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Archive for September, 2007

Adobe Acquires Buzzword

According to Ryan Stewart of Adobe, it was announced this evening that Adobe has acquired Virtual Ubiquity, and thus their product Buzzword. For those who may not know, Buzzword is a complete word processor and document sharing application written completely in Flex. Virtual Ubiquity has an informative blog post about the acquisition as well.

Congrats to Dave Coletta and team! It is great to see Flex RIAs taking off and to know that all the resources available to Adobe will be put behind this amazing product.

Creating ActionScript 3.0 components in Flash

There has been a lot of talk about the revamped Adobe Developer Connection released late last week, and it has been getting great reviews. I feel the best article up there at the moment is one titled "Creating ActionScript 3.0 components in Flash" by Jeff Kamerer of Adobe.

Robert Penner had blogged about this article which is how I found out about it, otherwise you'll have to dig around the new ADC quite a bit to locate it. I highly suggest you check it out, as it is a great way to get your feet wet in developing custom components. Thanks to Jeff for taking the time to put such an extensive write-up together for the community.

Portfolio: Gal to Gal Foundation Virtual Walk

Gal to Gal Walk

Project:

Gal to Gal Foundation Virtual Walk website.

URL:

http://www.galtogalwalk.org

Synopsis:

The goal of this project is to raise money for stage 4 breast cancer patients through a virtual 'walk'. You can join the site and donate $3 (or more) to create a 'gal' that will randomly show up on the home page as part of the walk. You can also log in after you have created a gal to see her displayed as the 'champion', up front and center. Clicking on individual gals shows who created them along with a short personal message they entered.

Why it is cool (to a Flash developer):

- SWX is used extensively throughout the site to communicate with the back-end and database. This enabled the rapid development timeline, and made the process of storing and passing data through PHP seamless. I haven't seen any other true sites built with SWX, but rather small mash-ups and widgets, so I believe this is a first for the SWX project.

- The entire site was built in about 1 1/2 weeks.

- There are over 302,400 possible combinations when creating your 'gal': 2 body types x 2 skin tones x 9 hair styles x 5 hair colors x 2 expression choices x 2 expression/lip colors x 2 eye types x 3 eye colors x 70+ outfits. Trust me, this equates to a lot of assets!

- The background changes with each day as the walk progresses across the US. To see the progress, click on the map at the bottom of the site. Note that the walk starts on Oct. 1st, so until then all you will see is the warm-up (Day 0) and race start background. Click the book at the bottom right to learn about each city as the walk progresses.

- Martha Stewart has a tv show and she recorded a segment about the site that will air on her show on October 1st. Can't say I have ever seen her show, but the national TV exposure should really test the limits of SWX.

- The foundation is expecting $1+ million in donations during the month of October, so the site was optimized to handle the heavy load. It is being hosted on three load-balanced servers to alleviate the crunch times as much as possible.

- The site is built for broadband connections, so we were able to load in higher-quality (and lots of) assets. The total overall load is about 2.3 MB and then each set of assets only get loaded when necessary.

- I contracted with Curiosity Group on this project, who's talented designers concepted and designed the site.

- A huge thanks also goes out to Jason McCoskery who jumped in to help out as the timeline kept shrinking and was instrumental in us meeting the deadline.

[Update: Check out Aral Balkan's post on the project and our use of SWX as well!]

Ribbit Plus AIR iPhone Equals VOIP Goodness

I just watched a video on YouTube of the AIR iPhone application with Ribbit's VOIP Flex Component placing and receiving calls. Who needs a real iPhone when you can just fire up an AIR app and talk all you want?

Seriously though, there is some very cool stuff going on with AS3, Flex, and Flash these days. I can only imagine where this will go if Intel and Adobe do indeed get AIR running on mobile devices. It could have the potential to turn wireless carriers into data-only providers -- mobile broadband services.

I would highly suggest when the onAIR tour rolls through your town you check it out. I'll bet they may even have some more Ribbit info they could demo for you while it is in closed beta.

AIR Going Mobile

JD blogged today about a presentation Intel gave at the Intel Developers Forum where they formally announced that Adobe AIR would run on mobile phones with Intel's new low-power x86 mobile chips.

While this is a very nice addition, I doubt this means the end of Flash Lite as there will still be phones with less processing power for quite awhile. However, it is a very welcomed step in the right direction.

There is more information about the presentation on PC Magazine and ZDnet's websites.

SWX 1.0 Released

SWX Announcement

Today Aral Balkan released SWX 1.0 for PHP, his answer to Flash Remoting. I have been waiting patiently for this release, as I am currently in the midst of building out two larger-scale projects with remoting and feel much better about using a 1.0 (read: non-beta) tool. Overall, SWX has been a joy to use. Aral has certainly accomplished his main task: simplify the whole remoting process from setup to development to deployment. Setup is as easy as copying the directory to your server, and development is much more kind since he re-wrote the AMFPHP service browser and debugger in Flex, while adding a few features to make it generally more usable. Using the services in your AS2 projects also couldn't be more simple. And to top it all off it is completely open source (is anything Aral does not open source?).
I was initially concerned about performance under heavy loads, but Aral was quick to give a test case and show that even with 250 concurrent hits to the gateway, it should still perform. It would take an extremely busy site to get 250 concurrent hits to the gateway (note that the gateway only gets hit when there is a service call).

My only recommendation at this point is to release a ZIP of only the files you need to deploy to the server. While I don't mind having all the graphics for the project and Flex source for the service browser and debugger, I don't want to upload those files to my server and digging through all the folders to figure out what is needed can be a drag.

If you haven't already, I highly suggest you give SWX a go. You can even use the public services that Aral has posted -- so you don't even need your own gateway setup to get started. Oh, I should also note that because the SWF file that SWX produces is Flash Lite 2.0 and 2.1. compatible, it can be viewed on a good number mobile devices.

Want to learn more? See Aral speak at one of several conferences in the next few months.

A huge thanks to Aral for the hard work!

I'll be sure to post links to the projects as soon as they are completed, along with additional thoughts and tips on working with SWX.

 
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