"14flex" Posts

Tip of the Day – Understanding the Flex bug system (JIRA)

Today a bug that I have been watching was resolved as ‘Not a Bug’. In the QA team’s defense, the original bug description was not very clear. I have commented on the bug explaining why it needed to be reopened.

This situation brings up a valid question.

How do we (the Flex community) effectively help the Flex SDK team in a way that doesn’t hinder them? Let’s face it, spamming the inbox of Flex team members isn’t going to get us anywhere.

As I was contemplating this situation, I opened up my Google Reader. It turns out that Joan (a member of the Flex SDK QA team) has a series of posts discussing tips and tricks to using JIRA, along with what we can do to escalate issues that are important.

So for today’s tip, I’m going to provide links to these great posts:

I’ll update these links as she posts more.

Tip of the Day – Quick and inexpensive design work

Using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk in combination with outsourcing your design task to Elance, you can get great designs and user feedback very quickly, easily and for very little money.

Step 1: Post your job “design a logo” on Elance (elance.com). Be sure to include instructions including other designs that inspire you and a description of your product vision and intended audience.

Step 2: After selecting a designer, ask them to create 3 to 5 draft design mocks

Step 3: Using mechanical turk (mturk.com), submit each design option to mechanical turk as a survey (e.g. “which design do you like best”). You can choose any number of people to answer your survey. Estimated cost: 100 people at $0.10 each = $10

Step 4: Review results.

I’ve found that using this technique that for about $10 I can get around 100 people to tell me which design they prefer and offer suggestions. Also, I usually ask for the age, country and background of the participant so I can filter down to an audience that matches my purposes.

This tip was provided by Joe H. Excellent tip Joe!

Submit a Tip (Jan 09) winner announced!

Congratulations to Aaron E. for submitting his tip walking us through using Sprouts! He is the winner for my first Submit a Tip contest.

A license for Baslamiq Mockups is on it’s way to you. Aaron’s tip will be featured as today’s Tip of the Day.

Thanks everyone for submitting your tips… I will probably end up using them as time goes by and will be sure to give you recognition.

A special thanks also goes to Balsamiq for providing the license for this contest.

Tip of the Day – Leverage Sprouts to quickly get your Flex projects up and running

Sprouts is a tool that helps you get a Flex development environment setup quickly, and helps automate development, testing, and deployment.

Sprouts is an open source project that uses Ruby to make Flex development easier. If you’ve ever used Ruby on Rails or a similar framework, you may be familiar with project generation. In fact the sprouts code generator, rubigen, was extracted from Rails. For those who are used to Java development, Sprouts can be likened to Maven.

Sprouts can not only generate a project, but fetch and install dependencies similar to a package management tool such as RPM. It will even install the Flex SDK and Flash debug player if you don’t have them installed. Sprouts provides wrappers around tools such as MXMLC and COMPC (and recently even FDB) to faciliate automation. It also helps encourage best practices such as unit testing by helping create a framework for executing tests with asunit and integrating with continuous integration tools such as CruiseControl.rb.

The website for sprouts has a great getting started tutorial.

What follows is a typical pattern of usage with Sprouts based on the tutorial.

1. Generate a project:

sprout -n as3 MyProject

This builds the basic directory structure and a simple ActionScript 3 application.

2. Execute:

cd MyProject

This will run the project, but even better, will download and install dependencies, and set up your environment configuration.

Rake, I as I mentioned, is a ruby build program (think ant or make) But it isn’t just for Ruby. It’s part of the power behind sprouts. You don’t have to know Ruby to use Rake, but you’ll probably learn a little bit without even realizing it.

Rubygems is the package installer used by ruby, and also used by sprouts to install your Flex development dependencies. It’s another part of the secret sauce, and it just works. Similar tools include ivy (for Java), cpan (for perl), or pear (for php).

3. Generate code:

script/generate myPackage.MyClass

You don’t need to know how rubigen works to use it, but you might find yourself learning a bit about it to build your own generators. It’s not that daunting.

4. Test your code:

rake test

This will execute your unit tests. What tests, you say? When sprouts generated your class, it also generated tests to go with it. Of course the tests will fail until you implement the tests (and functionality to make them pass.)

Sprouts also has tasks to help you deploy a project. For instancing, zip and sftp wrappers.

In summary, sprouts performs three main types of tasks:

1) setup flex development environment
2) project and code generation
3) build, test, and deployment tools

This tip was provided by Aaron E, during our submit a tip contest.