Adobe Flash and HTML5 – are we happy?

Days have passed, and I have deliberately not commented that much on the debate that has raged the net since Adobe Systems announced, that they wouldn’t continue the mobile Flash Player. What I have done, was observing the different phases of emotion that users where sharing with the rest of us. I saw mainly 3 categories: 1. Those who wan’t Flash dead yesterday, and didn’t think that this was one day too early. 2. Those who thought that this was the end of the World as we know it, and everything now turns to darker times (scenes with polluted cities and numb faceless people dragging them self around next to grey walls pops into my mind). 3. People with everything has it’s time – let’s see if it isn’t best for both part – sort of people. Let me first comment a bit on all three:

1. The “HA-HA. Dead by HTML5″-people

A lot of these people do not like Flash – no matter what it does … it is just pure evil. Some may have the program to crash their machine – other may just have heard of people who has a crash on their machine while Flash was installed. This group have made a choice not to support the platform on their device – or at all. If they have an iOS system, the choice is taken for them – they cannot decide for themselves. They see blank spots on websites, and think that the Internet should adapt to their needs and limitations (like iOS ever would the other way around) :-) The other part of the group are praising the open standards, and think that proprietary plug-ins are a bad thing – the Internet should be free, and no one should take ownership of any part of the experiences presented.

2. The “End of the world”-people

Well, Adobe did an awful job, communicating this announcement, and people just shimmed and was something like “OK, let’s see: Adobe announces … etc. etc. … Flash Pl… … Mobile … Discontinue … etc. etc. … Open  Web … Webkit … HTML5 ”

… AARRRRGH. Flash is dead. HTML5 killed it. Uuuh, Steve Jobs, you son of a #¤%#%& – are you happy now!! The next Apple fanboy that comes around, better be sorry or I’ll …

Well, maybe not that crazy, but a few words, where enough to make them go crazy, instead of rational thought of what their own mobile habits where. When we read what is gone, we also need to sum up, what is left. This has to be taken to a higher point of view, to understand the purposes (as I see them)

When Flash isn’t on mobile browsers, then whats next – desktop? … Linux? (oh, already) … AIR? … Illustrator and Photoshop?! Fact was, that the most recent Flash player on mobile browsers actually performed quite well on newer smartphones, so why? We wan’t the whole web. Everybody want the whole web – or do we?

3. The “Let’s see if it’s not for the best”-people

This group, have a habit of taking announcements up for consideration, and think of consequences and reasons for a given action. They may have various reasons for being in this group, but it could be something like: “I am not browsing that much on my phone – mostly searching information”, “I’m more into Apps”, “Drop all the fancy stuff, and give me some battery time back” or “HTML5 can do a lot of Flashy looking stuff – why not use that instead”.

A change in plans

When the iPhone came around, there was no Flash Player, that could stand up for The Jobs … so he turned it down. Having great interest in the Canvas-tag (read, previously patent, AFAIK), he thought that this was a better solution. Flash would lead to a poorer experience – how true that was. What he forgot to tell was, that it probably wasn’t solely a problem for the plug-in, but more a problem of bringing all the advanced stuff into a tiny phone with a tiny battery. You didn’t hear him say: “But that tends to be a general problem. We cannot do that with HTML5, either!” The fact was, that the advanced features of the Flash Player just didn’t fit well in these first generations of devices (both Android and iOS). Adobe thought that the “code once and deliver everywhere” should be adhered. They ported it to Android, that is more open than iOS and allows people to develop to the browser.

iOS on the other hand, had great success with the walled garden, and the term I call “iWay, or the highway”. In this closed ecosystem, things are taken care of for you, and you should have trouble doing all the things a computer should do … just what people wanted. Installation and removing Apps is easy … we actually think, that it cleans up, after itself, when we delete the App :-) Icons and folders for tools and games. Why go to the web to search for a recipe or play a game, when you can install and access it right on the phone – why use a browser for that, and remember URL’s etc.

Adobe was wrong, and realized it

Adobe kept trying to fulfill the promise of the full web, and code once and deliver everywhere. Apple said, they had the full web experience on iOS, ignoring the fact that it wasn’t true. And while the battle raged, and the fanboys where mooning each other, the normal users started to adapt and use the technology on it’s own premises.

Even though the possibility was there, no one created mobile specific solutions in Flash. You just couldn’t scale a website down to a little screen and bring the same experience from desktop to phone – Flash Player is a media container like video and images. It has a hard time, reflowing text or layout, when the browser size changes. When a demanding webpage finally came around, it was so FWA-like that it would pop out the battery from the back-cover on my device.

On the other hand, the user was downloading and shopping Apps in an extends hard to imagine. It was so easy to link to AppStore or Android Market from a website, and install directly on the phone. I have the feeling that a lot of users found it as an improvement to download an App from the site, to get some dedicated time with the content even after they have left the webpage.

The device isn’t ready

Flash has always been a plug-in for HTML and browsers. Images and video are easy to relate to HTML, but Flash is a bit harder. The main purpose of Flash is to take the user to experiences, the HTML can’t go. When HTML stops, Flash player is supposed to take over and deliver a media container, showing what’s really possible … but it is just a square on a web page. The demand for more and more sophisticated pages has previously driven HTML into the shadow, and made complete Flash-driven pages a viable solution, when trying to impress clients and end users.

Fact is: Devices sucks at that. Most devices can’t even handle HTML5 and canvas that well, and if we have a technology, that have more than enough to do with HTML in its newest revision, then there is no need for a “I’ll take over from here”-plugin like Flash.

Realizing that users didn’t used the browser on their mobile device for advanced content, but rather downloaded Apps, is for me a breaking point. Some tend to say that it was Steve Jobs, and his famous letter on Flash and his thoughts about it, that did the job. To some extend that may be right – not because he said it, but because his disciples kept preaching it as a gospel every time e person pushed the button. I think the main reason is that Apps came on strong, and users didn’t wan’t these complex operations in a floating window … not when it was performing like it did. Everything with App was fast and smooth, but the same experience on the net was not. I am convinced that we will not see any complex HTML5 solutions in browsers, before we have a completely new generation of devices in our hand.

fAIR solution

That leaves the net to HTML, and with HTML5 it has just brought more possibilities to the developers. Flash player is out of the browser (for some time at least) because it has nothing to do there. Flash Player 11.x is still there, so there will be plenty of possibilities for targeting mobile users in the future – don’t worry. But Adobe is taking Flash to places, where HTML5 cant go (at least not easily). The only place that can be done is on computers, that has more processing power, and a power cord, and to mobiles native applications. Only there, can Flash tap into the hardware that is needed to deliver great performance.

AIR is what’s taking care of that, and I think that it has a few advantages. If you target iOS native you are using Objective-C. If you are targeting Android, you are using Java. No developer on any of these platforms are able to deliver to the other side. AIR comes with the APPS-neutral AS3 language, that can be compiled to native Apps for both Android and iOS, and it is more and more important to support a wide range of platforms as the market shares levels out. Performance are better in native code, but I am pretty sure, that is a main focus for Adobe in the future.

Are we gonna play, or what?

games are another main aspect, that I see Adobe pays attention to. With the new 3D-capabilities and export functionality from Unity and other, I see browser based games on desktops as an interesting way to go. The way we play on a computer, is far from the way we entertain our self on a device – they cannot be matched. It is therefore Adobe is trying to make a plugin, that make games, independent on machine or browser, so you can develop a game, and make sure that all desktops can play it. How many games in HTML5 aren’t available, that only plays in Chrome or Safari etc. … I don’t think the browser war is ever gonna stop on that platform. When the player can utilize gamepads and joysticks, I think that we are going to see interesting games … and event sites, and company pages, that takes it to the max, and wouldn’t play on a desktop anyway.

Conclusion

I think that Adobes step is probably a way to “code once and deliver everywhere”. When Creative Suite next revision arrives (the six-pack) I think we will see Flash Professional, that takes the timeline and possibilities around that, and enables it to be converted to HTML5 – if that succeed, then what’s the harm. I mean, is it the player or the possibilities, that are most important. Then we will go way high on 3D and native App performance, and Flash as a platform is able to live on. Using HTML5 for mobile may be the only solution to “publish everywhere” in a non-plugin-browser-world.

I think that Adobe made a wise choice in taking the Flash Player out of market for a while. That can take all the browser Ads to HTML and get the devices to mature to a point, where there is more in the devices, that HTML5 can deliver. In the meantime Adobe can try to incorporate elements to HTML, that makes it easier to publish from Flash to HTML – CSS Shaders is a sign in that direction.

It all comes down to looking at behaviors, and identify objective, non-favored points of direction in them. I think that Adobe shifting focus here, is not a sign of weakness, but actually a sign of adapting to the users need – some companies could probably learn from that. Their skills in communicating, what I just tried here, is a completely different story. I am not saying, I do a great job here, but I know that Adobe didn’t.


Flash Platform is dead. Long live the Flash Platform

Adobe MAX has this year been an interesting and epic experience, in many ways. We have seen Adobe doing a lot of progress on the HTML5 platform, and no critiques can come and say, that they are trying to limit it’s possibilities in an attempt to favor Flash. Seing programs like Adobe Edge and Adobe Muse, shows a bright future for users, that are not tech-savy – bringing them new tools to make dynamic and interesting sites using web standards.

Some will say, that Flash is thereby obsolete. They may even use the “Flash-killer” word, but in my opinion that tells me more about there insight and knowledge about the platforms responsibilities, than HTML5 is superior when it comes to the sites of the future. HTML has always had the responsibility of bringing webpages to the user via the browser. The Flash Player has always been a plug-in, that made it possible to satisfy users demands in terms of interactivity, video etc. and complemented HTML, where it wasn’t sufficient. Now with HTML5, nothing has changed there.

The Flash Platform is dead

I will bring some love to new new HTML5 features in another post, but let me dvelve a bit on the head line. When I say, Flash is dead, I actually mean, the previous well known (and hated) use of the Flash Player is dead. Using Flash to make complete sites with the need of seekable information, and “efferent reading” has to stop. The small banners that pops up, with no reason at all, has to stop. If that is what you have used Flash  to produce, you should seriously consider broaden your mind – we have HTML for that, now. When it comes to aesthetic reading, engaging and entertaining the user. When it comes to breaking the boundaries, and search for new possibilities in what the web and devices can deliver, please continue. Flash has never intended to kill HTML, it depends on it. But the misuse  of technology from developers (myself included, from time to time) has given the technology a bad name.

Long live the Flash Platform

Fortunately, the platform is strong and very much alive, and the latest version of Adobe AIR and Flash Player brings signs of a bright future. When I discuss the topic with developers, they actually do not have a clear answer, when it comes to compatibility across multiple devices. Native Android developers, can’t enter en iOS sphere, and Xcode developers are forever doomed to live in the walled garden. Both of them, can only argue, that the other should join them … why not give the user a choice. I think that the Flash Platform is one of the best attempt to actually be agnostic in terms of platforms. I think it’s time to look at some of the features I find interesting

64-bit support

I don’t know what took them so long, actually. I am not aware of the complications that are involved in making 64-bit versions of software. I guess there must have been internal complications regarding codecs or other 32-bit stuff not yet upgraded or just the fact that making a 64-bit version of the AVM or the like isn’t a walk in the park. Anyway, now it’s available and works like a charm in my 64-bit version of Internet Explorer as well as my other browsers on both Windows and Mac OS. I haven’t tried the Linux version, but I haven’t heard anyone with complaints. Please post your experiences with performance, if you are a Linux user.

Captive runtime

Captive Runtime is captivating :-) Now developers have the choice to embed the AIR 3 runtime in the App, so people no longer need them as an external download. That, of course, brings a larger file to the devices, and it is therefore not just something you would do in all cases. In larger projects, and definitely on desktops, that seems like an obvious choice.

You can read about Captive runtime at http://www.adobe.com/devnet/air/articles/air3-install-and-deployment-options.html

Accelerated 2D

Flash is all about experiences. There is no need to use Flash, if you don’t wan’t to engage the users. If you just have some plain information to present, there is no need to roll out the big canons. The Flash Player is a plug-in that takes over, when the other give up, and can’t deliver – at least not with an economically reasonable solution. It is the easiest way to make impressive visual results, that works on all major platforms. Because of that, it is also a very demanding job, that takes a lot of processing power. With Flash Player 11 and AIR 3, Adobe has made it possible to port most of the calculations to the graphic card, so the processor is free to other tasks. That increases the performance immensely, all the previous examples (like those on http://www.bytearray.org/?p=3371) would have made the fan fly out of my MacBook Pro after 4 seconds … now there is silence.

One of the most prominent examples are the Starling Framework. Starling is very intuitive, and use well known word like Sprite and addChild() and genrally build upon the concept of the Display List.

To get this performance boost, Flash takes advantage of Stage 3D, and that is only available for desktops at the moment. Adobe is working hard to implement it in the mobile version, but Android have to wait until a later update. That also means, that we are in a time, where some content actually can’t be played on mobile, even though they are at the same player level … that’s not good, but hopefully sorted out in a near future.

JSON

Everybody is talking about JSON these days, and for a reason. The format makes it possible to exchange data in a readable way using a JavaScript like syntax. Both JavaScript and ActionScript 3.0 derives from the same standard, making it easier to work with and understand for some, in contrast to the XML language. You have always been able to read JSON into a Flash document, but the internal support makes is consistant and faster to get the data ready for use. Actually, we are are talking one line here to get it all parsed.

Adobe MAX gave a sneak at the next version of Flash (codename Reuben) that exported a sprite sheet of a characters walking cycle. That shows something about JSON as a serious and integrated way of making 2D games and motion in the years to come.

Stage 3D

When Flash introduced the ability to work with z-coordinates and move 2D objects in a 3D space (in CS4 i guess) the crowd went wild – everybody was happy. Then they realized, that i actually wasn’t as good as real 3D, and the need for manipulating real 3D objects was on the rise again. When Adobe released the first previews of Flash Player 11, it was jaw dropping. Thibault showed a red car driving around in a virtual street, and no one in the room could believe their eyes. But it was real, and with the release, they showed Unreal Tournament 3 from Epic Games, running in a browser.

That tells me, that the Flash Player has taken it’s responsability as a plug-in serious, and goes for the balls, that HTML5 has a hard time to catch. I am sure we are going to see web experiences in the years to come, that we had a hard time to imagine only a year ago. On top of Stage 3D’s low level API a range of external companies has build frameworks for us to use. Some of the well known are Alternativa, Flare3D and Away 3D. Of course you could dive into the low API, but the other way around is much easier for normal developers and designers.

Aside from that, there is a project called Proscenium on Adobe Labs, that is a code library used to acces the low-level API, to easely create 3D content in Flash Player 11.

Read more about the wonderful world of Stage 3D at http://www.adobe.com/devnet/flashplayer/stage3d.html

Native Extensions

On the mobile platform, there is a constant demand for speed and integration with the system. Native tools like Xcode and Android SDK has an advantage over runtimes like AIR, in that they have full control over the system. AIR isn’t able to access the inner workings of the mobile platform, so you could not access the local API. AIR it self is making progress, like native keyboard on devices and frontface camera access, but the big leap forward here is Native Extensions. Now you can program an extension to AIR in the native language of the device, and AIR is then able to attach to it and communicate with it. There has already been examples of Map View on iOS and connection to Kinect controller without a proxy. I haven’t tried native extensions in myself, but it seems like it’s going to be a big deal if it runs smoothly.

Content Protection

I love the way that HTML5 has taken websites seriously again. I like the easy way, that video is treated. If all browsers could agree on the codec, it could end up as a good solution. The problem is that there is no protection embedded with the video. You could just copy the link and download the movie. Many content providers aren’t that happy about that. There are solutions to solve that, but I sense that they are moving away from the clean HTML5 solution. Flash and AIR has build in Flash Access that secures the content. Initially it only works with desktop and Android, and I guess that the way into Apples heart is a bit longer :-)

Heal the Web, make it a better place

This is just some of the news. You can read more at the Flash Player 11 feature page and the AIR 3 feature page. This is an epic release, that will mark the start of a new era – the 3D era. We will se browsers taking HTML5 to the max, and transitions like fade and slide, will be everyday for the common designer. But when the smoke disappears, the need to do the extraordinary will emerge – this is where Flash kicks in. Flash Player will fulfill it’s role as the plug-in, that helps HTML getting things done. AIR is taking a different path down the mobile path. It is an interesting path, but it is not quite there yet. It is there in terms of being able to deliver a more than decent result on various devices, but the “works on Android, soon on iPhone” makes it not quite stable yet. It will be, hopefully soon.

I think that this release, shows that there is a world, where both technologies can live in harmony – and truly believe they will. We haven’t talked about topics like all the Smart TVs that supports the platform. We have only briefly talked about Epic Games, but Unity has also shown support to deliver on Stage3D. Aside from that, there is the Open Screen Project, that count a broad range of manufacturers , interested in making a common platform for Rich Internet Applications end experiences.

I know that the Flash Player aren’t allowed on iOS – well no plug-ins are, no harm there … but AIR are. AIR, may end up being a long term solution, if they fix the minor incompatibility. Flash Player is now a solid 64-bit plug-in, and yes – everybody is trying to find exploits and security breaches on it, but then again. It is on a lot of machines, end therefore a perfect target, across platforms. Adobe should be on it’s toes to close these security issues and gain trust in the platform, and then – when iOS settles at a reasonable level, the market will decide if users with the plug-in is more interesting than those without.

… only time will tell.


Calling a function dynamically in ActionScript 3.0

Have you ever wondered, how you could use a String to decide, which function to be called. You could go so far to let the user enter the function name in an input field and call a function by that name, if it exists.

I have made a short article with an example on how that is done in Flash and ActionScript 3.0. You can read the article at http://www.hjaelpmignu.dk/content/dynamic-call-functions


Næste Flash Player har fokus på 3D

En kort opdatering – eller rettere en teaser for, hvad den næste version af Flash Player’en kommer til at indeholde. Hvis rygterne rundt omkring på nettet taler sandt, og det du kan søge dig frem til står for troende, så vil MAX 2010 give noget særligt, til dem der er interesseret i at udvikle spil eller andre applikationer, der udnytter alle tre dimensioner.

Det hele startede (tror jeg) med at Thibault Imbert, der er Product Manager på Flash Playeren skrev følgende tweet

Hvis du kigger på MAX online kalender under http://max.adobe.com/schedule/by-session/flash-player-3d-future/ae6f2190-c17a-4411-9e20-44a135e340b0 vil du se et indlæg om næste generation af en 3D API. Ordlyden er:

Join Sebastian Marketsmueller, Adobe Flash Player engineer, for a deep dive into the next-generation 3D API coming in a future version of Flash Player. Marketsmueller will unveil exciting new APIs and demos never shown before, including some exclusive content you cannot miss as a Flash Platform developer.

Efterfølgende uddyber Thibault på sin side. Uddyber og uddyber – det er måske så meget sagt. Men han skærper helt sikkert interessen. Andre sites som http://templatereactor.com/blog/3d-api-for-the-flash-player.html fulgte kort efter. Rygterne strækker sig langt, og kommentarfeltet fanger mange af dem – helt til Unity og Flash integration af en slags.

Set i lyset af de nye muligheder for at udvikle applikationer til iPhone med Flash udviklingsværktøjer, bliver det helt sikkert interessant, hvad der diskes op med. En ting er sikkert – der skal også diskes op med nogle hastighedsforbedringer, hvis det rigtig skal rykke :-)

Der er vel ikke andet at sige end: “Glæder mig til slutningen af oktober!” :-)


Apple bøjer sig for presset … måske.

En “hvad sagde jeg oplevelse” kom til mig her til formiddag efter at have læst Apples statement fra igår. De meget omtalte section 3.3.1 og 3.3.2 fra deres “Review Guidelines” bliver lempet igen, så du nu kan bruge 3de parts programmer til at udvikle til iPhone og iPad. Hvem husker ikke den dag i starten af april, hvor Apple bekendtgjorde følgende:

3.3.1 — Applications may only use Documented APIs in the manner prescribed by Apple and must not use or call any private APIs. Applications must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++, or JavaScript as executed by the iPhone OS WebKit engine, and only code written in C, C++, and Objective-C may compile and directly link against the Documented APIs (e.g., Applications that link to Documented APIs through an intermediary translation or compatibility layer or tool are prohibited).

Dette fjernede effektivt muligheden for at andre værktøjer end C-familiens udviklingsværktøjer, med direkte tilgang til en provisioning profile, at kunne indsende applikationer til godkendelse. Det er nu ændret tilbage til den “gode gamle”:

3.3.1 Applications may only use Documented APIs in the manner prescribed by Apple and
must not use or call any private APIs.

Rygter og udmeldinger om dispensation fra enkelte udbydere og problemer med større spilfirmaer, der ikke kunne leve op til aftalen, fik beslutningen til at ryste lidt fra starten af. Større udviklere valgte også at forlade platformen, hvilket ikke bidrog til fornuften i ændringen. I den nylige, men hurtigt udbredte Android-platform var den forrige stramning et lock-in forsøg på udviklere for at “tvinge” dem til at bruge x-code til at udvikle på. Var det lykkedes havde det også været en god strategi. IPhone var blevet den altdominerende platform og alle udviklere sad på en Mac og skrev Objective-C. Verden udviklede sig dog lidt anderledes, og Android har sendt iPhones markedsandel ned på en fjerde plads i 2Q 2010. Set i lyset af and Symbian og RIM er et lidt andet segment, og Android og iPhone er de eneste (eller vigtigste) kombetanter, er det selvfølgelig en interessant drejning.

En yderligere problematisering er, at der er mange producenter af Android telefoner og tablets, og nogle overgår iPhone/iPad i specs. Dette gør valget af telefon mere bred og andre parametre end “iPhone vs. skodPhone” kommer i spil. Udviklere vil helst være på den platform som der er flest brugere til, og så brede sig ud og supportere andre platforme, efterhånden som der er økonomi.

Som tingene har været ind til nu, har man haft et relativt isoleret udviklingsmiljø til iPhone/iPad og et andet til Android-platformen. Nu hvor restriktionerne forsvinder er der mulighed for at der kan laves en fælles platform, der virker hen over platformene. I en lykkelig verden kan man udvikle til mobile enheder og håndtere, hvilken enhed der er tale om i distributionen … der er lang vej endnu, men vi er på vej :-)

Adobe, der med Flash CS5 leverede et værktøj til at kompilere Flash-dokumenter til iPhone er selvfølgelig mere end normalt begejstret for denne nyhed. Som det står i deres blog har de allerede hørt om udviklere, der har fået applikationer godkendt.

Det er dog vigtigt at pointere at det stadig ikke er muligt at se swf-filer i Safari-browseren på iPhone. Skyfire, prøver at få en browser igennem, der kan vise flash-video, men ingen reelle forsøg på at få Flash Player 10.1 til iPhone endnu. Sålænge Apple ikke står på denne liste, eller i hvertfald forholder sig til den, kommer det nok heller ikke til at ske. Et andet alternativ er at iPhone for en markant mindre markedsandel, hvilket vil gøre at de må trække yderligere i land – det kan kun fremtiden vise.

Indtil da må vi glæde os over at knappen i Flash CS5 der opretter et iPhone projekt, nu rent faktisk vil kunne få pustet liv i sig, når den bliver sendt til App Store. Det bliver en spændende tid, nu hvor Adobe aktivt vil udvikle mod iPhone-platformen igen.


Foundation Flah CS5 for Designers : Boganmeldelse

Titel: Foundation Flash CS5 for designers

 Sider: 847

Forfatter: Tom Green og Diago Dias

Udgiver: friends of ED

Genre: Flash

ISBN:
ISBN: 978-1-4302-2994-0

Introduktion

Flash er for hver version blevet mere og mere omfattende at sætte sig ind i. Nye brugere af programmet, bliver begejstret for mulighederne de har set det byde på, når de har bevæget sig rundt på nettet, for derefter at gå i stå, når de fornemmer kompleksiteten og det arbejde det kræver at lave virkelig flotte sites. Problemet er at det kræver indsigt i ActionScript 3.0 – en indsigt, som designere enten ikke kan eller vil forholde sig til. Denne bog tager problematikken alvorligt og gør et reelt forsøg på, i et vist omfang, at gøre ActionScript til en del af designerens værktøj 

Omfang og layout

Nu kan jeg ikke lige på stående fod genkalde de tidligere udgaver af denne bog, da jeg ikke sidder med dem i skrivende stund. Men jeg kan i hvert fald klart fornemme at der er kommet mere tyngde i denne CS5-udgave af serien. Over 800 sider, der ikke bare er brugt til helsidesopslag, men til at forklare koncepter og principper bag værktøjerne og mulighederne. Når man har set bøger i farver, er det lidt trist med disse sort/hvide bøger, men omvendt vil det også være en markant fordyrende ændring som jeg sagtens kan forstå bliver nedprioriteret.

I starten forekom den mig lidt svævende, uden en fast stil, men den kom hurtigt i sporet og gav mig ikke nogen større problemer i forhold til pædagogiken, senere hen.

Tone og pædagogik

Tonen i bogen er lidt og humoristisk, men der bliver lagt meget energi i at forklare. Det giver værdi for nye såvel som øvede Flash Designere. Specielt kapitlerne om video- og lydkomprimering viser en forståelse for at ville forklare hvad der ligger til grund for det man skal til at lære.

Billeder, Illustrationer osv

Det er tydeligt, at der ikke bliver brugt energi på bogen layout. Det er den type bøger med et sæt retningslinjer for hvordan kode, menukommandoer og genveje skal skrives, for derefter at løbe ud af bane 14, med billeder mellem tekstlinjerne. Infobokse i ren budfarve med en tynd streg omkring osv. Ingen symboler for “tips” og “husk” bokse. Jeg blev lidt irriteret over det, da jeg bladrede igennem, men bogens indhold fik mig til at glemme meget af min indledende kritik – menkøn er den ikke.

Indhold

Indholdet i denne bog, er nok det mest ambitiøse jeg har set i en bog myndet på designere. De 15 kapitler starter med en gennemgang af programmet, fortæller om tegning og deco-tool, for derefter at pakke det i symboler og forklare om disse. I kapitel 4 tages der hul på ActionScript. Her er det springende punkt, hvor designeren virkelig skal tage sig tid til at prøve at forstå koncepterne. Jeg synes det er fantastisk at forfatterne tager fat om nældens rod og introducerer begreberne på en meget spiselig måde. Fra kapitel 5 og fremefter er ActionScript en integreret del af bogen, og der forklares hvordan lyd, video, 3D, tekst og animation bruges via programmets egne værktøjer og kommandoer, men også hvordan du kan tilgå dem via ActionScript.

Mod slutningen introduceres XML og CSS og der åbnes for nogle reelle projekter, nemlig MP3-afspiller, XML galleri osv. – reelle eksempler, som der ikke har været så mange af op til. Bogen slutter af med mulighederne for at publicere og optimere dit projekt til nettet eller mobile enheder og der gennemgås også et projekt der bliver afviklet på Android telefoner via en AIR fil.

Afslutning

Jeg havde stor fornøjelse af at læse bogen, og vil helt sikker dykke ned i den igen og referere til den i min undervisning. Jeg vil ikke anbefale den til helt nye designere, der ikke er computervante, da den tager lidt for store skridt i forhold til dem. Til gengæld vil jeg helt sikkert mene at en designer der har lidt flair for det tekniske vil kunne flytte sig langt efter at have læst bogen og ende op med at kunne et trick eller to, som gør det muligt at realisere projekter som ikke er muligt uden kode. Samtidig er dette en af de bøger som en begynder vil kunne læse igen og igen, for at opnå lidt bedre forståelse for hver gennemlæsning.

Hvor meget jeg end kan være uenig i nogle af dispositionerne i forhold til, hvad der skal forklares hvor så er den helt klart anbefalelsesværdig … jeg snakker detaljer.

Med venlig hilsen

Karsten Vestergaard (ockley)


Video tutorial om at sende data fra Flash til mail via PHP

Jeg har fået gang i gode gamle Camtasia og snedkereret en tutorial der viser, hvordan en række input felter, samlet i en formular, kan sendes fra en Flash-film, via et php-script og hen til din mail boks. Det er som svar på forum indlæget Contact Form

Vejledningen tager dels udgangspunkt i det link til en tutorial på Flashforum, der blev nævnt, og dels en gammel video tutorial af Lee Brimelow.

Se den på www.hjaelpmignu.dk


Pixel Bender har fået sin egen plads

Pixel Bender har længe været en del af Creative Suite og er blevet installeret sammen med suiten som standard. Det har dog stået lidt småt til med at udvikle plug-ins i programmet. For det første skal der læres et nyt sprog, og for det andet skal man finde ud af, hvilken type plug-in man har tænkt sig at udvikle. Derfor har det kun været et værktøj for de eksperimenterende personer, men det vil Adobe lave om på.

Pixel Bender kan bruges til at få computerens hardware til at regne på pixelinformationer. Det kan resultere i regulære filtre til billeder og video, men kan reelt være alle typer af data. Pixel Bender kernels kan umiddelbart bruges i Photoshop, After Effects og Flash.

Indtil nu har Pixel Bender og al information om den været på labs.adobe.com, men nu har den fået et værelse på Adobes Developer Connection.

Kig ind på http://www.adobe.com/devnet/pixelbender/ hvor du kan se en masse tutorials og videoklip, der kan forklare om mulighederne i programmet.

God fornøjelse


Adobe Flash Professional CS5 beta (Signup)

Det rykker tættere og tættere på. Adobe Flash CS5 (Viper) blev præsenteret på MAX og det er nu kendt at den kommer i en offentlig beta senere i år. Tag et kig på http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/flashcs5/ og skriv dig op, så du får en mail når den er klar til at blive hentet.

De nye muligheder i programmet og den bedre integration med Flash Builder gør den til noget af det mest interessante i 2010.

Hvis du ikke har set programmet i aktion, så besøg http://max.adobe.com/online/ og se den “hemmelige session” på http://max.adobe.com/online/session/381

Iiiiiiiiih, altså!! :-)


Flash CS5 (Viper)

Når en version aaf Creative Suite og dets komponenter har været fremme tilstrækkelig længe dukker rygterne op om nye udgaver, beta udgaver (og deres navne). For at lade være med at bære ved til rygtesmedjen, vil jeg undlade at gisne om features, men i stedet henvise til flash magazine der har en artikel omkring Adobe Flash CS5 Professional der blev vist på Flash On The Beach 2009.

Det mere interessante features er nok code completion, behaviour lignende panel til nye brugere og samspillet med Adobe Flash Builder 4 ift. større projekter.

Se en gennemgang på:

http://www.flashmagazine.com/news/detail/adobe_flash_cs5_sneaks_from_fotb09/

Og kodenavnet … det er Viper, hvis du skal søge videre :-)


Learning ActionScript 3.0 – A Beginner’s Guide : Boganmeldelse

Learning ActionScript 3.0 - A Beginner's Guide

Titel: Learning ActionScript 3.0 – A Beginner’s Guide

Sider: 363

Forfatter: Rich Shupe, Zevan Rosser

Udgiver: O’Reilly

Genre: ActionScript 3.0

ISBN:
ISBN-10: 0-596-52787-X
ISBN-13: 978-0-596-52787-7

Introduktion

Jeg har læst mange bøger om ActionScript 3.0, men det er sjældent at jeg er blevet så fanget af en bog som jeg er blevet af Learning ActionScript 3.0 – A Beginner’s Guide. Der er flere grunde til at jeg har lyst til at fremhæve den, og give den topkarakter.

Farver og linjer

Jeps, En ActionScript bog i farver. Jeg har egentlig aldrig rigtig tænkt over, hvor meget det forbedrer læsevenligheden – det er ret vildt. Al koden er skrevet i farver som du genkender fra Flash. Derudover er linjerne nummereret, hvilket gør det uhyre nemt at overskue længere kodestumper. De steder i bogen hvor koden bygges op lidt ad gangen er det også nemt at orientere sig i forhold til de brudstykker der bliver pillet ud og forklaret.

For børn i alle aldre

Du må ikke lade dig narre af titlen: “A Beginner’s Guide” for der er sandelig rigtig meget at komme efter for en trænet udvikler. Der er nok af små fif i de senere kapitler, og måder forfatterne forklarer det på, til at alle føler der er gods i bogen. Nogen vil måske mene at der er så meget i bogen at begyndere bliver hægtet af til sidst.

Sproget er vigtigt

Bogen er uhyre velskrevet. Der bliver brugt lange afsnit på forklaringer om begreber, metoder og egenskaber. Hvor mange andre ActionScript bøger fokuserer meget på at vise en masse kode, kan der her nemt tages et opslag eller to fra, til at forklare om principperne i det som koden udfører.

Billeder, Illustrationer osv

Der er rigtig mange illustrationer. Ikke kun skærmdumps af Flash, eller resultatet af din kode, men også gedigen infografik, der viser principperne i noget af den matematik e. lign. du skal arbejde med.

Indhold

Hvad skriver de så om, i bogen? De dækker faktisk et meget bredt område. Uden at gå for meget i kapitel tilstand kan jeg dele det lidt op i faser:

Overblik

Den starter med et dybdegående overblik over Flash Platformen, hvad det betyder og hvilke programmer der leverer til den. Den gennemgår derefter forskellene i procedural- og Object-Orientered programming. Når alt det indledende er på plads løber den en 40 sider igennem med variabler, funktioner, klasser osv – der er fart på, så hvis man er helt ny er det vigtigt at man “tygger maden godt her” og prøver de ting der er beskrevet.

Display List

Ingen ActionScript-bog uden en god gennemgang af display listen – et problem de fleste ridligere bruger bøvler med. Her gennemgås hvordan man tilføjer- eller fjerner objekter, bytter rundt på dem osv. Der kommer også et OOP afsnit, der fortæller om Classes, Inheritance, Composition og et par andre relevante Design Patterns.

Bevægelse og tegning

Efter man har læst de første 100 sider, skulle man allerede være ret habil i forhold til sproget. Nu begynder nogle af koncepterne at udfolde sig i programmeret bevægelse og partikelsystemer. Endelig bliver Graphics-klassen gennemgået og du bliver præsenteret for nogle meget tunge emner som matricer og trigonometri (Arrgh) :-)

Der er også afsat god plads til at forstå hvordan Flash arbejder med pixels. Du gennemgår BitmapData, Blend Modes, filtre og Color Effects, og her (200 sider inde) burde din hjerne sprudle af idéer til, hvordan den nyvundne viden kan udnyttes i praksis.

Tekst

I en særskilt sektion bliver teksten behandlet. Bogen går godt i dybden med forklaringerne når det kommer til at oprette tekstfelter, redigere dem, indlejre fonte og tilknytte CSS. Der bliver også taget fat på, hvordan HTML arbejder inde i flash og hvilke muligheder du har for at kalde ActionScript fra HTML.

Lyd og video

Næsten til slut, tages der hul på behandlingen af video og lyd. Du lærer at hente ID3 data fra musik. Visualisere waveforms, arbejde med webcam og mikrofon, streame lyd og video osv. osv. Her skal du virkelig have ørene ind til hovedet for at følge med.

Input/Output

Til allersidst tages der hul på mulighederne for at hente data ind i flash. Det har været gennemgået sporadisk tidligere, men nu bliver der taget fat om nældens rod og du bliver trukket godt rundt til de forskellige emner der normalt hentes (text, video, billede, swf og lyd). Derefter er et helt kapitel tilegnet XML og E4X. For en Flashudvikler, -designer er det et must at kunne håndtere XML, og dette kapitel ruster dig rigtig godt til at løfte opgaven.

Ressourcer

Sidst i bogen er der en beskrivelse af nogle metoder til at gribe et flash-projekt an på og en række referencer til ressourcer, blogs osv.

Afslutning

Slap af, Karsten. Du får penge for det. Niks – ikke i dette tilfælde i hvertfald. Jeg synes denne her bog er så god at jeg vil sige det til alle der gider at høre på det. Den gennemgår så mange teknikker (mange som jeg ikke kendte) og forklarer det på en måde som jeg i hvertfald synes gør den let fordøjelig.

Held og lykke med den, hvis I anskaffer jer den. Skriv gerne kommentarer hvis i har læst den, eller vil høre om den tager bestemte emner op.

Med venlig hilsen
Karsten Vestergaard (ockley)


Adobe Flash Catalyst og Adobe Flash Builder 4

Så er ventetiden ovre! Et tidspunkt jeg har set frem til, kom her i weekenden. Du har nu mulighed for at prøve kræfter med Adobe Flash Catalyst, som ligger i offentlig beta på labs.adobe.com. Det gør den sammen med Adobe Flash Builder 4 der er det sidste skud på stammen i den produktserie der tidligere var kendt som Flex Builder. Først og fremmest lige nogle link til softwaren:

Adobe Flash Catalyst: http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/flashcatalyst/
Adobe Flash Builder 4: http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/flashbuilder4/

Hvad kan programmerne?

Adobe Flash Catalyst

Dette program er ment til at binde designere af RIA tættere til den interaktive platform. Hvor de fleste designere bruger Illustrator, Photoshop og Fireworks til at udvikle skærme og elementer til brugergrænseflader, har udvikleren ofte alt for megen kode i vejen når der skal dannes et overblik over den visuelle stil.

Det resulterer i at der bliver indgået en masse kompromier, når der skal pustes liv i layoutet. Med Flash Catalyst er følelsen og muligheden for at levere et “kodeklart” resultat rykket tættere på. Du kan nu med Flash Catalyst, tage dit layout fra Illustrator, Photoshop eller Fireworks og definere de interaktive elementer. Du kan vise overgange imellem states (tilstande) og præcist bestemme hvordan grafiske objekter i dit design skal optræde i den endelige applikation.

Resultatet bliver et køreklart projekt til Adobe Flash Builder 4, som udvikleren så bruger til at gøre applikationen færdig.

Adobe Flash Builder 4

Fra at være et program for super nørder, har Adobe Flash Builder vendt sig mere og mere til den “mindre øvede udvilker”. Har du erfaring med Adobe Flash CS4 og ActionScript 3.0 vil du helt sikkert få meget ud af Adobe Flash Builder 4. Programmet er baseret på Flex framework’et og levere Rich Internet Applications til Flash Platformen. Den er født med en bunke indbyggede effekter og klasser, der gør det hurtigt at lave applikationer der kan afvikles på Flash Platformen.

Hvor Adobe Flash CS4 bruger sin timeline og library til at levere unikke animationer og oplevelser, kan Flash Builder bygge robuste og appelerende applikationer til interenettet eller din desktop (via AIR)

Med direkte understøttelse af projekter eksporteret fra Flash Catalyst er det blivet endnu nemmere at overskue designet af Flash Builder projekter – en ting som folk, vant til Flash Professionel, har sukket efter.

Kom i gang, nu!

For at komme igang med programmerne er her en lille liste af relevante links:

Adobe Flash Catalyst

Adobe Flash Builder 4

Derudover er der en række demonstrationer af Flash Platformen på http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/flash/videos/

Held og lykke. Jeg glæder mig til at se, hvor langt i kan trække programmerne :-)

/ockley