Adobe Flex – Redefining Web 2.0

Yesterday, I had been to “Flex Boot Camp” – a seminar on Flex conducted by Adobe.

For people who don’t know what Flex is – it is a framework on the top of Flash which works provides an interface to create complete websites in Flash giving it more OO classes and functions, and HTML components with base coding in MXML (Macromedia XML) and ActionScript.

Initially through the seminar, I liked the idea of a whole website working just like AJAX-amplified. The demos that they showed and the ease in which you could implement everything was amazing. According to the claims, web apps created using Flex, save bandwidth using the HTTPService() call pretty similar to AJAX. Also, Flex adds a semantic accessibility to your web application that a normal HTML page lacks. Though AJAX proves to be a strong competition to Flex, the fact that its a ‘hack’ in JavaScript might just limit its capabilities in the future. (Web 3.0?) Anyhow, Flex proved to be an eye-candy. As I’m writing this, I’m downloading the Flex SDK 3.0. Though I’m not sure how to transcend from my native web programming language (PHP/XHTML/CSS) I’m hoping that this article might help.

Coming to the general idea of how the web will welcome Flex, it all seems a little sweet and salty right now. Any webmaster would want his website to conform to high standards of:

  • Functionality
  • Design
  • Reach

Functionality

As a webmaster, you’d look to make your website incorporating all the functions necessary for your users to get the best experience from the site and when they click the close button of their website, they leave with a satisfaction that their experience with the site was such that it would bring them back again. Having said that, the functionality may be the core navigability, a search feature, security functions or even the basic accessibility feature which lets the user choose the font size of the text that he reads on the website.

Doing all this not really an easy job. Especially if you don’t have a team of developers backing you with every module of the site. Comparing this in reference to Flex, Flex provides an exhaustible set of components and controls which makes the developer’s job much simpler. It combines aspects of component interaction with the end users as well as the interaction between the components themselves.

Design

If “Content is King”, “Presentation/Design is Queen”. The design of a website is very important; in terms of enhancing the aesthetic value and also providing readability to the users. Design also focusses on the content presentation, ease of navigability and color sense. Though most of these are decided by the webdesigner to suit his needs as per his wishes, the feasibility of design increases with the use of Flex. Flex also provides support for Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) for certain elements (mostly HTML elements, rightly so). Some of the designs that were shown in the seminar were really good, seamless and clear.

Reach

What is the use of a website which provides perfect functionality and has beautiful design if it does not reach out to its potential users? Yes, I am talking about promoting your website. There are three ways to do this:

  • Peer to peer – Website promotion relies on word-of-mouth, tell-a-friend ways. Though these ways are ineffective in terms of reaching out to large number of users, it will certainly build a loyal readership.
  • Advertising – Publish ads relating to your website, describing its features to woo new users.
  • SEO – Search Engine Optimization is a hot topic in today’s web. Every webmaster’s goal is to have his site properly indexed by a search engine. It would not be wrong if I said a proper SEO optimized site does not need any more advertising. (Of course, this also depends on the site’s services and content)

The disadvantage of using Flash (to design a complete website) is very evident in Flex. SEO is something which hasn’t been thought about by the adobe team, perhaps. However, the community is trying hard to tweak the way the Flex coding appears in a browser to generate a SEO-friendly code on the backdrop of a Flex UI. Efforts such as this and this have certainly caught many a developer’s eyes.

Like I said, after deploying a website, a webmaster expects to reach out for a good slice of internet traffic to come his way. Flex does well is providing an innovative approach to design and develop an amazing web application. However, I really feel there is a lot to be done regarding a Flex site’s visibility on search engines. More research will be necessary into the usage of robots.txt, possibility of coming together with the search engine companies (It may already be underway) to help index SWF better.  Once, Flex is improved based on these lines, I’m sure webmasters will be able to create websites which keep users coming back to it.

To know more about Flex, visit these links:

Advertisements

Eliminating Piracy – A long shot?

Updated: Revisiting Piracy (24/01/2012)

Piracy

Piracy basically is theft. Stealing can be broadly split into two kinds:

  • Stealing to fill one’s stomach.
  • Stealing for any other reason.

We are not talking of the sea-faring pirates, whose sins might just be pardonable when compared to the modern day pirates who follow a form of piracy more significantly put as copyright infringement.

Piracy: Why? (– Why not?)

Hunger here, signifies the inability to access content due to monetary or other situational constraints. This form of piracy is acceptable to a certain degree; more like compassion shown upon a man who steals to save himself from dying of hunger.

This form of piracy is practiced by ‘youth’. (Youth is a heavy word. Pardon me) The younger lot, of which I’m pretty much a part of, have a lot of things to spend on: weekend parties, fueling their vehicles, girlfriends, and a lot more! Wouldn’t it be obnoxiously painful to us when expected to pay for software too? And a few software like the Adobe Photoshop being so heavily priced, is unreachable by us; and isn’t it like curbing our creativity if good software like that are not available to us for free (or a reasonable price: $100? For the record, Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended costs $999! About 10 times the price I quoted for it!)

I’d say, the worst type of piracy is music. Most of the times, though the albums are reasonably priced, people tend to download them for free either from websites like ‘yourmp3.net’, ‘mp3raid.com’, ‘mp3pk.com’, or thousands of other such websites. The P2P in itself may seem like an ‘innocent’ advancement in technology (–like the nuclear power plants, which also gave us the atomic bomb!) but it is surely helping the phenomenal rise in music Piracy.

Sometimes, movie piracy is justifiable. For instance, living in India, I have access to only a few hollywood movies that are released here, compared to a lot that gets released around the world. I’m not complaining about new movies which can be easily bought (and shipped) at some online store like Amazon; I’m actually thinking about good old movies, which are out of cinemas a long time ago and you cannot possibly find it on any online store (and even if you could, the search is never easy).

The most unfortunate form of piracy is the piracy of books. Writers put their heart and soul into their works and go through a lot of trouble which they truly deserve merit for.

Eliminating Piracy

Thinking of eliminating global piracy is like trying to be heard in a crowd of a million people. No matter how many initiatives you take to curb piracy, there will always be a ‘small’ group of people who would resort to piracy in any case. Reducing piracy is a more realistic goal that the ‘concerned people’ must take up, rather than aiming to eliminate it completely.

Here are a few suggestions I’d make:

  • Ban websites primarily targeting to provide downloads of pirated content. Trying to get the country (in which the server is located) to take action is a foolish way of trying to stop the culprits. Instead, all countries must come up with an agreement that a universal list of domains (and IP addresses) will be maintained by a non-government and non-profit organization, all of which must be banned from being accessible to public by all ISPs.
  • Governments must initiate the funding of good open source software especially the alternatives to the expensive ones in the market. This encourages people to create good open source software, and also urges many to use more open source applications.
  • 90% of all movies make their share of money within 15-24 months of their release. The film makers must come to an agreement that the movies must be made available for download (for free or for a reasonable price) after 24 months of its release. This not only ensures that the movies reach out to a bigger group of people, also guarantees that the movie isn’t forgotten very soon.
  • Urge software companies to create a ‘student’ version of all software that they make and it must be available for students for free, if used for non-commercial purposes.

All good things in life comes free; for everything else, there’s piracy!

Disclaimer: The links provided to certain websites are for knowledgeable purposes only and are not intended to promote piracy of any sort or any method.