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

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