Let’s Play Pollyanna

Springing into Flex

Work has been slow of late so I have decided to investigate the so-called RIA technologies. Firstly my current apps are written using Java and the Spring Framework and do use Ajax (via DWR) however the clients are constantly pushing the limits as to what is sensible in an html only environment. So I spent a good day reading up on the two main alternatives JavaFX and Flex. JavaFX, I discounted, the people involved with the project all seem to be concentrating on completely different problem domains – there is very little on what some would consider boring business applications. The few apps I did find that were using the technology seemed to have quite a heavy startup time. Also there didn’t seem to be a very focused community for JavaFX.

So I decided I would look at Flex with BlazeDS. This was a bit better although the community is still more diffuse than I am used to. Most of the technical info I used was found in the Blaze DS Integration demo by Christophe Coenraets.

I decided not to do things the easy way – I was able to grab a section of db layer and business logic from an existing spring application and used it to create a new project. I copied in the appropriate jar files (for spring-flex and for blazeds) and changed the spring configuration to suit. With a very simple flex UI to display a button and do a query on the Spring back-end when it is clicked (just like Christophe had) I very rapidly had something that actually worked. So that was good.

So now I have to think about the next steps. Quite obviously I would like Spring Security to be well integrated with the flex front-end in a similar way to the way the JSP tag library is. I will also need to think about how the application is architected. I don’t want to put a lot of code into the flex layer – just stuff that is directly concerned with the UI. Fortunately for me time is on my side. I do not have to do this in the project I am currently working on or any which we are discussing at the moment. It is purely a bit of fun looking at possible future directions so by the time I have to write something for real I expect that there would be some best practises documented out there.

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March 8, 2009 Posted by | Software Development | Leave a comment

Welcome To The Future – Future Noir and FFG’s Android

We played our first game of the Fantasy Flight Games game Android this weekend. By some strange quirk of fate I ended up winning despite not finding the evidence to prove my guilty suspect guilty. Me winning a new game is quite unusual so I will probably have to put up with a month long losing streak to compensate.

On to the game itself, as it was being set up I was amazed at the number of bags of bits and cards that were produced from a rather modestly sized box. We all knew it was likely to be a meaty game and so it proved. The game seemed to take an awfully long time to play – in fact we ended up playing exactly half the game which took about 4 hours. The whole game is supposed to be playable in 3 hours. We never read out the flavour text of the light cards (or most of the few dark cards) that got played – I think that if we had done so it would have improved the atmosphere of the game but would also have made the game take longer.

We are currently talking amongst the group about why it took so long – most people seem to be going with the group playing too nicely (not playing enough dark cards) which also had the result that the conspiracy puzzle was finished very quickly and quite a lot of evidence was amassed for some of the suspects.

I like the game quite a lot, and for me the downtime was just about manageable but would be better if it was about half the time. That would give a run-time of about 4 hours for a full game with 5 players. So I would definitely like to play it again (probably as a four-player game) but it is one of those experience games (a bit like Arkham Horror) which will probably only get played a couple of times a year.

March 8, 2009 Posted by | Games | Leave a comment