Saturday, July 21, 2007

WebORB for AIR.

In my last post I talked a bit about the new WebORB for AIR that Mark Pillar showed at the Dallas stop of the Adobe onAir Tour. I mentioned that I wasn't sure of a reason for using it when SQLite was already available. Pillar left a comment clarifying that for me. I've been in CMS mode for a while and had gotten used to thinking of databases too generically. Obviously a lot of app development is built around manipulating an existing database and that's the big payoff on the new WebORB for AIR.

This way you can create an AIR app that can make direct connections to a database without going out to a web server. Not only a database but any .NET class could be potentially used this way. Combining AIR's graphically rich environment with direct connections to MSMQ for example has incredible potential for monitoring apps.

The huge number of Access projects still out there shows how often small businesses still lean on the LAN Client/Server app. I've always been quick to try and move those projects into a web setting even if just for internal use but I think it could be hard to beat the AIR/WebORB combination when creating business apps for Windows clients. Since this is all still WebORB you could even check if there was the local access and if not connect to an external WebORB conceivably allowing it to run locally on Windows yet still function on Mac/Linux boxes by using a web hosted WebORB.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Adobe Air Tour.

Went to the Dallas stop of the Adobe onAIR Bus tour. A pretty good event and I definitely learned some things about AIR I didn't know yet. I see a lot of uses for it and think it is a good fit with the web apps that we are already planning.

Mark Pillar of Midnight Coders did a demo of WebORB that impressed me. I am already a user of WebORB on several projects but I had not seem some of the latest features. This project is moving forward at a great pace and I think becoming the remoting product of choice. I'm really surprised at how many people are using XML still with all the advantages remoting has to offer. He showed a version of the .NET weborb that lets you embed it into an AIR app. That's interesting but with the built-in SQL Lite I'm not sure of the advantages. The Active Record style object mapping was really cool and combined with the new Code Generation features makes it an incredibly efficient way to build these kind of applications.

I saw a lot of people from the Dallas flash community there, including guys from most of the ad agencies and Yahoo. They said it was one of the best turnouts on the tour which doesn't surprise me.

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Monday, July 09, 2007

DbVisualizer 6.0 Released.

Minq Software has released a new version of their excellent DbVisualizer. This is a java based tool for working with databases. It can connect to any database with a java driver and works great on Mac, Windows or Linux. There's a free version and a pay version ($149) that adds a lot more features. I've been a big fan and user for years now.

The new version has several nice improvements including New Create and Alter Table feature that supports defining primary keys, foreign keys, indexes, constraints and more. There's a lot of new features in the table editor too though that is only in the pay version. Even the free version is invaluable just as an easy way to work with a database while developing. I'd much rather be in a tool like this than use web based tools like phpMyAdmin plus this can be used with other databases like Postgres or MS SQL. The latter working from a Mac alone would make me happy; I'd hate to fire up Parallels just to run Enterprise Manager.

Friday, July 06, 2007

WebORB for PHP v 2.0 Released.

Midnight Coders have released an update to their excellent Flash Remoting product, WebORB for PHP. I'm using the earlier 1.3 version in production now and am looking forward to working with the new version. 2.0 adds much of the management features from the .NET version and code generation for the client side connection code, including Flex, ARP and Cairngorm output. There is also a switch to the Mozilla Public License from the GPL.

There are quite a few remoting products but I really like the fact that Midnight Coders has a product line encompassing multiple languages. I have used the .NET version and I'm sure the Ruby version has some place in my future. Most PHP people use AMFPHP for remoting since it was there first but its recent issues around leadership changes has made me more comfortable with WebORB, plus I know Mark Pillar and like working with his product. I do still use AMFPHP on my PHP4 projects though.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

New version of Xray Flash Debugger.

A new version of Xray is out. Xray is an open-source flash debugging tool that lets you see and change variables in a running flash movie. The new version completely revamps the logging pane. Now it has much better performance and a better interface with search, highlighting and filtering.

I've found this tool to be invaluable in working on the large flash video site I'm developing. The new version is even better.


Monday, July 02, 2007

Zend Framework Released.

There's been a lot of interest in php frameworks recently and now Zend, the guys who actually maintain php have released their take, Zend Framework.

There are a few different approaches to frameworks but they can be divided into two camps. First are full frameworks like symfony or CakePHP. These have also been called 'opinionated' in that they have strong expectations for what code goes where and encourage (force?) you to work in a specific way. I've started using Cake lately on our non-cms projects and am pretty happy with that approach. The dogmatic frameworks are especially good on a project where you have to outsource development since you know where everything will end up.

Zend's framework is more in the second camp. These frameworks, another being CodeIgniter, are more a set of classes that take care of various features in a standard way that you mix and match as needed. These can be faster and more flexible. I actually plan on using some of these Zend classes within our CMS sites since they will be easier to work into other systems. I especially think they will be a good fit on flash remoting driven projects.

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