Silverlight, do I know you?

AIR != Silverlight
Mrinal Wadhwa:

Microsoft Silverlight is a browser plugin and is sort of similar to Adobe’s Flash Player and Flex Framework taken together

Adobe AIR is cross platform desktop runtime that allows developers to build desktop applications using web technologies, it has no real equivalent in the Microsoft world.

Peter Elst also finds it important to differentiate..

So many people ask me – “How is Silverlight?” or “Is Silverlight a real threat to Flash?”.. well, I never even tried Silverlight. (I did install the plugin, but simply never got to a website that uses Silverlight..)
So the only answer I can give is: when aiming at the web industry (us developers), such a difference in user/client perception must result in different adoption trends, evident: I did not try.. but the logo looks kinda cool.

The Year of the Flash

So much was written of the new flash player (version 10, code named “Astro”) and what it may do to the industry, it is indeed technologically inspiring, but from a freelance point of view (business wise) this even looks better.

Looking back to when I started working with flash (about ten years ago) and now, I can see a huge change in the weight of flash in projects out there.
Today, both the platform and the clients have matured, Flex has made a huge impact on technological companies perception of flash as the focus is shifting towards User Experience (anyone said RIA?) and OS compatibility and consistency, and the role flash plays in those is non comparable.

Up until recently I had to explain what I do, when refusing to take so many projects that were not related to my skills.. I guess because flash animators, designers, and coders were all considered the same in term of wages and availability.
Now, companies are looking for flash experts that can make charts like Google’s financial charts, and this is clearly a specialist job, since most of these companies don’t have the know-how in house, they call guys like me : )

The good news is that each improvement in flash adds to the appeal we have, and the demand for advanced flash programers is absolutely amazing.

I think this will be a great year.

Flash 10 Sneak Peek looks promising

I just had the time to watch what was presented in the MX Chicago 2007, apparently much.. hmm, Adobe’s 3D api looks attractive, I guess using intrinsic classes is shorter (20 lines?!) and easier to migrate than the current 3rd party packages, and according to this vid, the performance will be great.Next-sneak-peek.jpg
I am also exited about the Advanced Text Layout Support coming in version 10, take a look at this vid, thanks again Aral. After years of neglecting RTL languages (that is Right To Left writing direction – Hebrew and Arabic), and countless crippled hacks that never really worked – finally a solution seems to work good.RTL-flash.jpg
And this makes me very happy.

Flash, a dominant video platform

The last Adobe Flash Player update, (Aug 21, codenamed “Moviestar”) integrates H.264 video and High Efficiency AAC audio codecs, as well as multi core support and full screen mode with hardware scaling.So flash will soon deliver HD quality videos, good news : )Flash is probably the best video platform today, as it combines the customizable interactivity of flash scripting and advanced streaming and playing abilities.The recently updated YouTube player is a great example, developing the video playing experience by improving the most difficult part – selecting the video out of the endless inventory without too much effort by the viewer. In the new player when the video you watched is over, relevant videos are offered, very aesthetically and in the same location, without visiting the flickr website or even leaving the page. nice.YouTube new player interface:youtube_interface.jpg

Window resize – Apple are you sure?

The difference between PC and Mac in term of window resizing (where to drag in order to resize a window) is old and everybody got used to it by now.Basically PC windows have a drag-able border, when you place the cursor over the window border it changes to a resize-cursor and allow you to drag the window border resizing the window, this works the same in all directions, and in corners:
Macs windows however have one single resize area in the bottom right corner, there is no cursor feedback, if you drag it the window will resize – towards down and/or right only:
Switchers find it a little annoying but Mac OS X has other features that compensate this – the green button that toggles window size and of-course Expose.And now, suddenly after years of industrial silence, comes Adobe with the new CS3 UI for Mac, that allow you to resize the interface windows (aka ‘palettes’) from the border – XP style..
It’s about time to change this behavior in the Mac Aqua, it is not convenient.At least add a feedback cursor.

3D in Flash CS3 – Papervision3D Component

Few days ago John Grden released Papervision3D Component for Flash CS3.I wanted to try Papervision3D (actionscript 3D engine, check this out!) for some time now, and didnt have the time, with this cool shortcut I simply couldn’t resist..This component adds a panel for controlling properties of ‘Papervision3D COLLADA Scene’ component, properties such as the Source 3D file (collada = .dae), Camera settings and Model rotation or scale. The component also enable design-time rendering in Flash IDE, which is great! Flash and 3D are combined, in one native IDE. cool times.
check this vid out: (Sorry, the vid is no longer available)
Beside Flash components sweetness I still need the 3D modeling to be done on my Mac, I am not fluent in the 3D modeling world, but Blender is free and easily imports and exports Collada files, I guess it can give answer to my simple demands..

Adobe Kuler has improved, now I want more!

Okay, this is more like it! Adobe Kuler team has released a new version, browsing schemes is much faster, and the tags add a cool way to explore. Now I would like to see the tagging evolve, maybe grouping tags, public tags and owner tags (that would be cool), suggesting tags when saving, etc..A nice feature would be to enable inverting the interface color – making the background white and the texts and interface elements grey and black.


I think seeing the color scheme on white will be helpful, especially when the final design has white or light background.If talking of customizing my environment – at some point the tooltips are starting to annoy, even disturb, let me turn this off – please : )

Porting app to Mac – mash native services

Scott Stevenson of Thecacao has a great point differentiating cross platform applications and native mac applications, another basic difference in the user experience between ported apps and native Mac apps is that Mac native applications enjoy core services such as Dictionary-Thesaurus, Speller, etc.. I rely on those services, and the consistency in keyboard shortcuts they bring to my working environment.For example take a look at Photoshop CS3 beta for Mac – it has a built in speller, the interface is primitive and not really attractive compared to the advanced docked palettes (see cap), surely less intuitive than the OS native speller.
confusing interface – what was checked? is that correct?
primitive interface – so many buttons, the default button is not aplying the change!
the good familiar mac dictionary – even look nice..
Skype provides the native mac Speller and Dictionary services, Firefox (and Camino) has no speller nor dictionary :(
Applications well ported to Mac should respect user habits, unless they really upgrade or improve the native OS service – they should not confuse the user by not providing those services or providing poor alternatives, for me it is not that different than the ability to copy & paste from one app to another.

Apollo this is earth, do you read?

Eric Dolecki wrote an inspiring post about “what Apollo might bring“, I must admit I share his excitement, I witnessed Flash evolve from a graphics and animation oriented application into a global standard RIA platform, empowering new approaches to User Interface, and changing the web application experience.

Apollo is a cross-OS runtime that allows developers to leverage their existing web development skills (Flash, Flex, HTML, Ajax) to build and deploy desktop RIA’s.

Apollo will probably do the same to desktop applications, enrich our desktop apps experience – applications will talk to each other, be updated without user involvement, be more personalized, and best of all – platform independent.In addition to that, imagine the impact open source projects such as Red5 will have on the way we communicate – as the costs of server applications to “talk” to (or through?) are dramatically diminished.I am definitely optimistic.

Adobe Kuler – color schemes made cooler

For those who are not subscribed to the Adobe Edge newsletter, Adobe recently released Kuler – a really cool free on-line platform for creating & sharing Color schemes.Creating the color schemes is really easy & fun, colors can be defined in RGB, CMYK, LAB, HEX, making it applicable to all kind of implementation. Kuler provides predefined “Rules” which are actually preset relationships between colors, so you can change the range of your scheme on the spectrum and keep same relationship, really nice and cool!From designer point of view, these rules are replacing the “human touch” with technology. Enabling unexperienced users to reach good successful color schemes, and enjoy the experimental way.
The interface is simple & easy, however performance is not so great, every act that requires communication with the server (saving, searching, sharing) takes too long in my standards, I wanted to create few schemes to share with others, but after saving the first two I gave it up. The community features are also limited, currently only browsing and ranking, I found it painfully slow to browse other’s schemes as kuler displays 9 schemes each time and takes ages to load.