I came back for the third time, attempting to consume the subject of Flex2. The first two times were during versions 1 and 1.5, so I figured that surely by THIS iteration the process would have been simplified and the documentation straightforward. Alas, I was wrong. Ay, and my achin' head and permanently furrowed brow! After wrestling for TWO DAYS with a "simple" Hello World app using Remoting against a CFC that did nothing more than return a string and FAILING to get it to work, I find myself dealing with a lot of mixed emotions here and asking myself some scary questions. For instance, "Am I just RETARDED? Or is the truth moreso that this product is so convoluted, complicated, and cryptic that the public should be protected from it? Is the documentation written by martians who work inside a small Plexiglas dome where the servers are pampered by hordes of dedicated and zealous admins? Are these people "so far gone" into gnurdome that they can no longer relate to the lone developer in such a way as to make understanding this new product a no-brainer? It's cruel and unusual, that's what it is, for Adobe to spend so much energy preaching the Flex word and then to leave their hopeful proselytes to drown in the mire of cryptic, unordered, non-functional documentation, examples, and instructions. I guess I'm a bit miffed by the fact that I STILL am unable to get a solid understanding or a working example of something that's in at least its third iteration in a year. So I'm back to asking myself the question of whether or not I'm just mentally challenged.
I can't just keep myself wondering, so let me go out on the net and see how many success stories I can find, that should help me cast a true light on my personal Flex experiences thus far.
Okay, first stop is Ben Forta's blog. Surely I'll find successes there. Oh! What's this? A blog post regarding a sample phone directory app! Reading, reading, reading...wow, that's a short post with a LOT of comments on it, eh? And what is the majority of these commenters saying? What's that? Yes! That they can't get a simple friggin sample app to work either! Oh, a few did manage to do so...some have no idea what they did to make it work, some had it working and have no idea what they did that broke it. The ones that DID manage to get it to work had to dig into sparsely documented or NON-documented items to give balance back to the Flex Force. Eegad, man.
Okay, just for my own peace of mind then, let me at least take a look at Adobe's sample apps so I can prove to myself that Flex really is a ready-for-prime-time, working product. Oh! What's THIS? (try logging in in demo mode)
Apparently, as I have seen up to this point, Flex really IS a delicate, fragile flower. Freakin AS errors on Adobe's own sample app? Now THAT'S ENCOURAGING, ISN'T IT? Hmm, let me speak to some of my wise and talented peers (no sarcasm here...they really are) and see how they are progressing with learning Flex. Perhaps they can open my blind eyes to what I'm missing here.
The first I actually work with, so he worked with me on my Hello World directly; wow, couldn't get it to work. Fancy that.
The second peer I spoke with is as gung ho about Flex and as much an ADOBE-ite as anybody I know of. He had me try a couple of things, then admitted that the examples he tried had worked, but he wasn't sure if it was actually using remoting or not. I do recall a week or so back that this same peer was venting MIGHTILY to me about his multiple attempts to get Flex Data Services installed and working, and how the only documentation that he could find DIDN'T EVEN APPLY to his server setup (which isn't an uncommon setup). He never did manage to get FDS configured and working.
The third peer I spoke with actually just returned from a Nuremburg...er, San Jose Adobe rally, a good two days of which was spent being "taught" Flex. He shared with me how exciting it was for the room full of 40 or so CF gurus (some of which proclaimed Flex power user-ship) when A FEW of them actually got a file upload demo to work! Wow! Two days, and the grand finale sample was a file upload???? Granted, I wasn't there and wasn't privy to any particulars of the instruction...but a file upload??? I'm pretty sure things like that are *supposed* *to* *be* *simple*...aren't they? This particular peer, in his own innocence and lack of personal experience configuring and setting up Flex, left me with the reassuring words, "well, it may be better once you catch on." When I catch on? I'm reasonably convinced that this isn't something that's going to eventually "soak in".
To quote Will Farrell in the movie Zoolander, "I feel like I'm taking CRAZY PILLS!" (you'd have to have seen it). It seems as though I have been suddenly whisked into a bad futuristic remake of "The Emperor's New Clothes", the emperor being Adobe, and everybody can see that he's naked but nobody is saying anything! Instead, everybody keeps thinking that it must just be them, that they're "just not getting it", and that Flex MUST be easy to configure and use! After all, everybody else is doing it! I just have to keep squinting and eventually I'll see the light! Not. I'm gonna say it: The EMPEROR IS NAKED! FLEX IS FAR TOO COMPLEX AND FRAGILE, AND JUST BECAUSE SOME PEOPLE ARE LUCKY ENOUGH TO HAVE JUST THE RIGHT CONFIGURATION FOR IT TO WORK THE FIRST TIME DOESN'T MAKE THIS PRODUCT READY FOR PRIME TIME! NOTHING should be this difficult, nothing. And you know what else I realize now that I've finally admitted that the emperor is naked? The flex interface isn't even all that good looking. In fact, it's kinda creepy and unnatural.
Ah, okay, I feel better now that I've vented. I have, by the way, answered my initial questions of personal intelligence, and am utterly convinced that I'm a reasonably intelligent person with a decent track record of having picked up some pretty difficult technologies all on my own. Furthermore, in another month when I'm over how wronged and miffed I feel at this moment, I'm probably going to decide to dive in ONCE AGAIN and conquer this baby.
Thanks for listening.