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this will get you off on the right foot, but it is definitely going to be overwhelming. with learning flex, you're not just learning mxml(flex). you are learning object oriented programming, mxml, actionscript 3.0, xml, and whatever you want to use for your data services(php, coldfusion, jsp, etc.). coming from a java background it took me about a month of sitting down reading and playing around to feel somewhat comfortable in the world of flex. the internet is your friend. theres a lot of answers out there, good luck
While I started with a bit more relevant web application development
experience in HTML, JS, CFML, XML ect then you, I found the 10 tutorial
exercises in the "Getting Started with Flex 2" to be very helpful. Then
I just jumped in and started working with it, asking many many many
questions on here and the other Flex forums.
I think it really depends upon what type of web sites you plan to deploy. Do you want to use the web for form-based input, with a database back-end? Or are you just trying to provide information about companies to customers and prospects? Do you want the ability to run your system in a stand alone mode?
It is currently my opinion that RIAs are best supported by a development tool like Flex. However, as Rob has pointed out, this is a complex world. It is much simpler to develop web sites using a tool like FrontPage, but when you want to develop applications that have more interaction, and more sophisticated interfaces, HTML will limit you.
Again, as Rob stated, Flex brings you into the world of object oriented programming, and generally VB will not have prepared you for this. I might be tempted to learn C# or Java to a certain degree before jumping into Action Script (AS, which is the language behind Flex). But learning Java would put you back by months, compared to jumping into AS, and if you can find a good book for learning Flex then that may be sufficient.
I would certainly recommend using books to learn Flex. I don't really know which one to recommend, although this book looked good for beginners: http://www.amazon.com/Programming-Flex-comprehensive-creating-applications/dp/059652689X/r ef=pd_bbs_sr_1/002-7968237-0717616?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1186160960&sr=8-1
As far as XML and HTML go, I think you will need only basic knowledge of these. Both have a lot of depth, but you can get by (at least for a while) just knowing some basic rules.
I found the flex developers guide :
Action Script 3 Docs : http://livedocs.adobe.com/flex/201/html/wwhelp/wwhimpl/js/html/wwhelp.htm?href=Part5_ProgA S_155_1.html
Flex 2 SDK (which is very well documented with examples for visual components)
and of course component explorer :
these are huge resources with approach that are suitable for all user levels.
I was up and running within a week and of course flex forum with fine folks that are very helpful is hughe plus as well.
alas adobe flex team members shine only once in a blue moon but I guess they are buzzy working on moxio.
I don't think any book is necessary at all.
The flex training book is fantastic; I would also take a look at:
these guys have a beginner and advanced series that are very easy to follow and will get you up and running in a very short amount of time.
Thanks for the replies and the recommended reading. I should have given some more detail. I'd like to be able to harness the ability to make a highly user interactive website.
Eg. Imagine a website for a cardboard box manufacturer that makes thousands of boxes a day for all different types of businesses. All of these boxes are custom tailored for the individual companies. The user/business could go to this box manf. website and see an assortment of different types of boxes in the form of 3D renderings (flash) in some basic styles. These renderings would have dimensions on them such as W x D x H and there would be variables on the side of the image (in the form of lets say text boxes or radio buttons) in which you could enter and therefore alter the configuration or dimensions of the basic box design. When clicking on a certain variable, the graphic would highlight the corresponding dimension or feature that is being affected by the variable and this way the customer would have a visual of how this box will end up. Ideally, when a dimension is entered, the graphic would change accordingly. From there the customer could order, pay for the boxes and get a estimated delivery date without ever having to speak to a cust. service rep.
I've given myself 1 to maybe 2 years of using all of my time outside of my 40 hr. work week to be able to do something like this. I'm willing to deal with length of time and it isn't such an issue as much as wasting time would be..........if that makes sense. I guess a better question would be,
a) Is there an easier or better way to accomplish this?
b) From AndyWW's post, it seems as though AS3 is harder to learn than C#/Java. I'm probably misinterpreting that somehow. So lets say if you completely forgot everything you know and had to start fresh with this same goal of ultimately learning Flex, would you start by building a foundation in C# or Java to then be able to comprehend and learn AS3? Or jump directly into AS3 since it would be just as difficult to start learning AS3 as it would be to start C# or Java?
"...jump directly into AS3..." Yes. Now, if you are doing this alone, you will need some back-end server platform for your data integration and business logic tiers. I use mostly VB.net.