to connect Validation to the Form elements.


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