Understanding a larger application

May 7, 2009 at 8:17 pm (Flex, Java, Ruby, Week 7)

After a couple of hours this morning going through the web, searching for a way to make native OS calls from ActionScript (in Adobe AIR), I’ve come to the conclusion that right now, the only way to do it is to wrap AIR in another application like Shu. Mike Chambers also has a proof of concept for another wrapper called CommandProxy. I’m not sure yet whether we’ll go in that direction or not, but this seems like a big strike against using AIR. The idea is that for this application, we’d need to completely control the desktop, eliminating things like Cmd-Tab (or Alt-Tab on Windows), Alt-Cmd-Esc (Ctrl-Alt-Delete on Windows), etc.

It’s always frustrating to dig around on the internet looking for a way to do something and in the end coming up short. What kills me about it is that there’s always that chance that the solution you’re looking for exists, but it’s difficult to find. I can’t imagine being a programmer before Google; I can see myself getting stuck for days on things. On the other hand, at a company like 8th Light, my best (and quickest) bet is usually just to ask around. But in this case, there are no confessed ActionScript gurus here. At any rate, whether the work I’ve done gets used or not, I’m impressed to realize that I don’t really have to spring for the $249-$699 Flex Builder application to play around with ActionScript and Flex.

The rest of the day, Micah, Doug, and I worked through some story work (even looked briefly at some Objective-C code) and ran into some issues with bundling JRuby gem files in a jar. I’m inspired to try and recreate the problem here at home, so I’m looking forward to a fun evening of learning about java -jar (and JRuby), with the off-chance that I’ll actually figure something out. It was really cool to see the way Micah and Doug reacted to the problems. Basically, after exhausting all of the permutations and possibilities we could think of, we took a step back, evaluating what we were trying to do at a higher level, and realized that while we need a solution for this problem eventually, we were OK for now and didn’t need to bash our heads against a wall. The solution will come, and tomorrow it will be easier than today.



  1. Erick Castillo said,

    I do not know if you still are aware of this blog, but I’ve been reading it, since last Friday and I’ve founded it really interested. I’m going to 8th light soon as an apprentice. Any advice?

    Ps: I’ve found this part hilarious ” I can’t imagine being a programmer before Google; I can see myself getting stuck for days on things”

  2. trptcolin said,

    Hi Erick,

    Some general advice I have on apprenticeship is to work hard and smart (asking questions when you get stuck), learn a few language paradigms really well, and read a lot of books (especially some of the older, non-language-specific ones). We help people along as much as we can, but ultimately we think of mentoring more as feeding a fire than building a house: the apprentices are the ones pushing their growth forward and they’re the ones that deserve credit for it. [Also for anyone else who reads this: http://8thlight.com/apprenticeship is the starting point for our official apprentice application process.]

    Thanks for your kind words about the blog! It’s been awhile since I’ve looked at this 🙂

    – Colin

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