Even though we use all the high-dollar professional video editors and encoders at my work, for personal stuff and recommendations I always try to watch for what’s out there free, keeping track of them in my Google Notebook. A recent article on this subject on Lifehacker reminded me of some of these, and the comments on the article added some more good links. When my wife wanted to download some videos from YouTube (non-copyrighted, of course) and edit them in iMovie, here’s some of the things we used:
We had some discussion at the last meeting re. Flash and its scripting language, ActionScript. Flash started as an animation program, using a keyframe/timeline model, and it can still be used this way. But to achieve the full power of the modern Flash, you’ll want to learn some ActionScript.
ActionScript is now at version 3.0, which came out about two years ago. I still use AS v.2 but will move to v.3 as soon as practical, project-wise (the only Flash project I’m working on now is an extension of a two-year old AS2 project). I’ve also delayed because I’m careful about forcing users to upgrade Flash Player versions (AS3 requires FP9, now almost two years old) unless really required.
I’ve recently read some discussion of the ‘difficulty’ of learning AS3 as compared to previous versions. What’s the difference between v.2 and v.3? Short description heard at last fall’s Adobe MAX conference in a session titled Intro to ActionScript 3: “AS3 is harder to learn at first but easier to work with once you do.” So, check the links in this post and dive in to one or the other.
At the April meeting, Karsten Pearce walked us through the steps for an Ubuntu LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) installation. Here are the notes he used for this presentation, which he compiled from various online sources: LAMP Setup (PDF).
One thing he recommended is, that if you’re planning to do a dual-boot setup with Windows, to install Windows first. This is my situation since I have a PC with a wiped hard drive I’m planning to try this on.
Thank you Karsten!
Thanks to everyone who came to the meeting last week for the MAX 2007 Report. Here’s the presentation file: MAX 2007 Report PowerPoint. This file is a summary of my conference notes. Here’s the discussion outline/intro screen:
- Keynotes/General Sessions
- Selected Sessions
- Special Interest
- AIR is the current Big Thing
- ‘The web, your way’
- Mobile technology still being stressed…
- Adobe/Apple tenseness (under the surface)
- Less overt ColdFusion promotion, but the ‘How to Promote CF’ Birds-of-a-Feather session was a hot topic on the UGM forum
I’m at the Adobe MAX convention this week and will give a report on the Adobe announcements etc. at our October meeting. In the meantime, here are the notes I’m taking in a public Google Notebook. The sections show up in reverse chronological order (newest first). I’ll continue to add to it through Wednesday.
Hope to see you all on the 19th. ‘course, we’re drawing for the software, whatever Adobe package the winner chooses up to $2100 in value. We’ll be doing this every six months while Adobe continues it.
What’s in it for you?
- Make professional plans based on what’s coming up in the future
- Download beta apps sooner to evaluate, and perhaps influence
- Free stuff for community members and leaders NOTE (added 7-4-07): not gloating here; rather, inviting my replacement. If you’re interested in the substantial perks of being BVAUG manager (e.g., this year, AUG managers receive the full CS3 Master Collection etc.) that come with the relatively easy and enjoyable responsibilities involved, please ask me about it.
- labs.adobe.com/community – forums etc…
Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR)
- Beta at labs.adobe.com
- What is it?
- creates desktop aps using HTML/CSS/JS or Flash/Flex
- unlike web apps (though Flash apps have a sandbox/temp file access), allows access to files on the hard drive/network (like Director’s FileIO Xtra)
- Desktop version of web apps needed? Google must think so (Google Gears)
- Includes SQLite
- Comparison with Director
- Comparison with RIAs; plugins
- How do you get and use an AIR app?
- How do you make an AIR app?
- coders can do it for free
- best (easiest) way: Flex Builder 3; beta available
- DW extension to develop HTML-based AIR aps
Other software (other than CS3)
Flex 3 / Flex Builder 3
- Flash for making great experiences, Flex for creating applications
- Watch a Flex app being built (12 minute video)
- Leverages UI elements called components
- Components now much easier to customize
- Will be made open source
- Examples: Yahoo Maps, Harley Davidson, NTSE Marketrac, various customize your car sites… showcase page
- Beta available now
- Adobe store is a CF app: 30% performance gain by upgrading to CF8, even before any further integration
- Ajax integration
- CF goal: make backend/frontend integration as easy as possible.
- Skinnable forms, using CSS
- Adobe will list ‘gotcha’s’ (quote from attendee question )
- binding syntax modeled on Flex
- CF integration with Exchange calendar; with read and write
- local DB integration being looked at, will not be in CF8
- pdf forms processing—dynamically building custom PDFs on the fly
- now CF can prefill PDF forms; on the server side
- handles concurrent user record modifications
- Tool palette improvements throughout—much easier for a laptop or single monitor
- Bridge: a little faster, a lot cooler, intended to be a hub for all CS3
- Improved cross-application file compatibility (e.g., import layered .psds into Flash; copy/paste into DW)
- Feature overload issue: now ‘trying to make it smarter for what people are already using it for’
- (unspoken: costs what it costs)
Observations / Trend Chasing / Forum Fending
- Adobe is addressing the trend toward the social aspects of video. Flash Media Encoder is impressive.
- Adobe has been consistent in maintaining and growing Macromedia’s commitment to mobile technologies. If they’re big-time successful in this, they’ll have earned it.
- And they keep saying there’s a lot of money for developers who get into developing for this market.
- Open sourcing (Flex 3)
- Getting apps to users sooner (labs site)
- Adobe really wants our feedback.
- Adobe Photoshop CS3 for Photographers (PDF; this is Chapter 1 from the book. Thanks, Charlie, for this!)
Some great giveaways coming up, to be topped off with one fortunate person receiving any Adobe software package up to $2,100 in value. Very cool. Adobe will give this away once every six months, suggesting “the best method for awarding the software is to hold a contest for members that runs for the duration of the software period.” So, any thoughts on how the contest might work? I was thinking to weigh in favor of people for attendance, but I’m open to all suggestions.
Other worthwhile giveaways upcoming:
I just received a box of door prizes from Adobe for the next six meetings. Some decent stuff: AUG T-shirts, Adobe travel mugs, miniature USB mice, etc. Oddly, there’s a red Apollo shirt that would fit a very small person only; maybe someone with a daughter in elementary school might like this.
Also, the people who put on CFUnited are offering AUGs some materials they give to their conference attendees. I requested this for the BVAUG and they’re sending us a box. Anyone who uses or is interested in ColdFusion is welcome to it; once it arrives I’ll let you know and see who’s interested.
I’d forgotten to transfer some notes I took on my PDA at one of the AccessU lunch presentations. I’ve now put them in the public Google notebook; I’ll put them here as well:
- make accessibility for your site(s) a part of the editorial process, a performance measure
- formal plan for conversion to accessibility: WebAIM 8-Step Implementation Plan
- Gez Lemon: accessible CMS review @ juicystudio.com
- Fangs Firefox extension: an alternative to reviewing sites with JAWS. From the link: ‘creates a textual representation of a web page similar to how the page would be read by a screen reader’ (interesting site title: ‘standards-schmandards.com — a pragmatic approach to to web accessibility’)
Here are my AccessU notes as a public Google notebook*. Just the stuff in the named section is specific to the conference.
My AccessU Powerpoint presentation for the May 15 meeting.
Overall, an excellent conference. I’ll report on the accessibility subjects covered there at the May 15 meeting. A few things new to me:
- General consensus re. the
longdescattribute: if what you’d put in it is important enough to include in a
longdesc, it’s better to just put that info in a visible tag, for everyone.
- One way blind people using the JAWS screen reader scan a web page is by hearing it list the page’s headers and links. One result of this? ‘Skip Navigation’ may not be necessary if your headings are done properly.
- I’d never bothered to understand CSS specificity (laziness inspired by Dreamweaver’s good CSS tools). But it’s easy, see Jon Wiley’s short description. I’d been just adding
!important, knowing it was lame. No more.
- Check Jon Wiley’s ‘Test CSS’ bookmarklet. This is a quick-and-easy CSS tweaker that appears in a new window when you drag it to your bookmarks bar and click it. It even outcools this feature in Firebug since you don’t keep losing your stuff when you change pages. I’ll demo May 15.
- Flash projects can be made entirely accessible, and like many aspects of accessibility, doing so can have benefits beyond just those to the disabled. Our presenter Thea Eaton of Snert Studios is doing some very cool accessible Flash games for kids. Here’s her Flash accessibility best practices checklist.
- Accessible, searchable captioning of online video using free tools. Here’s the link to the final class project (warning: speakers down or off; you’ll see why).
NOTE 5-14: A kind and patient individual suggested the supposedly lost data may be accidentally deleted, in my ‘Trash’. Indeed, that was the case; it is now properly restored. Thank you!!!
For anyone interested in Actionscript 3/Flash 9 or Flex 2, I have some free 4 x 3 posters sent to our group by Adobe. Here are PDFs so you can see what they are:
I’m in 233 Gilchrist out by the Bush School; we have no-tag-required 30-minute parking so you could just come by and get some (email or call 862-3737 first to make sure I’m here), or I can bring them to a meeting for you to pick up there. Just let me know.