Friday, May 25, 2007
"Even though you can view Silverlight on OS X, you will have no chance of being able to author Silverlight content without a Windows licence. This is a conscious decision. On one hand, Microsoft wants to get designers using their Expression toolset yet designers will have to come across to the Windows platform in order to do it. It may not be such a large hurdle but it is a hurdle nevertheless. Ever tried to force an OS X user onto Windows? They cry, they scream and they want their (at times) consistent GUI back."
"Therefore what is left? We have a video platform held back by a lack of distribution issues, an enforced lock-in for the tools and a lack of true cross-platformness. When it is put that way, it begins to sound an awful lot like Microsoft's previous video strategy with Windows Media."
For those interested I am still adding to the Silverlight vs Flash post list I started a while back. So if you want to catch up or review the comments so far that may be a good place to start.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Friday, May 18, 2007
- Flickr : Flex Apps ; a group created by Ted Patrick for screenshots of Flex applictions.
- Kodak : Easy Share Gallery
- Picnik : online image editor
- FauxTo : online image editor
- Pikeo : online photo storage and sharing
- Harley Davidson : Customizer
- Mazda : Web Tune factory
- Trenitalia : ViaggiaTreno : Italian train system online timetable?
For many years people have been experimenting with 3D rendering in Flash. But until recently it was really just a toy. A little while ago Papervision 3D hit the blogs to much excitement. The other day a work colleague sent me link to Outsmarts 3D Flex demo. So here are (and I will continue to add resources for 3D Flash development:
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Back in 2001 Marc Prensky coined the term Digital Natives to refer to the new class of students who grew up with digital technologies. He referred to the rest of us (those who spent part of our lives pre-digital) as Digital Immigrants. There is much truth in the idea of Digital Immigrants. But it's proves to be inadequate for work that is developed for use within the university but outside the classroom. As with geographical immigrants many digital immigrants embraced the new technologies. But the majority of them didn't. They accepted the inevitability of computers. They recognised the benefits of computers and how they would effect the workplace. But they accepted them reluctantly. They learned what they needed and got on with their jobs.
Let's be clear about who we are talking about here. I'm not talking about uneducated simpletons. I'm talking about the men and women now inhabit the senior and middle tiers of management and academia in most universities. These people are busy and successful. They don't want to spend their time learning new technologies (or learning the advanced tools in thier chosen technologies) if they don't need to.
As a multimedia developer I think and talk about these people every day. They are in fact one of the greatest restraints on what and how we develop. Consequently I've been feeling the need for a handy name to simplify our discussions. We were tossing around a few options yesterday but nothing quite fit. But this morning it struck me; they are the Digital Doorstops. They work within the digital domain, but they remain on the threshold. Their adoption of computers opened the door for Digital Natives and have ensured the door remained open. But they are hard to move (though not immobile : you know a technology has arrived when the Doorstops adopt it).
I feel the name is somewhat patronising and I'm happy to hear any better suggestions. But my point remains. They are a significant group not adequately covered by the concept of Digital Immigrants. A large group who are having a significant impact on the nature and cost of multimedia development. In the near future they will have a lot of influence on the what and how of technology within education. They will leave a legacy that the Digital Natives will need to deal with in the future. But it is the remaining tech savvy Digital Immigrants who are best suited to help position the Digital Doorstops.
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Sunday, May 06, 2007
I can only speak for myself and certainly part of the attraction of Flash for me was that it offered the fastest path to an exciting arena without all the fuss and bother of getting a degree in Computer Science. So I do harbour some insecurities about my qualifications. But at the same time I know that one of my strengths is that I understand and appreciate the importance of design within RIA development (without harbouring any delusions about my skills as a designer) while also understanding the IT side of the equation. My experience suggests that there aren't many developers emerging from CompSci with a balanced development perspective. Obviously this doesn't fully explain the scale of the Flash communities insecurities and I'm also sure there are plenty of exceptions to my generalisation (I'm keen to hear any other theories people have). But what is beyond question is that the Silverlight announcement has served to highlight the insecurities of the Flash community ( insercurities that aren't evident in Adobe's own development strategies) and that we as a community need to take a close look at what this reveals about us.
Thursday, May 03, 2007
James Ward has created a Flex application for benchmarking data loading for RIA's. Thinking about the results from this tool there was something I thought worth mentioning. Firstly, what is clear from the results is how much faster Flex is for parsing and rendering data sets. It's ability to parse XML using E4X is extraordinary compared to AJAX. Therefore Flex is ideally suited to anything that requires repeated and regular data requests. But one thing that isn't immediately evident from the benchmark is that the applications file size also needs to be taken into consideration. Flex applications can quickly become quite large. While most AJAX frameworks are comparatively small. Consequently an application with fewer data requests might be better suited to AJAX. You also need to consider how often users will use the application because caching will reduce the impact of file size if the application is accessed frequently. So the more often an application is used the more appropriate Flex will be.
I will be very interested to see Silverlight included in these tests so that we can start to filter out the FUD from the facts.
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
This presentation made me realise that MVC is an ideal design pattern for most (all ?) Flex projects (regardless of scale). If you are involved in Flex development then you should have a good understanding of MVC; if only so you have the choice of ignoring it. This video is a great entry point for understanding MVC.
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
But for the last year we've been getting frustrated with aspects of the service. One aspect is that the condition of the DVD's is often poor and we've had to return quite a few as unplayable. But the main reason for our frustration is how very slow the website is. Your main way of interacting with the service is through the website hence it is obviously important that this works well. Interestingly the site is easy to use. You can do most of the things you need to do without too much thought. But you can often make yourself a cuppa while waiting for the next page request to appear.
QuickFlix is either a new service or an old service that's suddenly found it's marketing department. Either way our frustration with FetchMeMovies motivated us to use their free trial. In our tests we looked at the range of DVD's available (everything we could get from FetchMe was available through QuickFlix), speed of turnaround, condition of the disks and most importantly the speed and usability of the website. In most areas both services where on a par but when it came to site speed the difference was 10 to 1 (i.e I could load 10 QuickFlix pages to one FetchMe page). I won't pretend to guess why FetchMe's site is so slow (thats their problem) but this has made me realise just how important speed is. I guess if the usability had been poor I might have left earlier. But in the end I still left.