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FlexBug – great tool for flex debugging

At last Flex London User Group meetup one of the guys presented FlexBug, great tool for flex debugging with runtime actionscript injection. It is an adaptation of FlexSpy

Flexbug comes with an example on how to use it, which is really handy. To see what FlexSpy looks like in action click here.

flexbug

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Going to Flash On The Beach ??

There is a pre-Flash on the Beach pre-party burgers on Sun 6PM @ GBK in Brighton.
More info here:
http://upcoming.yahoo.com/event/2824261

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Flash player bug: content disappearing on macs when mouseX used

I discovered a bug in flash player which is quite hard to debug if you don’t have a mac. It’s got to do with mouseX values going crazy on macs. It occurs in Safari, Firefox and most likely on IE.
MY issue was that i had parralax scrolling in place. Parralax scrolling was repositioning background and content based on mouseX value.
Now when a user clicks away from the browser to any other application mouseX valuse goes mental. I was getting something like -1787232.

Apparently Adobe is already working on it, but when is it going to be realeased is unknown. Quick fix for this would be to wrap whatever you are doing by checking if the mouseX value is actually within the stage:

if (mouseX > 0 && mouseX < stage.stage.width)
{
// do stuff
}

You obviuosly need to make sure you have access to stage as well.

I hope that helps. It is really painfull to fix if you don’t have access to a mac and even if you do you would probably need to install FF, content debugger, flash tracer, etc. etc. Remembering this will save you from all of that :)

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Away3d equalizer

Last week I attendened 2 day course on Away3d which was presented by Away’s 3d core developer himself, Rob Bateman. The course was organized by LFPUG (btw there is more training coming up, have a look yourself) and it was really worth the money. First day was about 3d basics, second covered more advanced stuff like extrusion tools, away3d flartoolkit, wiimote etc.
There was some free time to experiment and I came up with this simple 3d equilizer. Have a look below.
Controls:
Mouse down and spin,
Mouse scroll or Key.UP, Key.Down – zoom

You can also add more blocks to the grid with buttons on the clip.
There is some weird computeSpectrum bug in FF. It fails randomly. If it fails, reload :)

This movie requires Flash Player 9

Source here.

You will obviously need away3d lib and an mp3.
Full browser view here

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LFPUG recap

To those who didn’t have a chance to go to LFPUG last night here is a quick recap. It was all about 3d if flash by the guys who developed Papervision 3d (if you don’t know that yet:)

First session was called “Papervision. Simplified” and was presented by Seb Lee Delisle.

Seb explained how the whole 3d world works in flash and showed basic calculations with a few examples. He showed spinning earth and a few basic things that everyone who is into 3d should know. At the end he showed his latest project called Big and Small that  can be found here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/bigandsmall/

It is a really nice 3d website who’s audience are generally kids. Really worth checking out.

Other interesting stuff Seb showed was the sky box. The effect is that you are flying through the infinite 3d space passing various objects. You achieve it by creating a cube and putting the camera in the center. You have to have a specific texture that joins smoothly on the edges of the cube. Adding simple particles that come along with PV3d makes it looking really complex but is really easily achievable with just a few lines of code. Last but not least was Lunar Lander 3d he build for a 5k competition. Seb explained the concept of it and showed how he approached it. It’s amazing how much can you achieve with only 5K. And 5K is not the budget it’s the filesize.

More info on Seb’s site (www.sebleedelisle.com).

The second session was called “We make. You Enjoy” by Carlos Ulloa. It was a bit of an ad for his agency but was interesting as well.

Carlos explained how he created the HelloEnjoy.com logo and he also showed what he is currently working on.

Along with the logo that has got a dynamic bitmap and shades he also showed his latest achievement which is a really slick looking monster truck. Basically it is a 3d scene put together with physics engine, shades rendering and some lighting. Carlos went through the entire process of explaining how it works, how physics engine works, how collision detection works and how do certain elements respond to it (suspension of the car for example). I hope to see this stuff online soon. You can always check his website here (http://www.carlosulloa.com)

If you want to find out more visit the LFPUG website and check out the Presentations section. Tink promised to get videos up there pretty soon so you should be able to see it for yourselves.

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Windows 7 beta, Flex Builder and debugging.

I recently got a new laptop and I decided to install Windows 7 on it. After installing Flex Builder I thought everything was ok until I needed to debug one of my projects. I got this annoying message: Waiting for Flash Player to connect to debugger. It was timing out every single time. Pretty annoying! After a couple of attempts of changing UAC settings, looking up ports etc I found a solution here. Basically what you need to do is specify where your application is running. Right click on the flash content -> Debugger, select Other Machine,  enter “127.0.0.1″ and click Connect. Also make sure you have the debug player installed.

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Are you a flash developer? Use Flex Builder

After completing a flex project build in Flex Builder I got so much into using FB’s features that going back to FDT didn’t sound to optimistic. I figured out there was no reason why I acutally had to do it. Going through the pain of getting Eclipse, FDT, setting core libraries, etc.  was enough pain to stick to Flex Builder. I absolutely love the debugger and working without it is almost like writing code in Notepad.  It is really simple to set up. Flex Builder comes with 60 day trial, so it is definitely worth checking it out. Plus it is actually cheaper than FDT ( FB  is 249USD, FDT Basic is 299Euro).  Once you install ir and run it just goto File -> New -> ActionScript Project. In the popup specify the Project Name and Location. Clicking on Finish and you’re done! What FB will do is set up the entire project for you. When you compile (shortcut F11) it will create a swf from your class, wrap it up in html and launch it in the browser. Forget about FLAs, Flash IDE, Class Documents and all that crap!

Give it a go and you will never want to go back! Now, if you really like it there is a much better way to set it up.

If you create a new Flex Project instead of ActionScript Project FB will set up bin, src, libs, html template folder and create your application MXML. What you have to do next is create your new Main class in the src folder. Now right click on the Project Name and go to Properties and choose Flex Modules. In there click “add” and locate your Main class.  Make sure you choose “Do not Optimize” in order to get the class compiled as a seperate swf rather than pulled into your main swf compiled as a flex app. Now the only thing you have to do is to load your swf into your flex project.

Goto your main MXML file and add this

<mx:SWFLoader source=”Main.swf”  />

Now if you compile it, everything from your src folder will be copied to your bin folder (without the classes of course). That’s where I add my content folder with all the assets and my com folder with the code specific to this project. Now add your libraries to libs folder, add it to source path (Project Name -> Properties -> Flex Build Path)  and you’re ready to go!I find it really well organized to be honest it’s achievable with just a few clicks! Flex Builder ROCKS!!

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Welcome to Orange Boutique! – innovative Flex App by AKQA

After a few months of development we went live with this innivative flex app. The app itself (built in Flex 3 and based on existing Java back-end) allows Orange customers to choose and compare available handsets and plans  in order to find their perfect package. Here is how it looks:

orange boutique

orange boutique

The entire project took us about 4 months to deliver. The “flex team” consisted of 2 flex developers ( myself and my collegue Dennis Ippel) working full time with additional help of 2 other developers whenever they were available (James Hay and Wanja Stier, thanks guys for your help!). Hope you like it!

http:/shop.orange.co.uk/ – you will find Orange Boutique on LHS menu

The rest of the team consisted of  software engineers, pms, designers and a few others worth mentioning without who we would’t be able to accomplish that. Thanks guys!

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Hello World!

Welcome to my new blog!

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