Monday, November 20, 2006

We're Going to Flash on the Beach Baby!

Wow! My first post on Andy's ActionScript blog. And a good one to start with... because CDSM are going to Flash on the Beach!

After much deliberation with the Flash guys at work, we came up with this wish-list for me to hit up when I'm there...

Day 1:

Day 2:

Day 3:

Unfortunately, Andy veto-ed some of the sessions I wanted to attend (such as ActionScript AI and Game Development) for more “practical” and “relevant” things like Photoshop and Prototyping. Oh well...

I'm especially looking forward to Niqui Merret's session on Accessible Flash, as Accessibility in Flash is something we've spent a long time working on in the past year. CDSM probably has rare experience with disabled user-testing when it comes to Flash apps, so its going to be great to see what the cutting edge is like and where we are compared to it.

Sounds like there's going to be some good parties afterwards as well. Considering Brighton is pretty awesome for night life, it should be good fun.

Hopefully, I'll be blogging from the event, so stay tuned...

Monday, November 06, 2006

Adobe Apollo - Flash moves to the desktop (again)

When I first heard about Apollo I instantly jumped to the conclusion that Adobe are re-launching Macromedia Central. I was wrong.

Central was a framework that you develop flash modules for that could access desktop resources. This meant that although you were "breaking out of the browser" you were also breaking into the Central Framework UI. There were all sorts of licensing issues on top of the fact that you couldn't develop a completely custom branded user experience.

Although some of the guys who worked on Central are also working on Apollo Adobe have reassured developers countless times that Apollo is NOT Central 2.0, e.g: -
There were lessons learned from building Central, and from users using Central, but this is completely new, and built from the ground up. Apollo does not share any of the Central code base.
If you don't know what Apollo is then go to, the rest of this post kind of assumes that you have an overview of Apollo.

I just saw a MAX 2006 video where Chris Brichford talks about Adobe's latest addition to the Flash Platform product line. The topic of the video is "Leveraging HTML and JavaScript in Apollo Applications".

The HTML/JavaScript support is amazing. One interesting point is that Adobe are using the source-code used on Apple's Safari web browser to handle HTML and JavaScript. This means that if a web page renders well in Safari then it should also render the same in Apollo applications.

To summarise the video, Apollo allows developers to: -
  • create Flash/Flex desktop applications;
  • create Flash/Flex/AJAX desktop applications;
  • create AJAX desktop applications (no Flash required);
  • access JavaScript variables, functions, etc from within a Flash or Flex application;
  • access Flash or Flex variables, functions, etc from within a JavaScript application;
There are a few interesting examples of Apollo applications so check out the video @

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Step 2: Choose a pet project

It's a project I've wanted to start for over a year but could never justify spending any time on it myself. So here goes!

MediaMan (its just a codename!) is an rich internet application that allows users to construct a newspaper front cover using articles from RSS feeds. Users of the application are called "Editors" (consistant with the newspaper metaphor) because they are not writing the articles they are aggregating articles, which leads me to my no-nonsense description: -

"MediaMan is a dressed-up RSS aggregator in the style of a newspaper"

Check out the functional definition of Phase 1 here.

It's still in draft but should give you an idea of what I'm going for.

So that's how I'm going to learn AS3. Eventually (way down the line) editors will be able to build entire newspapers and hopefully interoperate with other online services (YouTube, Flickr,, BBC, etc).

I'm going to get stuck into Adobe's documentation, Moocks Rough Cuts and various web resources (I'll list them all here). Step 3: Learn the damn thing! (I promise no more "steps").

Get Moock's new book on O'Reilly Rough Cuts

I just signed up for Colin Moock's new book titled "Essential ActionScript 3.0" on O'Reilly's Rough Cuts.

"The Rough Cuts service gives you early access to content on cutting-edge technologies -- before it's published. The Rough Cuts service lets you read the evolving manuscript of a book as it is being written." - O'Reilly Safari

I can't wait to read the currently posted chapters: -

  • Chapter 16, The Display API and the Display List;
  • Chapter 17, Events and Display Hierarchies;
  • Chapter 18, Interactivity;
  • Chapter 24, Loading External Display Assets

For more information go to: -
Front Cover of Essential ActionScript 3.0 book

Step 1: Install Flash 9 Public Alpha

Today I installed the Adobe Flash 9 Public Alpha, which was released on Adobe Labs a while ago. The public alpha doesn't have any new features in the IDE except the new Flash 9 compiler.
So far, so good!

Next I need to choose a project.