We’ve all heard about Colin Moock at some point in our Flash/Flex development career. Colin has authored a great many ActionScript books throughout the years and as a consequence has helped thousands – including myself – to learn ActionScript. Now Colin has hit the community with something incredible… the Union Platform.

Here is the official definition of the Union Platform from http://www.unionplatform.com: “Union is a development platform for creating multiuser applications. It includes the Union Server, a multiuser communications server, and Reactor, a framework for creating Adobe Flash client applications.”

Essentially what this means is… you can now build realtime chat applications, MMORPG games, and anything else that could use a little realtime flavour ;)


Installation

In this part of the series on the Union Platform i will be showing you how to install the Union server on your *nix machines and Window$ machines. Let’s leave the hideous beast (Window$) for last, and begin with a real operating system that is actually a pleasure to work with, and doesn’t make you praise whichever god you worship that your legs can’t bend backwards at the knees to kick yourself in the balls for ever getting roped into that shitty OS.

I’ll be Linux Mint for my *nix installation explanation, and this will work on Macs too in much the same way.

The Union Platform Server is a Java application that will run on your server and listen on port 9100 and 9101 for traffic. Be sure to check that your firewall doesn’t block this port before you begin…
First things first, head over to the downloads page on the Union site and download the GZipped tarball to your desktop.

desktop

Next, unzip the tarball’s contents (tar -xf union_1.0.0_alpha2.tar.gz). This will create a folder called union on your desktop. Now, move either the folder in its entireity or the contents to a folder somewhere on your machine.

unzip

Perfect. So now we have all the files we need. Make sure that you have Java installed and working correctly on your machine or otherwise this will not work. You will need to make sure that this folder had execute permissions, so issue the command chmod 775 * to give all the files the necessary permissions.


Usage

Once this is done, we’re done! To start the Union Platform Server issue this command: ./startserver.sh from inside the folder you unzipped. You will now see your terminal bombarded with debug messages notifying you of Union‘s successful start.

start

Window$ users please note: the instructions above are pretty much the same for Window$; merely extract the files to your machine and run the batch file startserver.bat.


Administration Panel

Colin Moock and crew have been generous enough to provide us with a Flex administration panel for the server, and you can find it here. Download the SWF, and open it in your browser. You will be met with a login screen like this:

admin-panel

NOTE: If you look in the union.xml configuration file, you will find the password that is used by the server. By default it is password. Also note that the administration panel runs on port 9110.

Once you have logged in, you will see a screen like this:

admin-detail

Pretty bloody cool if you ask me!

Join me in the next part of this series when i will be demonstrating how to build a simple realtime chat application!