Jun 042008

I have collected some of the tools and resources that I find very useful when developing Actionscript applications that with the exception of one are free and/or open source.
If you are an experienced Actionscript developer you are probably already familiar with most of them, but there might be one of two that you have missed.
And there is probably a lot that I have missed that should be included, so if there is any you think should be placed on the list please give suggestions in the comments.

Actionscript 3.0 migration
Very useful AS2 to AS3 migration reference.

PHP implementation of the Action Message Format. If you need to transfer large data sets between the server and your Flash application remoting enables you to use native Flash data types which cuts down on time and resources needed to parse and transfer data.

AS3 Optimizations
Collection of useful AS3 optimization suggestions and links.

Unit test framework for Actionscript.

Web debugging proxy which I find indispensable for inspecting traffic between server and swf files.
Has support for remoting (AMF0 and AMF3) and can do bandwidth throttling.
The only resource listed here that is not free, but definitely worth a mention here due to being extremely useful.
You can try the 30 day demo and see if you think it’s worth the asking price compared to for example Fiddler which is a free alternative.

My favourite Actionscript editor. IMO the code completion is much better than FlexBuilder and it comes with MTASC and SWFMill to create AS2 swf’s and integrates with MXMLC for AS3 projects so it very easy to get started using it as an all-in-one solution for developing Actionscript applications.

Simple but very useful Firefox extension that enables you to view trace output in your web browser which is very handy when you need to debug an application while it’s running on the server.

GAIA Framework
I have to admit that I haven’t actually tried it out properly yet since it hasn’t been applicable for the kind of projects I have been working on lately, but I had a quick look at it and it really seems like a very neat framework for certain types of projects.

A neat little AS3 component set from bit101. As the name suggests it’s very minimal but usually I find full fledged architectures, like ASWing or the ones that comes with CS3, to be a bit overkill in most cases and it’s a great example to study if you like to make your own AS3 components.
They are drawn from code and hence have a tiny footprint but are not skinning friendly.
For AS2 I have mostly been using Bit101′s commercial
and I would love to see a similar set for AS3 but for now MinimalComps has come in very handy for simple little apps and prototyping.

Open source AS3 audio library started by Andre Michelle and Joa Ebert.
If you want to be able to generate or process sound without using Flash Player 10 it will help you do that, but it’s also possible to use the generators and processors with the new samplesCallbackEvent functionality of FP10 as well.
So if you are interested in Flash audio it certainly very worthwhile to check out.

Open source Flash server for media streaming and remoting. A very good free alternative to Flash Media Server.

To implement deeplinking and back button functionality when possible on Flash projects have been a concern of mine for quite a while, both due to usability and SEO concerns. Back in 2005 I developed my own solution, but it was something I quickly hacked together and although functioning and better than anything I could find at that time I always thought it could be a lot neater and was hoping someone would step up and create a package that could gain popularity with a lot of developers.
Hence I was very happy when SWFAddress came along with a package that is solid, neat and easy to implement.

I guess there is not much to say here. You’re probably familiar with SWFObject already, but in case you are not just get it and start using it to embed you swf with it now.
Not only is it a very convenient way of adding version detection, providing alternate content and passing on query parameters to the swf but it also has the benefit of avoiding the IE issues with activation of embedded content.

Easy to use version control software for Windows.

The fastest tweening engine for AS3 with very neat syntax and always my first choice for tweening duties along with it’s smaller siblings TweenLite and TweenFilterLite.
I have come across scenarios where it doesn’t behave as expected (I guess due to the fact that it doesn’t search for overlapping tween properties to overwrite only those properties) and then I stick with Tweener which has very respectable speed and equally neat syntax.
EDIT:Jack Doyle, the developer behind TweenMax, got in touch and had a look at my code to find the reason why it did not behave the same as Tweener. Basically TweenMax will not search through existing tweens to check what properties to overwrite and instead by initializing a new tween of one property you stop existing tweens of other properties. This is done to optimize speed but means that your code might have to be slightly different compared to other tweening engines.
In my case it was simply a matter of adding the property that gets overwritten to the new tween and issue was solved.

Dec 082006

I’m glad to have discovered that someone made an effort making a script similar to my backbutton and deeplinking solution for Flash.
Maybe old news to many of you, but since I get some visitors here looking for such a solution I thought I mention it.


I haven’t got a chance to try it out and only had a look at the info on their web page, but it seems to be a very good alternative to my own script.

Sep 262005

Some nice additions to the big names making serious use of what flash can offer lately.

The most impressive that been blogged a lot about already is the IKEA matrix kitchen.
Clever and skill full piece of work that really uses the internet as a media in an efficient and inventive way.

The even bigger news that even more people blogged about is Googles adaptation to using Flash to deliver video.
It seems like a surprise to many people since it somehow seemed like they have an aversion to Flash considering the efforts they made building AJAX contents.
Maintaining separate versions for different browsers to get your RIA applications working I guess is something you only consider if you don’t consider Flash :)
And using a proprietary video format that requires user to download and install your software can of course be seen as a similar attitude trying to avoid Flash at any cost.
But now they have finally come to their senses it seems at least.
Of course the service itself it’s not anything revolutionary to get excited about. It’s video, in flash. The big news here is the big name.
That google uses Flash can seem like a seal of approval for serious large scale deployment of Flash content.

Peugeot’s use of flash is not all that exiting, although nicely done.
The animation work is stylish and well carried out, but a bit bland in my opinion.
Clicking on a key flying around to test the sliding of the doors is hardly especially fun and doesn’t make me feel closer to the product really.

It’s how close you feel to the product that I love about applications like the one IKEA done.
It shows the possibility that multimedia technologies like Flash give for taking communication to a new level.
A video or an animation can be extremely good at delivering an experience, but when people figure out good ways to use interactive multimedia it gives you a presence previously unseen.

A picture says more than a thousand words, but a Flash application says more than thousand pictures :)
And in IKEA’s case I guess it makes sense since it wouldn’t surprise me if the application actually use about 1000 pictures.

Aug 192005

It’s nice to see more and more companies actually making use of the advantages technologies like Flash, FLEX and Laszlo provide.
Many times when you discuss with the CSS/XHTML fanatics they seem to think that Flash is only good as a slimmer replacement for animated gifs or QuickTime video.

It has for a long time amazed me that the web have been so restricted in the way it uses the medium considering the capabilities.
It has the potential to be more exiting and involving than video and printed media, but in reality it’s rather been more basic and limited most of the time.

Here is some sites that I think do a good job in showing the way in what the Internet is capable of.
Most pretty much well known for anyone already interested in RIA, but I mainly wanted to compile a list of for people not so familiar with RIA applications.

The Harley Davidson configurator
Brilliant Flex app.

Behr ColorSmart
Laszlo seems very exciting and it’s nice to see a good example like this of it’s use.

Ok…I’ll include one AJAX app. It’s quite a neat little colour tool handy to play around with to find interesting colour schemes.
Hmm…maybe should have used it before starting this site ;)

Neave Lab Flash Earth
Yes…I do find it more fun to play around with compared to google earth. Flash rules and AJAX developer is fools ;)

Build your own MINI
Another good example of a product configurator.

Goowy mail
Flash based webmail service.

NIKE configurator
Yet another good example of product configuration.

Theban mapping project
Egyptology site with a nice interactive atlas.

Thats some favourite applications from my bookmarks.
Please suggest more examples that I have missed out.

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