4 Replies Latest reply on Jan 27, 2008 11:35 PM by sari_zzz

    Suggestions for technology/product to implement a web application?

    sari_zzz
      Hi,
      I'm a software engineer, and I'm about to create a new web application that has a rich user interface.
      I'm think of using Flash-based technology to implement this UI.
      I've looked though Adobe product lineup, and have looked into Flex and Flex Builder in detail, but I'm not quite sure if this is all we need.
      Can someone please suggest an appropriate product set, or point me to a party or a resource that might be able to help me?

      Specifically, the requirement is to develop a user interface that allows a user to walk around a virtual space. When the user clicks on an object in the space, a corresponding function/application is invoked, so it is quite like an online game.
      A web site that has a UI resembling the requirement would be http://www.komodomedia.co.uk/ .

      It is also supposed to be customizable, allowing the customer to add additional objects to the space that links to other applications, functions, web sites, etc.

      Is Flex Builder an appropriate tool, and is it all we need for such purpose?

      Thank you,
      Sari
        • 1. Re: Suggestions for technology/product to implement a web application?
          Michael_Latta
          I went to the site and it is clearly Flash based (they use an SWF file for the content. The authoring is probably more like CS3 or custom action script than Flex, though they may use flex as well for some of the UI. My guess is that it is all custom flash, or possibly very themed flex/laslo.
          • 2. Re: Suggestions for technology/product to implement a web application?
            tinylion_uk Level 2
            hi mate

            just had a look at the link. very nice

            well, it runs with flash player and to me looks very much like it could have been created using flash and paperVision3d.

            http://blog.papervision3d.org/
            http://wordpress.com/tag/papervision-3d/
            http://www.papervision3d.org/docs/as3/

            best o f luck mate. be interested to hear how you get on. Feel free to email me any time

            glen at tinylion dot co dot uk
            • 3. Re: Suggestions for technology/product to implement a web application?
              cxf02 Level 1
              FLEX could serve as the "glue" to bring the many types of media together that a true virtual experience would require. But it really depends on what you are after, a business application with a bit of flair and pizzazz, or something that allows the user to interact with objects that have reservoirs of functionality (some wide, some deep, or both) that can build one upon the other (such as an assembly) or interact with other entities. If your using Avatars or Sprites, then you may need to dress up actors in green suits (for skinning) and have them shot at various angles pursuant to the script (or storyboard) you have created. Many games are created like this and it takes prodigious amounts of high power hardware and expensive custom software to stitch the scenes together into the baseline that makes up a Game for others to customize and play. But FLEX is not one of those development platforms.

              For example, if I wanted to model walking through archives in a warehouse, I could build a wire frame structure using Action Script that moved toward my point of reference. If I wanted it to appear on my left or my right I would change my point of reference. If I wanted it to appear as if I were walking down a corridor, I would widen and change the height and place my frame of reference in the bottom center. That’s a wire frame, and it would have no real depth except for the angles that disappear into the Z direction. By “skinning” the wire frame and tacking hundreds of them along the same axis path, I could make it appear as many different types of objects I might be walking by, like walking though a COSTCO isle. FLEX can be used to create these effects for sure. But so can FLASH, and I’m sure with all the integration between Adobe Applications, there could be more development environments than these.

              In all honesty, I’ve never programmed FLEX or FLASH in this manner, but there’s no doubt it could be done. The question in my mind is one of performance. Would it be adequate with hundreds or thousands of these objects? I don’t know. I would suggest using FLEX to model some of the effects you are looking for and see if it meets your requirements. The example you referred to was a decent spatial exercise, but does not approach the complexity of a true 3D spatial environment. For what it’s worth, my two cents…
              • 4. Re: Suggestions for technology/product to implement a web application?
                sari_zzz Level 1
                Michael, Glenn, Curtis,
                Thank you all for your comments. They were all very helpful.
                From your comments, I now understand that I may need to consider using Flash CS in addition to Flex Builder that I already have. I also may need to consider using third-party libraries, such as Papervision 3D.

                The application doesn't require objects to interact with each other so heavily as a true online game, but it requires a great deal of animation, and it also requires objects to be customizable. A user clicks on an object to invoke a simple function or another application (or another browser window for that matter), or drags and drops an object to another location.
                The COSTCO example that Curtis pointed out was close to what we have in mind. The application lets a user (not necessarily an avatar) "walk" or look through the isles in a virtual space, click on an object in an isle to see its details, and drag and drop the object to a location (like a desk or a counter). When the user logs out and logs in again, the selected objects should still be on the desk (which is what I mean by "customization".)
                That's as much as it should be able to do for now.
                I've looked into Flex in detail, and have a pretty good idea I can achieve the customization portion with Flex by saving objects' coordinates as user settings on the server, and dynamically placing objects using those coordinates retrieved from the server application. I just couldn't figure out exactly what I need to implement the front-end portion like graphics, animation, "drag-and-drop", etc.
                Following your comments, I think I will start with Flex Builder and see how far we can go, and then consider Flash CS and additional libraries.
                I also realized this was a "Flex Builder 3" forum for an upcoming release, not Flex Builder in general that I thought it was. Thank you so much for giving me helping hands even though my question didn't quite meet the purpose of the forum.

                Thank you,
                Sari