Monthly Archives: October 2005

Speaking at Spark Europe on AS3/AVM2/Flex2


I am speaking at Spark Europe and will be presenting 2 sessions on AS3/AVM2/Flex 2. I will be exploring the AVM2 Display List and AS3 Binary Sockets with Flex 2 in detail. I have some great examples to present and these 2 sessions are shaping up nicely.

Managing the DisplayList in AVM2/AS3
Cinema, De Balie – 11/17/2005, 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Flash Player 8.5 fundamentally changes the rules that govern managing MovieClips. In this session, Patrick explores the DisplayList API in detail and reviews changes in transitioning from AVM to AVM2. He examines DisplayObject instantiation and destruction, DisplayObject reparenting, and managing DisplayObject index. Patrick present several examples including a Tile-Based game engine for AVM2/AS3. Attendees leave with an understanding of the DisplayList and how to best manage MovieClips and Sprites within Flash Player 8.5.

flash.net.Socket for Multi-user Applications in Flex 2

Cinema, De Balie – 11/18/2005, 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM
ActionScript 3 provides a new class, flash.net.Socket, for data exchange within Flash Player 8.5. Socket is a native stream-based binary socket supporting reading and writing of binary data over a network connection. In this session, Patrick, examines the Socket API while showing several examples that provide insight into application use. He show examples using AMF over Socket, GZip compression, managing binary streams, and protecting SWF content using Socket and Loader. If you are interested in the new forms of data exchange with Flash Player 8.5, this session should not be missed.

I look forward to seeing you at Spark Europe.

Cheers,

Ted ;)

Flex2 – ActionScript Project


ActionScript Project in Flex 2(Zorn) provides direct access to the AS3 compiler built into Zorn. Using only a Class file, you can compile a SWF directly. The SWF contains just only what you import and can be devoid of the Flex Framework. ASProject’s are perfect for advanced ActionScript development like games, components, or larger applications.

I begged and begged for this feature and Macromedia heard me loud and clear. Thanks Macromedia and the Flex Team for listening! The ASProject integration into Zorn is top notch, spot on perfect!

Photo of me begging Macromedia in SF! :)

ASProject is as close as we have ever come to raw access to the MM AS compiler. Integrated into Zorn, it provides a simple and effective IDE for building professional projects for the Flash Platform. If you have yet to learn Flex, starting your AS3 learning curve using ASProject is perfect choice.

Gary Grossman and Edwin Smith and the rest of the AS3 compiler and player teams need to be applauded for their work. The AS3 compiler is so ripping fast and the player is rock solid. All of my ASProjects compile in less than a second even some with 50+ classes. I am really impressed with the work Macromedia has done with Flex2 in ASProject, the AS3 compiler, and the 8.5 Flash Player.

I have several components, applications, and games that I built with ASProject and they are all headed into IFBIN Flex By Example as you might imagine. The apps range from my learning applications with AS3 to the tile engine I will be posting later this week. I never thought I would see a 36,000px by 36,000px tile based game in Flash, let alone author it.

Check out ASProject when you get a chance. It makes the Flash Platform about 1000 times more professional. Direct access to the Flash AS3 compiler is exactly what we needed to make the next generation of applications and games.

Also if you have any feature suggestions for ASProject, please feel free to leave a comment. I will make sure they get to the right people at MM.

Cheers,

Ted ;)

PowerSDK wins a 2005 MAX "Finalist" for "Crisis Coach"


PowerSDK spent 4 months providing Flex consulting services to WorkLife Media and Cynergy Systems on the deeper client side aspects of CrisisCoach. Congratulations to the teams! CrisisCoach / LifeCoach are mental health services using Flex.

MAX Finalists
Crisis Coach Gallery

CrisisCoach / LifeCoach provides a comprehensive service assisting in areas of mental health. It allows you to take an mental health assessment, identify problem areas, and receive contextual training based on your personalized results. The service also provides customer support from mental health professionals. The LifeCoach application is currently being used as an extranet for several large companies with more in the sales pipeline. Given the public stigma associated with mental health in the workplace, CrisisCoach / LifeCoach provide anonymous assistance to employees and people in need.

Lets get technical…

I wrote the client-side of the assessment engine in Flex, the server side was written by a team at Cynergy Systems. As you take the assessment and answer questions, the test will change based on your answers in real-time. The test is created on the server-side and Flex is used as a presentation layer. As Flex sends answers, it receives new questions until the assessment is complete. Given the real-time scoring, you can exit the assessment at any time and see your current score in easy to understand graph and meters. It would have been nearly impossible to have all the question screens compiled into a Flex application so Flex renders the forms to screen in an interpreted manner at runtime. The engine uses parts of the FLOW Renderer and this application is one of the first to use the toolset under Flex. I call it the “Browser Pattern” but it really just implies a light renderer presenting end user information from external data. As forms are completed, more data is retrieved and rendered. Ideally the model is perfect for Flex given the rich component set and the API’s to render content on the fly from data.

I also wrote a series of CrisisCoach / LifeCoach forms for customer service. We utilized the Atlassain JIRA bug tracking engine and Web Services to turn customer service inquiries into issues so they can be tracked and processed by a large support staff. Using the bug tracking engine for customer service was a brilliant choice as a CrisisCoach / LifeCoach customer service representatives can easily triage support requests. The application has real humans working round the clock behind it and tracking support requests was essential. JIRA ships with a Web Service API that allowed Flex to create bugs of all types in the backend.

I also worked with on the training application in CrisisCoach / LifeCoach. The system allows an end user to navigate through a large body of Flash based content, answer short quizzes on the material, and take notes. We added a persistence layer into the application so that a user’s progress is stored in their user account. You can login, take 50% of the CBT and on your next visit you will see your progress and all prior answers. Even if you switch machines, the training maintains your progress.

The combined teams covered so much ground in solving the core development problems with large scale applications in Flex. Working on this project was an extremely rewarding experience. The teams at WorkLife Media and Cynergy System are simply amazing. I am especially proud of PowerSDK’s work on the project. The fact that the project is a MAX Finalist, is just icing on the cake.

Congratulations to the long list of developers and contributors to CrisisCoach / LifeCoach on MAX Finalist!

It is also rewarding to know that CrisisCoach / LifeCoach is being used to help the people of Louisiana and Texas recover from the recent hurricanes.

Cheers,

Theodore Patrick
PowerSDK Founder and CEO