So itâ€™s the day after my presentation on Flash Localization. I was quite happy with how things panned out, given I had been a presentation virgin prior to last night. The presentation didn’t hurt nearly as much as I was afraid of. At least it didn’t hurt me :D.
Thanks to AKQA for the venue, support, beer and pizza, very nice it was to. Thanks also to Tink for the opportunity to break my cherry, so to speak. And finally thanks to every one that came along to listen to me gibbering on. It must be said this is a subject I have come to build a love-hate relationship with over the many years I have spent in the field. I love the challenge of working to localise the content. I hate the fact that Flash makes even some of the most mundane solutions or Ideas a HUGE Challenge. It would seem I am not alone in this.
In addition to nattering on myself, I also received some useful information as well, which was great. So thanks for correcting my terminology of Polish as a Cyrillic based Language. Apparently it’s an Extended European language, which would account for me having issues with that one. 😀
Something I didn’t do last night was to show any code. This was due to operating on a Mac (thanks again Tink) and not being confident enough in my app switching on the alien technology. Below are some snippets I made reference to.
As myself and Mike (flashgen.com) have mentioned previously we were heavily involved in Flash ‘way back in the day’. During the time we were cutting our teeth in flash’s infancy we were involved in some (IOHO) pretty slick projects. Now if you want those to be seen EVER again we need to get some release forms signed from 2 very specific companies in the UK.
If you can help us, or you know some one who might be able too PLEASE leave a comment. Let me know if you want it made public or not and I will abide your wishes. What is important is that myself or Mike (flashgen.com) can contact you some how to follow it up.
If you lead to the project going like I will personally buy you a BIG beers or six, and give you a great big hug (kisses optional).
The companies and or departments required are.
BBC Education Department — need to be able to sign release for Medicine Through Time Website. (circa 1998, Flash 3).
British Telecoms Education Department — need to be able to sign release for BT Time Trek Game. (circa 1998, Flash 3).
Remember this may be the only opportunity to see these historical examples of what us oldskoolers ‘bled our eyes on’.
It all started at university. Microsoft or MSN Australia I think it was, that was the first ‘flash’ movie I saw. And it changed everything I had seen on the web until then. Of course unlike everything else on the web at that time there was no way to see how they had done it. Or at least you would think 😉 . A few moments in a hex editor to remove those pesky 10th and 11th bytes, if memory serves, that was the ‘copy protection’ and we were off and de-compiling, perhaps the first flash de-compiler was actually UltraEdit? 😀
As you will have seen Mike Jones (FlashGen.com) and I are meeting to take notes, share war stories and generally reminisce the ‘Good OldSkool Days’. To find out what files we still have, and even which URLs are still live (Flash 3 (alpha) circa 1997/8 btw JD produced by Spooky & the Bandit – you may remember them :p)
Keep your eyes peal for more news as events unfold….
The London Flash User Group site has now been updated. I will be giving my first ever public flash presentation. My chosen specialist subject will be localisation techniques for flash. This is something I have been banging my head against for some time, and as a result like to think I may be able to offer some nuggets of knowledge to someone out there in order to save them the same pain I have endured.
I’ve personally been using the XPathApi in flash for a little while. I don’t remember how I came across it initially, but I do know that I use it in almost every project I have worked on lately. However it has been bought to my attention by a colleague that not everyone has fallen across this most handy of classes. Below is information and links to help you get the most out of the XPathApi class in flash.
Shortly after working on the Ford S-Max micro site, I was involved in a second Multilingual Flash Micro Site for ford. This one is an update for the Ford Fusion and the first Market to launch the site is the Czech Republic.
The site make uses a similar XML driven content system to the Ford S-Max Site. It also makes use of the LoadQueueManager class (I Apologise for the lack of support on the code base for the Load Queue Manager, but I have been extremely busy).
The site is due to be rolled out across Europe in a similar spread of languages to the For S-max site.
A direct link to the Ford Fusion Refresh site is here.
Or if you wan to see it in the popup as it was intended, you can see it here. Just click on the Blue link on the Right hand side of the main image.
There have been a few posts already regarding the decision by Adobe to re-version the Flash Player 8.5 to Flash Player version 9. The reasons do seem valid with respect to the differences between the version 8 Flash Player currently available and the new Flash Player 8.5/9.
Having used Flash now for close to 10 years (yes, myself and my good friend Mike Jones over at FlashGen are talking about a ‘do’ to celebrate) there are two things that struck me regarding the release of the Flash Player 9, as it will now be know.
In the last 10 Years this is the first time a Flash Player or Plugin has been released BEFORE the general Flash IDE. Macromedia have also announced that:
We expect to release an ActionScript 3.0 preview release (public alpha) of the next release of the Flash authoring tool, code-named “BLAZE”, on Adobe Labs around the time of the Flash Player 9 launch.
Based on the fact that Flex 2 and the Flash Player 9 are expected this summer:
Flash Player 9 is expected to ship with the Flex 2.0 launch this summer. It will be publicly available for download from the Flash Player Download Center.
This could mean that the new Flash 9 player could be ‘in the wild’ some months before general flash producers have access to a truly creative/design orientated visual editor to produce from. Rather than the Flex 2/Eclipse platform that Action Scripter’s already have access to.
The second unique thing about the new Flash 9 Player is that over the last 10 years a key feature of each player release was that they had some level of backwards compatibility. The Flash IDE has also always had some level of support for producing and saving content compatible with previous Flash IDE versions or earlier Flash Player versions.
Even The latest Flash 8 IDE release has the ability to save your production FLA in a format compatible with Flash MX 2004 (Flash 7) IDE. Not to mention that it can export or output SWF files compatible with any player version right back to the 1997 Flash 1 Player version SWF (or SPL as it was in fact known if memory serves :p ).
From what I understand, and have seen so far this does not seem to be the case with AS3 Flash Player 9 based production at the moment. Now whether Adobe intend “Blaze” to offer some support for producing to previous Flash Player Versions or Saving production files for use in previous Flash IDE versions remains to be seen. On a personal note I have worked in enough agencies to know that if it isn’t possible there could be issues in the take up from production houses.
Even now agencies are being asked by clients to produce content compatible with Flash Player 5, and also to supply source files compatible with flash MX. The fact is is that the developers and designers that are pushing the boundaries and evangelizing about the latest features and capabilities of flash are not I suspect the largest user/consumer base of either the Flash IDE or the Flash Player.
While I think getting the new Flash 9 Player out in the open early is certainly a good way to avoid the ‘Player Version Lag’ that has always plagued flash adoption. It may not be the only reason that ‘Flash Version Lag’ exists.
After a brief break to test my new surf board I arrived back in London to trawl the in box of its usual detritus of spam and try and find the emails that I actually need. In amongst them was the news that a project I have had the great pleasure to be involved in had gone live.
This is the first phase of a flash 8 project that will be pushing some serious technology about. At the moment I cant say much about what will be happening in the future but it should be fun, both for us developers and also the users as the project expands.
It was during my time on this acorn of a site that I encountered the Text Wrapping ‘issue’ described here.
Another fun things to deal with was the lack of bitmap smoothing in flash 8. Thankfully I had stumbled on Tinic Uro’s solution to that little gem which can be found here.
On top of those things I finally had an opportunity to make proper use of CSS in flash for something other than my own mundane CV. Even though this is a small taste of the main application the foundations are certainly strong.
This week while working on another multilingual flash site, this time in Flash 8 I came across this interesting feature/bug with the new Flash 8 text anti aliasing. Let me explain the move below.
The top section of the movie uses text fields with the anti-aliasing setting set to “anti-alias for readability” which is placed inside a movie clip symbol. This clip is then placed on the main stage of the movie. The button at the top simple scales the movie clip that contains these fields from 100% to 200%.
The bottom section of the movie uses script to create a movie clip, and then create 2 text fields into the new movie clip. This time we use embedded fonts and text formatting to get the text to appear the same way as the top fields. The button then does the same scale operation on this newly created clip.
if the movie is missing below view it here for now
As you can see the flash 8 text does some very strange wrapping of the text as the parent clip is scaled. This effect was displayed in the project I was working on, and as you can imagine the client was not so pleased with this funky text effect.
The only fix I could come up with was to create and display the text as per the bottom section of the movie. I hope that all makes sense and is of use to someone.
Code from the movie is after the split, I apologise for the state of it, its is for example only.
It has been bought to my attention that the ‘Plain Text’ link of the iG:Syntax Hiliter plug-in I have been using for WordPress does not operate to well. Also some of the Flash ActionScripts I have been posting are rather large and so take a while to display and be formatted correctly.
As a result of these issues i have added a Downloads page to my blog and will try and get in the habit of posting files that i think people may find useful here so they can pull them down as a .zip file.
Previously I had posted a code ‘snippet’ for a Load Queue Manager Class that I had produced after trying to deal with the many different pre-existing examples on the web, by many different authors, in many different languages.
Since posting my LoadQueueManager Class code two things have happened.
I discovered it contained some ‘undesired features’ :p.
I received some comments requesting further documentation.
I have addressed the first point, and hopefully this post will address the second. Before I continue though I would like to say, if any authors of the code I referenced are missed from my comments in the code, or the authors would like to be listed in a different way then please do contact me and I will update the comments and references accordingly.
It would appear that some of the earliest flash and generator work myself and some of my colleges were involved in back in the earliest days of flash has broken one of the most ludicrous patent awards I have heard of.
Neil Balthaser has been awarded a Patent relating to the online production of RIAï¿½s using RIAï¿½s over a remote connection.
I find this incredible given the number of flash applications that were around at that time that must have existed to be listed as prior art that would have shown quite obviously that there was not a single original idea, process or product related to the Balthather FX/ProFX site.
In the UK there is the MoonFruit platform for a start that was live before the Pro FX site for a start, not least the fact that Macromedias own Generator product offered exactly the engine of such automated production online.
So here for your delectation is ï¿½Casperï¿½ an application born in 1998/1999 some time originally utilising flash 3/4 and generator and then more recently updated through flash 5 and Flash MX. In the future I fully intend to bring the code base kicking and screaming into Flash AS2/3 and re-introduce the capabilities to ï¿½exportï¿½ or ‘produce’ rich media presentations from it.
For those of you who where also around producing this form of ï¿½RIAï¿½ back in the day, I highly recommend you dig out and dust off your old FLAï¿½s and report those productions over at OSFlash.org as prior art.
Where this patent leaves future development of similar concepts in relation to Flex, server based MTasc/swfMill Ajax or any other form and or mixture of technology(ies) you can think of remains to be seen.
So I have been pretty busy of late with development of a simple Ford Micro Site. This is certainly one of the most interesting projects i have been able to work on in a while, and I have to say seems to be showing a trend towards flexible, yet visually strong multilingual sites.
Previously i had noticed that if a Flash site or presentation was required in multiple languages then the likelihood was that the creative would be paired down. The main thinking in this seemed to be a direct result of font issues, and also some of the limitations with regard to non-embedded text.
The Ford SAV site will be presented in 16 languages. The content and structure is stored and managed via external XML documents. All images and audio are managed via the xml along with limited control over the colours and ‘skin’ elements such as the background tints and locations. Continue reading Ford Multilingual Micro Site→
Many moons ago, when flash was still young, and this user was in University. Well some days at any rate. I owned a domain. That domain was the focus of a lot of time and frustration. But it was my bit of the net, and I loved it.
During all the kafuffle of the Dot.Com boom I moved flat a couple of times and some where along the line I missed the renewal window on that domain. As a result a nasty search engine swooped down and snuck my domain away from me.
Ten Years on I have that domain back. Evidently the hits I was getting back then, for my flash tutorials, Generator ranting and general young pompish flash behaviour, had died to a trickle of the former glory and so my domain was no longer the prime real estate that search engines like.
And now some how that domain name seems even more appropriate.