Techday Slides: Flash and the Quest for Accessibility

Sandro talked about his terrific implementation for making one of the first (I’m sure, but can’t proof it ..) fully accessible Flash games out there. It got the highest rating by Access for all and they blogged about it.

Unfortunately Sandro can’t make his presentation available (his slides engine doesn’t have an export function (yet)), but it was basically what he wrote in his 2 blog posts here on this blog. So read Post 1 and Post 2 to get all the information you need.

By the way, the game can be found at http://www.postfinance-eventmanager.ch/

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Flash & the Quest for Accessibility – Part #2

overview part #2

In this two-part blog post i will cover the technical, as well as overall aspects of this endeavour. Go here for the first blog post on accessibility. This second part will cover all the technically nitty-gritty, blood and tears that went into implementing accessibility for this project. :)

Read on to find out more..

Continue reading about Flash & the Quest for Accessibility – Part #2

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Flash & the Quest for Accessibility – Part #1

Preamble

The greater part of last year i was heads-down-busy developing the EventManager Game which we had the pleasure to build for Postfinance. EventManager is an educational but fun game, that approaches topics such as budgeting, financing and investing in a modern way (read: not boring you to death).

Today i want to talk to you about the new iteration of the game that we just released a couple of weeks ago. What is new you ask? How about: Accessibility!


overview part #1

In this two-part blog post i will cover the technical, as well as overall aspects of this endeavour. This first part will cover a brief history of accessibility within the Flash Platform and its current state and hopefully useful insight if you are considering to add accessibility to one of your projects.

Read on to find out more..

Continue reading about Flash & the Quest for Accessibility – Part #1

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Next SFUG-Meeting at Liip Zurich

SFUG

Liip Zurich does welcome all SFUG members, friends and everyone who is interested for their next meeting on Tuesday, March 16th. Door Opening will be at 7 pm.

The speeches:

“RestfulX” – Flex on Rails – a talk by Rafael Beck from 19m2
Rafael will present basic examples on how to get started with RESTfulX and will reflect on his experiences with this framework.

“AS3 Performance Tweaks – a talk by Liiper Sandro Ducceschi

Sandro will tackle every day performance issues with AS3 and reveal best practices on how to get a grip of memory consumption and CPU cycles.


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SFUG goes Berne

Good news for all Adobe Flash oriented folks in the western regions of Switzerland: the Swiss Flash User Group has made effort to set up an event in the captial of Switzerland to bring the discussion and knowledge exchange about the Flash Plattform closer to your doorstep: on Tuesday, November 17th, we will get together in the office of kind host and interactive media agency “nothing from outer space” in Bern-Wabern and as usual we have some splendid talks and showcases lined up for you:

The opener is a showcase by Liiper Michel Wacker about “Lernfragen 2.0“, an Adobe Flash based presentation layer for Moodle, which is supposed to bring a visually and interactively enhanced experience to the users of this OpenSource Learn Management System. Get an impression of how we used Interfaces and Flex Modules to keep the view completely separate from the core logic and thus exchangeable.

After that nothing’s Weyert de Boer will talk about the future of Flash on mobile devices such as Palm Pre, Android and Symbian and of course the iPhone as announced in October 2009 at Adobe MAX, LA. Moreover, Weyert will provide tweaks for optimizing for these plattforms and compares Flash Player 10.1 to Flash Lite 3.1

So be there or be square! Come join us and the complete Liip Fribourg Flash Fraction at this meeting and show us that Berne craves Flash talk as much as Zurich does. It’s free, it’s fun and once again, there will be beer :)

When: November 17, 2009 from 7:00pm – 9:30pm
Where: nothing from outer space, Kirchstrasse 175, CH-3084 Bern-Wabern

Find more details on Adobe Groups. And once you’re there, sign up, join the SFUG and become a part of one of the 10 biggest Adobe communities in Europe!

See you next week!

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28.th User Group Meeting of the SFUG

The 28.th User Group Meeting of the SFUG (Swiss Flash User Group) will take place next Tuesday, October 20th, at the Liip office in Zurich.

Michel Wacker, Sandro Ducceschi and other members of the Liip team will attend as well, and are looking forward for you to join us to discuss the latest news from the Flash world:


Topics are:

1. Showcase: “Postfinance Eventmanager” – Sandro Ducceschi (Liip AG)

2. Review: “Adobe MAX 2009” – Tiago Dias und Marcel Vogt (both Publicis AG)


More details can be found here.

New group-members are more than welcome, just come by and join us! See you there.

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Spotlight on: Tweetr

A Twidget - a twitter phidget gadget

We should use this blog more often to showcase the crazy nerdy fun stuff Liipers are building every day. Like Penny with Mahara, Silvan with etoy, Lukas with PHP, and so on – with now over 40 guys and girls there’s quite some stories to tell.

In this spirit, today we have Sandro, Sandro and his Tweetr: the Open Source ActionScript 3 twitter API library. Sandro initially built it to work with his phidgets, a hardware collection of USB sensors and actuators (see twitter LED above). From his desk Tweetr found its way around the world, it’s now being used for example in:

  • The Good Conspiracy (presented at the the 6th edition of La Biennale de Montréal) is “a co-creative event that will transfuse the city with positive energy. Citizens are invited to discover elements of the conspiracy on public grounds and become conspirators themselves by sending positive messages by means of contemporary communication networks, electronic and otherwise.”
  • Tweepjob (by Douglas Reynolds), bringing job seekers, organizations and recruiters together using “tweets”.

Sandro is going to present the whole phidget/Flash story (can he bring Flash’s rapid prototyping capabilities to the hardware world? What would you build?) at Flash at the Lake (FATL), the fine Flash conference Zürich will see in June. FATL is yet another example of awesome crazy stuff done by a Liiper – will blog about that soon.

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SFUG goes Liip Zurich

After a long summer break the Swiss Flash User Group (SFUG) is finally coming back to life. The meeting that ended the break in the middle of October was a quite enjoyable get-together with two liipish presentations on an experimental development with ZINC and an internally developed workflow approach called AssetMapping to ease the work between designer and developer (stay tuned for more news on these two topics).

Since ActionScript 3 started a whole new era of Flash development, many ideas and concepts are only about to take shape these days in form of frameworks and libraries. Many of them even are open source, so, no surprise, the next SFUG meeting is already scheduled to cover some of them and we’re happy to announce that Liip will be hosting it for the first time at our office in Zurich.

It’s free, it’s fun, it’s Flash – and there also will be beer. So make sure to be around November 18th (yes, that’s next Tuesday) at 7pm to learn more about fascinating Flash topics such as the GAIA framework for designers, the Alive PDF library and fZip. Interested? Then check out the details at the SFUG Blog and do come join us!

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Local.ch Coverflow Clone goes open source

I am very excited to announce that local.ch granted us the possibility to open source the coverflow clone we created for them under the “Simplified BSD License“. So first of all a big thanks to them, you guys rock!



“Oh noes! Not another coverflow clone!”

Fear not! This one is actually quite different.

“Yet Another Coverflow Clone”, or lovingly YACC for short, is built in Actionscript 2, which makes it compatible with Flash Player 6 and newer to ensure that a broad userbase can be served. It’s been built to be dimensions independent. That means you can use whatever size of pictures you want and embed the flash with whatever size you can think of.

Under the Hood

YACC sports horsepower provided by the open source Papervision3D engine which allows for smooth 3d presentations. Animation is realized through the also open source Tweener which gives you the power to easily change the coverflow animation to whatever your heart desires. Best of all, even though it is Actionscript 2, it’s more performant than many of the other clones we’ve encountered. Even some of the AS3 versions and with 33kb it’s not a burden on your site either!

“Is that all that is to it?”

Of course not! YACC loads its Dataset and many customization settings through a simple, yet extendable XML.

“How is it extendable?”

Glad you asked! YACC implements a variety of heavily customizable and bi-directional javascript calls that allow you to interact with this coverflow like with no other.

Development Challenges

During development I was faced with a couple problems that needed to be solved. Of which two I think are of interest to other developers as well.

As you may or may not know, the Actionscript 2 version of the Papervision3D library does not include a possiblity to dynamically load images on runtime and assign them as a material to 3D objects (in our case planes). So it was neccessary to create a BitmapLoader class capable of loading and creating Papervision compatible materials.
(If you are in need of such a class yourself, feel free to use the BitmapLoader Class in any of your own Projects.)

Pretty soon into development we also realized that the Mac Flash Player has quite some performance issues with the intensive displayrendering that Papervision3D required. We came up with 3 steps to solve this problem:

  • The BitmapLoader Class allows you to preload a certain amount of pictures before even starting to display the coverflow and silently loads the rest then in the background.
  • The Application only displays a user-defined (yes, in the xml :) ) number of planes at once.

    Thus allowing us to have a less render intensive animation cycle.
  • To ensure the Flashplayer doesn’t just hog system resources while no interaction is happening in the coverflow, the 3D Engine is instructed to stop rendering until a new interaction happens.

I hope this information can be useful to someone else struggling with similar problems.

Where to get YACC

  • You can download the whole shabang here
    (incl. sourcecode, example, required 3rd party libraries)
  • Or you can get the latest build from SVN

Additional Ressources

If you have questions, suggestions feel free to chat me up in #liip on freenode and i’ll try to respond to you in a timely manner :)

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