Archive for the ‘USER EXPERIENCE’ Category

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

Found via Zeh, this great bulk loading kit for AS3 from Arthur Debert.

AS3 Loaders are very useful, but when you have large projects there is always a pause and focus on loading scenarios and architecture needed for your loading scenarios, sometimes this can literally eat days and entirely change performance with wrong moves. BulkLoader is a well written kit from Authur Debert that makes loading scenarios or using BulkLoader as a base to your loading situations a great pluggable piece of code that has many excellent features.

Some of the calls like BulkLoader.getLoader(“main-site”).getContent(“bg”), are also very similar to Silverlight’s downloader object that can be queued like this. All in all a kit that is very useful that I have already put to work and will help teams standardize on bulk loading for those killer flash apps.

Creating a BulkLoader instance

// creates a BulkLoader instance with a name of "main-site", that can be used to retrieve items without having a reference to this instance

var loader : BulkLoader = new BulkLoader("main-site");

Add urls to load

// simplest case:
loader.add("logo.png");

// use an "id" so the item can be retrieved later without a reference to the url
loader.add("background.jpg", {id:"bg"});

// since the url by itself can't tell us what the filetype is, use the type property to let BulkLoader know what to do:
loader.add("/some-web-services?size=Large", {type:"image"});

// add an item that should be loaded first (higher priority):
loader.add("/data/config.xml", {priority:20});

// add a max try number (defaults to 3)
loader.add("/unreliable-web-services.xml", {maxTries:6});

// you can also use a URLRequest object , this will load from a POST request

var postRequest : URLRequest = new URLRequest("/save-prefs.php");
postRequest.method = "POST";

var postData : URLVariables = new URLVariables(myPostDataObject );
postRequest.data = postData;
loader.add(postRequest, {"id":"settings"});

// of course, all options can be combined:
loader.add("the-sound-webservices?name=maintrack", {"id":"soundtrack", type:"sound", maxTries:1, priority:100});

Listening for events

// simplest case:
loader.add("logo.png");

// use an "id" so the item can be retrieved later without a reference to the url
loader.add("background.jpg", {id:"bg"});

// since the url by itself can't tell us what the filetype is, use the type property to let BulkLoader know what to do:
loader.add("/some-web-services?size=Large", {type:"image"});

// add an item that should be loaded first (higher priority):
loader.add("/data/config.xml", {priority:20});

// add a max trie number (defaults to 3)
loader.add("/unreliable-web-services.xml", {maxTries:6});

// you can also use a URLRequest object , this will load from a POST request

var postRequest : URLRequest = new URLRequest("/save-prefs.php");
postRequest.method = "POST";

var postData : URLVariables = new URLVariables(myPostDataObject );
postRequest.data = postData;
loader.add(postRequest, {"id":"settings"});

// of course, all options can be combined:
loader.add("the-sound-webservices?name=maintrack", {"id":"soundtrack", type:"sound", maxTries:1, priority:100});

Listening for events:

// attaching events to all items:

// this will fire once all items have been loaded
loader.addEventListener(BulkLoader.COMPLETE, onAllLoaded);

// this will fire on progress for any item

// the event , BulkProgress is a subclass of ProgressEvent (with extra information)
loader.addEventListener(BulkLoader.PROGRESS, onAllProgress);

// this will fire if any item fails to load:

// the event is BulkErrorEvent and holds an array (errors) with all failed LoadingItem instances
loader.addEventListener(BulkLoader.ERROR, onAllError);

// you can also listen to events in individual items               

// this will fire as soon as the item registred with the id of "bg" is done loading (even if there are other items to load)
loader.get("bg").addEventListener(Event.COMPLETE,onBackgroundLoaded)

// this will only trigged if the config.xml loading fails:
loader.get("data/config.xml").addEventListener(BulkLoader.ERROR, onXMLFailed);

Starting the loading operation

BulkLoader will only begin loading once you call the start method:

loader.start();

Retrieving content


var theBgBitmap : Bitmap = loader.getContent("bg") as Bitmap;

// you don't need to keep a reference to the loader intance, you can get it by name:
var theBgBitmap : Bitmap = BulkLoader.getLoader("main-site").getContent("bg") as Bitmap;

// you can also use the conviniece methods to get a typed object:
var theBgBitmap : Bitmap = loader.getBitmap("bg");

// grab a BitmapData directly:
var theBgBitmap : Bitmap = loader.getBitmapData("bg");

Other convenience functions: getXML, getText, getNetStream, getSound, getMovieClip, getNetStreamMetaData.

You can retrieve an item using it’s id, it’s url as a String or as the URLRequest object (if the item was created with an URLRequest).

Arthur also has experience on Tweener so making simplified calls and minimalist code to make a library successful is very clear in the notes/goals on the project and the resulting code:

BulkLoader is a minimal library written in Actionscript 3 (AS3) that aims to make loading and managing complex loading requirements easier and faster. BulkLoader takes a more dynamic, less architecture heavy aproach. Few imports and making heavy use of AS3′s dynamic capabilities, BulkLoader has a one-liner feel that doesn’t get your way.

BulkLoader tries to hide the complexity of loading many data types in AS3, providing a unified interface for loading, accessing and events notification for different types of content.

This library is licensed under an open source MIT license.

Features:

  • Connection pooling.
  • Unified interface for different loading types.
  • Unified progress notification.
  • Events for individual items and as groups.
  • Priority
  • Stop and resuming individually as well as in bulk.
  • Cache managing.
  • Statistics about loading (latency, speed, average speed).
  • Multiple kinds on progress indication: ratio (items loaded / items to load), bytes , and weighted percentage.
  • Multiple number of retries.
  • Configurable logging.

Design goals:

  • Minimal imports.
  • Few method to learn.
  • Dynamic nature: items can be added by specifying a url as a String or a URLRequest .
  • Items can be assigned an identifier key to be used on retrieval.
  • Only one class to learn / use.

BulkLoader tries to gracefully handle progress notification in these use cases:

  • Few connections to open: bytes total can be used instantly.
  • Many connections opened: progress by ratio
  • Many connections opened for data of widely varying sizes: progress by weight.

Check out and download AS3 BulkLoader!

This is quite a contribution to the flash community and is a perfect candidate for the base of your loading assets projects and scenarios. Thanks Arthur!

Saturday, November 17th, 2007

The Proposal

Moses, the maker of FuseKit, is hoping to influence Adobe product lines to include a common base for animation and motion going forward. Currently the AS3 world is very alive and is inspiring developers like myself to build lots of toolkits and really creating reusable code and kits that can make things very easy from going to Flash to Flex. But wouldn’t it be nice if a part of these kits that have to be downloaded every time you have an application use them be part of the native Adobe applications, or a core animation kit that partially standardizes animation basics to build upon further?

Are we just asking for trouble or is this a good idea? I don’t’ think it can hurt to bring this to the surface. I know that common syntax and familiar kits can really help the developers and designers move from Flash to Flex to After Effects to Javascript, it could also help Adobe with usage and usefulness of their entire suite of products. Or further this could be a standard that allows Silverlight to also build upon (open standard) and may the best platform win.

I think it would be very wise for Adobe to:

  • Standardize animation toolkits across their products and
  • Start standardizing some of the basic tools of building motion and filter kits to native but still allowing a flourishing open source and community research and development aspect.

What MosesProposes:

Moses did speak with someone at Adobe about this and it is generally in the plans:

“It was also a pleasure to see Richard Galvan present the upcoming crop of Flash features: the sleek update to the animation timeline (better late than never?), support for columnated flowing text (double finally!) and the big one, native 3D player support for Display Objects as rotatable 2D planes. He ran out of time and didn’t get to a few others shown at Adobe MAX, such as built-in IK (inverse kinematics) and faster pixel-level drawing for texture-mapping and photoshop-like filter effects.

Talking to him after the presentation I learned that Richard has a keen awareness of exactly where each feature is at currently. We chatted about low-level animation mechanics of the Flash Player, and I found out that the holy grail of a time-based player is indeed on the distant horizon, but that each rev will need to be a small step toward this goal. The new Flash timeline features meld After Effects, Premiere and Live Motion, and from what I’ve seen I have to say that they are nailing this long-overdue upgrade with great design decisions and a level of usability we’ve never seen in Flash. Kudos, team!”

The Current Situation

Right now Tweener and TweenLite (and animation package and a few others) have a unique position in that they work the same almost for AS2 and AS3 (Flex or Flash – with minor property changes such as _x to x as that has changed in AS3). But it would be nice if these kits also had a version for After Effects (really bringing that tool into Flash/flex developer worlds) and Javascript and it would be great if Silverlight also were supported (AgTweener anyone?).

Tweener is leading the pack in this aspect of creating a similar experience from AS2 to AS3 in Flash and AS3 in Flex and even JSTweener for Javascript, and a kit for haXe which is becoming my favorite toy and the dark horse with the most upside potential, with haXe on the loose these points may all be moot as haXe can target any platform (except After Effects easily, correct me if I am wrong and Silverlight but it could easily be done so to do it for Silverlight 1.0 which is ES3 based).

I don’t use After Effects as much right now but if I could easily incorporate this into Flash/Flex and script and animate in a similar syntax and way I know After Effects would definitely have a boost in interest.

Also, the forgotten one Director, can we please get an ES4 based language in that application, or an update? Then kits and add-ons are much more possible. I really miss hardware accelerated 3d in browser as a pushed technology, Director is still around but it does not get the focus it needs. Feel the freedom and coolness just in this small test here in director, hardware accelerated 3d is the best, the Director application environment and Lingo and hacked in javascript are not the best. As a long-time Director user, hobbyist and professional I am disappointed in Director’s support at Adobe thus far, but I digress.

The Reality

The reality is right now the only problem with kits like Tweener, TweenLite, Tween, mx.transitions, mx.motion, etc is that the source has to be embedded in movieclips multiple times. Sometimes there are multiple animation kits per compiled SWF that have to be used for more advanced features. This adds bulk that if common might not need to be there (this comes into play still on mobile and large games/apps).

Let’s say you have an application that pulls in many disconnected SWFs and they all have animation in them, well if you have 20 of these let’s say, and you embedded a very small Tweener at 9k per SWF. That is about 200k of duplication of AS code. Due to the kits small sizes this is not a problem really but when animation kits like Animation Package come into play, you are talking 40k per SWF which would leave you with almost a meg of just duplicated animation code. I don’t think this is that major of a problem for kits like Tweener (9k compiled) and Tweenlite (3k compiled) but as projects get bigger and more depth of animation platforms needed this can be a problem. This can also be solved in architecture with a controller and dummy SWFs to animate but there are times when you need animation in the compiled SWFs and then also need it in many others and the controller.

The other reality is the animation kits (mx.transitions.easing, mx.transitions.tween) for Flex and Tween for fl are a little bloated, more difficult than needed to use and as has been seen, much slower than kits currently available in the community. My one fear about this is that if Adobe makes this, possibly like Microsoft’s toolkits and libraries they put out, they are always bloated and slower, then because they are embedded they are untouchable. If it was standard enough as building blocks that are faster because they are native, then this is the best option as embedded script would be hard pressed to beat native code in the players/applications.

The Future Plans

Some of this is underway….

Animation kits for future, Adobe is releasing Flash 10 called ‘Astro’ that has many new improvements in tweening with xml closer to flex or even Silverlight like transitions and storyboards. Aral Balkan, a sponsor of OSFlash, posted on this and even that Diesel Flash CS4 will include more Tween tools for IK/bones. Tweener , TweenLite, Animation Package, Animation System etc these are all helping to define the best way to do animation kits.

Physics toolkits have their own animation kits currently usually to handle the movement according to algorithms. FOAM, APE , Box2DFlashAS3 (just released very recently will be posting more on this after I check it) and Motor Physics (unreleased but heavily demoed at polygonal labs) are great physics toolkits and I like this being part of the community to get refined, maybe one of them or the best performing ones becomes part of the proposed Adobe Animation bundle. These will define the best way to do physics kits.

3d in flash toolkits have also been emerging rapidly in 2007 with Papervision3D, Away3d based on pv3d, Sandy, and even engines starting to get built on top of these platforms.

The general direction is moving towards another platform in there somewhere but I think much work is left to be done to standardized physics systems, 3d and advanced motion filter tweens and bezier, splines (Catmull-Rom), editors, etc. I think it is getting time for basic animation kits to become more standard though and in latest versions of flash this is included in the flex and flash scripts but not the native code.

Right now the standard in syntax and the broadest reach is Tweener and due to the bigger fish syndrome, haXe that can target any platform, it also has a Tweener and can create code for as2, as3 and any target written in if After Effects, Premiere or other apps get more robust and standard animation and motion kits. Tweener has kits made and contributed for AS2, AS3, haXe, Javascript and others.

There is also Hydra and the AIF Toolkit that are standardizing After Effects and Flash shaders and filters into a new shader language like Cg and reminiscent of processing.org.

As humans we trial and error and build new platforms in the market to step on to create better platforms to build cool stuff, it is evolving right now. AS3 is inspiring platforms within platforms of Flash and Adobe kits as well as on Silverlight and in the Javascript world with JSTweener, jquery etc. As these things are refined we build a level standard platform to build more stuff on. Eventually this will be there and whoever does the standard platform for animation will probably reap in users and abilitty to easily add new products and solutions where people already have training. Silverlight is an example with .NET developers. .NET was also an example with C# so similar to Java. ES4 based AS3 has proven it is inspiring all types of new platforms and kits and will continue to do so and it is an interesting time in this industry whichever direction it goes.

Monday, November 5th, 2007

Flash and Silverlight allow developers to make amazing tools, they allow creative expression and they also are usually a bad user experience many times.

Lots of that is changing as more applications are made and frameworks like Flex and Silverlight progress. Much of the needed performance is now available for Flash/Flex in AS3 and the AVM2 virtual machine that runs it, making full applications much faster for all actions that might have been a drag in AS2 and vector based application’s of the past. Some great tools were made with this still that were usable like gModeler a flash based UML modeling tool but the performance boost will make these applications even more usable for mainstream.

Some great examples of user friendly apps where the flash or the silverlight element doesn’t blind the developer from usability. These applications might really have a market for general users of applications from advanced depending on feature set as long as they are usable.

buzzword (Flash/Flex/AS3)

Is a word processor that is really well done. This is made with Flex and everything from validation to the toolset is very usable and clean. I use Google Docs and haven’t looked back for about a year but this application is a nice change to web editors for documents at the current state. It included all the usual basic functionality and great new zoom, revision history and sharing tools that web office tools like word processors has come to expect. Be sure to try this one.

scrapblog (Flash/Flex/AS3)
scapblog is a bloggy/presentation that is a great template editor and the tools are broad and expected from users including great integration with the web for photos and video at major sites such as photobucket, flickr, etc.

Google SearchMash (Flex/Flash/AS3)

This is a Flex 2 (actionscript 3) application that is very fast and usable in vector.

Sample Textured 3d Vista demo(Silverlight 1.0)

This demo showcases the speed of Silverlight and a usable OS like interface that performs well. It showcases Silverlight but also has great usability in expected user actions and results.

tafiti (Silverlight 1.0 demo)

Tafiti is a search tool that uses SIlverlight and live search to represent search results in a rich way. They did a pretty good job with usability and especially considering the Silverlight 1.0 lack of good input controls. Little bit laggy.

The point is solution developers should use technology but most importantly make it functional and usable to what users expect. RIAs will succeed very well as long as you can select text, hit back buttons, deep linking, use menu systems, integrate services, have all the features of apps not in vector engines like Flash or Silverlight and to make it mainstream friendly they need to have a low bar of entry and just work. RIAs have an advantage right now as office apps move to the web and photo apps as well, many of these apps above would appeal to general computer users in addition to advanced users.

Thursday, October 25th, 2007

Flash is great, but accessibility can sometimes be a problem if it is not paid attention to. Direct linking, deep linking, back button support, these are very important to wire up in your applications. I am seeing many new RIAs, apps, sites, interactives still not do this and it is quite annoying.

The great thing about the web is that is gave users the ability to control the presentation and the context, from outside the presentation. By allowing users to use the back button and change urls in the address bar this was empowering. Empower your users and ad campaigns to get to different places of your application easily with deep linking, it is required for usability.

But this is hard right? Not really with great tools. What are you waiting for, SWFObject and SWFAddress make up THE platform right now for deep linking, embedding and back button support. These kits have been exhaustively tested and are very compact scripts to help you embed and then provide deep-linking, back button support and direct linking instantaneously almost.

Download SWFObject

Download SWFAddress

Both of these kits are well tested and provide instant small simple components of which to build complex systems on top of. SWFAddress builds on SWFObject tested embedding script and provides the tools you need to get deep linking running in your application in no time.

Note of caution, design implications (architecture design)

When you drive off the URL such as with direct and deep linking in Flash it does change your order of how you handle operations when you have to take into account the URL state. The first thing you have to do is when you receive an onChange event from SWFAddress that the URL has changed, you need to parse it and take action. However if you plan to deep link and provide usability throughout your flash site or app (even in the forms or multistep processes driven by URL) then you need to plan for this event and work this into your architecture for the url handling within the flash framework for your site.

A scenario might be:

  1. User using your flash app
  2. User clicks link or new section of your flash application
  3. INSTEAD of just animating the state in the flash application, you have to just update the section or URL (location.hash in javascript that provides the # name linking allowing the browser to stay put, or in this case SWFAddress.setValue((“/sectionname/page1″)),
  4. THEN the flash app or site is REACTIVE to the URL, reads in “sectionname/page1″ parses it and then animates to sectionname/page1.
  5. Or detect if the change came from the app or the URL directly and handle that differently in the onChange event with a subsystem.

Rather than just animating the app state or changing it, or showing that next photo on the button event, your button event would change the URL, then the flash monitoring the URL would push the onChange event. After that either animate in the next section or take appropriate action per the user requested action.

It isn’t like this for all areas or states of your application but you have to decide what is directly linkable, and when you want a state directly linkable then you have to wire it this way. Obvious choices are navigation items in your site, but they might also be specific cases like a multi-page form wizard that you want to link to step 3 directly, or a movieclip that someone can pass #3m2s to advance the movie by the url. There are many cases where you might want to provide deep linking into your flash application.

I know it sounds complicated? but it really isn’t, just a reversed way of thinking which we will highlight in the future with a tutorial and a fluid flash template. The SWFAddress site has great samples and examples, SWFAddress sets up the onChange handling in these samples and examples of how to do it in AS1, AS2 and AS3 so pick it up.

Download SWFObject

Download SWFAddress

Enable Deep Linking in Flash in 8 lines of code to start with SWFAddress:

From SWFAddress Documentation

1) Insert the SWFAddress script in your page directly after the SWFObject file.


2) Include or import one of the provided ActionScript classes. SWFAddress comes with versions for AS1, AS2 and AS3.3) Write your own navigation logic that will be executed when the address is changed.

SWFAddress.onChange = function()
{
    // Your code goes here.
}

3) Call the SWFAddress setter method from every button or action that requires deep linking.

this.onRelease = function() {
    SWFAddress.setValue('/portfolio/');
}

Check out the Asual blog (makers of SWFAddress) for more on good practices and bad practices with deep linking and more tips.Tips like:

Bad Practice: Address values naming using camelCase or other forms of custom convention

SWFAddress samples clearly define the best naming convention for deep links. Web addresses are case insensitive and the standard is lower case. For readability and Google SEO compatibility reasons the convention ‘my-deep-link’ is more appropriate than ‘myDeepLink’ or ‘My_deep_link’. The format http://domain.com/#/my-deep-link/?param=value is the only one fully compatible with the SWFAddress SEO rewriting.

Silverlight Deep Linking

This is also very simple in Silverlight to deep-link using javacript tools kits for Silverlight 1.0 which is javascript only, on location.hash change using a timer you could call an application method that might change the state or call certain transitions or move Canvases around, hide/show them, load content in, etc. Again, something you want to think about early on.

Other notes

SWFObject 2.0 beta5 is out and after 5 betas hopefully is nearing release

Pick up the code here for SWFObject 2.0

SWFObject 2 (script based) is the name again after a small switch and merge with UFO (standards based) to SWFFix but as Geoff Sterns pointed out, this seems to assume that something is broken.

SWFObject 2.0 is the new name again and let’s hope many more great tools are built on SWFObject 2.0 like SWFAddress which handles direct linking and back button support (using location.hash as most AJAX/RIA apps do to get deep linking and back button support).

Thursday, September 20th, 2007

What are these ominous Loaders is what people ask when they first start into AS3?  Loaders help to facilitate the loading of sprites or content that aren’t in the DisplayObjectList tree just yet.  Loaders allow you to load all types of files swf, jpg, png, etc and put them right in the display list.  A very simple basic load is below to describe the basics of loading content.  This can be used many ways within individual classes or shared and add in multiple file downloading.  You might add zip file downloading and then automatic upzipping of assets to load in.  There are many ways to architect your downloading and preloading but this is the basics of a loader in AS3.

var request:URLRequest = new URLRequest("content.swf");
var loader:Loader = new Loader();

loader.contentLoaderInfo.addEventListener(ProgressEvent.PROGRESS, loadProgress);
loader.contentLoaderInfo.addEventListener(Event.COMPLETE, loadComplete);

function loadProgress(event:ProgressEvent):void {
var percentLoaded:Number = event.bytesLoaded/event.bytesTotal;
percentLoaded = Math.round(percentLoaded * 100);
trace("Loading: "+percentLoaded+"%");
}
function loadComplete(event:Event):void {
trace("Complete");
}

loader.load(request);
addChild(loader);

All DisplayObject instances have a loaderInfo property consisting of a LoaderInfo instance that provides information about that object’s loaded content (if applicable). The Loader instance contains this property along with an additional contentLoaderInfo property which represents the LoaderInfo instance of the content being loaded. When loading content into a Loader, the contentLoaderInfo property is the object you would want to add listeners to for information about the loaded content such as when new bytes are being loaded into the player (for a preloader) and when loading has completed.

The events associated with LoaderInfo instances includes:

  • complete:Event — Dispatched by the associated LoaderInfo object when the file has completed loading. The complete event is always dispatched after the init event.
  • httpStatus:HTTPStatusEvent — Dispatched by the associated LoaderInfo object when a network request is made over HTTP and Flash Player can detect the HTTP status code.
  • init:Event — Dispatched by the associated LoaderInfo object when the properties and methods of the loaded SWF file are accessible. The init event always precedes the complete event.
  • ioError:IOErrorEvent — Dispatched by the associated LoaderInfo object when an input or output error occurs that causes a load operation to fail.
  • open:Event — Dispatched by the associated LoaderInfo object when the loading operation starts.
  • progress:ProgressEvent — Dispatched by the associated LoaderInfo object as data is received while load operation progresses.
  • unload:Event — Dispatched by the associated LoaderInfo object when a loaded object is removed.

[source]

Tuesday, September 11th, 2007



Flash Performance and HD (H.264) Video Progress

Fast performance is needed for good video combined with interactivity especially. Quickly comparing AS2 to AS3 shows that AS3 and the AVM2 virtual machine in Flash9 is much faster. If you are combining Flash and video especially when it is time to go HD, you will need performance.

Compare AS2 to AS3 rendering: AS2 & AS3 Note the as2 item only has 10000 pixel operations, the as3 item has 50,000 and is considerably more usable, in fact the AS2 version isn’t usable since it is slow. [source] This is a good test because it checks the movement of every pixel on the screen which leads me to video performance.

Flash HD in the FLV format is pretty nice looking today in Flash9 with AS3. But to keep up there are more formats and a move to support H.264/MPEG-4 AVC I am sure for online TV/Movie market.

The reason to bring up performance and video is because the video battle on the web is heating up even more between Adobe and Microsoft with Flash Video and Silverlight Video. The recent released info regarding HD on Flash is to combat Silverlight HD video that is looking pretty good.

Silverlight Performance and HD Video VC-1

View this Halo 3 video in Silverlight HD:

View it->

Recently Silverlight came out last week officially on Wednesday, really the 1.0 release is just a video and javascript release but when you view the videos below you will see that they have a short coup de tat on Flash video at the moment in terms of HD quality video.

Silverlight also has been pushing TV on the internet. See these samples that are actual TV on web pages already using Silverlight.

  1. Home Shopping Network Online
  2. ET Emmy’s coverage
  3. They also have WWE and MLB.com baseball already using Silverlight video.
  4. Netflix online video uses Silverlight

Flash video is cool and you can do great fun things like neave.tv (flash 8) and high definition FLV video in flash9 with AS3 and on occasion AS2 if it is just video with full screen flash but when you are talking TV and movie quality, it is still up for grabs but both are looking good especially Silverlight and that Halo 3 video.

Flash video is updating to H.264 [source]

Tinic Uro reports the beta player of flash that has HD now. Currently the FLV format is the web leader (you tube, Google video) but is not as good quality as Silverlight until they update to H.264 at least in terms of standards video. This is probably 6 months off?

Video literally changed in the internet in the last two weeks with the Flash announcements and Silverlight launching. I am surprised at Silverlight’s adoption rate and partnerships so far with the 1.0 offering which lacks many programming tools, but I see why on the video front why they did it. When 1.1 comes out it has all the programmer toys, and it will attract a lot of attention I think. It is all about performance and HD video right now.

Yes yes… Quicktime has done HD/H.264 video for a while but Quicktime is just a video format really, it will be able to be used in the new flash video as well as other formats but it doesn’t have the interactive platform behind it like Flash and Silverlight have.

The difference is the choice of format and standards. Silverlight with VC-1 and Flash going to H.264 codec. They are largely competing standards that are both “HD”.

The good news is we have competition to bring really high quality video to the web, the mashups with HD video in interactive games, demos, advertising etc will be very fun.

Thursday, August 2nd, 2007

Uploading on the internet is pretty arcane. Either you have to individually select each file with the browse file input, install some activex control or use java to select multiple files. It always ends up being a tedious action.

But Flash is the new champ in file upload for the web, as with video, Flash just makes it simple. The FileReferenceList class and its browse method pop up the multiple file select box where the user can hold CTRL or SHIFT to select multiple files and watch them all drop in rather than having to painstakingly select them one by one and not having to install an unknown activex or java applet.

Here’s script to upload multiple files (or get the multiple file select box).

var fileRefList:FileReferenceList = new FileReferenceList();
fileRefList.addEventListener(Event.SELECT, selectHandler);
fileRefList.browse();

function selectHandler(event:Event):void
{
    var request:URLRequest = new URLRequest("http://www.[yourdomain].com/upload/");
    var file:FileReference;
    var files:FileReferenceList = FileReferenceList(event.target);
    var selectedFileArray:Array = files.fileList;
    for (var i:uint = 0; i < selectedFileArray.length; i++)
    {
        file = FileReference(selectedFileArray[i]);
        file.addEventListener(Event.COMPLETE, completeHandler);
        try
        {
            file.upload(request);
        }
        catch (error:Error)
        {
            trace("Unable to upload files.");
        }
    }
}
function completeHandler(event:Event):void
{
    trace("uploaded";);
}

[source]

SWFUpload is based on this and is a nice AJAX based script that uses ExternalInterface in AS3 to pass the javascript presentation to the flash uploader.

The multiple file select, checking the file size before uploading and the ExternalInterface access for Actionscript to talk to Javascript makes Flash the best option for online file uploads for the web yet.