Category Archives: Flash

Flash Facts

To say that there was a fair bit of sensationalism, gloating, and word twisting in the tech media last week about Adobe and Flash just might be the understatement of the year.  After reading some of the articles, I fully expected to see complementary photos of thugs in balaclavas burning Adobe flags and stomping on retail boxes of Flash Professional.

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Flash Globalization

Anyone writing global applications knows what a challenge it is to account for the many different formatting requirements for different countries/regions of the world.

You may be aware that 06/07/08 means June 7th, 2008 in the US, July 6th, 2008 for most of Europe and July 8th, 2006 in South Africa, but did you know that 06.07.08 is a date in Germany but a time in Italy?

All these nuances in the way countries format their data can be a nightmare for developers.
Adobe is working on a solution built-in to Flash 10.1 that solves a lot of these issues. It’s called the Flash Globalization Package. Basically when you provide your locale to the package, it will take care of the formatting for you. If that sounds interesting to, check out Hervé Amblard’s Flash Globalization Article in Adobe’s Flash Player Developer Center.

Why the Flash Platform?

As an educational software developer, I often get to choose the development platform to be used for the projects we’ll be working on. This is something I don’t take lightly. I take into consideration the benefits and limitations of each considered technology and analyze how well they matchup to the requirements of the project. These requirements not only include functional designs, we also to take into account performance, portability, scalability, and other development parameters. Speed in development is also a key issue because we usually have way too many good ideas waiting to be developed. ☺
We don’t use the Flash Platform for every project. There are occasions where Flash would not be the best fit. In other instances, Flash is the best, and sometimes it is the only viable solution available. Here are some of the reasons I would consider the Flash Platform for a project:

1) Runtime Parity
Flash Player 10 is available on Windows, MacOS, and Linux. There is much, much better parity between these runtimes than the HTML, CSS and Javascript parity for Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari and Chrome running on Windows, MacOS and Linux. When you take into account that not only is HTML implemented differently in each browser, but CSS and Javascript also have their differences on the various browsers. Finding the lowest common supported feature set or coding for the exception can be a challenge. If the project we are looking at has complex layouts, or advanced interactivity, it might actually be more effective to go with the Flash Platform than battle compatibility with the different browsers.

2) Ubiquitous Video
Until all the major browsers support H.264 video natively, Flash still has the broadest reach for deploying online video. Flash does use more CPU to play video compared to other hardware accelerated platforms, so as a developer you have to be careful not to make things worse by adding extraneous stuff that will tax the system. I’m primarily a Macbook Pro user, and it doesn’t bother me to see a jump in CPU usage. It’s actually nice to see something use the potential of both cores. ☺ I think that the interactive nature of Flash video has huge potential for education. Something we’ve only just beginning to realize.

3) Advanced Technologies
The Flash Platform has advanced technologies that aren’t available in other platforms. When projects require the following features, Flash is a shoe-in:

Microphone and webcam support
Advanced Font Support
Advanced Image/Video Filters
Real-time, two-way communication to servers
Real-time, two-way communication to clients (P2P)
Socket Connections
Easy to use interactive charting components 3D Support
4) Code Obfuscation
I like having the option to package all my code in a single .swf and having the code locked down. It shouldn’t be regarded as a totally secure solution, but it does help when publishing commercial content.

5) Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR)
Being able to create web applications and desktop applications with the same code base has its advantages. Sometimes we need applications with file access to the desktop, and using familiar development technologies makes this much easier.

6) Strong Development Features
I enjoy coding in Actionscript 3. It has changed significantly since its Prototype days of past versions. Today’s Actionscript supports:

Strongly Typed Objects
Data Binding
Support for Public/Private and Protected Methods
Coupling these features with a debugger makes coding less stressful, and helps our programming team be more efficient and timely in development.
Again, we don’t use the Flash Platform for every project, but when requirements call for it, the Flash platform makes a great development solution.

Go Flash Go!

I think this video clip pretty much sums up what Adobe Flash has been going through the last couple of weeks. Like Flash Gordon, Adobe Flash may be proported by some to look beaten and bruised, but in the end you’ll find that Flash will continue to evolve. As other technologies catch up to what Flash can do, Flash will continue to push the envelope in advanced capabilities. I think its strengths are sufficient to save a consistent cross browser, multi-platform, advanced web experience. More on this later… Go Flash Go! :-)



Psychometric Statistics Interactive Graphs

The Interactive graphs in Psychometric Statistics allows the instructor and students to see visually the effects of manipulating statistical data. The instructor uses real word scenarios in the classroom in conjunction with graphs to help students understand the cause and effect relationship between statistical parameters. Students also use the graphs outside of the classroom with homework assignments. Dan, the student developer working on these projects did such an outstanding job building these graphs. I supervised his great work.

Release Date: August, 2005
Project Type: Interactive Flash
Student Developer: Dan Larsen
My Role: Supervisor
Software Used: Adobe Flash Professional

Click to Experience the Interactive Graph