ColdFusion, WDDX, and Flash (Page 1 of 8)

Welcome! This tutorial is designed to illustrate the basic process of building dynamic Flash movies using WDDX (Web Distributed Data Exchange), ColdFusion, and an RDBMS (Relational Database Management System). During this tutorial I'll walk you through a sample application in which you'll be building a simple Microsoft Access database, a ColdFusion template, and a simple Flash interface to go along with it. After you've completed the tutorial you'll have a vector-based Flash movie that generates dynamic content on the fly received from the database. Before we get started there are a few items we need to cover. First, this tutorial was originally written around October of 2001 and was geared specifically towards the Flash5 IDE (Integrated Development Environment). Since that time, Macromedia has released FlashMX and ColdFusionMX, both of which have a drastic affect on the concepts presented in this tutorial. Basically, the way you created database-driven Flash - or other dynamic Flash - back then has changed. It is now much easier to create more rich web experiences using FlashMX, ColdFusionMX (ColdFusion Components or CFCs), and Flash Remoting. However, not everyone has upgraded to these new products so I've decided to keep this tutorial active. Having said all that, I've tried to modify the tutorial to incorporate both Flash5 and FlashMX ActionScript.

Let's take a brief look into what WDDX is, why you would want to use it, and what you're going to need to be able to follow along with me as we build our application.

What exactly is WDDX? WDDX stands for Web Distributed Data Exchange. But what does that mean? WDDX technology emerged out of work that Allaire, Inc. (bought by Macromedia, Inc.) was doing in the Web application server space, specifically the problem of sharing data between disparate systems across the web. This has been a fundamental problem of the web. In order for the Web community to reach its highest potential we needed to work towards some common forms of data exchange. WDDX addresses this and OpenWDDX.org is the body responsible for the ongoing project.

Why would you want to use WDDX? The best reason I can think of is that you can take data from multiple, perhaps disparate systems and pass this data to another system or application and display it. Basically, what we are going to be doing today; taking data that is stored in a database which has no presentation layer, and displaying it in a nice controllable interface in Flash. We don't care about writing any html or creating loads of html tables and stylesheets, and with Flash we don't have to. We have a development environment utilizing graphics, animation, sound, and after this tutorial, database data.