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Creating a Flash Email Client Application

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This chapter explores the architecture and the means of creating a simple email management program using Flash MX, XML, Java, and Microsoft Access. The program handles email by using the person's pre-existing email account.
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Almost everyone in the Internet community has or knows someone who has a Hotmail email address. Email programs like Hotmail and Yahoo offer users a way to send and retrieve messages online via a central location on the Internet. Hence, their popularity is obvious—people from all over the world can communicate with each other simply by logging into a central location.

This chapter explores the architecture and the means of creating a simple email management program using Flash MX, XML, Java, and Microsoft Access. The program handles email by using the person's pre-existing email account.

First, we'll look at a general overview of the application, and then we'll explore the data transactions and see how everything works. The last section of this chapter reviews Flash-specific programming concepts applicable to this application, including prototyping and local connections, and revisits the custom classes created for this application.

Although the technologies used here are specific to the discussion of Flash MX, you will walk away with an understanding of the architecture and be able to adapt other technologies such as ColdFusion, .NET, mySQL, or whatever you so choose to the same process.

Getting Started: Peachmail Joe

To get things started, let's look at the steps that a user goes through in working with a browser-based email management program like Hotmail. We'll call our application Peachmail. Meet Joe, who is a new user to our application.

Joe's Motivation

Summer break! Joe is going on vacation and must leave his computer at home. Realizing he may not have access to his email, he tries to find a solution. A friend tells him about Peachmail, a service that allows him to access his email simply by getting online and accessing Peachmail's Web site.

He decides to check it out.

Joe's Registration

Joe gets home, fires up his machine, and loads up Peachmail's Web site. First, Joe needs to create an account with Peachmail, entering in such details as his username, email address, password, POP server, and SMTP server. Joe selects mejoe to be the username that uniquely identifies him at Peachmail. Now that Joe has an account, he logs into Peachmail.

Joe's Vindication

Joe now has access to these Peachmail services:

  • Address Book Services. Joe can add, edit, and remove contacts from his address book.

  • Email Services. Joe can view, send, receive, organize, and delete email from his account.

  • Account Services. Joe can modify his personal information or, heaven forbid, delete his account.

Joe adds a few friends to his address book and sends out an email letting his friends know he still has access to his email during his vacation:

  Hey you crazy blokes! It's me Joe! I'm using Peachmail.com
  to access my email. It's absolutely brilliant!

  Cheers,
  Joe 

Joe then logs out of Peachmail and feeling special about himself, decides to go spend a week's pay on a coffee at Starbucks.

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