Category Archives: Writing

Animating an Interface

wdcoverFrom Web Designer Magazine, August 2004

Displaying an interface at runtime using motion graphics code to animate the elements in to place.

One of the best things about Flash is the fact that it allows for interfaces to be created in a very short period of time. We can easily open Flash, drop a few elements on to the stage, and voila, our interface is ready. In today’s Internet, however, that’s simply not enough. Visitors have come to expect dynamism; they want things to move, fly and zip into place. Traditionally, this would be accomplished by carefully animating the interface on a timeline with dozens of keyframes.
However, that’s not the only way (nor is it the best way). Thanks to the scripting power of Flash’s language Actionscript, we can create dynamic websites with fully animated interfaces with only a few lines of code, and some very simple motion graphics programming.

Think of a website where you arrive, and interface elements begin flying in from off-screen, coming from all different locations only to settle neatly into position. Once in position, they create a cohesive whole to the entire interface. In this tutorial, we’ll be looking at how to create such an interface, and how to integrate Actionscript to create robust motion graphics effects.

Making a Robust Flash Player Detector

wdcover1Web Designer Magazine, Making a Robust Flash Player Detector, June 2004.

Overcoming the differences in Flash version, and creating a single player detector SWF that works for Flash players 4 on up to the latest version.

Often, we want to indicate to website visitors and users of our Flash applications what version of Flash player they currently have installed on their computer. The usual reason for this is to specify to the user when they don’t have an adequate version installed, and then redirect them to the Flash player download site. If we’ve spent months creating a killer Flash site with the latest version of Flash, then it’s important that people with anything less than the latest Flash player are told to upgrade – otherwise our site may not perform properly, and, even worse: it may appear broken.

One of the challenges is, paradoxically, that we must create this player detector so that it runs in Flash 4, 5, 6, 7 and beyond. We cannot create a detector that will not actually execute in the versions we want to detect. What this means is that we must create a detector that ultimately runs in the lowest common denominator, Flash 4. This means that many functions are off limits to us, levitra india. However, with a little bit of planning, and intelligent design we can make a cool detector that spans a stretch of four versions, and works the same in all.

Creating an Audio Player in Flash

wdcoverWeb Designer, June 2004

With inspiration from modern MP3 players, we build our own fully functional player in Flash MX 2004.

Flash MX introduced the ability to load and play MP3 files directly at runtime. Prior to this, the only thing we could do was import the sounds into Flash at design time, or embed our sounds in SWF files and load those in at runtime. This was not an ideal solution, as it required hours of overhead and tedium.

Today, we have the ability to load an MP3 and play it streaming, so that it plays as it’s downloading and doesn’t need the entire song to begin producing sound. Also, we have access to the ID3 tags associated with most MP3 files.  This means we have access to information such as song title, album, artist and year.  It is these elements that are expected in a good MP3 player.

In Flash we have the ability to stop a stream and pick up from where we left off, without having to restart.  This, coupled with information about play head position and duration of the entire song, allows us to create a progress bar that represents the playback position.

We’ll be including all the standards; play, stop, rewind, next track and previous track. We’ll also be representing a playlist in an array.

Flash MX 2004 Demystified

fmx2004demystifiedby Shawn Pucknell, Brian Hogg, Craig Swann with John Cowie, Glen Rhodes, Grant Skinner and Glyn Thomas

Written by a trio of interactive design pros and published by the folks behind the software, this guide is the place to turn when you’re ready to move beyond the manual and leverage all of Flash MX 2004’s power to solve real-world problems. Through a combination of straightforward explanations and hands-on exercises, you9ll learn about such key topics as accessing external data sources, publishing in various formats, and creating elegant and effective ActionScripts. Best of all, the authors share their inside knowledge of Flash MX 2004’s newest features: essential ActionScript 2.0 commands and standards, expanded support for rich media, a streamlined user interface, new Timeline Effects and Behaviors, and more. The companion CD includes all of the files you need to complete the book’s lessons. So what are you waiting for? Get this book and start getting flashy with your dynamic, interactive Web sites.

Flash Math Creativity

fmcby David Hirmes, J. D. Hooge, Ken Jokol, Ty Lettau, Lifaros, Jamie Macdonald, Gabriel Mulzer, Pavel Kaluzhny, Kip Parker, Keith Peters, Paul Prudence, Glen Rhodes, Manny Tan, Jared Tarbell, Brandon Williams

Forget school math class, Flash math is about fun. It’s what you do in your spare time – messing around with little ideas until the design takes over and you end up with something beautiful, bizarre, or just downright brilliant. It’s a book of iterative experiments, generative design; a book of inspiration, beautiful enough to leave on the coffee table, but addictive enough to keep by your computer and sneak out while no one’s looking so you can go back to that Flash movie that you were tinkering with ’til 3 o’clock this morning. In “New Masters of Flash” the designers told us about themselves and deconstructed their finest effects. This time we’ve gathered the best in one book and simply asked them to go away and do what they do best: play. We give you the code and explain the essence, then you take your inspiration and run with it.

Flash MX Designer’s Actionscript Reference

fmxasrefby John Davey, Glen Rhodes, Jen Dehaan, Scott Mebberson, Sham Bhangal

If you’re serious about Flash design, and if you want to push your ideas to the very limits of possibility in Flash MX, then this book and CD are your indispensible companions. The book and CD package combines two vital elements: 1. The most comprehensive and in-depth reference resource for Flash MX ActionScript 2. A collection of rich, practical tutorials on using ActionScript effectively in Flash movie design We’ve packed in 20 chapters of tutorials, 100s of detailed reference entries, and 100s of example FLAs and SWFs.

The CD reproduces and expands the book’s Complete ActionScript Dictionary, providing a comprehensive and portable reference tool. Our aim has been to make this book the best Flash MX ActionScript resource, bar none – the book that you’ll keep on your desk and never exhaust. This book contains: – The complete reference and illustrated guide to ActionScript – Over 650 detailed reference entries – Over 400 fully functional illustrative FLAs – A-Z coverage of the ActionScript language – Over 300 pages of addition text content on the CD It’s the real ActionScript Reference you’ve been waiting for. Book Info The most comprehensive and in-depth reference resource for Flash MX ActionScript. A collection of rich, practical tutorials on using ActionScript effectively in Flash movie design.

Flash MX Application & Interface Design

flashmxapplicationandinterfacedesignby Peter Aylward, Ken Jokol, Jamie MacDonald, Paul Prudence, Glen Rhodes, Robbie Shepherd

This book takes an in-depth look at purposing your Flash skills towards developing fully functional Flash Applications. Taking its lead from the design element, each chapter takes you a step further into evolving your design skills into application development.

It will look at:

  • Focusing your interface design for ease of use
  • Shaping up the back end to keep things simple
  • Delivering complex content, including video

Using a blend of instructional and inspirational chapters, this book looks at Flash’s strengths – graphical dynamism, interactivity, back-end punch and multimedia delivery.

  • Make gorgeous sites in tiny files with the Drawing API
  • Look at the marriage of data and beauty with a Flash Family Tree
  • Create real-feel interfaces that mimic different media
  • Make XML do the donkey-work in site structure
  • Ease up you navigation with PHP
  • Create an entire drawing application
  • Deliver video and make it interactive with Flash

…and so much more!

Actionscript: Zero to Hero

aszerotoheroby Jen deHaan and Glen Rhodes

If you’ve dabbled with Flash and want to expand your repertoire, this book will teach you what you need to know about ActionScript in a fast-paced tutorial style. The ActionScript language is becoming an increasingly vital part of every Flash designer’s toolkit, but it can seem like a scary prospect for the non-programmer. We’ll show you how easy it is to create interesting, interactive movies in Flash MX through visual metaphors and worked examples. The aim is to get you up to speed quickly, giving you the skills you need to add extra functionality and control to your Flash movies.

By the time you’re finished, you should have a good grasp of the core ActionScript concepts and techniques, and plenty of ideas for your own projects. No previous programming experience is required, just a familiarity with the Flash MX interface, and even the most code-phobic reader should find the learning curve to be smooth and easy.

Macromedia Flash MX Express

fmxexpressby Leon Cych, Benjamin J. Mace, Glen Rhodes

Some Flash users like the depth, comfort and security of the linear tutorial approach. Others respond better to a more laid-back model. This book is for you if you’re a denizen of the latter group; it’s rich in images and examples, and restrained in its use of narrative. It gives you a fast but thorough and structured introduction that’ll get you started with Flash MX quickly.