Wednesday, April 30, 2008

AIR PixelPerfect Application Updated

PixelPerfect was one of the first AIR applications that I took a shine to.  It is extremely simple and yet extremely useful.  Essentially it is a rectangle with horizontal and vertical rules.  Adjusting the size of the rectangle allows you to take measurements between objects on your screen.  I used it for ensuring our CSS layouts were as close to the design layouts as humanly possible.  But with the release of the full version of AIR I've been missing PixelPerfect for the last few months.  So it was great news to see the release of an updated version of this handy tool.
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Great AIR Resource List

Jason Bartholme has posted a comprehensive list of resources for Adobe AIR development.  The list includes the most exhaustive listing of available AIR applications I've seen anywhere as well as links for the newbie and articles for the more advanced users.  This is an excellent resource for anyone interested in this emerging technology.
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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Mochiads : Adds Revenue Stats

If you've made a Flash game and posted it on any of the many game portals then there is a good chance you've heard of Mochiads. In case you haven't Mochiads allows you to easily add ads to your games and provides some handy tools for managing your game ads. One great thing about Mochiads is that if someone rips off you game and posts it on their site then you will still get revenue for everytime the game is played. Another neat feature is that they will post your game to some game portals therefore saving you lots of work. They mention some of these portals on the site but it turns out there are quite a few others. The reason I discovered this is because of a great new feature. Mochiads now provides details about the countries and domains where your games are being played including the eCPM (effective cost per thousand) for that country or domain. Now I only have one game (at the moment) and it's not a world beater. But I was still interested to discover that Wheel of Death is being played more in Israel than anywhere else (Estonia was ranked third for plays). Despite that I still earned more from America where the eCPM is 78c compared to 23c in Israel. Mochiads is a great service and this new addition makes it even greater. If you are building Flash games and haven't used Mochiads then perhaps you should take a look.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

AdvancedED Flex Application Development : Book Review

Book Cover : AdvancedED Flex Application Development

AdvancedED Flex Application Development offers a well written extended case study on the details of developing the Rich Media Exchange (RMX). The RMX was built using Adobe Flex and numerous OpenSource tools (i.e. Drupal, OpenAds).

Now straight off any book that talks about Drupal and Flex is going to get my attention. At work we are currently looking into the best way to use Flex and Drupal together for a range of projects. From my perspective having Drupal provide accessible access to content for all users while using Flex to provide rich usability for most users is a great solution. It also means less time spent with CRUD and more time spent on the user experience. Consequently I approached this book with great interest.

The first few chapters did nothing to quell my interest. They provided an engaging perspective on web 2.0, the Flash platform, their planning process and the OpenSource technologies used.

Unfortunately my interest abruptly stalled in chapter 5 (Flex styling) and only intermittently recovered throughout the rest of the book. The problem for me is that this book tries to do too much. If you’re ready to start developing applications on the scale of the RMX there is a good chance you’ve already spent quite a few hours on the Flex learning curve. You don’t need chapter after chapter of detailed code examples and their explanations.

Essentially I think the RMX is almost two good books. The first book is for developers who are relatively new to Flex and are interested in a cookbook style book of common problems and techniques for solving them. The RMX case study would make these examples more real and therefore engaging for that audience. Add a few chapters to introduce Flex basics and you would have an excellent intermediate level book. The second book is for developers who are familiar with Flex and would be interested in the processes and thinking behind building a larger Flex application and integrating it with OpenSource tools.

This is a well written book and if the individual chapters were available online as articles you would read and cherish some of those articles. Unfortunately, I feel the concept gets in the way of, and ultimately lets down, the writing. There will be developers who are at the right point in the curve to appreciate the whole book. Less experienced developers might eventually grow into the whole book. Experienced developers should borrow the book from a friend and cherry pick the bits they need.

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Flash 3D goes to the next level : Alternativa3D Bunker Demo

Yesterday Alternativa3D announced version 5.0 of their Flash 3D engine.  As part of this announcement they also published two new demos.  The Bunker provides a Half-Life like multi-room military space.  The demo is very responsive and has a impressive level of detail.  Anyone interested in where 3D might go online should take a look at these demos.
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Friday, April 18, 2008

Flash 2D Physics : Box2DFlashAS3 Version 2 released

I've been messing around with Box2DFlashAS3 since the start of the year.  It's not the easiest of the Flash 2D Physics engines to learn but it is definitely the most versatile.  I haven't found much information on the changes in the new version.  But the updated demo includes ragdolls and the speed and accuracy seems much improved from the previous version.  I look forward to running it through it's paces.

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Australian Adobe AIR Camps

Adobe will be running a series of free AIR Camps in Australia and New Zealand from 15 May (Melbourne) until 26th June (Wellington).  These will be all day events focusing developing and deploying AIR applications using Flex, HTML and Javascript.  You can find out more and register at the Adobe Pacific Events site.
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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Talking about Cairngorm

There is a lot of informed and intelligent debate around Cairngorm and it's dependance on "Singletons". We have been using Cairngorm for the last six months and while we are aware of it's faults we also feel that it offers many benefits. It's not my intention here to get involved in an argument about it's strengths and weaknesses, I've made a few posts touching on this already. Instead I want to use this post to collect some of the better posts on this topic:

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Blogged With Flock

I just discovered a fun way to discover interesting blogs.  Simply go to Google and search for "Blogged with the Flock Browser".  This is the signature that Flock adds (if you choose to let it) when you blog from Flock.  I've found myself blogging from Flock more and more because it's just so easy.  You know the blogs that Google discovers will be of interest because interesting people use Flock.  Here's 10 Flockers blogs that I enjoyed :
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Fave Widget Update

I moved my bookmarks from to Faves back when they called themselves BlueDot (my Faves). Since then I've posted more than once (11 times if we count this post) about their excellent service and converted a few friends along the way. I've also been using their blog widget for most of that time; it was simple and yet very useful. Yesterday Faves announced a new blog widget. The new widget has a neat "interactive wizard" to allow easy customization of the content and appearance of the widget. For example, you can filter Faves based on one or more tags; select whether to show only your Faves and/or your Friends Faves and/or everyones Faves. The best feature is that you are no longer showing a list of links from your Faves you are actually showing your Fave. Which means you can include the Faves thumbnail image, the Favers profile image, the link and the Faves note. This last bit is my favourite part of the new widget. Often a links title is less than helpful. The note can be a quote from the page or something you've written as a memory aid or an opinion about the page. Whatever it is you control the note for your Faves note. Which greatly increases the Faves usefulness.

The wizard also offers many options for controlling the widgets appearance. There are 8 fully styled Themes, a no style options and a option to fully customise 14 elements of the widget. In the end I was a bit fussy and went with no style so I could fully control the widgets appearance in my blog template. You can see the results in my sidebar near the end of the page. You can find the wizard at :, but you'll need to be logged in to view it. You can also find out more about the advanced styling from the Faves Wiki.
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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Flex and AJAX Testing with Borland Silk

Borland has released Silk 2008.  The first update to it's automated testing tool in over 2 years.  For this release they have rebuilt the products architecture to make it more flexible and to allow it to support applications it hasn't traditionally supported.  A significant element of this release is the ability to test Flex and AJAX applications and the use of Flex for application development.  Borland's Brad Johnson explains their choice of Flex :

"The reason is you have a vendor to go to who is in control of the spec and will answer the calls. We're not neglecting AJAX, but there are 200 flavors of it."

Quoted from InternetNews
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Friday, April 04, 2008

Flash Media Server Tour

In early May an Adobe Roadshow will be coming to Sydney and Melbourne to showcase the capabilities of the recently released Flash Media Server 3. You can find out more and register here.

Dates & Locations:
  • Sydney : 1st May,2008
  • Melbourne : 7th May, 2008

Shu : AIR wrapper divided opinions

Newly released shu allows you to put a wrapper around your AIR applications. Therefore allowing you to interact with the OS in ways that AIR doesn't allow. The idea of a wrapper for the AIR wrapper has stirred up quite a bit of debate among RIA bloggers. The aim of this post is not to add to the debate as to keep track of it. Below is links to posts discussing the pros and cons of shu :