Effortless Flex 4 Development Book Outline

February 11, 2010

I’m currently working on my next book, Effortless Flex 4 Development. This is an entirely new title for me and my first full-length book on Flex. It’ll be published by New Riders, which is a sister publisher to Peachpit Press, that I normally work with. Most of the books I’ve written have been in the Visual QuickStart/QuickPro Guide series, which has a scripted format. This book will not be, so you won’t see the step-by-step instructions everywhere (there will be some) or the two-column format. I just submitted the third chapter, so I’ve now written about 90 pages or so, approximately one-quarter of the book. Here’s the rough table of contents, for those that are interested.The book is structured in three roughly-equal parts. The first part discusses the absolute basics: the framework, the tools, creating basic applications, user interface elements, ActionScript, and events. The second part of the book focuses on data and client-server communications. This includes: the different data formats; displaying, formatting, and validating data in the client; and then retrieving data from the server. All of the server examples will use PHP and you’ll see the PHP code, the underlying database structure, and the MXML/ActionScript involved. The emphasis here will be on lots of real-world examples using all the different formats and likely actions (e.g., posting to PHP, retrieving XML from a server, using AMF, and so forth). The third part of the book rounds out the application development know-how. There are two primary threads in these chapters: UI improvements (menus, skins, styles, effects, etc.) and development process improvements (modularization, profiling, etc.)

So, with that in mind, here’s what I’m working with for starters. It’ll undoubtedly change and there are a few things I want to fit in somewhere, like accessibility. As always, any thoughts, questions, and suggestions are most welcome!

Part 1: The Fundamentals

Chapter 1: Building Flex Applications
 A Survey of the Parts
 Using Flash Builder
 A Cheaper, Slower Alternative
 Deploying Applications
 Getting Help

Chapter 2: Basic User Interface Elements
 Application Layouts
 Simple Controls
 Creating Forms

Chapter 3: The ActionScript You Need to Know
 Data Binding
 Simple Data Types
 Control Structures
 Creating Functions
 Best practices

Chapter 4: Event Management
 The Event Phases
 User Events
 Application Events
 Handling Events with ActionScript
 Preventing Events


Part 2: Data and Communications

Chapter 5: Common Data Formats

Chapter 6: Simple Local Data Interactions
 Displaying Data
 Formatting Data
 Validating Data
 Using Local Data Files

Chapter 7: Simple Remote Data Interactions
 Sending and Retrieving Text (HTTPService)
 Sending and Retrieving XML (HTTPService)
 Sending and Retrieving JSON (HTTPService)

Chapter 8: Smarter Remote Data Interactions


Part 3: Application Development

Chapter 9: Modularization
 Creating Custom Components
 Using Modules
 Using Runtime Shared Libraries

Chapter 10: Creating a Fuller Experience
 View States
 Creating Histories
 Deep Linking

Chapter 11: Windows and Popups
 Changing Window Behavior

Chapter 12: Improving the Appearance
 Style Sheets

Chapter 13: Effects and More Events
 Drag and Drop
 Custom Events

Chapter 14: Testing and Deploying
 Testing Techniques
 Profiling an Application
 Improving Performance
 Network Monitoring
 Customizing the Deployment