Flash The Ripper

Life Around Technology

Meet Alternativa Flash Game Platform

I was writing about Alternativa Game project from their very beginning for some time, trying to depict the growth of great project with talented people behind it.

The most recent news about this development are the coolest too: Alternativa Game becomes Alternativa Platform. This happened nearly a month after their meeting with Oddcast, a well-known company in the avatar platforms world. Please find details in the Alternativa blog:

Alternativa Platform
We have guests from Oddcast

UAFPUG – Ukrainian Adobe Flash Platform User Group #1 – done!

We did it. First official meeting of UAFPUG in Kharkiv, Ukraine, 15 March 2008.
Please read the brief reports with a pair of photos from Andriy ‘JabbyPanda’ Panas and Sergey Kovalev (in English  ) Also, there’s some are nice photos of Kharkiv and meeting from Denis ‘mrJazz’ Sheremetov and Roman ‘NoubaSE’ Shuper.

There were 3 speeches at all: “Event Model In AS3″ by Eldar Prilutsky, “FMS2 & What’s New In FMS3″ by Denis Papazoff and “Using PureMVC Framework In The Development Of Map Application” by Rostislav Siryk (it’s me).

I was very happy to host this first meeting in the office of my company, GlobalLogic (ex-Validio Ukraine). A lot of respect to our VP of Software Development Yury Landgraf who very kindly responded to this idea, and to Anastasia Logvinova from our HR department — she helped me a lot regarding organization. And respect for everyone of 45 developers who was there!

Great news! Today, Adobe officially welcomed (in Ukrainian) the UAFPUG (Ukrainian Adobe Flash Platform User Group) to the Adobe?????s User Group Program, putting the UAFPUG details on the Adobe’s official page.

Thank you, Adobe!

As UAFPUG, we’re having the next meeting 15 March, 2008 in Kharkiv (with some sponsorship of my company ????? GlobablLogic Ukraine). There’s 31 members registered already to participate in this meeting and no less than 4 speeches are being prepared.

UAWEB 2008 Online Broadcast, Flex Speech starts at 3:15 PM EET (Kiev, Ukraine time)

First Ukrainian Conference Of Web Developers is being broadcasted. There’s two Flash Platform Speeches:

3:15-3:50 PM EET “RIA in Flex Perspective” by Alexey Zatvornitski and Sergey Kovalev.
[ – cofee-break – ]
4:15-4:50 PM EET “Adobe AIR. Desktop applications for web developers” by Evgen Tyutyunnyk.

Also, there’s an “Silverlight 2.0 At First Sight” speech by Sergey Baydachnuy tomorrow March 28 at 5:30-6:05 PM EET (also, see the full UAWEB 2008 conference agenda). Sorry ??� all in Ukrainian

Flex Elections: vote for Flex bugs to help them disappear

Update: Is this worthy to become a feature request: Old-looking Flex 3 Apps?

Matt Chotin makes a great moment for everyone who want to improve our beloved Flex technology and so put more power in the Flash Platform: today is the Flex Elections day! This means you are unbelievably welcome to vote for any of the Flex Bugs / Features in the Adobe JIRA Flex Bug-tracking System, even for issues with “Deferred” status. Go and help Adobe to help You!

If you’re unsure how to vote for Flex bugs / feature requests, please find details in the Matt’s entry: Vote for Flex Bugs and Feature Requests on Super Tuesday.

// via Ryan Stewart‘s entry on Flex Bugs.

Flex 3 ??� New Cool Apps, But Why They Are Looking So Old?

I think Flex 3 Release version should have a new default theme for flex applications. Below is explanation, why.

Flex 3 is Really Better Than Flex 2, But It Should Be More Evident

I’m in love with Flex 3. Using it from beta to beta, I see how it becomes mature, and how Flex apps performance is growing. A lot of buzz will follow the Flex 3 Release, surely. And there’s a lot of people who saw the Flex 2 and will compare it with Flex 3. I guess a lot of them haven’t followed by the Flex 3 betas, being involved in tight development of their current Flex 2 projects. They expect to see something new and worthy of upgrade in the Flex 3 Release.
Now, they’re looking at the new Flex 3 samples. They’re seeing the coolness, but samples are visually equal to the Flex 2! So, the potential of the quick recognition of new Flex 3 features is decreased by it’s old Flex 2 default theme.

The Power of First Sight

It is all about people’s attention: when you see something familiar, but looking as new, you expect it to work as something new. And, from other hand, when you see something new, but looking too familiar at the first sight, you expect it to be not so new as it could be. Now: when Flex 2 developer looks at the Flex 3 apps with its default skin used, he still sees good old Flex 2 app. He realizes it is Flex 3, but he sees Flex 2. Cognitive conflict? Some say we get 80% of info through the eyes.
The less developers’ recognition of Flex 3 as really new one, the less experiments with Flex 3, the less buzz, the less community growth.

One More Reason: Flex 2 Default Skin is Just Too Old

More than year ago, Flex 2 was released. Two years have gone, but Flex apps default theme look exactly the same. However, graphic design trends aren’t something frozen. Flex RIAs, as cutting edge apps, should not look as they were two years ago. It’s just so… Web 1.9.9 

New Flex 3 Default Theme As a Part of Flex Microevangelism

Good news is that Adobe’s Evangelists already use the new Flex skins in their demos: for example, there’s cool black theme in BlazeBench by James Ward. The same theme is used in the Flex Builder 3 betas, look at welcome screen. Maybe Adobe’s preparing some cool design surprise for the community? I don’t know, but back to the “microevangelism”: I use this term to depict any Flex Evangelization which comes not from Adobe’s evangelists directly, but is spawned by the developers who can even don’t realize it. I mean: each Flex 3 developer putting his new cool Flex 3 application online unintentionally (or not) becomes the microevangelist, right? But: putting experiments online, developers usually don’t care much about their look and feel, functionality comes first, and it is as it should be with experiments. Developers rarely use the non-default skins in their experiments, so taking into account that there’s a huge quantity of simple flex samples made by developers, it is really important for Adobe to force the new look-and-feel of the new Flex 3 samples, which will be spawned over the web shortly after Flex 3 Release. Adobe, just color the seeds of flex and you’ll gather something more explosive than with old theme.

Is It Hard to Make New Default Theme for The Flex 3?

Flex has such powerful skinning mechanism, that there’s a lot of ready-to-use free cool Flex skins. But: if you’re Flex Developer and want to use cool skin, you must 1) Know where to get the skin 2) Download it 3) Apply it. Too many clicks for simple experiments. It seems to be not very hard for Adobe to ship Flex 3 with new default theme pre-installed, right?
Even more cool is the option for the developer to choose theme from the combo-box with 2-3 themes ready. Well, maybe it is hard to make new default theme now… but I dream of it!
Adobe, please don’t miss the opportunity to make greater impact on RIA with not very much of additional effort!

Flex Development with JetBrains IntelliJ IDEA ??� really?

The most recent announcement in the JetBrains IntelliJ IDEA blog describes the advanced Flex development features available in the IDEA 7.0.3 (last version at the moment, you can download it through via the Early Access Program, Selena project).

The IDEA’s Flex development features set includes advanced refactoring, MXML and AS code completions, bottlenecks diagnostics and more ??� please find info in the original blog entry, there’s also the links to the tutorial and sample source files.
Flex support in IDEA is long-awaited feature, and now it seems to be nearly complete.
Question: has anyone tried IDEA 7.0.3 in Flex development, and if you did, what can you say? Even if you didn’t ??� any opinions?

Alternativa Game flies into 2008 on steroids

Game named “Alternativa” goes further in development and quality quickly. Anton Volkov and team not just added some features to the project. Guys are really critical about their results and able to make BIG changes in their own 3D game engine. Their recent dynamic BSP-tree implementation is made with aim to optimize 3D scene objects sorting by depth and visibility regarding camera. This is really much more quick than the previous version! BTW, this is version 5.0 of the engine.

Then they implemented normal mapping to get their 3D surfaces curved and their sprites lighted in 3D(!); Their mos recent update at the moment is the parallax effect.

Wish Alternativa Game to become the Game of 2008. And God bless your servers!

AIRApps.net became O2Apps.com. Wish them a bit of traffic!

The contest for the best new name for AIRApps is finished. Congrats to the Mr. Mike Hays of SOHOS Network ??� he got the Adobe CS3 Master Collection as a prize! He suggested the best new name which is O2apps.com (I shouldn’t have propose O2Apps.net!  )

So, AIRApps.net is now O2Apps.com. Go to the new domain, feel comfortable: all your credentials and data are kept the same excluding the domain name. The site design is updated: it was red with bit of jpeg artifacts, it is blue and clear now.

I wonder how easy they transfered the whole big and complex site to the new domain. This means that system design was close to perfect, right?

Google makes love to Flex with its SearchMash application

Google rolled out the Flex version of its SearchMash, which was already mentioned not only by Adobeans (Ryan Stewart, Mike Potter, James Ward) but by so popular TechCrunch too. The good recognition of Flash Platform opportunities.

I’m thinking about motivation behind Google’s playing with Flex. The strong points of Flex technology (SearchMash is developed in) is big set of ready-to-use UI components (=fast application prototyping), high debugging capabilities, compile-time error checking, strong variable typing and overall proximity of ActionScript3 language to the latest ECMAScript implementation, which brings AS3 far towards the best practices of architecture and coding. Javascript2 will have set of new features in future, while many of them are already well-implemented in AS3, today. So, making AS3 application, Google might foresees the upcoming JS2 in Firefox 3/4.

Moreover, Tamarin project brings both AS and JS languages even closer together, so implementing SearchMash today in AS3/Flash might make future migration to the Javascript3 easier.

Flickr loves Flash: crossdomain.xml finally added to the Flickr Image Server

Bored using proxies to get images from Flickr? Troubles no more. Flickr added crossdomain.xml to their Image Server to make life of Flash Platform Developers easier. The files are located here:

  • http://static.flickr.com/crossdomain.xml
  • http://farm2.static.flickr.com/crossdomain.xml

Now your BitmapData can access any part of any Flickr image.

Follow the details at the Yahoo! Flash Blog: Flickr Now Even More Flash-friendly. There’s also a flash illustration of extra benefits which this update brings to processing Flickr images with high quality. Thank you Yahoo Flash Team and Flickr Friendly team too!

And, as I’ve heard through the grapevine recently, Google is going to add crossdomain.xml to the Google Maps. Are there any details on this lovely new feature, or this is old news already?

Meet the FDJ: Flex Developer’s Journal at flex.SYS-CON.com

Now Flex Developers have the whole Flex Developer’s Journal section and corresponding top-level menu at the famous SYS-CON Media website. It is just the top level menu item between the “WEB2.0″ and “LINUX” ones. Weeeeehooooo!

Transmit all your positive waves toward the Yakov Fain. He’s a Editor-in-Chief of this whole great new section.

And a lot of respect goes to the other authors who published numerous advanced Flex Articles at SYS-CON before and thanks to Yakov again for his strong efforts in growing this new FLEX SYS-CON trend, bringing it really alive and providing massive help to talented Flex experts in publishing their articles, e.g. Advanced Ant for Adobe Flex Projects (How to use Ant to automate HTML wrappers creation and more) by Konstantin Kovalev.

Also, Yakov is the co-author of one of the best Flex Development Books ever — you know.

New FDJ authors are invided – read Yakov’s Message From the Editor-in-Chief of Flex Developer’s Journal for details.

God, save the Flex.

Cannot create the database because MKSS.EXE could not be located – Visual SourceSafe says when you try to create the new database but Administrative Tools was not set up during custom install

Such error I’ve got today when tried to create the VSS database for one of my projects, at the very last step of database creation wizard. As for me, this is pretty unfriendly behavior: application should warn me of such issues at the very first step, not just give me a poor error window at the very last one, despite the fact there’s not vary much steps in “Create new database” wizard at all.

Sometimes I use Miscrosoft Visual SourceSafe when working with .NET developers at the same projects or project requirements imply the usage of VSS.

Last time I used VSS pretty far ago, nearly two years. Today I installed it again to store the project’s files in the VSS database. Usually I’ve been accessing the database created earlier by other developer or by admin, so I’ve never installed “Administrative Tools” with VSS when performed a custom install. This time, I should have create the databese by myself and when I’ve tried to do so, the “Cannot create the database because MKSS.EXE could not be located” error appeared at the very last step of the process, when I pressed the “Finish” button.

I’ve googled for the exact phrase made from error text, and found no results. This is strange. Is it only me who got such error at all? Then I googled just for “MKSS.EXE” and found “How To Create a New Database in Visual SourceSafe” article from Microsoft. Mkss.exe should be located in the Win32 directory in Visual SourceSafe – there was stated. So I suggested “Administrative Tools” when performing custom install is needed, run setup.exe from VSS distributive folder again, selected “Add or remove features”, then checked “Administrative Tools” and that’s all. Then succesfully created the database.

Happy end, but it would be much better to have more friendly workflow and help in such situations.

New Online 3D Alternativa Game – in development, but very promising

Meet the Alternativa Game Blog ??� regular news from the developers team of upcoming flash 3D online game.

Suprise: reasonably or not, they do not use Papervision3D developing their own engine because it is heavily optimized for the game needs as they said. They develop unique approaches like texture lighting with highlights, texture objects and even its own 3D editor (hello, Google SketchUp). There also advanced shading tricks like special corners processing ??� you can see the more dark shadows in the corners in action here as well as other abovementioned stuff.

Also, there’s a lot of already created custom game interactive objects like TV, phone, photocamera, watches, newspaper, and more ??� check the Alternativa Game project’s blog, you will see a lot of demos there. Pretty promising and good already. Also, they may release their game 3d engine as public later.

How to define your own global function in as3

It is very easy. However, I’ve found no info on this topic in the web. I wonder why? First answer: everyone knows how to define the top-level function in AS3 so no-one even drops a line about such obvious thing. Second answer: my search strategy is wrong. Anyway, the approach to your own global functions in Flash9 is really simple, just two steps for those who still miss this feature.

To define your own top-level function (for example, “myTrace“) in AS3:

1. Create the file named “myTrace.as” in the root of your classpath directory.
2. Add the following code and save it:

package {
	public static function myTrace(strToTrace:String)
		trace("myTrace says: " + strToTrace);

3. That’s all.
Now your myTrace function is the top-level one. It is visible from ANY of your AS3 classes with NO imports. No hacks. You can call it “global method in AS3″ or “top-level function in AS3″ or whatever you like. This is amazing and I wonder why no one even blogged a line about such simple and great solution except the Miramax at as3.ru. Am I missing something evident here? Feeling like complete n00b.

Firefox search plugins for Flex 2, Flex 3, Actionscript 3 LiveDocs and Adobe Labs. And great news: Yahoo! just announced its Flash Platform Team

These Firefox search plug-ins provide Flex & Flash developers not only fastest but the most clever search by ActionScript 3, Flex 2, Flex 3 LiveDocs, Adobe Labs and Flash documentation because of Google engine is used. Install with one click:

  1.  Install ActionScript 3 LiveDocs Firefox search plug-in.
  2.  Install Flex 2 LiveDocs search plug-in.
  3.  Install Flex 3 LiveDocs Firefox search plug-in.
  4.  Install Adobe Labs search plug-in.

Today’s the great day. Sun is shining, I slept for two hours because of Gmail  Threadless, wake up and read that Yahoo! announces its Flash Platform Team!

P.S. After I created and published these pluginsI’ve found that Alessandro Crugnola has made cool Flash/Flex Firefox Search Plugins already, and even proposed a cool approach of searching for flash docs with Google Suggest.

Why I wasn’t sleeping for the last 2 nights? Because Gmail loves Threadless and I want my iPhone!

So I submitted a tee shirt designs to be voted in the Gmail Gmail Loves Threadless Tee Contest Threadless and hopefully printed. Here are my tees:

And my wife ones:

If I get enough high scores the shirt will be printed and sold from the site and I will win some prizes including iPhone. Take a look at it and if you like it, sign up and give it a score.

BTW, Threadless has a lot of really quite cool tees created by the really talented people. So surely you can find some good for you there!

White hat SEO for Flash Platform, or how to make your cool new Flex app search engine friendly — article by Josh Tynjala

Semantic data, content and any other text elements of your Flex application are hidden from search engines by default. Bad. Users should be able to find your app by its data ????? because actually your application does contain the data, despite the fact Google can’t find it inside. So, if you want your great application to be search-able, it is up to you to provide the way for Google.

So ????? how to allow you Flex product entering the Pleroma of happy SERP creatures?

Josh Tynjala of Yahoo! Flash Platform in his recent article “How to make your hot new RIA friendly to search engines” describes an approach based on XML + XSL transformation, which was applied by Ted Patrick in his Flex Directory – a comprehensive list of firms who does Flex development. It works.

Straight and clear idea: provide raw text data (XML) to the search engine, and make it user-candy (did I made this word up?) with XSL transformation. So, Google’s spiders will get their texts and browsers will get their user interfaces built on the same texts ????? all honest, search friendly and flexible.

While this idea is still not widely used, Flash / Flex developers who will apply it right now will benefit from it much more than those who will apply it a year later.

What do you think ????? maybe this is good idea to create a corresponding template for Flex Builder to make it even easier?

Release the spiders!

HD TV and MPEG-4 go web on behalf of Flash Player 9

So, now our lovely Flash Player will support HD TV, MPEG-4, QuickTime, hardware acceleration and multi-core processors. As well as Adobe Media Player and Adobe AIR applications will do. There’s a lot of info wrote about these great news of the decade. Follow it:

  • Ryan Stewart: The H.264 Announcement in Black and White
  • Aral Balkan: Full FAQ on Adobe Flash Player H.264 video support.
  • Adobe Press Release: “HDTV Quality Web Video Reaches the Masses with Industry Standard Video Codec in Flash Player“.

Web goes TV.

Flex VoIP: closer and closer to the domination

Front edge of Flash Platform-based VoIP, Ribbit Phone Flex Component: make and receive calls, record/send and receive voicemail, as well as add and manage contacts.

Brief history of Voice over the Internet made with Flash:

  • May 14, 2006
    GTalkr, a web-based GTalk client was bought by Google
  • September 25, 2006
    Adobe said to be creating VoIP Flash team
  • January 1, 2007
    Flex/Flash Player Based VoIP Application – GizmoCall
  • August 17th, 2007
    Ribbit Phone rings true at 360 Flex conference

Now Flex Developers can sign up for the pre release of Ribbit Phone to be part of the first ones to work with this Flex VoIP technology.