As the definition states, Flash Remoting is an application server gateway. So, what is the application server? In our fast-food example, the application server would be the cook. When the cook receives your order, he or she processes it and prepares your "fast" cooked meal.
The application server is the application that holds the information that you request; it processes functions that require more than the client can handle, and many other tasks.
Currently, the only supported application servers are ColdFusion MX, JRun4, and ASP.NET. Macromedia ColdFusion MX is the application server that is most commonly used with the Flash Remoting gateway. One reason for this is that Flash Remoting comes bundled with ColdFusion MX or later and is also part of the Macromedia family, which makes the integration seamless. Flash Remoting is available as a standalone application for purchase and requires installation for ASP.NET. This chapter will focus only on Flash Remoting via ColdFusion. For more information, on Flash Remoting for Java and ASP.NET, visit http://www.macromedia.com/software/flashremoting.
Many people have asked me about Flash Remoting, and when I mention ColdFusion, they say, "I don't know ColdFusion." My usual response is, "I don't either! I am a Flash Developer, not a ColdFusion Developer."
The great thing about Flash Remoting with ColdFusion is that you do not really have to learn a great deal about ColdFusion. Now, I am not an advocate of learning only what is needed to get by, because the more you know, the more you can accomplish! But if you are a Flash designer or developer, you may want to just stick to what you are good at. I come from an ASP (Active Server Pages) background and I knew the learning curve for ColdFusion was not a major one, but I also did not have a great deal of time to learn an entirely new server-side language. As you will see later in this chapter, the ColdFusion elements of Flash Remoting are fairly straightforward.
There is more than one way to skin a cat, as we see with the different types of application servers, but within Flash Remoting via ColdFusion, there are three main server-side methods to communicate with Flash:
ColdFusion Components (CFC) is the preferred method for Flash interaction with ColdFusion; thus, this chapter will focus on CFCs. More information about the other methods can be found by visiting http://www.macromedia.com/software/flashremoting.