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Flash on the Beach 08 / Day 3 / Sessions and Wrap Up

Flash on the Beach 2008, Brighton, UK - Day Three
October 1, 2008

Ben Stucki - Advanced Flexing for Flash Developers
Seb Lee-Delisle - Papervision3D Simplified
Doug McCune - Steal this code: Decompiling SWFs for fun and profit
Koen de Weggheleire - Play With Pixels, bitmap manipulation with AS3
Adobe Team - Flash Ying and Yang (Information on the Flash CS4 GUI and Flash Player 10 Development)
Jonathan Harris - The Art of Surveillance and Self-Exposure

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Ben Stucki - Advanced Flexing for Flash Developers

Ben's session was all about using Flex to take advantage of your Flash knowledge, and while I'm not sure I walked out of the session feeling like a Flex pro as advertised, I did learn quite a bit.

The first big point Ben made was that Flex is a framework, not a set of components. I think Flash developers do tend to make this mistake because of the long history of UI components in Flash. After noting the difference Ben went on to speak in length about component development and how this would allow you to bring your Flash objects into Flex. Lastly, he ended up with some discussion on skinning in Flex and some lessons on the CSS syntax.

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Seb Lee-Delisle - Papervision3D Simplified

Seb put on one of the most entertaining sessions of the conference -- not so much because of the content (which was good in its own right), but because the delivery was energetic and spot on.

For instance, in a throwback to the Speaker Jam session of the day before where Joa Ebert live-coded for 10 minutes straight, Seb decided to show how quick and easy it would be to make a simple Papervision3D scene:

As part of the joke he decides to play the Countdown theme song:


To round out the session, Seb provided 3D basics and an overview of models compatiable with Papervision3D.

You can view Seb's example files and thoughts on the conference on his blog. Peter Elst also has a good overview and some video of Seb's session on his blog.

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Doug McCune - Steal this code: Decompiling SWFs for fun and profit

I last saw Doug speak at 360Flex Seattle where he spoke on Flex Component Development. Doug has become a big name on the Flex scene since then, and I was initially wondering why he'd be speaking at a Flash conference, even though the two are closely related. However, within the first five minutes of the talk I was glad I went to see his session.

Doug's session was about how to decompile SWF files and find classes that you could learn from. As an example of this, he decompiled Photoshop Express and easily located all of the image manipulation classes that the online application utilizes. From these classes he was able to build his own simple photo editing application.

Doug has posted his slides from the conference on his blog.

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Koen de Weggheleire - Play With Pixels, bitmap manipulation with AS3

Koen de Weggheleire has been sharing his work in manipulating pixels for quite some time. His session covered several techniques for working with pixels, was fairly developer heavy, and overall was worthwhile.

One thing to note that is only slightly session related -- all week in this room there had been a large swarm of flies who would always manage to land on the speaker during their session, interrupting them. So, Koen broke out an application he had written a while back called "Fly Swatter":


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Adobe Team - Flash Ying and Yang (Information on the Flash CS4 GUI and Flash Player 10 Development)

Capping off the Adobe sessions at the conference, Richard Galvin and Paul Betlem spent an hour giving a great rundown of features in Flash CS4 and Flash Player 10 that have not been as high profile and/or highly discussed. Paul also spent some time discussing how features make their way into the Flash Player, the choices that need to be made and how they balance new feature requests.

Some of the features Richard discussed that are not as often highlighted in Flash CS4 included:

General UI:
* Instead of text entry boxes, the UI now features "hot text" where you click on the text to show the entry box.
* You can now do simple math in the text entry boxes.

Library:
* The library can be filtered through a search box located at the top of the library panel.
* You can now make changes on multiple library items at once.
* You can add a library item to a folder at the same time as creating it.

AS3:
* AS3-only SWCs from the Flex Framework can now be imported in the Flash projects, with the exception of the component architecture. You can set this up under the advanced AS3 setting dialog box.
* CS4 includes support for conditional compilation, meaning that you can include conditionals in your code and only if that conditional applies in your project setup will it get included in the compiled SWF. You can do this by adding the following to your code: CONFIG::CONSTANT { code }

Other:
* The Kuler panel is no included in Flash CS4.

3D:
* There is a 3D transformation tool that moves in relation to the selected object. You can also set the tool to be "global to local" and it will be respective of the stage or object you are working with.

Inverse Kinematics:
* You can put IK within a shape to simulate an old-style shape tween. Makes for very easy shape tweens.

During Paul's discussion on Flash Player 10 he mentioned that FP11 is already underway (as one might have guessed) and he mentioned this is how they are choosing new features based on the following: compelling broad appeal, robust and extensible, aligned with the platform, it is something that can't already be created in ActionScript, and considering the base code size for the Flash Player.

Paul also mentioned FLACC, and Peter Elst has a great write-up on FLACC and I highly suggest you check it out. It includes some video from Paul's portion of this session.

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Jonathan Harris - The Art of Surveillance and Self-Exposure

Before this conference I had never heard of Jonathan Harris by name, but I certainly knew about his work, such as We Feel Fine, what is described as "An exploration of human emotion".

Jonathan started off by showing some of his older work which includes some really well done print infographics - very much in-line with the work done at XPLANE. He then moved into the interactive space and that is truly when he became known for his work.

But, what has really sparked everyone's interest has been what was said towards the end of Jonathan's talk.

Jonathan started off by saying "What I have to say may be a bit hard to hear":

And depending on your views, it probably didn't get much better from there.

In the interest of not replaying the whole saga over again, read over the following two slides and then be sure to click through to read the Flash community reactions. I feel my comments might have been beneficial to the conversation when there was still one going on, but a few weeks later they won't add much that hasn't already been said.

Reactions:

Erik Natzke

Peter Elst

Jeremy Thorp

and lastly, a message from John Davey, the conference organizer.

And here is Jonathan's answer to all of the discussion floating around his talk. You can also view each of the slides on a Flickr pool Jonathan put together, along with a summary of approximately what he said with each slide in the notes.

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Wrap Up

After attending my second Flash on the Beach Brighton, I am really looking forward to Flash on the Beach Miami and being able to attend this extremely well run conference in a country where everything isn't going to cost me twice as much.

I had a great time hanging out with friends I have met at prior years of FOTB, friends I have known for awhile now, and friends I finally got to meet in person this year. The conference was a much needed break from the daily grind and the Brighton edition of FOTB will certainly be one that I look forward to every year.

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