Tour de Flex reaches 10,000,000 samples viewed – now what?!
In just under a year, Tour de Flex has reached a milestone that many of us never imagined. As of this past weekend, over 10 million samples have been viewed in Tour de Flex. We launched on November 17th, 2008 at MAX as an attempt to better spread the word about Flex in a more scalable and efficient way…a sort of “downloadable Flex evangelist”. To see some of the history, check out my previous blog posts about Tour de Flex here.
So, what do we do next? How do we top this in 2010? I’ll start with some self-grading:
What we did right:
- A+ : Successful launch at MAX – this definitely put Tour de Flex on the map, especially when Kevin Lynch showed it on a 20ft screen! Many of us worked some crazy hours to get Tour de Flex ready. We tried to get upper management to postpone MAX 3 weeks to give us more time, but they refused <cough> so we had to work double-shifts to get it done!
- A+ :Included 3rd party components and samples – one of our primary goals with Tour de Flex was to go well beyond the old component explorer and really show off what is possible with Flex. With any technology, it’s always the developer community that does the really cool stuff. We launched with many cool 3rd party samples and continue to add more. This is what keeps people coming back to Tour de Flex week after week. From our own data we see that many developers use Tour de Flex regularly.
- A+ : Good solid samples – we worked hard to make sure that every sample was relevant and to the point.
- A: Desktop and web versions – Although the desktop version has more samples and an Eclipse plugin, sometimes people want to simply hit a web page.
- A: The Tour de Flex dashboard – I’m not sure this had a huge impact external to Adobe but internally, it was an eye-opener on who is learning Flex. If you view the dashboard at any time of day or night, you see a LOT of activity. It’s exciting to watch. It’s also one of our primary demos for data visualization and publish subscribe messaging with LiveCycle Data Services and BlazeDS.
- A: Early access to Flex 4 and AIR 2.0 samples – We have been rolling out new Flex 4 beta samples for several weeks. More are coming and we’ve already started to work on new AIR 2.0 samples.
Where we suck Opportunities for improvement:
- C-: I’ll start by whining a bit…. Maintaining Tour de Flex is a time-consuming job! Not only are there often new samples to deploy, but we have also have to make sure that existing samples still work. I’ll give us a C- in this area. This primarily falls on my shoulders so I can be as critical of myself as I want! As I write this, I have over 25 samples I need to roll out. I’m sure that a few authors have been a bit frustrated at my slow response at times, but my “day job” simply gets in the way (as I write this, I am in a hotel room in LA after a long day in Sacramento after a week in Tokyo!). One of the issues is that I have no tools to maintain the sample database. I basically hand-edit a huge XML file, which seems a bit silly, right? Well, we’re working on a new tool for this that will be ready soon. I’m also working on some other ways to improve our response time. My goal is to have a consistent one-week turnaround in 2010.
- C+: No clear path for submitting new samples. I’ll give us a C+ in this area. Although we have a sample submission form mentioned on the main download page, many people don’t notice it. There needs to be a way to submit new samples and ideas directly from Tour de Flex! This is on my Tour de *** v2 wish-list for early next year.
- B+: Fresh samples – I’ll give us a B+ for this one. We have rolled out a bunch of new samples fairly often, but I’m convinced that there are many 3rd party components out there that should be showcased in Tour de Flex. If I had a solid week to go hunting for Flex components, I bet I could find some great ones to include in Tour de Flex that would benefit all of us. I blogged in early 2009 that I hoped to have 1,000 samples by the end of the year and although we have a good inventory, we are only 1/3rd of the way to that goal.
Since rolling out Tour de Flex, we also rolled out Tour de LiveCycle and now we are actively working on Tour de ColdFusion! Now that we are seeing more integration between Flex and LiveCycle and ColdFusion, it’s becoming apparent that we should somehow combine these tools. It’s been suggested to me many times that we combine them but I’ve always resisted because I wanted the Flex community to own Tour de Flex and the LiveCycle community to own Tour de LiveCycle, etc. I’m convinced that the community-feel of these tools is a big factor in their success. However, now that all of our products are overlapping more and more, it has me re-thinking where we should go next. Maybe it’s possible to have an explorer-like tool for developers that covers all of the above yet still maintain the individual community feel for each technology. It would also give us the opportunity to provide additional samples in some other areas such as Pixel Bender, Text Layout Framework, Catalyst components, and more.
We have some great ideas on how we can improve the interface and accomplish all of these goals. Also, I would like the next version of the Tour de whatever-we-call-it framework to be code that we can openly share, maybe even as open-source (no promises – I have a few legal hurdles to work out on this).
In the meantime, SEND MORE SAMPLES (and be patient) 😉