Archive for May, 2010

Versus – thePlatform Syndicated Video Player

This project was a roller coaster ride to say the least. It’s built with thePlatform PDK. We used thePlatform’s component video tools and used their CMS data backend for all the video storage and delivery. thePlatform’s backend data services are very, very powerful, but my past experience with a earlier version of thePlatform’s PDK left me hoping it matured since then. There’s just so much focus on easy it is for anyone to put together a video player with their online tools, but every client/job/project I’ve ever had: we want our own custom touch, we have our own custom needs and we have sWalt (that would be me, the flash developer that we’re paying to do this custom stuff) to code it all.

Sooooo, that being said, the story continues:

Versus thePlatform Video Player

Versus needed some custom features and wanted more control within the player, so we took thePlatform’s PDK and got started. I built the player in Flex Builder 3  as a pure actionscript 3 project and after working closely with thePlatform’s support team, we were able to get their ‘demo’ player up and running.  For the video, we created custom feeds for serving video streams and let the video team handle uploading content.

So using the thePlatform’s “piece-by-piece” video tools, I was able to get a new player up and running pretty quickly, it was getting the Versus requirements all working together that was a challenge. We were ‘strongly recommended’ not to dig into their SWC files to write our own code. So for me, it was playing with black boxes and hoping to figure out the documentation enough to get things working. The only issue was, not only did I not understand why some features were having issues working, thePlatform’s support team couldn’t figure it out. We were able to get new SWC files compiled with ‘fixes’ that in the end, followed the documentation I was working with. After getting the player list, header populating and video running smoothly, we did some custom skinning for the video player (we created some custom visual assets and used external FLA libraries) . The video player supports DART video ads, with a supporting banner ad shown, all within the single SWF. We also have the player sending tracking data to DART and to some custom platform backend tracking fields.

If anyone says ‘use the canvas tools’ to me again, I’ll go nuts. Why? because we were ‘baking’ settings into the single SWF and not using the typical HTML canvas process.

The biggest challenge for this player is that we needed a single SWF, hosted from the Versus CDN to be syndicated out to Versus’s partners. Mainly the yardbarker.com domain and it’s sub-domains. We ran into the typical cross domain issues, both from my test domain and the Versus test domain, no biggie there (after developing in Flash for 10+ years now, the cross domain stuff was easy). Then the issue was, “how can we get custom embed codes for each of our partners that we can trust to actually work?” Sooooo, I created a simple configuration app that the syndication partners can create their own embed codes. The app allows users to choose what categories they want to provide, any configuration options we wanted to allow and the app creates the correct embed code. We were able to get the player launched, have a single SWF on the Versus CDN (which allows us to easily make any needed updates without numerous domains doing anything), get the full power of thePlatform’s backend data feeds and have everyone’s content update as needed. It felt great to make some needed updates after launch and push to the CDN, see the changes filter out and have a beer watching it all come together. Working with the team at Versus (Hi Jack and Neil!) is always a pleasure and it was awesome knowing that your client ‘gets’ it, sees that there are some issues to work out and no: Flash isn’t broken.


Versus – Multi-Sport Scoreboard

Multi-Sports Scoreboard:

viewing college football scores

A small project for Versus.com that really turned into a nice project. This pure actionscript Flex builder 3 project pulls data from an external scores feed. The SWF file is designed to show both College Football and NHL (National Hockey League) scores. The scoreboard will also allow the user to click through to either a preview or a recap on the versus domain. If the game is not over, the user would see the preview, otherwise they would get redirected to the versus recap page of the game.

The feed has an auto update feature and will show scores as games progress. The single SWF but multi-purpose SWF allowed Versus.com to embed the same SWF in multiple URLs and only change flashvars.  Built in Flex builder 3 as a pure actionscript project with using a Flash FLA library for visual assests. I also leveraged the CasaLib library as much as I could. Still loving and using CasaLib. If you don’t know, go check it out: CasaLib

This project was pretty cool to show how a single SWF can support two different sport scores. Saved a ton of time as compared to building two separate projects for College Football and NHL scores.


Versus – NHL Playoffs and Finals scoreboard

NHL Playoffs and Finals scoreboard:

This scoreboard is based on the College football/NHL scoreboard (see below). Basically, a new skin and only providing NHL playoff scores. The scoreboard is on the latest and greatest version of Versus.com and will be updated when the season reaches the finals (Go Flyers!).

The app was built as a pure actionscript project in Flex builder 3, I extended the base classes I created for the College football/NHL scoreboard. I also created a new NHL Playoff FLA library for the new skin. This one was pretty smooth but we could have had a few more features if our data feed would have provided the additional data. The app has an auto-update for keeping the scores recent. A nice re-skin project for sure.

Just an image of the rollover state:

Versus NHL Playoff Scoreboard

Currently live at : http://www.versus.com/nhl


Razorfish Health – Health Conversation

The RazorFish Health Conversation Bubble View

This area of the Razorfish Health website was built over a period of many ideas, revisions, new ideas, multiple developers, and then me. I came into the project nearing completion and was able to introduce new features, update design, work remotely, and help launch the web site. I also was able to help in other areas of the site, building anything that was asked of me.

The entire site is built on top of the Gaia framework, which at the time was new for me. We were still able to use Flex builder 3 as our editor (I also used Flex builder 3 to commit/pull changes on the SVN used) but used the Gaia Flash IDE component to compile. It wasn’t that bad in the end but it took some getting used to, coming off a pure actionscript 3 project.

Live Link: http://razorfishhealth.com/#/health-conversation

More images:

A quick total count of conversations is pulled from the server and shown to the user.

The current count of conversations

Once a user selects a conversation, a detail view is shown with additional content. Over time more data is pulled from the server and a ‘drip’ is created to keep showing new content.

Detail list view of a chosen conversation

There are some really incredible people at Razorfish Health! I felt so comfortable working there and at the downtown office. It was such a pleasure to come into this project and help get it launched!


Comcast – FEARnet.com – Super Simple Bug Game

Ok, this one was a “put out the fire” game that was sold by the sales team before the tech team even knew about it. So I had to whip up a game in a few hours. The game was for the movie “Bug” and the only assets we had was a hairy chest. I made bugs randomly scatter about and the user has to click their mouse to squash the bugs before time runs out. Pretty simple stuff but I figured I’d post it anyways.

The game did send a server side score post and we kept a list of high scores.

P.S. Since the whole thing is named around the word “bug”, I created a bug that allows me to NEVER lose and always have the highest score EVAR….muaaahahahahaha *ahem*


Jamaican salesman

Took this during our last vacation to Jamaica. This hard working salesman had bird feeders and just walked right up to me. So I shot…


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