Building Extensions in Flash CS4 Lab at MAX 2009

Justin | Animate/Flash,conferences,extensions,news | Thursday, June 4th, 2009

I found out this week that I will be presenting a lab at Adobe MAX 2009 conference in LA (Oct. 4-7). I attended MAX for the first time last year and it was jammed with interesting sessions. MAX was originally aimed at developers, but it’s grown to include designers and other professionals. It’s a large price tag, but if you only go to one conference per year, I would recommend this one. The lab that I’m presenting this year is entitled, “Building Extensions in Flash CS4.” Here’s the description:

Learn about Flash’s History panel and how to translate user actions into dynamic Flash extensions. We’ll go through the basics of Flash JavaScript (JSFL), how JSFL relates to the Flash authoring environment, and how to use loops and basic logic to make powerful batch commands. After creating an extension, we’ll cover how to package an extension for distribution.

If you’re interested in working with Flash commands, learning more about JSFL, building extensions, or distributing extensions to others, come check out the lab!

New Technologies Introduced at Adobe MAX 2008

Justin | conferences,links,Misc | Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

I found this great rundown from Sönke Rohde, and this one from Serge Jespers, on the new Adobe technologies introduced at MAX.

Branden Hall has great article on Alchemy, a new technology which compiles C/C++ into Actionscript. This will allow Flash and Flex developers to take advantage of powerful open-source C/C++ code libraries.

One of the underlying themes at MAX that was interesting for me is that many of the applications are moving to open, XML-based formats (INDL, FXG, FXP, XFL), which will allow people like me to write applications that interact with those files. Combine that with the ability to create desktop applications with AIR, and new extensibility tools like Switchboard and PatchPanel, and all of the sudden I’ve got a tremendous amount of control over my workflow. There’s also a lot of potential to create tools for others to use.

Looks like recorded sessions from MAX North America will be available (for free) in the next two weeks or so at I planning on checking out many of the sessions that I missed as there were far too many good sessions to choose from.

Liveblogging from MAX NA 2008:

Jen DeHaan
Peter DeHaan
(2) (3)
Serge Jespers (2) (3) (4)

Flash Extension: Combine Textfields

Justin | Animate/Flash,conferences,design,extensions | Sunday, October 12th, 2008

This extension combines multiple textfields into one editable textfield. I put this together as an entry for the Hackathon at Flash Camp.

UPDATE 10/12/08: This project took home the ‘Most Useful‘ award at Flash Camp.

Creative Suite 4 will be introducing a new Flash format, XFL. This format can be created by other applications, including InDesign and After Effects, and then edited by Flash Professional. So print designers and video artists now have a new window into Flash. One consequence of retaining the formatting of an InDesign document into Flash, is that text blocks get broken into individual lines. This will be familiar to anyone who has opened a PDF in Illustrator. This extension will recombine those textfields into one block while retaining the individual formatting properties.

Video demo of InDesign to Flash with XFL: Part One, Part Two, Part Three.

(compatible with Flash MX 2004, Flash 8, Flash CS3, and Flash CS4)
Combine Textfields.mxp

If you’re interested, you can also download and look at the source.


UPDATE 11/20/08: Unfortunately ligatures are brought in as shapes rather than editable text, so they are essentially ignored by this extension. I have it on good authority that this will be resolved in Flash Authoring (Flash Player 10 already supports ligatures), but I have no idea when.

UPDATE 11/20/08 (#2): Version 1.1.0 posted. I found a Flash bug with Windows that was preventing the textfields from being sorted properly, so I adjusted some code to account for that bug. Version 1.1.0 addresses this issue. Apparently Flash CS4 in Windows doesn’t recognize the label attribute of radio tag in an xmlui file unless it’s value begins with an uppercase character. This may occur in other versions of Flash, but I only tested CS4. If the explanation of this bug doesn’t make sense to you, don’t worry, the extension will still work for you. It’s a pretty esoteric use case, so most JSFL* developers won’t even encounter this bug. I also found a bug that occurs when the XFL has set the faux bold property of a textfield. If this is the first textfield that you’re sorting from, it will make all of your text faux bold, and Flash doesn’t currently allow JSFL to control this property. Flash has moved to using the bold face of a family, rather than the faux bold control. This is also likely to occur with faux italics. It only occurs when the entire textfield is set to faux bold or italic, and should not occur when individual phrases within a textfield are set this way. This is partially a bug with Flash’s new font controls and partially with InDesign’s XFL export. Both features are brand new (and fantastic), so these kinks will likely be worked out in the future. I’ve contacted both teams and the InDesign group will likely fix how the tag is generated in the XFL.

*JSFL is the language used to write Flash extensions.

Flash Camp in San Francisco

Justin | Animate/Flash,conferences,links | Thursday, October 9th, 2008

I’m heading across the bridge this weekend for Flash camp in San Francisco.

Here’s the blurb:

Adobe FlashCamp is a free event in the “unconference” style, focused on developers creating rich interactive experiences using the new Flash Player 10 features.

This event is inspired by BarCamp, iPhoneDevCamp, and the Hackathon, to develop inspiring content and applications using an advance copy of the Flash Professional CS4 authoring tool.

Attendees will include Flash and Flex developers, mobile developers, UI designers, and testers, all working together over the weekend. Development projects will include both solo and team efforts. While some attendees will wish to work solo during the event, we encourage attendees to team up, based on expertise, to work in ad-hoc project development teams. All attendees should be prepared to work on a development project during the event.

Should be interesting. Some of the events will be available to watch online.

Flash Forward 2008 in review

Justin | Animate/Flash,conferences | Friday, August 29th, 2008

Had a great time at the Flash Forward Festival. I took tons of notes on most of the presentations, so I decided to write up a short version and a long version.

The SHORT Version

While the official theme of this year’s Flash Forward conference was passion, the serendipitous theme that seemed to come organically from almost every speaker was some version of “don’t be afraid to fail.” Some speakers went so far as to encourage failure in order to find new ideas.

This was the first year that Beau Ambur and Metalliq had taken over the conference from Lynda Weinman of The choice was made this year to provide a single-track program rather than separate tracks for developers and designers. This seemed to have produced some consternation in the Flash community. Since this was my first Flash Forward, I don’t have a reference for comparison. I can say that I was actually pleasantly surprised by a couple of presentations that if I’d been given a choice of track, I might have missed. Most notable of these, were the presentations of Miha Pogacnik, the cultural ambassador of Slovenia, and Jamy Ian Swiss, a magician. Both were fantastic and made me more tolerant of some the presentations that were not.

Kudos to the organizers for making an effort to be green as well. Our “swag” bag included a reusable water bottle, so we weren’t stuck using and disposing of paper cups. We had decent box lunches from Boudin bakery. Because of San Francisco’s curbside composting, nearly everything out of the lunch boxes could be recycled or composted, so very little had to be thrown away completely. I can’t wait until that program crosses the Golden Gate.

The other change to the format was that presentation durations dropped from 60 or so minutes in past conferences to 22 minutes. Except for the Disney presentation, which seemed to last forever. I think this new one-track approach is admirable in its ambition, and in many ways makes sense given that most of the attendees are both designers and developers and would inevitably miss out by choosing one track over another. Given the complaints of numerous attendees though, I would imagine that the next Flash Forward will provide some sort of compromise between the two approaches.

There were a lot of the fun aspects to the conference outside of the presentations as well. Since moving to another state two years ago and working from home ever since, I’ve been a bit isolated. It was interesting to be with hundreds of “my people.” One got to feel kind of cool, while simultaneously being extremely nerdy. I got to talk with David Stiller at great length and tell him how much I enjoy the tips on his blog. Lee Brimelow was around quite a bit, but unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to tell him how much I like his fantastic (and free) Flash tutorials on Apparently Alessandro Crugnola of SE|PY ActionScript Editor fame was there as well.