Flexing the mental muscles

Whenever I’m learning a new language — or rather, a new environment, because it’s never just the language — at first I inevitably try to coerce it into a model I’m already comfortable with. It’s just the way my mind works. It usually feels very clumsy, which is the point where I start looking for clues on how I should be approaching the issue.

At some point, I read a blog post, article or bit of documentation that clues me in a bit. Then I try it out, and hit that “A-ha! So this is how things work here” moment. After that, the ride gets a lot smoother.

That initial befuddlement and subsequent feeling of victory is never limited to just one aspect of the environment, though. First, it happens with the language. Then it happens with something else, like the way you’re supposed to handle interactions between GUI components.

My latest such experience has been with Adobe Flex. The language is somewhat familiar, being of the ECMAScript variety, but the libraries are most definitely not, and things like skinning components are a source of great bewilderment to me.

I’ve enjoyed dipping into something altogether new, although some design decisions made at Adobe do seem somewhat questionable, such as having a dedicated namespace for SomethingManagers.

I do wish there was a way to unit test Flex code with something like the Eclipse JUnit runner or a NAnt/Ant command line script. It doesn’t seem altogether impossible, although I suspect all the MXML code would have to be compiled into ActionScript first. Any pointers that are *not* referring to FlexUnit are welcome — I know of FlexUnit and that’s not quite what I’m looking for. 🙂

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