Friday, April 20, 2007

Getting Started with RIA

This is my first attempt at blogging.  I’m finding the hardest part of getting started is choosing the focus of the blog.  I’ve decided initially it will be about Rich Internet Applications (RIA).  I don’t have any RIA’s up and running and have never even created a traditional website so I’m guessing the blog’s framework will be a journal.

I have been programming since 1966 but I really have done very little work recently due partly to health problems.  Actually I have kept active during the last two years; just haven’t made any money.  Now I’m trying to reboot my career.  I’ve changed directions umpteen times in the last 40 years and actually enjoy the transitions.  I love programming, but I have to admit in recent years I’ve had to take what I can get to survive rather than do what I want to do.  I’m hope developing RIA’s will be fun.  I have resisted doing web applications because I feel that the customer has to settle for the limitations of HTML and the browser.

Although I don’t have any RIA sites up and running I do have experience writing a Flash application that I’m going to use for discussion.  The application was written originally with Flash MX2004 and more recently updated to Flash 8.  My goal is to move to Flex or perhaps just Actionscript 3 and build something similar but maybe for a different type of business.  My son has suggested a web site for an auto dealer because of his recent experience buying a car.

The application I wrote was for my daughter-in-law’s hobby of doing custom floral arrangements.  She was often asked when promoting her hobby if she had a website.  Since my son was a developer of corporate web sites he started to build one for her, but they could never agree on how it should look.  Finally they found a template for a florist website that they both liked.  Since I wasn’t working he asked me to look at it.  He wanted me to change the text and set it up so that they could insert pictures of her arrangements in it.

Well, I looked at it and I just couldn’t believe you could make money selling something like that template.  For example, the template split parts of a picture into more than one table cell to make it line up.  The few pages they had didn’t match her needs and they were missing a lot what she did need.  But it did look pretty good.

I told them I would try using Flash which I had previously used to write some small educational applications.  It took a lot longer to write than I thought it would and I will discuss some of my experiences in the future.  But to make an already long story somewhat shorter, she really hasn’t pursued the hobby since and it has been sitting there waiting to put in a few unaddressed details.  The link to the applications is:

My RIA Demo

Keep in mind this is not a running business and the products are not real.  I will touch on the details of the application as I go along but I think the most interesting things about it are that it is all written from scratch graphically except for the Actionscript TextField object and it is less than 70k in size.  There is also very little demand on the server.

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