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Macromedia MX related news and discussion
Central Central: First Impressions September 30, 2003

I installed Macromedia's Central public beta last night on an XP machine. Here are my first impressions:

Installation:
Installation of Central went very smooth, maybe too smooth. The installation package seemed a bit unnatural compared to a standard windows installer. It was very smooth, very integrated with the browser; the only thing I felt it lacked was interaction with the user. I got the feeling that there was quite a bit going on behind the scenes and that I had little or no control over it. On the upside, the “central” Central application (ok, I am rethinking the idea that Central was a good name) ran without a hitch on the first try.

My Applications:
Nothing major here, it looks like a browser window. The difference is under the hood. Unfortunately the limited beta doesn’t demonstrate this very well, but you can see the potential. Add applications with the click of a button, tight integration with windows, “occasionally connected applications” with smart alerts, it sounds great. My concern is that all of this seems kind of over kill for most applications. With the advent of Flash Remoting most of these things are available ala Carte. Will this be too much for most apps?

The Console:
My console has pods. I am not proud of it, but it does. This concept is very appealing to me except for the constant interaction with the main Applications window. Again this may just be the way beta applications are coded. We won’t really be able to tell how good or bad this concept really is until we can get a look at some more real world applications. For now I believe the better example of the console’s promise is the AccuWeather app.

The Beta Applications:
AccuWeather is the clear winner here. It is easy and intuitive to set up and its console is actually useful without popping the main application window. Movie Finder has promise, but right now it is light on usability and value add over dozens of other movie websites. It was also a bit slow and buggy the first three times I accessed it. The Application Finder is just a stall page so we won’t know how easy it will be to add applications until after the beta. If it is anything like installing the beta, it should be fine.

Overall, I like the potential of Central. I think if it allows developers enough freedom and functionality, it will catch on and flourish. If the framework is too rigid, I think developers will sidestep it in favor of Flash Remoting. I can’t wait to see what happens.

Bring on the SDK!

Posted by Al Patridge at 10:48 PM in Central | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
Central Central Buzz September 26, 2003

With the release of the new Central beta, there are quite a few people talking about it. I haven't touched it yet, but I've grabbed some links to people talking about:

Web-Rat
"I didn't mind Central, I thought it was pretty neat. I like having a movie finder app right on my desktop instead of having to open a browser to go hunt down the Loews theater times, etc."

Mario Klingemann
"A Bloated Widget Tool?"
[I think Mario makes the point that it's not - hard to say for sure.]

Eric Dolecki
"would i call central a bloated widget tool? no... unless thats all people want to use it for - which i don't see happening. its a hell of a lot faster than sherlock thats for sure. i don't even have that one in my dock anymore."
[Eric, I can't seem to link directly to your blog entries. Drop me a line if I can and I'll update the link]

Peter Hall
"We can't add new apps yet, and there is no information on how to go about building one. After all the hype and waiting around, this is definitely an anticlimax."

Matt Haughey
"Macromedia's Central went into beta today, and although I've seen some pretty cool demos at conferences, the beta is fairly crippled."

YayHooray Thread
benHarper: what the heck is MM Central?
etchalon: It's pretty. And slow. It's pretty slow.

Posted by Michael Buffington at 10:01 AM in Central | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
Flash Take a Tour of Macromedia

Vera Fleischer gives us a tour of the Macromedia offices in San Francisco where she works on the Flash team. I've been in the Macromedia offices once before, and I couldn't help but be impressed. The design of the offices are quite conducive to creativity and smart thinking.

Posted by Michael Buffington at 09:40 AM in Flash | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Dreamweaver DWMX 2004 on MacNN September 24, 2003

Big thread discussing the pitfalls of DWMX 2004 (I'm already tired of typing 2004 after everything).

I haven't yet seen the app on my Mac or PC, but I can say that I'm not too excited about trying it out on either after all I've been hearing.

Posted by Michael Buffington at 09:45 AM in Dreamweaver | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
Web/Tech An Office for Software Developers

I ran across a description of how Joel Spolsky set up his company's new offices. Private offices, plasma screen TV, no L shaped desks. Seems like a bunch of crazy talk considering today's economic climate.

But Joel builds a good case - good office design can produce good software. Making the office a more attractive place to hang out can increase productivity. I tend to agree, to a degree. In order to have a nice swanky office, you better be making enough money to support it, and you better hope that clients don't see it as the reason your prices are so high.

I'm interested in seeing a report a few months or even a year from now after his team has been up and running in them to see if what he designed actually works. My guess is that it will work well, but it's hard to say for sure.

Posted by Michael Buffington at 09:28 AM in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
ColdFusion ColdFusion & Struts September 16, 2003

A few of the guys I work with gave me a puzzled look when I suggested that there were movements out there to use Apache Struts with ColdFusion.

I found a great article on the subject, and plan on making a sample app soon using the framework.

For those unfamiliar with Struts, the Apache site has a Learning Struts guide.

Posted by Michael Buffington at 03:37 PM in ColdFusion | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
ColdFusion ColdFusion & Eclipse

I've been spending some time looking at the Eclipse IDE for Java development, and I'm very impressed with the quality of the software. I find myself wishing that I could use the tool instead of ColdFusion Studio or Dreamweaver MX.

Did some googling, and found that Macromedia and IBM, the makers of Eclipse, have been thinking in similar ways, as Macromedia plans on integrating with Eclipse. How or when is an unknown. Personally, I'd like Eclipse to simply be aware of ColdFusion tags and architecture much like ColdFusion studio is, but in a more Eclipse-like way.

There seems to be little buzz about this integration though, and I'm curious if its marketing fluff. In any case, I'm not the only one excited by the prospects of using Eclipse as an IDE for ColdFusion.

Posted by Michael Buffington at 03:32 PM in ColdFusion | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
ColdFusion CFHTTP & and toString() September 15, 2003

I was messing around with CFHTTP and came across something weird. When using CFDUMP to view the contents of cfhttp.filecontent (what CFHTTP retrieves from the supplied URL) it displayed the contents as if it were an object.

object of java.io.ByteArrayOutputStream
Methods hashCode (returns int)
wait (returns void)
wait (returns void)
wait (returns void)
getClass (returns java.lang.Class)
equals (returns boolean)
notify (returns void)
notifyAll (returns void)
flush (returns void)
write (returns void)
toString (returns java.lang.String)
toString (returns java.lang.String)
toString (returns java.lang.String)
reset (returns void)
size (returns int)
write (returns void)
write (returns void)
close (returns void)
toByteArray (returns [B)
writeTo (returns void)


I figured something had changed from 5.0 to CFMX, and used the toString() method right away to give me the string I was looking for. Curiosity got the better of me, and thought it would be good to know why this was happening. According to the documentation I've seen, CFHTTP returns cfhttp.filecontent as an object when it can't determine if the contents are a string. Fair enough.

Problem is, what kind of impact does this have for me going forward, or for older apps that just assumed text would always come back (why would it not, it's HTTP?). It had actual implications for what I was working on at the time. I was trying to do a Replace() on strings within the contents of cfhttp.filecontent, then convert that to an XML document. Without forcing cfhttp.filecontent to a string, I was getting errors when trying to parse the document using the XMLParse() function after the Replace(). Without doing a replace, the XMLParse() function was working fine. XMLParse() didn't seem to care whether I forced it to a string or not - but once I "touched" it with Replace(), it broke everything. Forcing it to a string made things work just fine. Weird.

Posted by Michael Buffington at 02:58 PM in ColdFusion | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
ColdFusion CFML & RSS

Erik sent me a link to an article that shows how to consume RSS feeds using straight CFML, using XML functions built into ColdFusion.

It's good code - it does exactly what it should. The problem I have with it, and most RSS parsers for that matter, is that they're too strict. One bad character in the feed can stop me from parsing all of the other good data within the feed.

Mark Pilgrim's article, Parsing RSS at All Costs, is a great read. The overall point it makes is that when writing a parser, you can't just assume the XML is properly formed. You need to throw in some code to handle bad XML, code that will not be brought to it's knees by a mere ampersand.

I've been using the RSS Untangler from Macromedia for a while and have talked about its shortcomings here. It too is too strict, but it gets worse. If the parser has a problem with a feed, it throws an exception that I can't seem to pull out of gracefully. Despite most of my efforts, I can't wrap a CFTRY/CFCATCH around it and have my application handle exceptions. It's a big aggravating.

Hopefully, however, this will change. I've made contact with Ben Simon, the original author of RSSU, and he has suggested that it should be pretty easy to make some changes. He said that he'd add support for content:encoded using getContent() and setContent() methods, and that error handling could be more graceful. I'm waiting for these changes, patiently of course. In the meantime, I may throw together my own liberal RSS parser for ColdFusion.

Posted by Michael Buffington at 10:24 AM in ColdFusion | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Flash Flash CSS Support Challenged September 12, 2003

For those who subscribe to the Macromedia Edge Newsletter you may notice that the latest edition has an article boasting the new Flash features found in both in the new authoring tool (MX 2004), as well as the new player (v7), among which they talk about the CSS support now found in Flash.

Just yesterday I saw a link on kottke.org to Todd's article describing in some detail what CSS styles are supported in Flash, and some important ones that are not. It's an important read for anyone thinking they want to use CSS in their HTML & Flash.

Posted by ErikG at 09:02 AM in Flash | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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