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Archive for December, 2008

SWX v2 beta Released, Public Gateway Updated

I have just pushed SWX v2 beta live on the project's Google Code page!

Along with this release the public gateway has also been updated to use SWX PHP v2 beta and allow for AS3 support. You can find documentation here, which shows how to use the new AS3 API as well as provides an introduction to the new Simple Call and Custom Call methods of interacting with your SWX gateway.

Lastly, Folkert Hielema has contributed an updated Twitter service and a new Identi.ca service. Both of these services are live on the public gateway (you can test them in the Service Explorer) and also available in the SWX PHP download available on the Google Code page under "Featured Downloads".

I will continue to work on updating the SWX blog with new documentation, but until then please refer to this documentation - it should provide you with everything you need to get started with v2.

If you notice any issues, please log them here. For support or to discuss the new release, please use the project's mailing list.

This release has been a huge effort by the SWX development team, and has been in the works since September. I'm sure you'll enjoy using it as much as we've enjoyed coding it.

Can't wait to see what you build!

Flash and Flex Conference Price Comparison, 2009 Edition

As the New Year is upon us and we start to budget for conferences in 2009, it is time for the annual Flash conference price comparison post. This year the comparison is a little more in depth because it has more significance with the world's (and especially US) economy hitting some hard times. As a refresher, you can see my posts on this subject from 2007 and 2008.

I was prompted to start looking at conference prices for 2009 when I heard that Flash On The Beach Miami's Super Early Bird pricing has been extended through Christmas. John Davey, the conference organizer, sent me a short email stating, "I think everyone is worried about the economy, and although it is worrying me too, I think a show of 'giving back' will be appreciated." I agree, John. And, thanks!

So, without further delay, here is a breakdown of pricing comparing some of the 'major' Flash/Flex conferences:

FOTB
(Miami)
FlashForward FITC
(Toronto)
360|Flex
Super Early Bird First 100 tickets
Regular $299 n/a $458 USD $360
Student $149 $230
Flex Pass $449 $542
Early Bird Next 200 tickets
Regular $429 $899 $542 $480
Student $319 $271
Flex Pass $559 $625
Standard Last 100 tickets
Regular $499 $999 $625 $550
Student $249 $313
Flex Pass $629 $709
Door Price
Regular $599 $1099 $709
Student $299 $355
Flex Pass $719 $793

When looking at the table, you'll no doubt notice a few things right off. First, FlashForward continues to be the most expensive conference of the bunch at about a whopping 50% more expensive than FOTB or 306|Flex for the standard ticket price. I should mention that FlashForward has not posted their prices for 2009 and the table includes their 2008 pricing. Since the conference just changed hands last year (it was purchased by Beau Ambur of Metaliq) and they dropped the prices at that time, it is most likely safe to assume that they will keep the prices as-is this year.

Another item to consider is that with a new edition to be held in Miami, Flash on the Beach no longer requires international travel. My prior comparisons all had to take into account a flight to London and the very lopsided exchange rate for US Dollar to British Pound. With that no longer being necessary, FOTB is now even a better bargin for those of us in the States. Especially when you realize that all of the headlining speakers from the Brighton edition have also committed to speaking in Miami.

360|Flex has always had some of the lowest prices for a conference. They started out with all tickets priced at $360, but had since risen the price to $480. For their next conference they are taking a new approach of tiered pricing. As you can see above, the first 100 tickets are at the old $360 rate, the next 200 are at the standard $480 rate, and the last are at a premium rate of $550 (which is still about half of the cost of FlashForward).

Of course there is always the extra costs that go along with conferences like flight and hotel. Those certainly add to the cost, but for the most part are the same across the board (except in the case of international travel and/or exchange rates as mentioned previously), so I don't take those into consideration here.

What are your thoughts on the price of conferences in 2009? Am I missing any conferences that you would like to see added?

SWFAddress 2.2 Released

Rostislav has announced the release of SWFAddress 2.2 this morning, with a large number of enhancements and bug fixes:

  • Refactored JavaScript implementation
  • New SWFAddress.swc AS3 component
  • New CS4 based Splash screen sample
  • New Digg API sample
  • New up() method for easier deep linking path navigation
  • New XSS protection that doesn't affect special characters
  • Support for Internet Explorer 8
  • Support for custom HTTP status messages in the SEO sample
  • Improved title handling
  • Improved unload event handling for IE
  • Updated Rails sample
  • Fixed getBaseURL() for AS3
  • Fixed Safari 2.0-2.0.3 support
  • Build-in fix for the Firefox 3/Mac OSX blinking effect
  • Additional onLoad fix for application/xml content type
  • Fixed optional options parameter for the popup method
  • Cross platform build script
  • Various optimizations

This looks to be a major release, and took over seven months of development. I remember speaking to Rostislav about this release back at FOTB 2008 Brighton, so he truly has put in a lot of effort. Here's hoping it gets wrapped into the expected new Gaia release.

The new version is available for download here.

SEO Article in Flash & Flex Developers Magazine

Flash & Flex Developers Magazine - January 2009A few months back Jason McCoskery and I wrote a fairly detailed article for Flash & Flex Developers Magazine about SEO for Flash and Flex. It looks like the article has just been published in the January 2009 issue.

Jason and I used our experiences in building the p.i.n.k. Spirits website as a platform for testing the concepts and they worked so well that we decided to write an article. The article covers using SWFAddress and SWFObject with PHP to provide your content in an alternate view (in this case HTML instead of Flash) for SEO purposes.

The article contends that when Adobe announced they were working with Google and Yahoo! to improve the searchability of Flash and Flex websites and applications, the Flash development community largely applauded the initiative. However, months after the announcement there has been minimal increase in the effective search engine rankings of Flash and Flex websites.

We discuss why the current method of Google and Yahoo!'s new 'headless player' isn't working quite yet, and how you can provide a mirror of the exact same content in your Flash and Flex projects as HTML using a single data source. This is a 'white hat' approach and doesn't break any of Google's rules.

There have recently been some articles on how Google has been updating the 'headless player', namely this article on InsideRIA, and I may do a blog post updating the article if necessary. Until then, be sure to check out the article in the January 2009 issue of Flash & Flex Developers Magazine.

Offline AS3 Language Reference, No AIR Application Necessary

Big Spaceship released a nice AIR app today which allows you to download and view the entire AS3 language reference locally. However, you don't need an AIR app to view the language reference offline -- there are actually two other options.

I had previously posted about the offline help and language reference locations in Flash CS4 which allows you to access the local copy of the language reference from within a web browser. But did you know that you could also access these local files from within the Flash CS4 help panel?

Normally when you access the help panel in Flash CS4 it automatically tries to load the online version of the documentation and language reference. I assume Adobe chose to do this so they could keep it updated and you could benefit from other user's comments in the Live Docs.

Keep me offline windowTo access the local copy of Flash CS4 help and the language reference, just tell Flash to “keep you offline”:

Go to Window > Extensions > Connections. In the panel that pops up, click the arrow at the top-right and select “Offline options”. From there you can check the box for “Keep me offline”. Flash will then always default to using the offline help.

I should note that doing this may also prevent you from using any other panels which call out to the internet, such as Kuler and the Flash startup/new file screen. As of now I'm not using any Internet-connected panels and I have the splash screen set to not show on startup, so this works quite well for me.

 
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