Tour de Flex – What’s coming in version 1.1 and 1.2?
If you have not heard of Tour de Flex, start here. Since we launched Tour de Flex in November at MAX, we’ve seen it spread rapidly. As of this moment, there have been 1,643,613 Flex samples viewed via Tour de Flex! By the time you finish reading this blog post, another 50 samples will have been viewed. We’ve been monitoring hundreds of blogs, message boards, etc. to gather feedback on what is working and what we could improve. Based on that feedback and some internal brainstorming, we’ve put together what will soon become version 1.1 and version 1.2 of Tour de Flex. The following is subject to change.
Version 1.1 – Launching at MAX Japan January 29th
- Upgrading to AIR 1.5 so we can add AIR 1.5 and Flash 10 specific samples (encrypted database, etc.)
- Smaller download! – We are implementing RSLs (assuming testing goes ok on all platforms). This will reduce the installer size by around 50%. We couldn’t use RSLs in v1.0 due to the lack of RSL support in AIR for Linux. AIR 1.5 added RSL support to Linux so now we’re good to go.
- New samples – we’ve received a handful of sample submissions and have built a few of our own that will be added.
- Localization (Part 1) – We are adding the ability to create alternate samples (top right) and documents (bottom right) based on the user’s locale. For example, many of the samples have a tab for the language reference that will now be locale specific. The samples are remaining the same for now. Soon, we’ll localize more of the framework text.
- Cosmetic changes – Several users have commented that the application has too much chrome. After using it myself for a few weeks, I’m starting to agree. Christophe Coenraets tried to tell us this months ago! 🙂 We’re thinning things up a bit and freeing up some real-estate. We are also moving the about dialog to the native menu and changing “Menu” to “Resources” which better describes the list that gets displayed.
- Tour de Flex pings the server every two seconds to confirm that an internet connection is available. This is WAY too often. You should see how fast the log files grow with 500 concurrent users! This also created a bit of a fire drill on launch day – see this recent post.
- We’ve had a few complaints that Tour de Flex uses more CPU when idle than it should. We’re looking into this now and hope to have a fix.
Version 1.2 – Launching in early March
- Five-star sample rating system – We are going to add a rating system to Tour de Flex that allows users to rate each sample from one to five stars. This rating will become an available sort option on search results in both the AIR application and the Eclipse plugin. After we gather a few weeks of data, we can start publishing top 10 lists, etc. We will also use this new metric to populate the featured samples panel in the Tour de Flex Eclipse plugin.
- Commenting re-work – Ok, I’ll just say it… the comment function in version 1.0 is useless. It was a last minute addition which I quickly realized was a mistake about 3 days after launching Tour de Flex when I noticed that over 50 comments had been entered but 45 of them were garbage. That’s when I realized that the lack of an admin tool was a problem. I had no good way to clean them up other than using SQL! DOH! As of today, there are over 400 comments, some of which are good questions. However, the person asking the question has no way of knowing if their question was answered since there is no email notification feature. We had a couple of meetings to discuss this shortcoming and concluded that what we really need is a true forum/message board software package. That led to discussions of which package to use, which led to a discussion on how we customize the package to make it look right in Tour de Flex, which led to us to slap ourselves and conclude that the best thing to do is to simply link the comment button to a new category on the Adobe forums! Basically, when you click the comments button, you will go to a message thread specific to that sample where you can read previous comments, subscribe to future comments and leave new comments. It also gives us administrative functions, anti-spamming, etc.
- New splash screen – we have a surprise in store for you on this. The new screen is more than a “splash”. Most people really like the splash screen but after you see it about 50 times, it starts to get old. Our new splash screen will have something interesting to see. Stay tuned!
- More samples!
One other news item – We are working on a web-based version of Tour de Flex! It obviously will not have all of the functionality nor will it include the AIR samples but we feel it will be a good addition to help us attract developers to Flex. Once a developer explores the web-based version, they will hopefully progress to the AIR version so they can see more samples, use the Eclipse plugin, etc. Stay tuned for more information!
We need your help! If you have suggestions on ways to improve Tour de Flex, please leave a comment on this post or email me at gwilson at adobe. We want this to become a community driven tool while maintaining the primary focus of evangelizing Flex. Also, WE NEED MORE SAMPLES. Samples can be on any Flex-related topic that you feel would help other developers. It doesn’t have to be component specific. We have 217 samples today and will soon have about 225. I want to have 1,000 by mid-year. If you are interested in contributing samples, go to this recent post.
I’ll be on an upcoming edition of The Flex Show where I will talk about the above items as well as other future stuff. I’ll post a link as soon as it’s up.