Friday, March 26, 2010

Video: FlashCamp Boston Session Videos Posted

An event didn't really happen unless videos of it are posted to the web. So it must be the case that FlashCamp Boston really happened, because the videos are live.

All of the sessions from last week's excellent Flex-oriented event are now on Adobe TV at These sessions include:

... and much, much more.

Oh, and I gave a talk on (what else?) Flex 4 effects, which I'll embed here because that's what I do on my blog:


Monday, March 22, 2010

Coming Soon: My Flex 4 Book

Now that Flex 4 is released (yay!), it seems like a good time to announce that I've been writing a book about the graphics and animation side of Flex 4 (apparently I didn't learn my lesson the first time around, or I actually enjoy spending all of my spare time writing about what I spend my non-spare time developing). It should be a fun read with lots of eye candy demos with source code available on the book's website.

I'll have more details available in the next couple of days, and I hope to have the beta version of the book ready for online purchase within the week. (I actually hoped to have the real paper version available in stores this week instead. But that dream died a few months ago when I blew right past all of my deadlines. It's tough to finish a book about a product when you really need to finish the product first. So instead, I'll have a nearly-finished version of the book available online now, followed by the final version available online and in print hopefully sometime this summer).

Friday, March 12, 2010

Video: Creating a Reusable Animation Library

Creating a Reusable Flash Animation Library, the next episode in the gripping and suspenseful series CodeDependent, is now available from Adobe TV.

This episode is a bit of a departure from my normal shows. Usually, I show graphics and animation techniques in Flex and Flex 4. This time, I talk about Flash Pro, the authoring tool for Flash (not Flex) applications. In particular, I show how to create a reusable library in Flash Pro that you can then link to and use in other Flash Pro projects. The process of creating a library in Flash Pro wasn't obvious to me, so I thought it might be useful to show how it was done. Thanks to Trevor McCauley for helping me figure this out. Trevor's on the Flash player team and is very helpful is figuring out all kinds of things about how Flash works, including this bit about Flash authoring. Check out his blog at

Here's how this relates to Flex and my work for Flex: the library I create is an animation library based on the core facilities underlying the Flex effects. I call the library Flexy.

Flex effects are pretty dependent on the Flex library overall. They use concepts in UIComponent, graphic elements, styles, and other concepts that are found in the core Flex framework. So building a full-on Flex effects library in Flash Pro would necessarily drag in so much of the Flex infrastructure that it wouldn't be worth the effort; you might as well just use Flex directly.

But the underlying animation engine that the new Flex 4 effects depend on, including the Animation class, arbitrary type interpolation, and the new easer interface and classes, are independent of Flex effects and of nearly everything else in Flex. I wanted to see if I could break those animation facilities out into a separable library. There were various niggling dependencies, such as the use of the EffectEvent class, some use of resource bundles for error strings, and other minor issues, but one 50-minute train commute later, I had a 13k library built in Flash Pro that had no Flex dependencies and had all of the underlying animation support that the Flex effects use for running their animations.

Flexy doesn't handle all of the effects functionality, of course, because Flex effects aren't part of the port. Flex effects provide mainly two extra layers of support for animations. First, they handle setting animated values on target objects/properties. The animation infrastructure only handles calculating the animated values, not what to do with those values. Second, effects have extra built-in logic and convenience APIs that makes it easier to declare and run effects than you might otherwise have to do with a more manual approach to animation.

I can't do much about the second bit; that's most of the code in effects, and I was looking for something simple. But for the first part, I've provided a utility class called PropertyAnimator which you can use to automate assigning animated values to properties, just like effects do. It simplifies using Animation and makes very easy property animation possible with this library.

Check out Flexy and see what you can do with it. And come back for the next show to see a simple example of using the library from within Flash Pro.

Here's the video:

There is no demo application this time, because the demo is really just the reusable Flexy library, which isn't very exciting to watch, as demos go, because it just sits there, being reusable.

Here is the demo code. This is a zip file containing the Flash Pro project (Flexy.fla), the Flexy library itself (Flexy.swc), and the source code that Flexy was built with.

Users of the Flex Animation class should be able to start playing with the library pretty easily, but if the API is a bit of a mystery to you, check back for my next show, in which I'll dmeonstrate how to use the library in Flash Pro for a simple example.

Here's where you can find CodeDependent on iTunes.

And here's where you can find CodeDependent on YouTube.


Monday, March 8, 2010

Music Video: Flex 4: It's a Wrap

Here's a music video I made for the 360|Flex conference. It's a tribute to the Flex 4 release and the Flex SDK team. I hope you like it, from the bottom of my geeky little heart.