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One option might be to look at remoting with AMF3. This is a binary format so your bandwidth requirements go down significantly for large data sets. MidnightCoders has WebOrb and there are probably other implementations for .NET.
Thank you for the help. I'll look into these options.
Also I am hoping we can adopt WebOrb for our next generation of middleware, but for the time being we are stuck with .NET web services (no time to convert yet) which is why I am hoping I can find some way of compressing the data that goes across the wire.
As a side note IMHO it looks like this is the direction that RIA development is going (moving away from bandwidth hogging xml to binary object transmission).
I just turned on gzip compression in IIS and this appeared to at least compress the responses (which is what I mainly needed) and thankfully Flex is smart enough to know (or it relies on the browser to) decompress the response.
The following link shows how to do this (it is not as simple as just turning on compression in the IIS manager).
Unfortunately you cannot gzip .swf files generated in Flex and have them run properly in Mozilla based browsers (this would be nice) so while I have the responses compressed now, it would be really cool if I could compress the static content..
It is apparently a known bug but Adobe just suggests you turn of gzip compression for .swf files.
Did anybody find a way to compress XML client-side before sending it to the server with HttpService in Flex? I am looking for a solution for a while now (just can't get it to work), but nobody seems to know how to do this.