18 December 2008

Happy Holidays!

May you all have a wonderful holiday season! I'll be gone a few weeks.

16 December 2008

Next Generation Flex/Flash Design

The Flash Catalyst project (formerly Thermo) promises an incredible boost to UI design in Flash and Flex.

15 December 2008

Creating LiveDocs-style Documentation for Your Flex App

One powerful -- and hidden -- tool that ships with Flex Builder (and I think the SDK) is the ASDoc documentation utility, found here,
C:\Program Files\Adobe\Flex Builder 3\sdks\3.2.0\bin\ASDoc.exe

You need to use the special code comments (/** */ and <!--- -->), otherwise ASDoc will ignore them. So a sample code block looks like this,

* Boolean indicating visibility of the Submit button.
public function get SubmitVisible():Boolean {
return _submitVisible;

You can read more about ASDoc and its switches on the Adobe Using ASDoc page. When you're ready to generate your documentation, you call the ASDoc utility from the command prompt with some switches. The parameters ("switches") tell ASDoc what to parse and where to put the output, among other options. One quick way to see the options is to run asdoc -help at the command line. Here's one sample call to ASDoc,
asdoc -library-path C:\FlexProjects\MyApp\lib -source-path C:\FlexProjects\MyApp\src\ -doc-sources C:\FlexProjects\MyAp\sr\MyApp.mxml -output doc-folder 

The above call tells the ASDoc tool to
  • Use the SWC files (if any) in the lib folder; these are often used for third-party components.
  • Generate documentation for the MXML file. In my case, I had a lot of ActionScript in the MXML and wanted it pulled.
  • And place the output in a folder called doc-folder.

11 December 2008

Verify Mobile Web Sites With New W3C Tool

New tool from the W3C makes validating sites for mobile users easier.

To Infinity and Beyond

A friend has a great blog post about infinity, how it exists and doesn't -- at the same time. It uses mathematics and will blow your mind.

Adobe AIR 1.5 Gets High Marks

InfoWorld gives a really strong rating of Excellent (9.3 out of 10) to AIR 1.5 in their article. Way to go, Adobe!

09 December 2008

New Article for Adobe Developer Connection

Please check out my new Flex article on the Adobe Developer Connection.

Update: You can write articles for Adobe by checking out their Author Guidelines page.

08 December 2008

ActionScript Cookie Utility

Handle cookies directly in Flex or Flash using this cool library.

Adobe Text Layout Framework

Adobe has built a very powerful Text Layout Framework for the Flash Player 10. Of course you can use the framework in Flex, as well.

Check out the demo. The features include,
  • Bidirectional text, vertical text and over 30 writing systems including Arabic, Hebrew, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Lao, the major writing systems of India, and others.
  • Selection, editing and flowing text across multiple columns and linked containers, and around inline images
  • Vertical text, Tate-Chu-Yoko (horizontal within vertical text) and justifier for East Asian typography
  • Rich typographical controls, including kerning, ligatures, typographic case, digit case, digit width and discretionary hyphens
  • Cut, copy, paste, undo and standard keyboard and mouse gestures for editing
  • Rich developer APIs to manipulate text content, layout, markup and create custom text components.
You can download the beta and play around with it. As you work with the product, please be kind and provide feedback to Adobe at the framework's forum. Thanks.

04 December 2008

Some Cool Tools for Your Flex Apps, Part II

Here are a few more cool components and utilities for your Flex apps,

Display HTML File in Flex TextArea

For a current project, I needed to have a help file for a Flex app that anyone with some HTML knowledge could update. One solution was described by PeterD on his great FlexExamples.com blog post. You can even apply a stylesheet to the HTML. Some big caveats: Because the Flex TextArea is based on the the underlying Flash API's flash.text.TextField object, it only allows a very limited number of HTML tags; the LiveDocs have a list of the allowed tags. And anything but very basic CSS is ignored.

Deleting Files That Won't Go Away

Windows' Secrets newsletter has a great article on how to give the boot to files that can't be deleted. I've run into this many times and there are some powerful (and free) utilities to the rescue. The newsletter requires a login but you can find the utilities at Gibin Software House.

03 December 2008

Creating Photoshop Arrows

Quick Arrows in Photoshop from Jay Hilgert on Vimeo. You might be familiar with the arrow shapes that Photoshop contains. However, you can create custom arrows to fit your needs using the Line Tool and the tricks explained in this brief video tutorial.

02 December 2008

New Flex Learning Paths in the ADC

To make learning Flex easier, the folks at Adobe have created a new Learning Paths Project. It's also available as a Flex app (beta). It has a great role-based interface, which then splits you off into goals and tasks. Adobe is eager to get your feedback on the Learning Paths so go at it!

A Few Color Tools

Web developers (and others) often need ways to generate colors, detect a specific color on-screen, snap to web-safe, etc. Here are a few tools to make your life a little easier,
  • Color Wizard Ver. 3.0: An online tool to generate matching colors.
  • Color Cop: Grab any screen color, snap to web-safe, and much more. It gives the hex and RGB values of the color, making it easy to re-create the color in Photoshop and other apps.

Fix the WinXP File Search Bug

If you've ever searched the contents of files in Windows XP, you probably know that it only looks at some limited file types. Coming to the rescue is Agent Ransack, a free and award-winning file searching utility that even lets you save the results in CSV or plain text. You can save the search criteria, see the contents of the file in a preview pane, and use regular expressions for your searches. Very cool.