What will we build?

What's Up:

  • Bandwidth
  • Internet Access
  • Mobile Devices
  • Online Interaction (social / gaming etc.)
  • Computing Capabilities
  • Mashup & other web integrations

What's Down (not working):

  • Healthcare Information Access
  • Learning new stuff
  • Positive Community Action
  • Conservation & Environmental Action
  • Managing my contacts

So, the question is...What will we build?

The future of app development (Force.com)

Confession: This post is probably a year or so late, it is just that I have not had the opportunity to play with Force.com earlier.

Summary: Force.com is revolutionizing the way we do application development & the future belongs to such platforms that are cost effective, agile & offer a low barrier to entry.

Ever since Amazon introduced AWS & EC2, I was interested in Cloud computing. Eventually, Google App Engine really made me want to play with these offerings. However, the learning curve to all these platform appeared a little too steep to me, largely because it expected me to play all (or most) of the roles from SysAdmin to Web Server Admin to Db Admin to developer etc.

Enter force.com...a platform offering from Salesforce.com that offers you a set of pre-built business objects for customization & allows you the flexibility to create your own custom ones, generates a UI for them all & allows you to create your own).

So, basically the developer uses (or creates) business objects, tweaks the business validations, rules, UI, leverages the force.com infrastructure for access control, authorization, security, scalability, data migration, web service integration etc. & can offer a fully functioning business application to the users.

I was able to create a fully functioning web application with a custom Asp.Net UI front end (using force.com generated web services) in two days, from learning the force.com environment, toolset, some APEX programming to importing data into the custom business objects that I created from scratch.

I am usually a skeptic to new vendor offerings that purportedly make our jobs easy, but Force.com certainly seems to have found a balance between technology flexibility, agility & ease of usage in a cost effective way. This can be revolutionary.

For Adobe AS3 XMLNS = 'XML Non Sense'

I have been playing around with Adobe Actionscript 3 & had a pretty frustating experience. My AS3 / Flex program is calling a web service & getting back an XML response. All I want to do is put this XML into Flex UI using a grid view control by culling selective nodes from the XML into an Array.

This proved to be a Herculean task & took me a few days to figure out. Now, I am certainly a newbie to Actionscript but not new to programming in general. Getting an XML response back from a web service & displaying it on UI is usually a breeze (esp. in .Net etc.).

Unfortunately, AS3 has a bug due to which it cannot parse XML with namespaces very well. As a matter of fact, it simply cannot traverse the XML tree to give you the nodes unless you have stripped it free of the namespaces. Considering that Actionscript is in its third incarnation (& considering that XML has been around for a while), this just seems unacceptable.

Here is the function / workaround that I found on this blog to strip off the namespace...

 private function removeNamspaces(...rest):String  
 rest[0] = rest[0].replace(/xmlns[^"]+\"[^"]+\"/g, "");  
 var attrs:Array = rest[0].match(/\"[^"]*\"/g);  
 rest[0] = rest[0].replace(/\"[^"]*\"/g, "%attribute value%");  
 rest[0] = rest[0].replace(/(<\/?|\s)\w+\:/g, "$1");  
 while (rest[0].indexOf("%attribute value%") > 0)  
 rest[0] = rest[0].replace("%attribute value%", attrs.shift());  
 return rest[0];  

After dealing with Adobe AS3's buggy XML parsing, MSFT sure does not look bad ;-)