Since not all of FITC's fans and supporters are able to make it to Boston for RIA Unleashed 2011, we asked a couple of attendees if they could provide highlights from the two-day event. Day one was all about workshops, see below for what our guest bloggers had to say.

First up, highlights by Glenn Gervais...

Back Under New Management

RIA Unleashed 2011 kicked off today with a series of workshops on a variety of topics from social networking, HTML 5 game development to mobile applications. Up until this year, RIA Unleashed was organized almost single-handedly by Brian Rinaldi, who now works as a Web Community Manager at Adobe. Last year Brian passed the torch to FITC and they've done a fantastic job of continuing to bring this reasonably-priced conference, packed with useful sessions, to the Boston area.

Flash Builder for PHP

In the morning I attended Michelle Yaiser's Building Flex Applications with PHP workshop. We started off swapping stories of our early coding days, Michelle's on the TI-99 and Commodore 64 and my own on the Commodore VIC 20. PET BASIC anyone?

Michelle began the session with an informative introduction to data modeling with MySQL Workbench. She also spoke on the importance of designing your database to support the end user's needs.

Flash Builder for PHP integrated nicely with Zend Server Community Edition which can optionally be installed with phpMyAdmin, MySQL and Apache. Flash Builder made it very easy to create and deploy a small data-driven application in a very short amount of time. Whether you're into GUI-driven development, or you like to be knee deep in the code, Flash Builder makes application development a breeze.

The only problem I ran into was initially creating the project. Here's a tip:  If you're running Windows 7 and you're unable to create a new project, run the Flash Builder application as an administrator. Otherwise, Windows may prevent Flash Builder from being able to create project folders. I'm guessing the problem was that I installed in in the default location, which in inside the Program Files folder. If you create your own folder in which to install the applications, you probably won't have to worry about that issue.

Ray Camden's On-the-Fly Workshop

In the afternoon I attended Ray Camden's Extending ColdFusion session in which we quickly dispensed with the entire agenda in favor of discussing a series of ColdFusion topics chosen by attendees. We ended up covering a variety of useful features including trusted cache, the CF Admin API, server monitoring, javaLoader, Application.cfc settings, and CFDUMP parameters (ever heard of output, hide, show, or top?).

It turned out to be a really informative session in which everyone picked up a few things they didn't know before walking through the door. Kudos to Ray for recognizing his audience early on and modifying the topic on the fly!

All in all, it was a great day!

Next up, highlights by Doug Reynolds...

I started the conference day at 6:00 AM this morning and as I'm writing this, it's now after 9:00 PM.  I have been looking forward to this event for months, along with the trip to Boston.  I decided to bring along my wife and son for the drive to Waltham, MA so we could enjoy the North East fall leaf change.  We were not disappointed, this is truly a beautiful area.  Likewise, I must say that Day one of RIA Unleashed Boston 2011 has exceeded my expectations.  After a nice breakfast in my hotel, I ventured out on the conference-provided shuttle for a short trip to Bentley University.

The conference check in process was quick and well organized, so with some time to spare, I had a chance to speak with a few of the presenters before sessions.  Among those were Raymond Camden presenting  Extending ColdFusion, Jesse Warden presenting Mobile Games: Adobe AIR and Corona, and Andy Mathews presenting One Codebase - Deploying to Web, Desktop, and Mobile with jQuery, AIR, ColdFusion, and Phonegap.  I also was able to hang out with Jeffry Houser, with Flextras, and Brian Rinaldi.

My conference sessions began with Rob Rusher, Principal Consultant with On3 Solutions, on Getting social with Flex.  Rob started  the presentation out with a discussion of the impact of social media integration in business applications.  “People like to share information about themselves and their experiences with others,” he said.  Business wants to be involved in that sharing and become the topic of conversation.  Social Media applications no longer require marketing departments to manage secure credentials for multiple representatives, applications now provide encapsulated authentication mechanisms which securely manage a single point of authentication.

The group proceeded to develop applications for Twitter and Facebook, along with an overview of Linkedin.  I was pleasantly surprised by the emphasis on using ActionScript libraries for integration and implementation of application authentication, which abstracted the complexity of Open Authentication (OAuth).  We discussed and went through the process of creating developer accounts for each service, implemented OAuth for Twitter and Facebook, and completed working demo applications.

Following Rob Rusher’s session, I went into the conference luncheon which proved to be an excellent opportunity for networking.  I was also able to prepare for my next session with Christophe Coenraets and Holly Schinsky from Adobe, who were about to present Flex Mobile Boot Camp.  Christophe and Holly dove directly into code as we developed a Flex mobile application in Flex 4.6.  Flex 4.6 provides a series of new components and containers optimized for mobile development.  Christophe led us off into development of the Mobile Expense Report application which leveraged the new tablet optimized SplitViewNavigator container.  The application incorporated integration with local SQLite data, ESRI mapping API, and implemented the new Flex 4.6 SDK components, which included SpinnerList, CalloutButton, ToggleSwitch, and DateSpinner components.

One of the highlights of the day occurred when Christophe demonstrated a new StatesUtil class which he wrote.  His class handles automated state management. Notably, the utility class helps us determine device type, screen attributes, and device orientation without writing any additional code other than defining application states.  I spoke with Christophe following the session and he confirmed that the StatesUtil class will be made available, keep a look out for it on his blog at

Holly then took us into an “extra credit” session where she demonstrated deployment processes to Android and iOS along with new component special features.  She and Christophe then took the time to field questions and assist attendees in debugging and completing their applications.  Be sure to bookmark Holly’s blog, as it is a wealth of Flex information, tips, and techniques for developing Rich Internet Applications with Flex.

Day one was a great day -  it is going to take me weeks to review notes and absorb all of the information and techniques presented today.  Day two of the conference continues with another full day, starting out with a keynote presentation from Adobe’s Terry Ryan.

Look out for more on RIA Unleashed Boston 2011 with day two highlights coming soon!