Flash Peer-to-Peer at Flashbelt

Flashbelt 09I’ll be giving my Flash Player 10 Peer-to-Peer talk at Flashbelt this week. This will be my fifth Flashbelt and it’s by far my favorite conference of the year. I not only love that fact that it’s in my backyard and I get to sleep in my own bed each night, but the conference is run to perfection; great speakers and a great atmosphere. I’m really looking forward to it this year. See you there!

Transparent Background Image in Flex

Here is a quick tip for setting a transparent image as the background of your Flex application. If you want that transparency to pass through to the HTML page you would set your wmode to “transparent.” But even after you set your transparent background image you’ll notice that default blue background still shows through. And yu can’t set the backgroundAlpha to 0 since that would also hide your background image. What you need to know is that the backgroundColor is defaulted to that blue color, so you must set the backgroundColor to undefined so your application has no background color:

Application {
    backgroundImage: Embed(source="/assets/Background.png");
    backgroundColor: undefined;

SharedObject Best Practices

I downloaded the Hulu Desktop application today and when it threw a runtime error (since I have my shared objects disabled by default) I decided it was finally time to blog about best practices when working with Shared Objects.

First, your code should never be “dependant” on a Shared Object being set. The user has full control to disable Shared Objects just like they can with browser cookies. If it absulutely must be set, then you should at least show a graceful degredation to the user explaining that they won’t get the full expereince without enabling shared objects.

Second, you should allways put your shared object code inside a try…catch statement. If the user does have Shared Objects disabled by default, a runtime error will be thrown (and shown if they have the debug player) when you try to write to a Shared Object.

Adobe's Flex Builder rebranded as Flash Builder

As you may have heard, Adobe has decided to rebrand Flex Builder as Flash Builder to go along with the Flash Platform initiative. I actually think this is a really good idea. Flash Player has always been the platform and the vehicle that has allowed developers to deliver amazing experiences for years. Flex is a great framework that I personally use on 90% of my projects, but I don’t think the IDE (Flash Builder) should be limited to a single framework.

The only problem I have with the name change is that it doesn’t go far enough. When I say Flash, what is the first thing you think of? If you’re a Flash developer, you probably think of Flash Professional. This is an authoring tool that has been around for years and until Flex Builder it was our only “Adobe” tool for creating SWFs. It’s NOT a programming tool. Therefore most Flash programmers welcomed Adobe’s attempt at a real programmers IDE with Flex Builder. It isn’t perfect, but it’s better than any alternative. (Yes I’ve tried FDT, but I can’t live without the debugger.)

So my problem with the new Flash branding is the name of Flash Professional. This tool is based on a timeline and is geared toward designers. I personally think this should be renamed to Flash Designer. This would help reduce confusion for new developers to the Flash Platform and put clarity into the entire Flash product line.

Trillian Astra Beta

I just got an invitation to join the Trillian Astra Beta and so far I’m very impressed. I’ve been a Trillian user for years and for me it’s always been the best way to manage my IM contacts across AOL, Yahoo, MSN, etc. Astra also adds support for Facebook and twitter, maybe I’ll start using those more now that they are in a familiar place for me. The main barrier for me not using Facebook or twitter much was because I didn’t want to constantly login to those sites or install a dedicated application. I always hated that about the old messenger applications when you had to have three different apps running. Looks like the Beta signup page is open for anyone, if you’re an existing Trillian users, I think you’ll really like this new version.

Peer-to-Peer Presentation at MN.swf Camp

I gave a presentation at MN.swf Camp on Peer-to-Peer communication in Flash Player 10. That presentation is now up on my presentations page. The Library that I created to simplfy the P2P commcunication is also posted on my labs page.

I also created two sample applications. The first is a Video Chat application that runs in the browser and the second is an Collaborative Shopping application that runs in AIR. The shopping application was created by Jason Grey, I just added the collaborative functionality.

Become a Better Developer

I’ve been meaning to post this for a long time, but I hadn’t gotten around to it until now. Back in September (2008) I was invited by Schematic to speak at their Technology Summit that was being held in Costa Rica. It was a great location and it was fun to see all the great people from Schematic. I gave my presentation on strategies for becoming a better developer and I thought I’d post it on my presentations page just in case anyone else is interested in what I think.