Book Review: Programming Flex 2

The Adobe Flex framework has taken the flash platform and made it more malleable for the web application developer. Flex uses XML and Actionscript 3.0 to rapidly build rich internet applications in the widely accepted SWF format. The Programming Flex 2 book from O’Reilly takes the Flex framework and provides a strong foundation in which to understand and build Flex-based applications.

This book does an excellent job of going through the basics of building rich internet applications with Adobe Flex 2, as well as provide some detailed background about how Flex was born; from an expensive premium enterprise programming package to an openly available free software development kit. Some of the examples this book provides is creating a layout, connecting your flex application to a database, utilizing drag and drop functionality, working with states, using special effects, animations and transitions, and working with external media files. This book literally covers every aspect you can think of when learning or referencing the functionality of Flex 2. I wish I could list everything this book shows you, but there’s just too much.

I was impressed with the overall understandability the author conveyed through this book. I am normally the type of person who would pick up a “Programming for Dummies” book when learning a new language because I’ve read other programming books from Wrox, and O’Reilly that really were difficult to read and understand. Chafic Kazoun (what kind of name is that?) really did a good job in my opinion. I’ve found that I keep this book on my desk, close at hand, for when I dabble in Flex and Flex Builder. It really is that useful!

Programming Flex 2 from O’ReillyFlex is accurately depicted on the book’s cover as pretzel-shaped snake. Now maybe it’s just my lack of experience with working with OOP and XUL concepts, but trying to get a Flex application to work the way you want is like trying to cuddle with a poisonous snake. Although proper terminology is required for finding specific information in this book, one would benefit the most when reading the book from cover to cover and testing the example code provided.

I’d recommend an electronic version of this book over the paper one, just for the ability to search through the publication without having to rely on the index. Although this is a very thorough guide in Flex 2, you may also want to pick up a book on Actionscript 3.0 as it differs greatly from Actionscript 2.0, which is used exclusively in previous versions of Flash, and this book doesn’t cover everything about it. It’s also recommended to have a solid understanding of XML and object oriented programming concepts to get the full understanding of the Adobe Flex framework. Very good book. Get it!