Tom Ortega II

Helping Developers Bridge the Gap

In Community, Flash*Flex*AS, flex training, Ideas, Programming on September 16, 2009 at 8:30 am

In yesterday’s post, I talked about finding your niche.  Today, I share more about my niche and my plans to get back into it.

I used to run Silvafug, the Silicon Valley Flex Users Group.  During my tenure, the group accomplished a lot. (Heck even without me, the group is still doing a lot.) However, one goal eluded me, despite having a great need to be attained.  I think it’s time to revisit that goal.  What is it?

Helping Flex developers bridge the gap from beginner-to-mid and/or mid-to-advance level.

It’s an ambitious goal, but hey, why aim small, right?  I sorta started down the path with a “hit” series of mine, “Graduating from Hack to Architected Development” (available on 360|Whisperings and Adobe’s Flex Developer Center)  Adobe said that was one of their most successful pieces at the time, though I’m sure many have surpassed it now.

One of many shining moments in regards to this series was at MAX Chicago.  We were walking down one of the many long hallways.  Coming towards us was Joe Berkovitz, Steven Webster, and some others. One person (Sorry, I’ve forgotten your name) in the group asked me, “Hey, Tom.  When are you going to publish your next article in the series?  I can’t wait for it so I can finally understand Cairngorm.”  I looked at him then at Steven “I wrote Cairngorm” Webster then back at him.  “I’ll try to wrap it up soon.” Internally, I wondered why he just didn’t ask Steven.  The answer was because Steven’s role was to create Caingorm for people to use.  His role was not to explain how you graduate to it.  That, you see, was my role.

To help accomplish this goal, I’ll have *a lot* of work to do.  In my mind I’m already mapping them all out.  Here they are in no particular order:

  • Blog more about coding tips and tricks –  Reviewing my blog traffic proves one thing. My code posts generate more traffic overtime than any other kind of posts I do. This means that I’ll probably get to finish up my series on Flex game making I started back in the day.
  • Write more articles – Craig Goodman and his team are the ones responsible for the Adobe Developer Connection as well as the Edge Newsletter. The reach found on these two properties is simply AMAZING. While this li’l old blog of mine gets decent traffic (for my taste), it’s but a spec of dust in comparison to the traffic those Adobe web properties get. More eyes mean I help more people learn.
  • Write tech novellas – Sometime during my stay in the Silicon Valley, I realized that print lacked something. What it missed was a simple way to sell a sub-100 page “tech novella” – Something that was a bit longer than a blog post, but shorter than a book. John and I started 360|Whisperings specifically to produce content like that. It’s time to whip up some Flex Tech Novellas!
  • Create tutorials – One thing I’ve always wanted to do “right” was tutorials. Though, I’m not talking simple screen captures and/or blog posts. I’ve done those and they work, but they’re not as effective as a tutorial could be. I’ve been thinking about how to make a more effective type of tutorial for quite sometime. I’m hoping they’ll be a new, effective twist on learning.
  • Jump into the Flex Consulting world (Hire me!) – I was gonna make this leap before Workday, but their opportunity was just too good. I knew that working there would guarantee any other project would be cake. So far, it’s proven to be true. LOL If you’re looking for a good Flex developer, feel free to hit me up. The projects will be the basis for things I teach. I won’t use code from the project, but rather extract the concepts that developers clearly need to learn. Plus, something has to pay the bills while I’m building all this stuff.
  • Bridge-Gap Training – This one will probably take the longest. What I would like to do is create a curriculum to be used in a highly specialized training program.  People will be able to choose the level that they are at, then purchase a fast track training program to help them bridge the gap to the next level.  Or companies can use it to help their entire team grown. I would teach it and/or license the training to other training firms.

As you can imagine, these things are going to take a lot of time, effort and energy.  While in Silicon Valley, my life was spread thin between work, home, Silvafug and 360|Conferences.  I”ll still need to work to make money and gain knowledge to share.  I’m keeping my family, and luckily they’re keeping me.  I no longer have a User Group and while I thought about starting one here in the sticks of AZ, I haven’t yet.  That leaves 360|Conferences.

360|Conferences announces the Farewell Tom Tour

After thinking it over, I realize that it’s time I move on. John is a great friend of mine. It’s been a pleasure spending 3 years working with him on our little business. However, it’s clear to me that 360|Conferences is becoming more and more John’s dream than it is mine. Heck, John loves conferences so much he’s does other ones outside of 360|Conferences. I certainly do not, nor do I have any desire to do so.

Over on the 360|Conferences blog, you’ll find a post on my imminent departure after the next 360|Flex show. On the 360|Flex blog, you’ll see the “Find Tom’s Replacement” post. While it is sorta tongue in cheek, it’s actually quite serious. 360|Flex is too good to die. John’s still devoted 100% to it, but he’s gonna need some help. Personally, I think 360|Conferences would be better off merging with another company. John and I know how to build community and how to put on a killer show. A company with a bigger vision of the conference/training landscape would be smart to buy into this great series of conferences, because people LOVE (yes, with capital letters) 360|Flex and 360|iDev.  I’ve spent 3 years working on this baby, so selling my part of the biz will hurt, but hopefully someone with more passion can step it and help it grow even more.

The one clear thing is I need to be doing more of the teaching and training rather than facilitating a place where others can do it. In other words, I want to join in on the fun versus sitting back and watching the speakers/trainers have it all!  Wish me luck. :)

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  1. Welcome back Tom :) I hope we will get a chance to work together.

  2. Best of luck Tom! Sounds like you are creating your path and continuing the adventure! Best wishes to you and your family :)

    • @Kavita Yeah, I think I do better when creating my own path. Not because I think I’m too good for well worn paths, but rather I like the excitement of going somewhere no ones gone before. :)

  3. I’d love to see a simple presentation of MVC+OOP on a somewhat complicated level.

    A lot of the examples of MVC and OOP are so small that they seem to make sense until you try to implement them in a much larger real world scenario. Then the examples seem to fail.

    I’d love to see a small to medium size application that was designed as an example of MVC+OOP best practices in Flex.
    :-)

    • @nugun Any type of app in particular?

      • No particular app, other than something bigger than a one-off action app. A lot of examples I see usually involve a photo gallery. You go through the hands-on exercise and think you’re getting the hang of it.

        But then when you try to take what you learned and apply it to a larger application (say a medium size app, not something requiring a full framework like Cairgorn or PureMVC), you find that you don’t quite have all the insight one needs.

        If I were to describe the type of example I’d like to see. I’d say a good one would be an app that handles a user registration and login, and then let’s say it displays either video or photographs. But would also provide the means to rate said content and provide an area to add a comment/user-review.

        Why I think this is a much better example than many I’ve seen. It incorporates three key task areas that are very divergent from each other. (Login, Display, User Input) This gives enough areas that I think the example can start to reflect how to build your app in a modular form rather than all thrown together in a single folder with a few classes.

        Second, I’d like to see how to utilize various design patterns (say factories, whatever). But how best to architect these and organize them in your application class structure.

        ***

        On a total aside, I recently attended “Ruby DCamp”, a small Ruby (un)conference in the D.C. area. Quite fun…and get this. We actually “Camped”.

        I’m serious! We were out in a state park all of us with laptops in tow, accessing the web via a few routers hooked up to cell cards. At night it was campfires and smores.

        It maid me think of you, as I think you’d have really enjoyed yourself there (as long as you do not possess any aversion to camping outdoors).

        Got me thinking that maybe we need to do a “Flex Camp” camping trip sometime down the road.

        One session that I most enjoyed was a hands-on, paired programming session involving Test Driven Development. I walked away from that session wanting to see an event focused around that.

        Say a 3-5 day development training which utilizes paired programming of novices with experts, and work from a test driven approach. With code review and partner change-ups throughout the conference. I think the result would be that

        a) Novices would expand their skills by leaps and bounds.

        b) Experts would find themselves really honing their skills and gaining a much better understanding of WHY they use a given method, as they find themselves having to explain it’s merits.

        Might even be neat to have the conference/training work on a single app (albeit maybe different sections) for the benefit of some non-profit organization.

  4. The Empire has a need for Flex consultants… please train my force of Sith RIA engineers.

  5. Weird…it seems that WordPress lost my Avatar. I reset it. Maybe it’ll work this time.

  6. Greatest resource in my early flex learning was your silvafug training sessions and archive. While i attended mtgs it was always helpful to have that Connect reference! thanks for those. where did they go?

  7. Hey Tom,

    Can you provide a Flex 4 (Spark) example of dynamically loading images (ie: from XML) for use in a list control.

    Been getting buggered with this one..

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