Doubt on Flex as the best option (1): TileList reload everything on scrolling

Main concern: Flex component is not good enough in user experience and functionality completeness, one example is TileList.

I do not agree Flex is the best option for building web application instead of AJAX. I will start blog a series in “doubt on Flex”, which I think Flex may be a rapid developing tool for developers, but it is a developer-oriented self fish tool, which sacrifice usability, web standard and make a lot of hurt to users.

If you said SWF is the best choice as presentation layer in web application, I am sorry I cannot agree, too. The biggest weakness of SWF is the text handling ability, which is never success than using HTML+CSS. Then I find Flex is weak in present image, too. I use TileList and itemRenderer to load external image, which is the common practice for every Flex developer, but I find that TileList reload everything on scrolling, if you try TagTV or pikeo, you will saw the problem, this problem has asked in Flexcoder list, but no solution yet.

If you check any HTML photo thumbnail list page, when you scroll down and scroll up, will you find the images had disappeared and need reload again? No! TileList is just an useless component in Flex.

Yes, Flex is just a tool favor developer themselves but sacrifice users.

Follow up

Others’ articles

Update 2007-1-27
Ely Greenfield from Adobe updated a post on how to make cache in Image Component in Flex framework hack, just like what HTML/CSS developer have to do CSS hack everyday?! They claim the extensibility of Flex framework is opened to developer. As I said before, developer have to put extra effect to solve the usability problem in Flex, because Adobe is provided you a just enought to use component, we, developer have to help Adobe to finish those what they claim is stable, robust framework to a usable quality?! That’s why they can provide an enhanced version of Flex builder and framework (they call it Flex3) but still target for Flash Player 9.

9 replies on “Doubt on Flex as the best option (1): TileList reload everything on scrolling”

  1. ha!

    You can cache the loading of any image asset inside of a cellRenderer without issue. Actually the entire model is open to customization and is completely extensible. I should have implemented it in TagTV but I only had 8 hours to write the app including the Apollo ports. I will add in another hour and fix this as it seems to be a common misconception on Flex.

    In regard to text, I agree sometime HTML is better, yet sometimes Flex is better. I have a Flex based word editor demo that I will be filming shortly for demonstration. Text support inside of Buzzword is simply amazing.

    Keep posting your issues and I will send you more code.


    Ted 🙂

  2. man, he just came back with a big ‘ha!’…that was kinda funny.

    anyway, i think it’s good to have someone voice their doubts, this way the issues can be discussed openly.

  3. Hi
    I have a question…If Flex provides an option to build web application through one big SWF….then how big it can be? I mean ….if I am going to create a very complex application that will be equivalent of an web application of more than 500 screens of HTML in normal case , then will the big file size of that single swf containing all the controls pose any issues?
    Will Flex stand to our expectations ?

    I will be happy to get a detailed and to the point answer.

  4. > f Flex provides an option to build web application through one big SWF

    Are you referring to the days of Flash 5?

    These days applications are built with screens, modules, rsls and other things that bring ‘loading on demand’ to a flex application.

    Regarding this post. You obviously like Ajax and html. Although ignorance and arrogance don’t play well together.

    In your up and coming series on bash flex: you should learn it before you spout your truths.

    Peace, Mike

    PS Any REAL Flex developer will tell you that Flex is not the answer for every internet/intranet application and/or problem. If we said that we would also be arrogantly ignorant.

  5. Luar – while AJAX uses existing browser technologies, I am less convinced it is ‘Web Standards’ in the sense that HTML or CSS are. It is more based around de facto standards (such as the level of JavaScript support) rather than a formal standard.

    At the moment, most AJAX apps are being developed by companies, like Google, that believe passionately in cross-platform, cross-browser support. Even these companies rarely achieve that when they launch an application – it is typically weeks before Google sort out bugs for Mac users.

    Consider what will happen in a world where mainstream companies, rather than Web 2.0 sites that need to appeal to cutting edge users, decide their site needs AJAX features. The vast majority of companies out there refuse to give their developers time to get even static web pages working on anything other than IE 6. My bank took years to support Firefox. On those grounds I would actually be happier if my bank used Flex, so I can use the OS and browser of my choice, even if I lost my ability to change size of fonts, etc.

    It’s also worth thinking about why there is a gap that Flex can fill. The rate of progress in support and standardisation for web application technologies in browsers has not been fast enough. SVG and new HTML features like the canvas tag should have replaced the need for the Flash plug-in altogether, but no one will use something supported in Firefox and Safari only.

    The W3C has also been slow in coming up with a spec for web application technologies, leading to a breakaway group in the WHATWG, and creating the gap that Flex, WPF, XUL and AJAX are able to fill. In a way, they are all intermediary technologies – they solve a common requirement, that will eventually become standardised. (Although we should remember that desktop development never has, and that Java Applets should have filled this space but failed).

    There is also the issue of whether any rich interactive technology is good for all users – i.e. both AJAX and Flash have similar accesibility/back button/etc problems – AJAX, used to it’s full extent – breaks browser paradigms as much as anything else. It can’t be both ‘web standards’ and deliver a desktop experience, as the two aims contradict each other. These are inherent in moving back from the stateless web to a stateful client, regardless of the technology used.

    Not saying Flex is THE answer – my team have hit enough teething problems themselves – but I have the suspicion that the problems in Ajax development are far greater and more numerous, without offering any huge advantage other than peer – rather than user – approval.

    Google Maps blows me away every time I use it, but that’s partly because I understand the technical difficulties they’ve overcome. Most end users wouldn’t care if it was a Java applet so long as it worked.

  6. To Michael Schmalle:

    I am not like AJAX and HTML only, I am also a heavy Flash/Flex developer, please check my blog is dedicated for what? Adobe technology.

  7. Hi,

    Ok maybe some words and phrases you are using are getting lost in translation.

    I understand you work with adobe technology but, some of your sentences are very deterministic.

    Bottom line is, the flex framework is a very stable place to make extensions. Most of the time in life one situation doesn’t fit everybody anyway.

    Peace, Mike

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