Posts Tagged FDT

A language of my own

Today I was checking out an introduction video to CoffeeScript and it got me thinking about programming languages in general and where they were heading. The thing is, I think I would go in a different direction. Haha, that’s a pretty bold statement and I don’t know that many programming languages to be frank, but the last two I checked out, Python and Coffee Script didn’t have the same values that I think a future programming language should have.

You see if I look back in time ( with my time machine glasses) at first there was byte code, which was the summum of being cryptic, after that there was assembly code, which I manage to pass the class by acting as if I knew wtf it was meaning. C code was already more readable but still pretty hard to juggle with and I ended up with Java / ActionScript / C# which were the most readable in all the languages I had learned. When I say readable in all this I mean closer to the English language. That for me should be a primary value when creating a new language. I think the more readable a programming language is, the less barrier there is to creating code. You wouldn’t need to translate what you think into something else, you think, talk, write and program in the same language, that would be the best I think.

There is all lot of really easy thing we could do to turn Java into something already more readable without changing the syntax. Most of it would just be replacing shortcuts like for if statements “==” would be “is equal to” so

if (myCat == yourCat)

would become

if (myCat is equal to yourCat)

I mean this is a pretty simple example, but push this further and say we add a lot of these changes where we remove symbols like > < =  / ! || && and put words instead, I think it would make code really easy to read. I think that if it is easier to read, it is easier to grasp and if it is that way you can build more complex programs more easily. When all those simple swaps are done we could work on the syntax to make it more like English and then we would have a new programming language. I would like to reclaim the dot (“.”) to mark the end of a sentence like Latin languages.

So yeah I think we should create a new programming language where you have to write more code to get things done but that has less abstractions. That might sound stupid but I think it doesn’t matter, where the language gets longer to write the code editor should pick up and do code completion to speed things up, like FDT does so well for ActionScript.

Anyway, I will probably never do so because I am not a compiler genius, but I think it would be great to head in that direction and see where it leads. Anyone thinks the same? Anyone knows of a languages that tries to do this as its primary objective?

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Away3D and Stage3D (Molehill)

I posted an article earlier this week about Away3D and the VideoMaterial and since I also made tests on Stage3D (Molehill) while doing that research, I thought I would post them here. My point with all this is to show that working with the new version of Away3D is going to be a little different. Here is the code to do mostly what the other post was doing, mostly mapping a texture to a sphere and having the camera in the middle (not a video here, just a bitmap).

public function Main(){
  stage.scaleMode = StageScaleMode.NO_SCALE;
  stage.align = StageAlign.TOP_LEFT;
 
  view = new View3D();
  addChild(view);
 
  view.camera.z=0;
  view.camera.y=0;
  view.camera.x=0;
  view.camera.lookAt(new Vector3D(0,0,1));
 
  light = new PointLight();
  light.radius = 200;
  light.color = 0xffffff;
  light.castsShadows = false;
  light.position=new Vector3D(0,0,0);
  view.scene.addChild(light); 			
 
  spherecontainer = new ObjectContainer3D();
  view.scene.addChild(spherecontainer);
 
  var material : BitmapMaterial = new BitmapMaterial(new Albedo().bitmapData);
  material.bothSides = true;
 
  sphere = new Sphere(material);
  sphere.radius = 500;
  spherecontainer.addChild(sphere);
 
  addEventListener(Event.ENTER_FRAME, _handleEnterFrame);
  stage.addEventListener(MouseEvent.MOUSE_DOWN, onMouseDown);
  stage.addEventListener(MouseEvent.MOUSE_UP, onMouseUp);
}

To get starting for Molehill I followed the simple instructions and used the FDT template found on the powerflasher’s site. As you can see if you compare the code, there are some differences. You don’t need to create a scene and a camera, they are already there for you. You need a light and you add that light as any 3D objects (no more using addLight). Lastly, which was my biggest problem, your texture need to be a square otherwise it won’t show. That was really bad for me cause I wasn’t seeing anything and the textures I was using were working fine in Away3D 3.6. But in the end I made it work. Anyway, Adobe needs to release that shiz fast cause it’s awesome!

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Robotlegs FDT 4.2 project template

FDT 4.2 introduced an improved project template system so since I already did some Robotlegs templates for FlashDevelop previously, I thought I would give it a shot for FDT too. So here it is:

FDTRobotlegsProjectTemplate

Copy those file in this folder for MAC users

(Your User Name) > Library > Application Support > FDT > projectTemplates > Web

and in this folder fo PC users

C:\Users\{Username}\AppData\Roaming\FDT\projectTemplates\Web

After that all you have to do is create a new Flash project in FDT and you should see Robotlegs project under web.

All you have to do is specify the package name by entering the client name and the project name and there you go, you have a fully functional Robotlegs project. I did the client+project package name thing because if you work for an agency you could do multiple projects for the same client so I think it is better for code organisation.

This template includes:

  • a SiteMain file which is the file that you will compile
  • a SiteContext
  • an ApplicationModel
  • a CreateMediatorCommand
  • a StartupCommand
  • a SiteEvent class
  • and a SampleView and SampleMediator

You could remove the SampleView and the SampleMediator but I felt it made the project more complete and a really good Robotlegs example.

If you have suggestions on how to make this template better or just comments, leave them down here.

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I am Flash Developer

This isn’t the next article I wanted to write but it was on my list since Flash In The Can Toronto (2010). It comes from all the talks surrounding the refusal from Apple to let Flash on the iPad ( i guess we can just say iOs now).  During that period a lot off people (including me) where uncertain about their future. I mean when someone as powerful as Steve Jobs tells you that your job shouldn’t exist, you think about it twice. Out of the turmoil that ensued, some voices touched me more than others. What they were saying is that they, as developers, weren’t tied to a technology and that if Flash was to disappear tomorrow, they would still have a job. That got me to think. A lot. The next thing that affected me was something I heard at FITC concerning designers. How they don’t call themselves ’Photoshop Designers’ or ‘Corel Draw Designer’ (I tried to think of another product than Adobe but just could come up with Corel Draw (who uses that anyway), but you get the idea). I think this follows a bit the same vibe as the comments from the Flash dudes.

All of this feed my reflexions, I mean I have tried a lot of technologies (all things in perspective, I am still at the start of my career, so I humbly say so). I have tried Java, PHP, MySQL, C, Flash, ActionScript 2 and 3, HTML/JavaScript/Css, Ajax, Asp, C#, Python. And you know what? There is nothing I like better than doing ActionScript 3. I mean the tools help a lot; FDT (yes I said it, I now like FDT) or FlashDevelop for code and Flash CS5 for visual assets. I like the workflow, I like making PSDs alive, I really like using TweenLite to make stuff move, I like figuring out how to build my applications so that they minimize load time and CPU usage (I also like maximizing CPU but don’t tell HTML5 fanatics, they know jack shit about pushing limits, yet, but they will know what I mean when they taste it, which will happen for sure). All of that I can’t get from any other technology to the extent that Flash does it right now.

It’s been 2 months that I am at B-Reel right now. I really love it, but the project that I am doing right now mostly doesn’t involve Flash ( I managed to stick a bit of Robotlegs in there) and is mainly Javascript/Html/Css. I really look forward to doing a Flash project. I really don’t want to do html ever again. I don’t have fun doing it (well I am just speaking about the technology, the project itself is amazing). Also, I feel the world of Flash is so deep and there is so much you can do to get better that if you learn all of the other technologies you can never get truly as good on the Flash Platform as one could be. For all of these reasons, that is why I am Flash Developer, that is my title and I am not ashamed or feel diminished by it. It really defines me.

With that being said, it gives me security. I think I am not alone in this situation. I think Flash gives a mean to express themselves to a lot of people and because of that, you can be sure that these people will produce tons of cool shit with it. And other people will want to see that cool shit. That gives a reason for Flash to be. Someday there will be Flash on the iOs. You can be sure of that (I mean Steve Jobs has an expiration date, right?)

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My verdict on FDT

I said I would try FDT for a month and I am sad to say that I did not find it superior to FlashDevelop. FDT has some good sides and even stuff that it does better than FlashDevelop, here are some:

  • compile errors while editing
  • debugger
  • ant support

But it has two major problems, first it is built on Eclipse which makes it much more complicated than it should be. Secondly it is very expensive (well I had more problems with it than just that, but these are the game changers). I don’t even understand why it cost so much… It even cost more than Flash Builder. Anyway that seems weird to me, but maybe it’s just me. Anyway in comparison to FlashDevelop which is free, it doesn’t stand a chance.

While venturing in the FDT world we came across templates, snippets and short keys. Those are very useful things when you use them. Templates are also time savers when you are using PureMVC because when you want to create a Mediator, all you have to provide it is the mediator name, and it’s view  name and type and it will generate the rest; no more copy paste from other mediator. Also project template are very cool. Snippets are mini templates, for example to generate getters and setters. Short cuts are combination of keys you press to do an action instead of going trough a menu to do the same action. Well, it just happens that FlashDevelop has all those things, but I just wasn’t using them… So out of all this I came out with increased efficiency.

FDT might still be a very good tool, mostly if you are already familiar with Eclipse, but for me FlashDevelop is still the way to go. If  FlashDevelop gets a Debugger than I won’t even ask myself the question.

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Trying FDT for a month

Ya I will be leaving my beloved Flash Develop to try out FDT for a month. I have been hearing a lot of good things about it and the programing department has been pushing to get everybody on Eclipse. I have tried Flex Builder before (ok, it was version 2) but I was not very impressed. Every thing seemed complicated for nothing. What I really like about Flash Develop is that it is so simple. To get you going it take 10 minutes and it is more user friendly than Eclipse (it takes less step to do something simple like start a project).  Also it is easier to get Animators who are more designer in spirit to use it.

But I at least want to give it a try, so that is what I will be using (almost) exclusively for the next month. The month after I will try Flash Builder 4 and compare it. That way I will be able to make a good decision about wich editor to use.

I have started using FDT today and I have already bumped into two problems: first a simple trace doesn’t trace in the console even in debug mode (in the FCHS console and the FDB console whatever these are). Secondly the SWFViewer doesn’t seem to be the Debug player so I don’t see the runtime errors. These might be related problems and should be easy enough to fix, but it should be more obvious than it is right now.

If you know any tutorial about FDT, send them my way, I want to know everything I can about it during that month; I will read everything!

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Powerflasher: How labs works

Here is another video presenting an agency. This time it is Powerflasher from Germany which is also the maker of FDT, an eclipse plug-in to code ActionScript. The video is mostly about how they divide their intern teams to have three groups: agency, solutions, labs. Agency is the work done for the client (websites, applications), solutions is for when they build a product that they can sell or own (like the FDT software or they also make a 3D book component for flash) and finally labs is where they experiment. What is done in labs usually ends up either in the agency work or as a product for solutions to work on. They also explain that for some project the traditional workflow doesn’t work. Like for experimental projects, there needs to be more flexibility because some experiments might not work. That’s why they adopt a more Agile methodology. They explain their steps to achieve this. They also mention that with a traditional workflow creativity only happens at the beginning of the project while in real life it can happen anytime.

All in all it’s a pretty interesting watch. I really like these kind of video because it tells us how other agencies are working and sometime people are reluctant to speak about this.

Link: Carlo Blatz - How Labs works

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My review of FITC Toronto 2009

Well I’m on the train (not anymore) and I have 5 hours to kill so I thought I might use this time to write my recap of FITC Toronto 2009. In a general way, I liked this iteration of the festival more than last year. I think that my choice of presentations had a lot to do with it. Looking back, there are sessions I would have changed in my schedule but since they were filming most of the presentations I can just go and watch those that I heard good feedback from. The downside of this year was that I was alone so I kinda not fulfill the Connect part of the festival mission (Inspire, Educate, Challenge, Connect) but I will work on that next year.

What I learned

Here is interesting stuff I wanted to share:

  • I really liked the presentation from PowerFlasher (makers of the FDT tool to write ActionScript). It gave insights on their creative process and how they deal with in-house projects. They said they would put the presentation on youtube so I will point it out when it is there.
  • GAIA Framework: I wasn’t convinced before the presentation. Now I would like to try it out on certain type of project. What convinced me: the fact the it handles SWFAddress for you. I like SWFAddress a lot, but sometimes I would like it to be a physical object so that I could throw it out the window.
  • Joshua Davis is an awesome presenter. If you get the chance to see him talk, seize it.
  • I chose a couple of business presentations and they were probably not the best choices to make but I still got a couple of usefull links out of them:
    • IconBuffet : Nice for Icons but also nice to know that they are made by Firewheel Design and given freely; nice way to get known.
    • CoComment : Nice way to track your conversations, will definitely try it out.
    • 37 signals : Heard so much about them that I should probably at least follow their blog
    • BaseCamp : An online application to manage projects, made by 37 signals
    • HARO : Help a reporter out : a nice way to get your name out there by helping a reporter and getting quoted
  • VizualPV3D : Layout tool for Papervision3D that looks great. Can’t believe it was done by only one dude: Gary Stasiuk.
  • Finally Colin Moock‘s presentation held a couple of gems. First he his starting a company called User1 that will offer and develop the union platform which will facilitate the production of multiuser applications be it on the web or the desktop. Also he teamed up with MegaPhone, a company that provides  a framework to manipulate any screen using any phone. I foresee lots of new marketing opportunities.

On a personal note

I own a HP mini 1000, one of those new netbooks. It’s a pretty nice netbook: it has a 10 inch screen, but I believe I need more than that. 10 inch is good for writting and browsingthe web, but not that good for coding. I really hope that they will develop folding LCD soon so that the laptop can stay small but the screen can get bigger.

Lastly, being in Toronto made me realize how much I like Montreal. More trees, smaller streets, no tramway; it’s just warmer. The only other city that compares (and that I have been to) is Amsterdam. I think Montreal deserves its own Flash conference.

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