My favorite little tweening prototype is all grown up!

Congrats to Zeh and his accomplices on putting together an AS3 version of mcTween. He posted a link over at his blog on the new codebase and it looks great. I have been using this bit of code for about 3 years now and I can’t imagine creating a UI or Flash app without it. I have used it throughout virtually all my work at Iona Group, and when I teach Flash to my intermediate students we always use it.

It’s great to see the same author take his code to the next level and I know when I finally get my hands on the Flash 9 IDE I will be using “import caurina.transitions.Tweener;” instead of my old standby “#include”… The code is still missing some ability to control the Flash 8 filters, but for projects that don’t require it, I will be using the AS3 version whenever possible.

Many thanks Zeh, and you’re right… It does save the world!

Percentage of people out there using webcams? Flash 8+ users specifically.

WebcamAnyone have metrics on percentage of people out there with webcams on their computer? I’ve bee looking around for this number, but can’t find anything concrete. I’m looking to possibly build a flash site for a client that uses some webcam technology, but want to make sure that a good chunk of the audience can use the functionality I’m planning.

I know I have seen some great stuff out there (games, mostly) but no one really using it as an interface element or main site focus ( excluded)… if you have some examples of it being used for site navigation, etc let me know… I’d love to see it. I know Grant Skinner and Mario Klingemann have some great stuff out there.
Of course, what I am planning would also be usable via standard keyboard/mouse UI but a little something extra might be a cool trick.

What is the realized value to your organization/company for you to be Adobe certified?

I have been working with Flash since version 3. My skills have grown with the application, and the things I primarily produce with the tool have grown and changed as well (From simple animations to full blown apps). I haven’t really ever had difficulty finding work related to Flash, even when I was freelancing. I haven’t really ever had difficulty in achieving the project at hand using Flash either (No more than most, of course ;-) ).

All these things considered, I have never been certified in any version of the tool, though I have sometimes contemplated it. I have little doubt I could pass the test with some studying/prep, so uncertainty hasn’t really formed that decision for me. Ultimately it comes back to ROI, I guess… I just haven’t been able to quantify it. Are you certified developers/designers out there reaping the rewards of putting that little badge on your site? Does it add anything to the bottom line of your company that employs you if you aren’t a freelancer?

On that note… the exams up there are currently for the MX2004 family of products, is there a Flash 8 series of exams coming soon? Just in time for the release of Flash 9/CS3 I suppose. I guess the certified professionals out there will need to recertify, does anyone have more info out there to share on that process? Is it $150 again? Is the test given for it the same one as the first timers must take?

This post isn’t meant to belittle anyone or the program itself, or anything like that. I am genuinely interested in learning more about what the Adobe certification program can bring to me, my fellow developers/coworkers and ultimately the company I work for. If you have feedback, please let me know.

And to this I say… “Beeyah!”

Adobe is winning developers and MS is losing them… Ryan Stewart’s article sure makes the future seem bright to me… My company is located in a region where most companies are developing using C#, Java and C++, etc. for their RIA/desktop apps. I see a lot of potential to make inroads using Flex and Apollo.

SIDEBAR: I am really looking forward to dropping Multidmedia’s Zinc. Have I mentioned that lately? Sorry, a little bitter here. Anyone out there using that app? While the capabilities it adds to a Flash projector are really cool, it comes at price. More difficult debugging, versioning issues, etc.

Back to the topic at hand. Being a Mac user, WPE/WPF isn’t really a development option for me… Especially since I’m still on a PPC based Powerbook for my primary machine (I could use bootcamp or Parrellels/VMWare then).

This post over at Robert Scoble’s blog is interesting… just what is Adobe showing next week? Something juicy I bet. Apollo Community Preview (Probably.)? Flash 9/CS3 Release Date (Possibly)? Flex/Flash IDE for Linux (I know that’s crazy – But just think about what that could do for the developer community for one second)? Seems like every chance they get they are stealing MS’s thunder and spoiling the .Net3.0 coming out party.
Very interesting times indeed.

Dx3 Conference In May… Anyone Going?

This Event looks pretty interesting. A broad mix of people from Adobe, Microsoft and other web technology companies and technology advocates (Web Standards and AJAX). I think I’m leaning towards attending this instead of Flash Forward this year. If for no other reason than the broadness and platform agnosticism.

Though I doubt I’ll ever switch from the Flash Platform to developing WPE/WPF multimedia… I would like to get a good idea of what the technology is capable of to see if it takes care of some of my larger pet peeves with Flash player performance and capabilities. The fact that MS is giving away Expression Web Designer there seems like an interesting hook. Perhaps by then we’ll have Flash 9/CS3 and Dreamweaver 9/CS3 in our hands and we’ll definitely have a preview version of Apollo (By the way – I preordered the pocketguide preview book).

I’m really interested in the following sessions:

  1. Beyond Web 2.0Having trouble separating hype from reality? Where is the Web really headed? In this presentation, Jesse James Garrett looks at the deeper trends driving the latest innovations in Web development and considers the broader implications for the skill sets Web teams will need to invest in to successfully leverage emerging Web techniques and technologies.
  2. A Better Way: Agile Software Development - Agile software development aims to reintroduce sanity and common sense into the creation of software (be it software for the desktop, Web, devices, etc.). In this session you’ll learn about agile practices such as Extreme Programming and Scrum, and what agile can do for your organization, your employees, your products, and your clients. You’ll learn how agile can add value, improve communication, allow for rapid correction, and make software development fun again.
  3. Experience by DesignCreating a great experience doesn’t typically happen by accident. Learn some keys to communicating and working with complex technology in a fluid visual environment. A great idea is the best way to start a great project, but how do you transfer that vision through design, development and deployment with all the pitfalls and roadblocks to come? Focus on the strengths and understand the limitations of each phase of the process, and push the boundaries to ultimately deliver a compelling experience. The target will be rich interactive applications, that use both high design, and cutting edge technology.
  4. Designer-Developer Workflow - No description for this yet, but this is an issue I wrestle with all the time. I would like to see some other peoples perspectives on it.
  5. What’s New in Flash Always good to know what’s new on the scene.

With 40+ sessions I’m sure other things will bubble up, too. Really getting psyched for this… It takes place just after my teaching responsibilities at Bradley University end for the semester, too, so getting away will be great at that time of year!

Quite possibly the best Flash game ever, and I don’t even understand it.

Can anyone can translate the Kanji? My Japanese is very limited (Hiragana and Katakana only)… This is fun and very weird.

Click to check it out.

EDIT: So apparently this is a well known and fairly old Flash game. I guess I just don’t play enough web games to know that.

EDIT 2: So I found a few more links on this game, and a better version. I have now spent nearly two hours playing this. I have a high score of 3572.85…. must break 5000.

Moving from Flash to Flex: Team Integration and Workflow

I have the Flex Builder Beta on my Mac. I have gone through all the tutorials. The team of developers I work with also have the Beta on the computers and have gone through the tutorials. I have demoed Flex to the Designers I work with and they seem impressed, if only because its seemingly powerful but not overly complex in how using drag and drop components you can quickly build apps that would have taken days in Flash. So basically, we are just waiting for the right job to come to build using Flex. Low risk, flexible timeline, an easy to work with client, etc. We currently don’t have anything like that in the queue right now, but I’m sure in a couple months or less, something will come in, and it’ll be time to give it a spin.

One thing I’m not quite sure about is how to have the UI designer go through the graphic design process with Flex as the final deliverable platform. Flash MX2004 introduced the v2 components, which completely changed how you design commmon UI elements, etc. I had a heck of a time getting my designers to feel comfortable using those components and assist skinning them, making sure they knew the constraints, etc. Finally, at Flash 8, we are regularly reskinning these components and the workflow seems pretty comfortable.

It looks like with Flex and Apollo things are going to be shaken up again. The components and skinning process operate much differently, and the MXML files are not seemingly somewhere you want a designer digging around in. Content/Presentation and logic are separated, which is great from my point of view, but a bit abstract for those coming from a timeline and library type of background. The concept of states and stacks vs. timelines and nested movie clips are just foreign enough to prove to be a bit of a impediment. I am starting to explore information out there on skinning Flex Components, I have played with the new Flex 2 style explorer, and the new (to me anyway) site ScaleNine look to be a cool way to start learning how themes/skins work.

How about developers/teams out there actively working on and designing Flex apps and UIs? Any tips or ideas on team integration? Workflows? Design comps and process? Do you concern yourselves with getting the designers up to speed on how the components work? Or do you just depend on your skills/know how to make whatever your designers think up come to life?

FlashForward Conference in Chicago?

Let me be very clear. I love FlashForward conferences. They are tons of fun and the speakers are always inspirational. The freebies are usually pretty good. The networking is pretty easy with that many like minded individuals. The parties are great.

I attended the first one in San Francisco. Adobe gave out demo/betas of their Flash Killer LiveMotion and free copies of GoLive. The next day Macromedia gave copies of Dreamweaver and Fireworks. It was just too much! Ozmatli played and there was free sushi and booze for everyone… after all this was during the DotCom Boom.
Last year’s event in Seattle was great too. The Brothers Chap were hilarious and there were a lot of jaw dropping talks on the early stages of Apollo and Flex that energized me for 2007.

What I don’t like about them is that there is never one in the Midwest. No Chicago, no Minneapolis,?Ǭ Milwaukee, Indy, etc, anywhere in about 6-8 hour drive for me. Everytime I want to go to one, I have to hop in a plane. While traveling is fun, it would be great to see the Midwest get some love!

I have created a demand for FlashForward at If you are a member, and interested in getting a FF event in Chicago, go demand it!

Enabling Deep Linking in Flash – Changing my mind on experience sites in general.

I have been developing flash long enough to become jaded in regards to getting sent links to the newest hot Flash sites out there. Big deal. We have seen enough tweens and clever perspective tricks. Integrated video? How 2005. Blurs and dynamic dropshadows. *yawn* Granted, yes, the art is fantastic. The blurring of lines between video effects and Flash is awesome. But, the drawbacks have long been enough for me to say that a site should primarily be built with HTML and only have smatterings of Flash throughout it.

Where does this lack of enthusiasm come from? Partially from the fact that navigating a large monolithic 100% Flash based site is cumbersome. It’s impenetrable by search engines. It’s impossible to bookmark. Sending a URL for a specific screen/scene in a movie to a friend. Fuggeddabouddit.

Anyway… I’m starting to warm to the idea of some of the projects I have going at work because of some great new scripts coming out that allow us to get around some of those issues. The brilliant SWFObject was a great first step in solving the non-standard compliant “” tag issues. It serves up Flash, the alternate content and helps search engines by
providing a bit of meat to latch onto. The even newer SWFAddress is also a fabulous innovation by eschewing the deep linking issues inherent in a 100% Flash site.

I have a couple of projects currently inflight that will be deployed some time this quarter that will be using both of these libraries. I’m excited once again by the prospect of producing a Flash based site for a client. These scripts have freed me from my typical “killjoy” anti-flash stance by helping me be able to produce more accessible multimedia.

From Digg: The Adventures of Fancy Pants Man — Cool Sonic-like flash game

Really cool animation, fun music, great art… All in all a very solid flash game! Lots of fun.

I have built puzzle games, exploratory games, quiz games, side scroller race games, but never a platformer. Maybe I should try one once. Anyone need a platformer game out there? ;-)

I do miss the days of the 2D sidescroller. Hopefully with the Wii’s Virtual Console success we’ll see a resurgence in the old school mechanics of a good ole’ scrolly game.

Bring on the powerups!

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