Fonts: OpenType vs TrueType

I came across a great article today written by Miguel Sousa about the benefits of OpenType (.otf) over TrueType (.ttf) fonts. I never put much thought into the difference between the two font extensions, although I have always leaned towards using OpenType fonts when available knowing that is a more recent format. Miguel goes into great detail on the differences. The main difference that struck me the most as a RIA developer was that OpenType fonts can be up to 50% smaller than TrueType fonts. When embedding fonts or loading external fonts into a multilingual Flash application this piece of knowledge could trim off a significant amount of load time. Read more about the differences here.

Playing Embedded Video In Reverse (Flash Player Bug)

On a recent project my team encountered a very annoying bug in ActionScript 3.0 when reversing the playback of an Embedded Video on the timeline.

When playing the video forwards everything ran smooth, the processor usage remained low and the memory consumption remained low as well. When playing the video backwards, using mc.gotoAndStop(frame), the processor usage shot way up and the memory consumption went over a GB and in some cases over 2 GB.
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The All-New 2011 Nissan Quest

The All-New 2011 Nissan Quest microsite launched today. I really enjoyed working on this project. All the people on my team were great and everything came together very smoothly. Make sure you check it out.


http://www.nissanusa.com/microsite/quest/2011/

Home Hardware Design Centre Launched

Home Hardware recently launched their Design Centre, a collection of applications geared towards helping homeowners research a huge range of products available at their local store. The Design Centre includes the Beauti-Tone Paint Home Designer and the Beauti-Tone Paint Colour Finder, which I blogged about in the previous post, as well as two new applications, the HomeWorks Visualizer and Your Scrapbook.

HomeWorks Visualizer is similar to the Beauti-Tone Paint Home Designer in that it allows the customer to apply product to a variety of home exteriors and interior rooms, including kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms and more. HomeWorks Visualizer includes a wide range of product categories including siding, stucco, brick, stone, roofing, decking, garage doors, concrete coatings, paint, doors, windows, flooring, ceiling, countertops, wall coverings and tiles. Users can save their projects, email them to a friend, and request a home install from their local Home Hardware store.

You can use the HomeWorks Visualizer here: http://www.homehardware.ca/index/renoworks-homeworks

Your Scrapbook is a great place for members of the Home Hardware site to store photos they find inspirational into their very own scrapbook. Using the Image Grabber utility, which can be launched on any website using a bookmark, a member can add photos on the fly while they are surfing any web site.

You can use Your Scrapbook here: http://www.homehardware.ca/index/renoworks-scrapbook
Note: You will need to register on the Home Hardware site before you can use the Scrapbook.

We developed the HomeWorks Visualizer & Your Scrapbook using Adobe Flex, Java and db4o. We developed the Image Grabber using JSP, JavaScript & HTML. Congratulations to everyone at RenoWorks for bringing this project to life.

Beauti-Tone Paint Home Designer Launched

Home Hardware recently launched the Beauti-Tone Paint Home Designer. You can now customize the look of dozens of stock photographs using Beauti-Tone’s large selection of paint swatches and coordinated paint palettes. Users have the ability to save their projects, email their projects to a friend, calculate the amount of paint they will need, save their favourite paint swatches, and even print their completed project.

Beauti-Tone Paint Home Designer

Home Hardware also launched the Beauti-Tone Paint Colour Finder. This desktop application allows users to drag an eyedropper over any image on their computer and find the nearest matching Beauti-Tone colour.

Beauti-Tone Colour Picker

We developed the Home Designer using Adobe Flex, Java and db4o. We developed the Colour Picker using Java. Congratulations to everyone at RenoWorks for bringing this project to life.

You can try these applications out for yourself at http://www.homehardware.ca/index/renoworks.

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ArtPad: A Collection. A Connection

ArtPad

While working at Rare Method our team invested a lot of effort into designing and developing this great interactive Flash and HTML/CSS hybrid site. ArtPad was commissioned by the Calgary Glenbow Museum for the purpose of informing and interesting youth in contemporary art. I’m not sure when this site finally went live, but chances are that you have never seen or even heard about it, as I was unable to find a press release or news article anywhere. Take a few minutes to check it out. I think you will enjoy it and maybe learn a thing or two about contemporary art.

http://www.glenbow.org/artpad

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Flex 3 Cookbook Review

I just finished skimming through this book and have decided that every Flex developer should own a copy. I have been developing Flex applications for over a year now and I still managed to learn a ton of new things from this book. The authors have done an excellent job of formatting the book into problem and solution scenarios. Quick and easy answers. The book starts off with issues a Flex noob might encounter and then proceeds all the way up to issues a Flex pro might encounter. Each solution includes code and a discussion/explination. This book is not really a cover to cover read, but more of a quick reference that you want to have within an arms reach while coding. I still recommend skimming through it when you first get it, because I’m sure you’ll learn a bunch of new tidbits right off the bat.

You can get more info and purchase this book here.

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Mercedes-Benz USA Launches Website Redesign

Yesterday MBUSA.com launched their website redesign. The new site is a major face lift from the old version, which was beginning to look outdated in comparison to many of its competitors. Every single element of the site has been upgraded and built completely in Flash, improving the overall user experience throughout.

Screen shot of the new MBUSA site

I worked on the initial stages of this redesign at Critical Mass over two years ago. My involvement at the time was building a working prototype of the site in Flash. Only a few vehicles could be selectable back then, but overall the site’s design has not changed too much. The Mercedes-Benz’ development team has done a great job of finishing it off.

Congratulations to everyone involved in creating this site.

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A must-read for learning ActionScript 3.0

I just stumbled across a great article by Josh Tynjala on the Yahoo! Flash Developer Center. Josh writes about the new features of ActionScript 3.0, focusing on working with the Display List, changes to root and parent, and encapsulation. I’m sure this article has been around for some time, but if you are just getting into AS3 and have not yet seen this article, then I highly recommend you read it.

http://developer.yahoo.com/flash/articles/display-list.html

The Yahoo! Flash Developer Center also has some great open-source components available for download. I am playing around with the Charts and I am very impressed. These seem like a great and free alternative to FusionCharts, which at this time are not available for ActionScript 3.0.

Here are some examples of the Yahoo! ASTRA Charts:
http://developer.yahoo.com/flash/astra-flash/charts/examples.html

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Loading and Saving External XML Data in AIR (Apollo)

I just finished an AIR (Apollo) application that loads and saves data from an external XML file. I figured I would share the code to accomplish this task as there is not a lot of Apollo info around at this time.

First off lets start with loading an XML file and reading its contents. I realize that there are much easier ways to load XML into Flash than this, but the advantage here is that I can use File.applicationResourceDirectory which allows me to target the installation directory for the XML file that was included with the AIR package. In this snippet I am using the synchronous open method. This essentially pauses everything else in the Flash movie until it has completed its task (opening the file).

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