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Developing Flex 4 Components: Using ActionScript & MXML to Extend Flex and AIR Applications

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Developing Flex 4 Components: Using ActionScript & MXML to Extend Flex and AIR Applications

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  • Copyright 2011
  • Edition: 1st
  • eBook (Watermarked)
  • ISBN-10: 0-13-268513-2
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-13-268513-9

The Complete Insider’s Guide to Building State-of-the-Art Components with Adobe’s Flex 4 Platform

Using Adobe’s Flex 4 framework, developers can build rich, immersive solutions more easily and quickly than ever. Much of Flex 4’s remarkable power is based on its component-based approach. Adobe provides many components “out of the box,” but you can accomplish even more by building your own. In Developing Flex 4 Components, world-renowned Flex and Flash developer Mike Jones thoroughly demystifies all facets of Flex component development, showing how to quickly create and deliver high-value components to the widest possible audience.

Jones introduces the Flex 4 component architecture, reviews its built-in components, and shows how they can be extended or incorporated into new components. Next, he walks through developing components from scratch, covering issues ranging from events to skinning. Finally, he turns to distribution, introducing best practices for everything from integration to documentation.

Jones draws on nearly 15 years’ experience developing with Flex and Flash. You’ll find extensive sample code, plus dozens of practical tips that are available nowhere else. After reading this book, you'll be able to

·        Set up your Flex and Flash Builder development environment

·        Understand key differences between Flex 3 and Flex 4 component frameworks

·        Learn how Flex components are typically structured, developed, and rendered

·        Leverage ActionScript and MXML to quickly create components

·        Implement view states, transitions, effects, and events

·        Manipulate and store complex data collections

·        Use Flex 4’s FXG and MXMLG to support skinning and styling

·        Create components with Flash Professional CS5’s drawing tools

·        Integrate components with Flash Builder

·        Package components for easy distribution with or without source code

·        Streamline implementation with manifests, design view extensions, and metadata

If you’re an experienced Flash, Flex, or AIR developer, this book will help you create any component you can imagine–and deliver solutions others can only dream about.


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Table of Contents

Preface xvii


Chapter 1  Getting Started     3

Flex     3

   What Is Flex?     4

   Flex SDK     4

Flex Development Versus Flash Authoring     5

   Flash Builder Has No Drawing Tools or Timeline     5

   Flex SWFs Are Massive    6

   Flash Builder Has No Symbol Library     6

Flash Builder     6

   What Does This Actually Mean to You?     7

   Wrapping the Flex SDK     7

   Installing Flash Builder     7

   Downloading Flash Builder     8

   Starting the Installation of Flash Builder    8

Launching Flash Builder     12

Creating Your First Project     12

Summary     16

Chapter 2  The Flex 4 Components     17

Components: A Potted History     17

Using Flex Components     19

Component Family Tree     20

   Control Components     23

   Navigator Components     31

   Layout Components     34

   Charting Components    37

   AIR-Specific Components     37

Summary     39

Chapter 3  Anatomy of a Component     41

Component Life Cycle    41

Understanding the Structure     43

   Component Constructor     44

Inherit, Composite, or Rolling Your Own     51

UIComponent     51

   Something for Nothing     52

   UIComponent for MXML     53

IMXMLObject     55

Template Components    56

   Deferring Instantiation     56

Summary     60


Chapter 4  Creating Your First Component     63

MyFirstComponent    63

   Creating the Class    65

   Core Component Methods     66

   Adding Some Form     66

   Showing Yourself Off    68

   Testing It Out     69

   This Belongs to Me     70

   Sibling Rivalry     73

MyFirstComponent (Revised)     74

   Distilling MyFirstComponent (Halo)     74

   Slimming Down with MXML (Halo)     76

   Distilling MyFirstComponent Down (Spark)     80

   Weapon of Choice     82

Summary     82

Chapter 5  Managing States     83

What Are States?     83

Flex’s View States     84

Creating States in MXML    86

   Assigning States    87

   stateGroups    87

Working with States in ActionScript     90

   Overrides     91

   Creating and Destroying View States    98

Adding States to Components     101

   Worth Noting    103

Summary     103

Chapter 6  Effects and Transitions     105

Effects     105

   Effect Types     105

Working with Effects     111

   Declaring Effects     111

   Triggering Effects     111

   Orchestrating Effects     114

   Working with MotionPath and Keyframe     117

Transitions     119

Summary     123

Chapter 7  Working with Metadata     125

What Is Metadata?     125

How Do I Use Metadata?     126

Working with Metadata     128

   Exposing Information About Your Component     128

   Describing Events     131

   Exposing Styles and Effects     132

   Embedding Assets     133

   Binding Data     134

   Setting Defaults     135

   Working with Skins     137

   Excluding Component Attributes     138

   Altering and Deprecating Properties and Classes     139

   Providing an Icon     140

   And the Rest     140

Metadata in MXML     140

Creating Your Own Metadata Tags     141

   Are Metadata Tags Classes?     141

Summary     145

Chapter 8  Events and Event Handling     147

Why Events?     147

   Subscribers Versus Watchers     147

   Asynchronicity     148

   Event Flow     148

Dispatching Events     150

   Adding Event Listeners     152

Custom Events     152

   Extending the Event Class     153

   Cloning Events     154

   Dealing with Event Priority     155

   Event Priority Constants     155

Countering Events     156

   Event Propagation     157

   Prevent Defaults     158

Summary     159

Chapter 9  Manipulating Data     161

Defining Component Data     161

Data Providers     161

   KISS     162

Managing Data     163

   Collections     165

Displaying Data     177

   Data Renderers     177

   Rendering the UI     178

   Linking itemRenders to External Data     178

Summary     185

Chapter 10  Skinning and Styling     187

Spark Versus Halo     187

Spark Skin Life Cycle     187

Where Do I Start?     189

Working with SkinnableComponent     189

   partAdded(), partRemoved()     189

   getCurrentSkinState()     192

Creating Component Skins     193

FXG and MXMLG     194

   Creating a Component Skin     194

   Drawing Nonlinear Content     198

Spark Skins and Halo Components     200

Working with Properties and Styles     202

Using CSS     202

   Custom Namespaces     202

   Descendant Selectors     203

   ID Selectors     204

   Pseudo Selectors     204

Summary     205

Chapter 11  Creating Flex Components with Flash Professional CS5     207

Picking a Starting Point     207

   Starting with Flash Professional     207

   Starting with Flash Builder 4     209

Implementing States     212

Implementing Transitions     213

Controlling Component Resizing     215

   Bounding Boxes     216

   External Manipulation     216

Creating Component Visual Assets     218

   Putting It All Together     219

   Adding the Transition Animations     220

Properties and Methods     220

Metadata     221

Events     222

Externalizing Component Classes     223

Container Components     226

Summary     227


Chapter 12  The Flex Library Project     231

Packaging Your Component     231

SWC Format     231

   library.swf     232

   catalog.xml     232

   Locale     233

   Assets     234

Working with the Flex Library Project     234

   Creating a Flex Library Project     234

   What If It All Goes Wrong     242

compc     242

Summary     243

Chapter 13  Component Integration in Flash Builder 4     245

Why Integrate with Flash Builder?     245

What Can I Integrate With?     246

   Panel Integration     246

   Design View Extensions     253

Live Previews     261

Setting Default Styles     262

Summary     263

Chapter 14  Documentation     265

Why Should I Document Code?     265

   Last to the Party, First to Leave     265

   Documentation Is Boring     266

   My Code Is Easy to Read     266

   OK I Get It, Enough Already     266

Commenting Your Code     266

   Basic Comment Types     267

   ASDoc Comment Blocks     267

   ASDoc Tags     268

   HTML Formatting     272

   Special Characters     273

   Metadata Comments     274

   Documenting MXML     274

   Bypassing Documentation     275

Generating Your Documentation     276

   Command-Line Document Generation     276

   Generating Documentation in Flash Builder     277

   Getting to Grips with Ant     281

Summary     288

Appendix A  Flex Resources     291

Blogs     291

   Adobe Blogs     291

   Independent Blogs     292

   Resource Sites     292

Frameworks     293

Useful Tools and Extensions     293

   Adobe Tools     294

   Third-Party Tools     294

Logwatcher     294

   Regular Expression Tools     294

Index     295


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