Flash iOS packager update released!

Everything New in Adobe AIR 2.6 (read all on Christian Cantrells blog):

  • Asynchronous Bitmap Decoding
  • Owned Windows
  • Bitmap Capture in StageWebView
  • Microphone support on iOS
  • StageWebView on iOS
  • Multitasking on iOS
  • Retina Support on iOS
  • iOS Camera, CameraUI, and CameraRoll Support
  • Improved hardware acceleration on iOS
  • PFI is now ADT
  • Configurable panning with soft keyboard activation
  • Programmatic control of the display of the on-screen keyboard
  • Support for the Amazon Android Market (more info)
  • Vector printing on Linux
  • Native cursor support
  • On-device debugging over USB (Android only)
  • Native Menu event refinement
  • Enhanced text support on Android
  • NetConnection.httpIdleTimeout
  • Bundled Android USB drivers on Windows
  • Support for the vipaccess:// URI
  • -version flag for ADT

Get runtime and get SDK.

Video – developing for iOS with AIR for mobile 2.6/

Undocumented XMLUtil class in Adobe Flash CS5?

I tried to recompile an older Flash CS 4 project with Flash CS 5 but got this compile time error 1061: Call to a possibly undefined method reuseNodes through a reference with static type Class caused by the usage of one of my utility classes:

This didn’t work

import de.superclass.util.XMLUtil;

This still works


So there was no error in my class because it’s still usable when I use the full class package but it didn’t work when I just import it with the import statement.

After some research I found an undocumented XMLUtil class which avoids the correct access to my de.superclass.util.XMLUtil class.

This class doesn’t exist in Flash CS 4 but is available in Flash CS 5. Simply create a new FLA in Flash CS 5 an run this code on timeline

trace( describeType( XMLUtil ) );

and you’ll get this result:

<type name="XMLUtil" base="Class" isDynamic="true" isFinal="true" isStatic="true">
  <extendsClass type="Class"/>
  <extendsClass type="Object"/>
  <constant name="kAttrYMin" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrXMax" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrYMax" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrObj0" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrObj1" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrX0" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrY0" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrX1" type="String"/>
  <variable name="kTagGravity" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrY1" type="String"/>
  <variable name="kTagCollideSpace" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrType" type="String"/>
  <variable name="kTagRigidBody" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrPin" type="String"/>
  <variable name="kTagRect" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrSlider" type="String"/>
  <variable name="kTagJoint" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrLength" type="String"/>
  <variable name="kTagSpring" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrStrength" type="String"/>
  <variable name="kTagFrames" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrDamping" type="String"/>
  <variable name="kTagFrame" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrSimSpeed" type="String"/>
  <variable name="kTagFluid" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrAxis" type="String"/>
  <variable name="kTagEmitter" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrAsset" type="String"/>
  <variable name="kTagOrigin" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrSpring" type="String"/>
  <variable name="kTagKeyframes" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrSpringStrength" type="String"/>
  <variable name="kTagKey" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrSpringDamping" type="String"/>
  <variable name="kTagView" type="String"/>
  <variable name="kTagGeom" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrIndex" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrCollideType" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrCellSize" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrSpringValue" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrCollideSpace" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrRowDimen" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrDensity" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrColDimen" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrPosX" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrTimeStep" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrPosY" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrTime" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrAngle" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrColor" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrVelX" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrStrokeColor" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrVelY" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrAlpha" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrVelA" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrFPS" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrCOR" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrSprings" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrCOF" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrLimits" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrFixed" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrMinAngle" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrID" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrDBlend" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrPoseStrength" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrPoseDamping" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrBodyDamping" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrX" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrY" type="String"/>
  <constant name="kAttrXMin" type="String"/>
  <accessor name="prototype" access="readonly" type="*" declaredBy="Class"/>
  <method name="nodeHasAttribute" declaredBy="XMLUtil" returnType="Boolean">
    <parameter index="1" type="XML" optional="false"/>
    <parameter index="2" type="String" optional="false"/>
  <method name="getIntAttribute" declaredBy="XMLUtil" returnType="int">
    <parameter index="1" type="XML" optional="false"/>
    <parameter index="2" type="String" optional="false"/>
    <parameter index="3" type="int" optional="true"/>
  <method name="getNumberAttribute" declaredBy="XMLUtil" returnType="Number">
    <parameter index="1" type="XML" optional="false"/>
    <parameter index="2" type="String" optional="false"/>
    <parameter index="3" type="Number" optional="true"/>
  <method name="getBoolAttribute" declaredBy="XMLUtil" returnType="Boolean">
    <parameter index="1" type="XML" optional="false"/>
    <parameter index="2" type="String" optional="false"/>
    <parameter index="3" type="Boolean" optional="true"/>
  <method name="getStringAttribute" declaredBy="XMLUtil" returnType="String">
    <parameter index="1" type="XML" optional="false"/>
    <parameter index="2" type="String" optional="false"/>
    <parameter index="3" type="String" optional="true"/>
  <factory type="XMLUtil">
    <extendsClass type="Object"/>

So I had to rename my class to de.superclass.util.XMLUtils.

You might run into the same problems when using mx.utils.XMLUtil (Flex Framework) or com.adobe.utils.XMLUtil (AS3CoreLib) but I didn’t test it!

I found XMLUtil classes in
Adobe Flash CS5/Common/Configuration/ActionScript 3.0/libs/ik.swc and
Adobe Flash CS5/Common/Configuration/ActionScript 3.0/libs/PffLib.swc

Removing the $(AppConfig)/ActionScript 3.0/libs directory within the ActionScript export settings avoids the problem. But I have no time to test if this directory is necessary. If you run into problems please leave me a comment!

Aligning Flash TextField instances visually correct

I was looking for an easy way to align TextField instances with different font sizes visually correct. I really thought this wouldn’t take much time but it turned out to become really frustrating.

So think about a simple scenario: Try to align two TextField instances with different font sizes side by side. If you just set the TextField.y property to the same value you will recognise that different font sizes have different top margins. Well, you might fix that by hand if you have a static layout but what if you don’t know what kind of Text will be displayed? In my case I needed to align text always on top with the same margin regardless of the headline font size.

I tried hard to get this done by using different methods provided by the TextField class. Then I tried to work with the TextLineMetrics class as well. Nothing worked properly for me. I needed to work with CSS formatted HTML text so I was looking for a margin-top style or something similar. Not available. Hm.

Then I remembered my solution about finding the alpha bounds within external loaded PNG files and used that. Well, the main downside is that I need to create a BitmapData instance to determine the exact text bounds but otherwise it worked out very well.

It all comes down to two simple methods that will slip into my library. At the end you will receive a rectangle representing the bounds on the TextField instance.

If you know a different way to obtain the same exact result please leave me a comment!

Here’s my solution:

function getDisplayObjectAlphaBounds( displayObject : DisplayObject, smoothing : Boolean = true ) : Rectangle
	var bitmapData : BitmapData = new BitmapData( displayObject.width, displayObject.height, true, 0 );
		bitmapData.draw( displayObject, null, null, null, null, smoothing );
	var alphaBounds : Rectangle = bitmapData.getColorBoundsRect( 0x01000000, 0x01000000 );
	return alphaBounds;
function getTextFieldTextBounds( textField : TextField, smoothing : Boolean = true ) : Rectangle
	var background : Boolean = textField.background;
	var backgroundColor : uint = textField.backgroundColor;
	var border : Boolean = textField.border;
	var borderColor : uint = textField.borderColor;
	var opaqueBackground : Object = textField.opaqueBackground;
	textField.background = false;
	textField.border = false;
	opaqueBackground = null;
	var textBounds : Rectangle = getDisplayObjectAlphaBounds( textField, smoothing );
	textField.background = background;
	textField.backgroundColor = backgroundColor;
	textField.border = border;
	textField.borderColor = borderColor;
	textField.opaqueBackground = opaqueBackground;
	return textBounds;
var textFormat : TextFormat = new TextFormat();
	textFormat.align = TextFormatAlign.CENTER;
	textFormat.color = 0x0000FF;
	textFormat.font = "Arial";
	textFormat.size = 30;
var textField : TextField = new TextField();
	textField.border = true;
	textField.borderColor = 0x0000FF;
	textField.background = true;
	textField.backgroundColor = 0x000022;
	textField.defaultTextFormat = textFormat;
	textField.height = 260;
	textField.text = "\nThis text\ncan be\naligned\nproperly!";
	textField.width = 300;
	textField.x = 30;
	textField.y = 30;
addChild( textField );
// Get bounds
var textBounds : Rectangle = getTextFieldTextBounds( textField );
// Draw bounds
var shape : Shape = new Shape();
	shape.x = textField.x;
	shape.y = textField.y;
var g : Graphics = shape.graphics;
	g.lineStyle( 1, 0x00FFFF );
	g.drawRect( textBounds.x, textBounds.y, textBounds.width, textBounds.height );
addChild( shape );

FFK10 – Flashforum conference notes

Every year I spend two days sitting in the audience of the Flashforum conference (FFK) listening to great speakers and getting impressed by their experiments and thoughts. It’s also a good way to renew some of the basic knowledge in Flash development and of course to meet some friends in the Flash scene.

So this are most of my notes:

Flash / Flex development:

  • Jessee Freemans Flash Augmented Reality Debug Tool provides an easy way to start with augmented reality development.
  • Use stunning Hype-Framework effects.
  • Dive into dynamic sound generation with André Michelles Audio-Sandbox.
  • Have a look at the PushButton-Engine for component based development.
  • Remember that Flex 4 includes a lot of performance features! It’s highly recommended to switch as soon as possible. For example the Embed-tag reduces PNG file size and lots of improvements are made within the Flex components.
  • Watch the Adobe TV video preview: Flex for mobile devices
  • See Christian Cantrell’s blogpost One Application , Five Screens (Including the iPad)
  • Great tip: ByteArray.org – Why cacheAsBitmap is bad
  • Adobe’s Mobile Development Guide for the Flash platform (applies also to desktop applications) contains performance tips like:

    • DisplayObject.width / height should be divisible by 2 as often as possible
    • Try to avoid Events and / or stop propagation as soon as possible
    • Set DisplayObject.mouseEnabled=false if possible
    • Stop MovieClip animations when removed from stage
    • Use TextField.opaqueBackground=true if possible
    • Use final statement (final class ClassName {})
    • Use BitmapData.get / setVector()

HTML / JavaScript basics:

  • Use “Sprites” with HTML / CSS (load only one bitmap graphic containing all the asset images for your page and show only the particular relevant parts) and preload next page assets using AJAX while your current page is idle.
  • Since usually only 2 simultaneous domain http requests are supported by browsers it’s a good practice to distribute contents from various ip addresses (use asset-servers for example).
  • Load only visible parts of your site using JavaScript viewport events.

Useful workflow utils:

Flash and Amazon SimpleDB

I did some research about using Amazons SimpleDB service within a Flash based application and found these basic facts:

  • http://sdb.amazonaws.com/crossdomain.xml is not available. This means no direct calls from Flash clients in browsers are possible!
  • Even if it would be possible some day, you would need to find a secure way to deliver your AWS key to the Flash client.
  • Using a web proxy is a solution that would cause a lot of traffic on your server.

So using Amazons SimpleDB for browser based Flash applications makes not much sense to me.
It might be more useful for Flash applications running on local machines like Flash projectors or Adobe AIR applications but there is still a security problem with hiding your AWS key.

Anyway, I found two ActionScript libraries that might be useful:

And this thread in Amazons discussion forums:

URLRequest with HTTP authentication

I found a good explanation how to support HTTP authentication with URLRequests here.

That’s the most interesting part:

Best I can tell, for some reason, this only works where request method is POST; the headers don’t get set with GET requests.

Interestingly, it also fails unless at least one URLVariables name-value pair gets packaged with the request, as indicated above. That’s why many of the examples you see out there (including mine) attach “name=John+Doe” — it’s just a placeholder for some data that URLRequest seems to require when setting any custom HTTP headers. Without it, even a properly authenticated POST request will also fail.

You’ll almost surely have to modify your crossdomain.xml file to accommodate the header(s) you’re going to be sending. In my case, I’m using this, which is a rather wide-open policy file in that it accepts from any domain, so in your case, you might want to limit things a bit more, depending on how security-conscious you are:

<?xml version="1.0"?>
    <allow-access-from domain="*" />
    <allow-http-request-headers-from domain="*" headers="Authorization" />

… and that seems to work; more information on this one is available from Adobe here).

Apparently, Flash player version completely blocks all Authorization headers (more information on this one here), so you’ll probably want to keep that in mind, too.

So this little code snippet explains the basics:

// Base64Encoder contained in Flex SDK
import mx.utils.Base64Encoder;
// Encode username and password
var base64Encoder : Base64Encoder = new Base64Encoder();        
    base64Encoder.encode( "username:password" );
// Create authorization request header
var urlRequestHeader : URLRequestHeader = new URLRequestHeader( "Authorization", "Basic " + base64Encoder.toString() );
// URLRequest setup
var urlRequest : URLRequest = new URLRequest( "url" );        
    // Needs to send some data!!        
    urlRequest.data = new URLVariables( "name=John+Doe" );        
    // Only supported with POST method!!        
    urlRequest.method = URLRequestMethod.POST;        
    // Apply authorization request header        
    urlRequest.requestHeaders = new Array( urlRequestHeader );