Author Archive

thePlatform PDK – get a player up and running – some tips

So, I’ve got another project (a few actually) that will be integrating thePlatform’s video player. I’m slowly but surely getting a grip on how to use this player but I admit, it’s not the easiest API to work with. I guess my biggest gripe is how I want to so badly just load an instance of the PDK player and just call something like player.loadPID(videoPID,true) with the second arg being a start on load boolean and if false, show the video thumbnail. Just having a player.stop() so I can directly just stop a video would be nice. Instead you need to go into the player component, to the controller, then HOPE and PRAY the function or property you’re looking for is there….[/vent]

/**************** Put on AS3 Code Speak hat *********************/

That being said, here’s a tip: Create a class that extends the PDKContainer: example:

public class your_videoPlayer extends PdkContainer
{
//add whatever props you need here
public var _pdkPlayer:Player;

public function your_videoPlayer()

{ super(“your_videoPlayer”,0,true); //the true parameter is a ‘wait for stage’ boolean which without it, will cause the container to think it’s the only class being loaded and probably give you null values when it tries to access the stage

//Do everything else you would normally and assign the player to the _pdkPlayer class propert

//Ok, that being said, in your class that creates this “your_videoPlayer” instance example:

var yourVideoPlayer:your_VideoPlayer = new your_VideoPlayer();

// I just created a thumbnail loader (Thanks again casalib!) that would load the thumbnail for the video and on press calls

yourVideoPlayer._pdkPlayer.controller.setReleaseURL(releaseURL,true);

/**************** Take off AS3 code hat – Put on Nerd Speak Hat *********************/

with the releaseURL being the targeted releaseURL you have for the video you want to play and the true boolean being start the video on loading.

I couldn’t find an easier way to get the player to behave with loading the video thumbnail consistently, having consistent control over the player. I have yet to figure out how to get ads to load properly but will post the solution to that if I can (in talks with thePlatform’s support team now).

Hopefully this helped someone out there in internet-land that is a flash dev working with compiling the thePlatform’s PDK.


as3 – encode/unescape Note2Self

Note2Self: Seems I always end up forgetting the proper syntax and want to do  something that never works. Just a reminder to myself and anyone that ends up here from google…

var url:String = “www.YOUR_DOMAIN_HERE/a path that needs to be encoded”;
var encodedUrl:String = escape( url );
trace( encodedUrl );
var decodedUrl:String = unescape( encodedUrl );
trace( decodedUrl );

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Versus – Tour De France 2009- Interactive Stage Map:

Well, this project was a memorable one, mainly because I started to really use casalib’s library. I was able to leverage casalib’s casasprite and a few other features. Loading data is a breeze, and the distribution class is awesome, really saves a ton of time.

As for the project itself, Versus wanted to create some ‘feel’ behind their TourDeFrance push that year and so it became a test project to create an interactive map. Main focus to just deliver additional information for each route and let the actual event become the content. The only tricky part I came up with was allowing the detail screen to position itself over the area of the map that is chosen. So….if you chose route 4, the detail screen would give you the additional data for route 4 but also visually show you the route.

We planned that if this project went over well, we would revisit the idea next year. So that being said, I’m currently working on the 2010 version. Always a pure joy to do work and have your client return for more. It’s always great working with the Versus.com team and hope to continue for a long time. Some screenshots below and a demo link to follow.

Once the interactive tour map went live, a feature went live on the homepage:

Standard view of the map. This image shows the map with stage 5 as the current stage. You can see the routes in their proper state (past, current, future)

I just really liked this logo (I had nothing to do with it’s design but I fought to keep it in the map). It ended up not making the final version but  I thought it had style. Kudos to whoever created it.

tour logo that was never used

This view is how the application would display if a user selected a stage route. The detail view takes over the entire page and shows more detailed information on the stage’s city, anything interesting about the stage route, and an image for the route. I was able to leverage some nice casalib utils in this view. For example the stage number count, each number is active and pressing it would show that stage’s information. To add the listeners to each number was all taken care of by creating a casaLib distribution object.

Here’s a link to a live demo


Thinking about starting a boycott on Parents.com

So I go to parents.com, create a profile and (so far) dig the information on the site until…..

I notice it’s everything MOM related, which is cool but not when it’s supposed to be for PARENTS. Why is it that dad’s get almost no love when it comes to kids and being a parent. I could rant (don’t get me started on ‘daddy’ books) on but that’s my short and sweet on Parents.com

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Importing from illustrator to flash

I found this to be a little strange. Maybe I’m just so out of the loop working with illustrator but…. exporting to a swf rastorizes graphics but copying and pasting from ai to fl, imports the vector shapes. I noticed the imports were just not as sharp as they should be. So just trying to copy/paste (Even from ai CS3 to fl CS4) did what I needed it to.


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*


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