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eat orange

rants, raves, news and reviews from sean voisen

Last Build Date: Sun, 30 Jun 2002 19:50:14 GMT

Copyright: Copyright 2002 Sean Voisen

Pixel Font News Update
Thanks to the continued persistence of Stephen Tallent I've discovered the root of my problem with pixel fonts in Flash. It appears that while most pixel fonts display correctly in static text fields, only certain pixel fonts will display correctly in dynamic text fields. Namely, I've had problems with Tenacity from MiniFonts. It appears that all of the fonts at Fonts For Flash work just fine. If you have any fonts that you know WILL NOT work in dynamic text fields, I would like to know. Maybe I will compile a list.

A New Home
Media Insites, Inc., my company, has finally set up its own dedicated server graciously hosted by the folks over at Rackspace. This means that I will soon be running a "Jabber" server on my own domain and that Eat Orange will soon be moving permanently to Once my "Jabber" server is up and running I can embed Jabber-enabled Flash chat programs and games directly into the pages here and not worry about the Flash security sandbox. I'll also post the source to an "easy-bake" chat program using Flash JabberConf at this time.

Pixel Fonts in Dynamic Text Fields: Problem Solved
Publish the movie at low quality. This seems like a really stupid solution, but supposedly this is the only way to avoid Flash munging the text beyond recognition. I found this somewhere in the FAQ at Fonts For Flash.

Draggable Pane - A Major Pain
Working on JabberCheckers, a multiplayer Flash/Jabber implementation of checkers, (screenshot available here) has forced me to learn a lot about Actionscript, Flash MX and their various nuances. I've been trying to use the new UI components wherever appropriate in JabberCheckers. Unfortunately, this has revealed many of their (or possibly my) flaws. I love pixel fonts. I intentionally turn Quartz text rendering off in my browsers (IE, Mozilla) because it just blurs small text beyond reason, especially on my LCD display. It would be nice to be able to use pixel fonts in dynamic text fields in Flash. Unfortunately, Flash always finds some way to muck them up. They are only useful in static text fields, which for me means they are not useful at all. In an attempt at compromise, I tried using device fonts. I quickly discovered that device fonts and the scroll pane/draggable pane components don't mix. Maybe someone can help me out on this next one - the draggable pane component. It works fine, but if I use MovieClip.attachMovie to load a pane, click the close button on the pane, and then attach the pane again it breaks. It loses all my formatting from globalStyleFormat, the close button is mysteriously disabled, scroll content is lost, and I get very frustrated. Hopefully I'll figure this one out soon.

Actionscript Tips for Chat Clients
Now that Flash JabberConf (FJC) is released, I thought I would provide a few tips/suggestions for creating a Flash-based chat client. These first few tips deal with the technological aspects of implementing an auto-scrolling text field as a chat window, and the option of pressing the ENTER key to quickly send messages. My techniques involve using the new MX event model and methods of the ever-wonderful TextField object. For the details and actionscript code, read more.

Announcing: Flash JabberConf
I finally finished it. Flash JabberConf (FJC) is an API for Flash MX that I wrote. It should allow anyone familiar with MX and the new event model to quickly create chat and messaging applications in Flash. FJC was written to allow communication with a "Jabber" server running the Jabber conferencing component (also known as group chat). It is essentially an "MX-erized," light-weight version of JabberFlash with the necessary extensions that allow it to easily support conferencing and group chat. FJC is available here in zip format. I'm always looking for ways to make it better, so take a look at the code, try it out, and let me know what you think! There is plenty of accompanying documentation to get you started.

ColdFusion MX on OS X
I had just about given up hope of ever developing using ColdFusion again until I ran across this post at Sean Corfield's ColdFusion MX blog. Holy smokes, Batman! CFMX on OS X! Could it be? Well, PHP is still my friend for now but I am definitely going to look into this one. I wish Macromedia would get on the ball and just support CFMX on the Mac.

More Fun Flash Ideas
It's a great time to be a member of the Flash community. With such amazing projects as Philter Design's Flash RSS Reader and The Feasible Impossibilities Talking Blog we are really beginning to see the power behind MX. I came up with few ideas that would incorporate both "Jabber" and these new technologies. In the good-natured spirit of sharing, here they are:
  • A scrolling Flash blog news ticker. This ticker would use a Jabber RSS component (similar to the example in DJ Adams' book Programming Jabber) to push feed data to a Flash-based ticker application.
  • A talking chat room using the Feasibile Impossibilities technology and my soon to be released Flash JabberConf API .
If you have any other ideas, I'd love to hear them.

Usability Resources
With all of the constant buzz that has been surrounding Flash usability (thanks in part to Jakob Nielsen and his current affair with Macromedia), I have started to do a little research of my own. At Media Insites we also have two large projects in the making, and a I figured that taking a little Usability 101 was definitely required. A great resource that I found was at Kelly Goto's Gotomedia Resource area (made partially famous by her book Web Redesign: Workflow that Works). This is a great starting point for usability research, although it focuses mainly on traditional web usability rather than specifically on Flash. Nevertheless, I'm sure many of these philosophies still apply.

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch . . .
I spent the last six days or so back at home in San Diego with my parents. It was definitely a welcome escape from the smog-ridden Los Angeles scenery and mayhem on highway 405. My parents' new spa was installed just as I was leaving. I guess I'll just have to head down there again as soon as possible. On the Flash front, I made quite a bit of progress on Flash JabberConf (FJC), an API for quickly programming jabber "chat" or conferencing programs in Flash. It is based largely on Yannick Connan's JabberFlash but I've added the necessary conferencing additions and removed anything unnecessary for conferencing. It should be nice and light weight. I've also "MX-erized" it using the new event model (ASBroadcaster, etc.), and used Branden Hall's SHA1 implementation for the server authentication. Expect this one to be released by Monday.