Flex and the Halo model

1 Jul 2004 - 9:26am
10 years ago
8 replies
571 reads
Greg Petroff
2004

Anyone on the list used Macromedia Flex and the "Halo experience model"?

I am working on a project where we are either going to build our own visual
gui toolkit / interface spec in flash or adopt the Halo model with some
changes. Our development group can handle the server client relationship
of things usining jsp's or the flex model. What I am trying to acertain is
if we can reduce the amount of custom "gui" design while preserving and
developing good interaction for the project we are working on. One thing I
like conceptualy is that their hopefully will be outside support for
componenets of our application that would allow it to improve visually
without major rework. The issue here is will Halo be supported enough to
do this so that overtime it becomes like an interface spec?

Also interested in what people think about the way Flex is positoned for
creating rich media apps. From Macromedia's own words it looks like they
are tyring to give developers a visual tool kit to do reasonably good
interaction design without actually doing "interaction design".

Sorry to push another topic onto the list then the mac/win gui mouse
debate.

Greg

Gregory Petroff
desk 212 383 4092
mobile 646 387 2841

-----------------------------------------
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Comments

1 Jul 2004 - 10:19am
Greg Petroff
2004

Anyone on the list used Macromedia Flex and the "Halo experience model"?

I am working on a project where we are either going to build our own visual
gui toolkit / interface spec in flash or adopt the Halo model with some
changes. Our development group can handle the server client relationship
of things usining jsp's or the flex model. What I am trying to acertain is
if we can reduce the amount of custom "gui" design while preserving and
developing good interaction for the project we are working on. One thing I
like conceptualy is that their hopefully will be outside support for
componenets of our application that would allow it to improve visually
without major rework. The issue here is, will Halo be supported enough to
do this so that overtime it becomes like an interface spec?

Also interested in what people think about the way Flex is positoned for
creating rich media apps. From Macromedia's own words it looks like they
are tyring to give developers a visual tool kit to do reasonably good
interaction design without actually doing "interaction design".

Sorry to push another topic onto the list then the mac/win gui mouse
debate.

Greg

Gregory Petroff
desk 212 383 4092
mobile 646 387 2841

-----------------------------------------
This message and its attachments may contain privileged and confidential information. If you are not the intended recipient(s), you are prohibited from printing, forwarding, saving or copying this email. If you have received this e-mail in error, please immediately notify the sender and delete this e-mail and its attachments from your computer.

1 Jul 2004 - 1:25pm
Nathan Moody
2004

In our own experience, version control of Flash files is difficult to
impossible; we can diff and merge our externalized actionscript, no
problem, but we can't effectively diff a .FLA. Flex, on the other hand,
constructs UI's via MXML, which is nothing more than a text file,
making version control a snap.

What's more, in Flex, think of EVERYTHING as a component. You can use
the standard UI components (with the default, or "halo," look and feel,
or skin 'em up on your own) or roll your own, save/register them as
components (SWC's, or "swicks") and use them over and over again. Fully
building your own UI components from 100% scratch will be a long and
involved process...not sure what you goals are, but it's certainly
possible, although labor intensive, but at least you can use them as
you would any other component (graph, data grid, combobox, whatever).

We are currently re-evaluating a project we just did all in JSP; it's a
single-browser, single-platform Web app with a burly back-end, so we
determined JSP was a faster development method...although ActiveX
controls are about my least favorite widgetry on the planet (IMHO, of
course). But it works, and works well (and from our client's PoV, they
could buy every one of their users a laptop with XP and IE 6 for less
than it would cost to develop a cross-platform app!). Had we a need to
be cross-browser, cross-platform, and need a lightweight
"data-pump"-style back end, Flash/Flex would have been perfect AND
cheaper to develop and test. The binary compatibility of SWFs on Mac,
Linux, and Windows is a pretty killer argument in such circumstances.

If you've ever used Swing components with Java, it's somewhat similar.

HTH,
-Nathan

On Jul 1, 2004, at 8:19 AM, Greg Petroff wrote:

> Anyone on the list used Macromedia Flex and the "Halo experience
> model"?
>
> I am working on a project where we are either going to build our own
> visual
> gui toolkit / interface spec in flash or adopt the Halo model with some
> changes. Our development group can handle the server client
> relationship
> of things usining jsp's or the flex model. What I am trying to
> acertain is
> if we can reduce the amount of custom "gui" design while preserving and
> developing good interaction for the project we are working on. One
> thing I
> like conceptualy is that their hopefully will be outside support for
> componenets of our application that would allow it to improve visually
> without major rework. The issue here is, will Halo be supported
> enough to
> do this so that overtime it becomes like an interface spec?
>
> Also interested in what people think about the way Flex is positoned
> for
> creating rich media apps. From Macromedia's own words it looks like
> they
> are tyring to give developers a visual tool kit to do reasonably good
> interaction design without actually doing "interaction design".
>
>
> Sorry to push another topic onto the list then the mac/win gui mouse
> debate.
>
>
>
>
> Greg
>
> Gregory Petroff
> desk 212 383 4092
> mobile 646 387 2841
>
>
>
> -----------------------------------------
> This message and its attachments may contain privileged and
> confidential information. If you are not the intended recipient(s),
> you are prohibited from printing, forwarding, saving or copying this
> email. If you have received this e-mail in error, please immediately
> notify the sender and delete this e-mail and its attachments from your
> computer.
>
> _______________________________________________
> Interaction Design Discussion List
> discuss at interactiondesigners.com
> --
> to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest):
> http://discuss.interactiondesigners.com
> --
> Questions: lists at interactiondesigners.com
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>

1 Jul 2004 - 1:34pm
Greg Petroff
2004

Thanks Nathan,

Yes the environment we are working on has to support XP and Linux so thats
why we are using flash.

Have you made anything using flex yet or just evaluating it?

Greg

Gregory Petroff
desk 212 383 4092
mobile 646 387 2841

|---------+----------------------------------------------------------------------->
| | Nathan Moody <nathan at atomick.net> |
| | Sent by: |
| | discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactionde|
| | signers.com |
| | |
| | |
| | 07/01/2004 02:25 PM |
| | |
|---------+----------------------------------------------------------------------->
>------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
| |
| To: "Greg Petroff" <GPetroff at siac.com> |
| cc: discuss at interactiondesigners.com, (bcc: Greg Petroff/SIAC) |
| Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] Flex and the Halo model |
>------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

> ----------
> From:
discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com on
behalf of Nathan Moody[SMTP:NATHAN at ATOMICK.NET]
> Sent: Thursday, July 01, 2004 8:25:08 PM
> To: Greg Petroff
> Cc: discuss at interactiondesigners.com
> Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] Flex and the Halo model
> Auto forwarded by a Rule
>
In our own experience, version control of Flash files is difficult to
impossible; we can diff and merge our externalized actionscript, no
problem, but we can't effectively diff a .FLA. Flex, on the other hand,
constructs UI's via MXML, which is nothing more than a text file,
making version control a snap.

What's more, in Flex, think of EVERYTHING as a component. You can use
the standard UI components (with the default, or "halo," look and feel,
or skin 'em up on your own) or roll your own, save/register them as
components (SWC's, or "swicks") and use them over and over again. Fully
building your own UI components from 100% scratch will be a long and
involved process...not sure what you goals are, but it's certainly
possible, although labor intensive, but at least you can use them as
you would any other component (graph, data grid, combobox, whatever).

We are currently re-evaluating a project we just did all in JSP; it's a
single-browser, single-platform Web app with a burly back-end, so we
determined JSP was a faster development method...although ActiveX
controls are about my least favorite widgetry on the planet (IMHO, of
course). But it works, and works well (and from our client's PoV, they
could buy every one of their users a laptop with XP and IE 6 for less
than it would cost to develop a cross-platform app!). Had we a need to
be cross-browser, cross-platform, and need a lightweight
"data-pump"-style back end, Flash/Flex would have been perfect AND
cheaper to develop and test. The binary compatibility of SWFs on Mac,
Linux, and Windows is a pretty killer argument in such circumstances.

If you've ever used Swing components with Java, it's somewhat similar.

HTH,
-Nathan

On Jul 1, 2004, at 8:19 AM, Greg Petroff wrote:

> Anyone on the list used Macromedia Flex and the "Halo experience
> model"?
>
> I am working on a project where we are either going to build our own
> visual
> gui toolkit / interface spec in flash or adopt the Halo model with some
> changes. Our development group can handle the server client
> relationship
> of things usining jsp's or the flex model. What I am trying to
> acertain is
> if we can reduce the amount of custom "gui" design while preserving and
> developing good interaction for the project we are working on. One
> thing I
> like conceptualy is that their hopefully will be outside support for
> componenets of our application that would allow it to improve visually
> without major rework. The issue here is, will Halo be supported
> enough to
> do this so that overtime it becomes like an interface spec?
>
> Also interested in what people think about the way Flex is positoned
> for
> creating rich media apps. From Macromedia's own words it looks like
> they
> are tyring to give developers a visual tool kit to do reasonably good
> interaction design without actually doing "interaction design".
>
>
> Sorry to push another topic onto the list then the mac/win gui mouse
> debate.
>
>
>
>
> Greg
>
> Gregory Petroff
> desk 212 383 4092
> mobile 646 387 2841
>
>
>
> -----------------------------------------
> This message and its attachments may contain privileged and
> confidential information. If you are not the intended recipient(s),
> you are prohibited from printing, forwarding, saving or copying this
> email. If you have received this e-mail in error, please immediately
> notify the sender and delete this e-mail and its attachments from your
> computer.
>
> _______________________________________________
> Interaction Design Discussion List
> discuss at interactiondesigners.com
> --
> to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest):
> http://discuss.interactiondesigners.com
> --
> Questions: lists at interactiondesigners.com
> --
> Announcement Online List (discussion list members get announcements
> already)
> http://interactiondesigners.com/announceList/
> --
> http://interactiondesigners.com/
>

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1 Jul 2004 - 2:03pm
Tom George
2004

Hi Greg,

We have taken a look at Flex (the beta), and one of our clients has
done a pilot with it.

Let me start with the way Flex is positioned. I see it is a tactical
move by Macromedia to dull the competition from new user interface
technology (is it Avalon?) that will be showing up with Microsoft's
Longhorn. In discussions with Flash designers and developers I have not
met anyone who felt that it was really relevant to them. At
FlashintheCan recently, no more than 7 people (out of ~800 or so)
showed up for a Flex presentation. And in my opinion, Flash is an
excellent technology where design, usability, and development can meet.
Flex appears to appeal to developers at the expense of designers. I
don't think this is the way to go. Designers need XML like a fish needs
a bicycle.

Flex was received quite enthusiastically by the IT dept. in one of our
clients but it is being used where HTML would otherwise be used. There
is no perception, however, that Flex should replace the work that we do
for them, which is branded GUI work for consumer oriented applications
built on J2EE. None of this is bad in my view. I think it means that
there is an alternative to improve the usability of internal
applications, or applications that would not otherwise get much thought
in terms of usability.

I haven't seen the visual tools for Flex but I don't think it supports
rapid prototyping and development the way Flash does. Something, I
think, that improves the usability QA process. And performance appears
to be an issue at this early stage. One relatively complex screen
apparently took more than a minute to render after entering the URL.
That is hearsay of course, and who knows what the issue was, but it
dampened interest from the developers pretty quickly.

About Halo: what I can tell you is that the components are perceived,
by and large, to be too complex or overwrought, too large (when added
to your SWF), and very difficult to skin. At least a few people we have
met are developing their own component sets from the ground up.
Including ourselves. Because frankly, they are very easy to build, you
get exactly what you want, and you then have the knowledge and
capability to customize them quickly.

Hope this helps.

-Tom

--

Tom George
Designaxiom Ltd.

http://www.designaxiom.com
Phone: 416-703-6737 x224

On Jul 1, 2004, at 11:19 AM, Greg Petroff wrote:

> Anyone on the list used Macromedia Flex and the "Halo experience
> model"?
>
> I am working on a project where we are either going to build our own
> visual
> gui toolkit / interface spec in flash or adopt the Halo model with some
> changes. Our development group can handle the server client
> relationship
> of things usining jsp's or the flex model. What I am trying to
> acertain is
> if we can reduce the amount of custom "gui" design while preserving and
> developing good interaction for the project we are working on. One
> thing I
> like conceptualy is that their hopefully will be outside support for
> componenets of our application that would allow it to improve visually
> without major rework. The issue here is, will Halo be supported
> enough to
> do this so that overtime it becomes like an interface spec?
>
> Also interested in what people think about the way Flex is positoned
> for
> creating rich media apps. From Macromedia's own words it looks like
> they
> are tyring to give developers a visual tool kit to do reasonably good
> interaction design without actually doing "interaction design".
>
>
> Sorry to push another topic onto the list then the mac/win gui mouse
> debate.
>
>
>
>
> Greg
>
> Gregory Petroff
> desk 212 383 4092
> mobile 646 387 2841
>
>
>
> -----------------------------------------
> This message and its attachments may contain privileged and
> confidential information. If you are not the intended recipient(s),
> you are prohibited from printing, forwarding, saving or copying this
> email. If you have received this e-mail in error, please immediately
> notify the sender and delete this e-mail and its attachments from your
> computer.
>
> _______________________________________________
> Interaction Design Discussion List
> discuss at interactiondesigners.com
> --
> to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest):
> http://discuss.interactiondesigners.com
> --
> Questions: lists at interactiondesigners.com
> --
> Announcement Online List (discussion list members get announcements
> already)
> http://interactiondesigners.com/announceList/
> --
> http://interactiondesigners.com/
>

1 Jul 2004 - 2:26pm
Marcin Wichary
2004

: I see it is a tactical move by Macromedia to dull the competition
: from new user interface technology (is it Avalon?) that will be
: showing up with Microsoft's Longhorn.

I think that depends on what you mean -- as far as I remember, Avalon
will be the back end (desktop composition engine), while Aero the front
end (UI).

Marcin Wichary
e:\> mwichary at aci.com.pl
w:\> www.aci.com.pl/mwichary >> Attached
w:\> www.aci.com.pl/mwichary/GUIdebook >> Graphical User Interface gallery
w:\> www.10yearsofbeingboring.com >> 10 years of Being Boring
w:\> www.usability.pl >> Usability.pl

1 Jul 2004 - 2:27pm
Dave Malouf
2005

Hmm? I think your experience to me is not a question of the value of Flex,
but a question as to the positioning of it.

1. Flash is an important tool to designers. It is important b/c it gives
designers absolute control. It is their historical domain and they get to
control that domain absolutely. I mean when is the last time you found a
programmer apply for a Flash job. Sure you need to know OO to use
ActionScript really well, but hey, you'll get a classically trained
programmer who isn't a designer to work with a timeline as soon as cows w/
snouts have bird feet and fly. Designers don't "need" Flex is sorta my
point. So if you get a classical group at a Flash "party" ... Non one is
going to care about Flex.

2. Programmers like Flex ... Why? b/c it speaks in their language. Code,
Code, Code.

But what gets me is the big deal. Right now, I create screens in my
templating language (i.e. HTML) and hand that off to coders with a bunch of
graphics and descriptive text to make sure the behavior is right.

In a Flex environment, me as designer, hands off a Flash prototype to the
developers who do their magic to make that happen.

The overall problem w/ Flex isn't about what it does or doesn't do, it is
about what Macromedia is NOT doing. That is to say Macromedia is NOT
communicating well to its core constituency about why Flex matters to them,
and they are not successfully reaching out to Developers letting them know
that a flash front-end is actually very valuable, and guess what you don't
have to know how to draw to use it. Stay in notepad all ya like. ;)

Why do Designers need Flex? Well, guess what ... If they want flash for
anything other than "fun" they better get together w/ IT and figure this
out. If all you are about is Fun (i.e. the mini site), then keep going,
you're doing fine. If you want to re-invent the next networked based thin
apps so that they are more usable and actually have a nice experience, then
you will need Flex, or you won't be workin' ... XAML for right or wrong is
only 2 years (or so) away, and all things MS have a very nasty punch to
them. Think of Flex as pre-emptive. "Save Flash" use Flex. ;)

-- dave

-----Original Message-----
From:
discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.
com] On Behalf Of Tom George
Sent: Thursday, July 01, 2004 3:03 PM
To: Greg Petroff
Cc: discuss at interactiondesigners.com
Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] Flex and the Halo model

Hi Greg,

We have taken a look at Flex (the beta), and one of our clients has done a
pilot with it.

Let me start with the way Flex is positioned. I see it is a tactical move by
Macromedia to dull the competition from new user interface technology (is it
Avalon?) that will be showing up with Microsoft's Longhorn. In discussions
with Flash designers and developers I have not met anyone who felt that it
was really relevant to them. At FlashintheCan recently, no more than 7
people (out of ~800 or so) showed up for a Flex presentation. And in my
opinion, Flash is an excellent technology where design, usability, and
development can meet.
Flex appears to appeal to developers at the expense of designers. I don't
think this is the way to go. Designers need XML like a fish needs a bicycle.

Flex was received quite enthusiastically by the IT dept. in one of our
clients but it is being used where HTML would otherwise be used. There is no
perception, however, that Flex should replace the work that we do for them,
which is branded GUI work for consumer oriented applications built on J2EE.
None of this is bad in my view. I think it means that there is an
alternative to improve the usability of internal applications, or
applications that would not otherwise get much thought in terms of
usability.

I haven't seen the visual tools for Flex but I don't think it supports rapid
prototyping and development the way Flash does. Something, I think, that
improves the usability QA process. And performance appears to be an issue at
this early stage. One relatively complex screen apparently took more than a
minute to render after entering the URL.
That is hearsay of course, and who knows what the issue was, but it dampened
interest from the developers pretty quickly.

About Halo: what I can tell you is that the components are perceived, by and
large, to be too complex or overwrought, too large (when added to your SWF),
and very difficult to skin. At least a few people we have met are developing
their own component sets from the ground up.
Including ourselves. Because frankly, they are very easy to build, you get
exactly what you want, and you then have the knowledge and capability to
customize them quickly.

Hope this helps.

-Tom

--

Tom George
Designaxiom Ltd.

http://www.designaxiom.com
Phone: 416-703-6737 x224

On Jul 1, 2004, at 11:19 AM, Greg Petroff wrote:

> Anyone on the list used Macromedia Flex and the "Halo experience
> model"?
>
> I am working on a project where we are either going to build our own
> visual gui toolkit / interface spec in flash or adopt the Halo model
> with some changes. Our development group can handle the server client
> relationship of things usining jsp's or the flex model. What I am
> trying to acertain is if we can reduce the amount of custom "gui"
> design while preserving and developing good interaction for the
> project we are working on. One thing I like conceptualy is that their
> hopefully will be outside support for componenets of our application
> that would allow it to improve visually without major rework. The
> issue here is, will Halo be supported enough to do this so that
> overtime it becomes like an interface spec?
>
> Also interested in what people think about the way Flex is positoned
> for creating rich media apps. From Macromedia's own words it looks
> like they are tyring to give developers a visual tool kit to do
> reasonably good interaction design without actually doing "interaction
> design".
>
>
> Sorry to push another topic onto the list then the mac/win gui mouse
> debate.
>
>
>
>
> Greg
>
> Gregory Petroff
> desk 212 383 4092
> mobile 646 387 2841
>
>
>
> -----------------------------------------
> This message and its attachments may contain privileged and
> confidential information. If you are not the intended recipient(s),
> you are prohibited from printing, forwarding, saving or copying this
> email. If you have received this e-mail in error, please immediately
> notify the sender and delete this e-mail and its attachments from your
> computer.
>
> _______________________________________________
> Interaction Design Discussion List
> discuss at interactiondesigners.com
> --
> to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest):
> http://discuss.interactiondesigners.com
> --
> Questions: lists at interactiondesigners.com
> --
> Announcement Online List (discussion list members get announcements
> already)
> http://interactiondesigners.com/announceList/
> --
> http://interactiondesigners.com/
>

_______________________________________________
Interaction Design Discussion List
discuss at interactiondesigners.com
--
to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest):
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--
Questions: lists at interactiondesigners.com
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1 Jul 2004 - 2:54pm
Greg Petroff
2004

In the arena that I am working in we are trying to build a IT management
system that looks at the health of many different computer and networking
systems and applications. It is a mixed environment moving mostly toward
linux.

What we are challenged with is building a common visual layer for alot of
different middleware, database etc. Different systems will be added to
this common visual language / gui over time. What would be great is to be
able to let the developers of these systems build their own "management"
screens by providing them the tool kit and an interface guide for doing it.

It seems that flex could help us in this. We still use our design team to
build all of the ui components. (So far not much support for Halo from the
list) we just enable these components to be served by flex.

Next question re David's comment about support. When was Flex released? is
there a better way to serve data to flash content then the Flex model?

Greg

Gregory Petroff
desk 212 383 4092
mobile 646 387 2841

-----------------------------------------
This message and its attachments may contain privileged and confidential information. If you are not the intended recipient(s), you are prohibited from printing, forwarding, saving or copying this email. If you have received this e-mail in error, please immediately notify the sender and delete this e-mail and its attachments from your computer.

1 Jul 2004 - 3:09pm
Dave Malouf
2005

<< Next question re David's comment about support. When was Flex released?
is there a better way to serve data to flash content then the Flex model? >>

Greg, my understanding is that Flex is not about serving data to flash
content. Remoting is better suited for that.
Flex is about the adhoc dynamic creation of SWFs and components themselves
based on dynamic data.

If you just want to supply data to existing SWFs then to do that you can use
Remoting, or you can just create components for managing Web Services. The
web services functionality (or for that matter, any XML processing) is done
really well in Flash, especially if you have a consistent and well formed
XML DTC to work from. I am really impressed w/ the Web Services component,
but I'm easily impressed.

I think though that in your case you are talking more about a Flex style of
creating SWFs than just merely giving data to existing SWFs, no? Charts,
maps, etc. would be better w/ Flex.

-- dave

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