One of the most exciting features of Macromedia Flash MX (and Flash Player 6) was the introduction of Macromedia Flash Remoting MX. Also known as Remoting, this feature is what moved Flash to become an alternative for thin client computing. Flash Remoting MX allows you to connect the Flash player with an Application Server that can provide online services such as database access or sending email. Remoting does not have to be used with Macromedia Flash Communication Server MX; however, when you combine these two technologies, you can really do some interesting stuff. Some examples include the ability to take your database offline, work with it, and when you reconnect, Flash will automatically resynchronize itself registering any changes that you (or anyone) made. Another example is user notification or instant messaging. Let's say someone makes a change to the database. You could build an application that notifies every user that a change has been made. But you could also take it one step further and decide to lock database records or allow multiple people to interact with the database in real time.
This chapter will give you a basic overview of accessing a database using the Flash Communication Server with Flash Remoting MX. Because Flash Remoting MX can be used without the Flash Communication Server, you will also learn some distinct techniques for data distribution using the Flash Communication Server. It's a practical chapter, with a series of exercises to get you started. In the exercises, you will use Flash Remoting MX to authenticate a user logging into your system. You will also collect a database RecordSet and learn just one technique to distribute it among connected clients. Taking it one step further, because that is the theme of this book, you will build an application that can be used with devices that can be disconnected. Take your database on the road with you! Hold on?this one's gonna be a great ride!