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XULAND: World’s First FLEX 4 Based Social Networking Application?

Truth is, I’m not sure if this is the technically the world’s “first” Flex-based social networking application, but I can say that I haven’t see anything else like it in Flex – so there’s a good chance it is. Nevertheless, hopefully the title was enough to grab some attention ;)

I came up with the idea for Xuland a year ago. At the time I simply wanted to come up with a project that would allow me to dive into the Flex 4 Beta and try out some new frameworks (other than Cairngorm). I chose Swiz for its “brutal simplicity” and I was immediately impressed.

I present this first to the greater Flex community as I’m really interested in feedback at this stage of its development. Does it make sense? Does it load fast?

My biggest concern: determining whether Flash was the right platform for a site like this. Honestly, I don’t see why not. Flex is a great framework. Flash is a great multimedia platform. Add a little social networking features and you could have the makings of something great.

I wasn’t able to attend MAX this year although I did enter Xuland into the 2010 MAX Awards. There were several other amazing sites that Adobe chose over Xuland and I don’t blame them. There truly is some fantastic talent out there and I feel blessed to even be remotely part of this group.

To put it simply, Xuland is a social network centered on location, rather than a friend’s list.

It started off as a way to get to know your neighbors…the people that are most likely *not* on your friend’s list. I’ve always thought Facebook was a great way to re-connect with old friends and family (not “old family”, sorry Mom) but you wouldn’t necessarily meet new people on Facebook. I remember back in the days of MySpace when random strangers would friend each other…some folks had thousands of “friends”. It was always so bizarre to me. I’m not sure if that same trend has crossed over into Facebook since its advent of fan-pages but still sites like these didn’t feel like the appropriate place to establish new friends.

A better opportunity arose through Yelp. Yelp centers itself on geography. You can see reviews of the restaurant down the street which is fantastic but it was difficult to carry on a conversation with past reviewers. Sure there’s message boards, but it would be nice to carry on a real-time conversation with someone in your same town that you did not already have a past relationship with (i.e. “on your friend’s list”).

Xuland eventually morphed into a FLASH-ier alternative to Craigslist, complete with a commenting & rating engine, Google map that pools postings into the comment stream based on location and selected radius, a built-in ad & local event submittal system and there’s even a simple image editor. No, this isn’t your father’s Craigslist.

I’m going to add a lot more, including extending the project to include mobile. What I’ve done so far took a lot of work (spare time with a family, mind you) but I’m happy to keep chugging forward as long as the site finds some real use out there.

What I really hope is to prove that Adobe Flash & Flex can be used for much more than dashboard and charting widgets or for unseen back-office intranet apps.

I had a lot of fun exploring Flex 4′s new skinning architecture, the Swiz inversion-of-control framework, the cloud technology that I’m using to host Xuland and many other bits and pieces of knowledge I had to find to assemble this all together.

I don’t think the site is ready for global public consumption quite yet. There’s a lot of little details I need to iron out but it works for the most part. I invite anyone reading to try it out and let me know what you think!

http://www.xuland.com

The map should geolocate to your general area, but it won’t be exact. If it’s off, drag the map around and set your new default location (you’ll have to login).

You can also (change) the map to anywhere else in the world which is nice. Talk to folks in Munich, or Paris. Change the map zoom, too. As the radius changes, so does the number of viewable comments. The red dot in the middle essentially shows the center of the map around which it pools comments.

Login with your Facebook or other social networking accounts, or create your own Xuland account via the registration form. Try posting a comment, attach an image, or real estate posting. There are many categories similar to what you’d find on any classified ads website. You can also post a local event (I got a little tired of getting invited on Facebook to events that were in other cities!).

I’ll post more on this blog and on Xuland’s own Tumblr blog. It’s getting a little difficult juggling all of this so bear with me if I seem a little slow, otherwise thanks so much for reading and trying out Xuland.

  1. November 4th, 2010 at 06:21 | #1

    This is Social Network for paddle players with 10K registered users, and more than 200 concurrent.
    Is Flex3, it was released in april 2009.

  2. November 4th, 2010 at 07:19 | #2

    Hey

    Nice site. I’m really impressed with the loading time. I notice that none of the framework swfs are being pulled – is this because they’re cached locally on my machine (I’ve played with framework caching before with mixed success), or are you not using the framework?

  3. November 4th, 2010 at 07:49 | #3

    Hi,
    i have a debug player installed and an exception crashed my Firefox, you might want to look into it. It happens during the first load, i didn’t have time to try anything:
    TypeError: Error #1009: Il est impossible d’accéder à la propriété ou à la méthode d’une référence d’objet nul.
    at com.xuland.flex.controller::CommentController/getAllCommentsResult()
    at Function/http://adobe.com/AS3/2006/builtin::apply()
    at org.swizframework.utils.services::SwizResponder/result()
    at mx.rpc::AsyncToken/http://www.adobe.com/2006/flex/mx/internal::applyResult()
    at mx.rpc.events::ResultEvent/http://www.adobe.com/2006/flex/mx/internal::callTokenResponders()
    at mx.rpc::AbstractOperation/http://www.adobe.com/2006/flex/mx/internal::dispatchRpcEvent()
    at mx.rpc::AbstractInvoker/http://www.adobe.com/2006/flex/mx/internal::resultHandler()
    at mx.rpc::Responder/result()
    at mx.rpc::AsyncRequest/acknowledge()
    at NetConnectionMessageResponder/resultHandler()
    at mx.messaging::MessageResponder/result()

    It’s in french but it means u are trying to access the property of a null Object.
    I also got many warnings like:
    ReferenceError: Error #1056: Impossible de créer la propriété type sur com.xuland.flex.model.vo.CategoryVO.
    ReferenceError: Error #1056: Impossible de créer la propriété type sur com.xuland.flex.model.vo.LocationVO.
    ReferenceError: Error #1056: Impossible de créer la propriété type sur com.xuland.flex.model.vo.FileAttachmentVO.
    ReferenceError: Error #1056: Impossible de créer la propriété type sur com.xuland.flex.model.vo.AdVO.
    ReferenceError: Error #1056: Impossible de créer la propriété type sur com.xuland.flex.model.vo.LocationVO.
    ReferenceError: Error #1056: Impossible de créer la propriété type sur com.xuland.flex.model.vo.FileAttachmentVO.
    ReferenceError: Error #1056: Impossible de créer la propriété type sur com.xuland.flex.model.vo.AdVO.
    ReferenceError: Error #1056: Impossible de créer la propriété type sur com.xuland.flex.model.vo.CommentResultsVO.

    Good luck on solving that :)
    Fabien

  4. November 4th, 2010 at 07:52 | #4

    It seems like it happens everytime i move the map after, when it tries to get the comment in france i believe

    Fabien

  5. November 4th, 2010 at 11:36 | #5

    Thanks! Yeah, that’s right. The signed Flex 4 framework RSL’s are probably already cached by your Flash Player. I haven’t tested loading Xuland on a “clean” machine devoid of those libraries but I’ll add that to my TODO.

  6. November 5th, 2010 at 04:20 | #6

    I am sorry, it does not make sense at all to build site like that using Flash (Flex SDK).

    You cannot even select a text by right clicking – it is showstopper.

    And yes it is slow – those preloaders are killing me, “loading area postings” indefinite preloader – is really indefinite.

  7. November 5th, 2010 at 15:14 | #7

    @Adobe Flex Tutorial
    I just posted a comment in Paris after logging in through my Facebook account. I didn’t see an error. If you have a minute, can you give me any other details (what area/city, what browser, version of Flash Player). Did you try logging in through another social network, or did you register for Xuland? Thanks and I apologize for the error…

  8. November 5th, 2010 at 15:26 | #8

    @JabbyPanda
    JabbyPanda, I’m constantly striving to improve the speed of Xuland. Is the “loading area postings” spinner slow at the beginning or whenever you move the map or both? I’m curious, what sort of machine are you running on? What browser and flash player version are you using?

    Creating this sort of site in Flash is a lofty goal, but I wanted to prove it could be done. On my systems, Xuland loads very fast but I am pushing to make it faster. I appreciate your comment absolutely…

  9. May 11th, 2011 at 03:18 | #9

    Hi,

    I’m very impressed by your site, I know it’s been a while since the blog post came out – I liked the particularly quick loading time, I am a Flex enthusiast and you mentioned something about the cloud technology where you are hosting this. I’d like to know more about it. Thank you :)

    • May 24th, 2011 at 11:09 | #10

      Thanks! I’ve been worked on Xuland for a long time now. I still have big hopes for it even though it gets very little traffic. By “cloud”, what I was really referring to was the cloud-hosting provider I’m using – RackSpace Cloud. They’re inexpensive and their technology allows me to quickly scale Xuland’s resources up or down depending on need. Much better than provisioning a new virtual or dedicated server ;)

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