Java, Apple Doesn't Love You Anymore - She Probably Never Did

I have said before that, but for Adobe, I would abandon MS Windows. And, even for my own direct needs, I would probably already have plunged off the cliff towards Linux nirvana. The anchor that keeps me firmly tethered in the grasp of Redmond is the need to support designers. If the Creative Suite would play nicely on Ubuntu, I would pretty much force about a half dozen or so artists to take the plunge. But, back to reality. The only option away from Microsoft is Apple.

Apple has always been a non-starter for me. Perhaps unduly biased by a father who insisted on building his own computers - literally transistor by transistor in 70's and 80's - the early Apple offerings were considered "toys". That probably wasn't fair, but what might have been a hard-to-justify historical bias has instead become healthy fear of a company that would control its customers instead of serve them (this is done by offering a diminishing pool of seductive choices until one has so much invested into a brand that self-deception is easier than objective decision making - thinking may hurt more, but it's a good pain). Anyway, I don't have a good opinion of Steve Jobs the businessman or Apple the company (Steve Jobs may be a great guy in other arenas). Short story long, jumping to Apple is not likely happen of my own volition.

That said, it'll probably be a moot point soon. As Apple threatens to kill java as a viable application platform on the Mac, one suspects that this will ultimately mean the end of Mac versions of Flash Builder, Flash Catalyst and ColdFusion Builder. The problem is not that Apple will stop supporting Java, but that too much of the Apple platform is hidden from developers:

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Thoughts on Embedding Fonts In Web Pages & Navigational Menus

I'm working on a little web interface for a friend that involves the use of a specific font for the navigation menu items. So far, I've have been a good little developer and have kept everything neat and tidy. The html contains just html with imported style sheets and I have eschewed using javascript by positioning everything with CSS. I can get away with it as a conscious decision was made to ignore IE6 and conform to standards (at least insomuch as the standards are implemented in IE7+, FF3+, and Chrome (assuming that means all webkit browsers & I'll test to make sure that it looks OK in AIR applications too) ).

But fonts are a pain. The friend is a designer, the font WILL be used. That leaves embedding graphics, sIFR, prepackaged Flash or custom Flash. Custom Flash is last because that is what I used, but I will dispatch with the other options as quickly as I can. (There is the @font-face; MS has an IE only font embedding scheme, *.eot files, and FF3.5 will support embedding TTFs but neither is presently practical for wide use.)

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More Flash Site Navigation

Some additional thoughts on the site navigation in Flash. I have a deployed version that you can check out at a great place for postcard printing - actually, make it a two-fer and checkout a mail roi calculator that Alex and I created (Alex made it pretty). (Quick aside, I am responsible it seems for a lot of the facets of SEO at imageMEDIA, so I am pretty much obliged to give the link).

I ran into a few problems at deployment that were aggravating, yet solvable. So, for my own recollection and the potential to help someone else, here we go:

Problems:

  1. Firefox: When the swf loses focus, particularly with scrolling and other page interaction, the drop down menus will not display until the swf is re-focused by clicking.
  2. Firefox: A border will sometimes appear around the swf; particularly after you click it to re-activate the drop downs.
  3. IE: Browser lose track of the swf and not align mouse event with the flash.

Solutions:

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Site Navigation Menus, Pure Actionscript & FlashDevelop

A recent requirement at work had me having to forgo Flex for a Flash project. I'm replacing a DHTML site navigation system that employs several images, javascript libraries and, more importantly, places over 70 links onto any given page of the site. I've inherited the job of cleaning up the site SEO-wise and all of these links prevent me from cleanly sculpting the site. At the same time, I am working on improving the performance of the site, and, soon, improving the functionality of the navigation.

Anyway, while I like Flex - really, I like Flex, we need to get a room or something - she can be too heavy for some tasks, and the thought of dropping over 100KB of Flashy goodness on everything single page of the site is less than desirable. Instead, at my current level, I am more than halfway there just using a pure Actionscript Flash project and I have kept my SWF size down to under 4KB. Keep in mind, I am using an XML supporting doc that adds 7KB or so, but I would use the same file for Flex or Flash.

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Open Source Actionscript & Flash

So I am still working on various projects, but I made a little incursion into the world of open source flash development. So as to not forget what I encountered, I'll review a bit of it for future reference.

IDE

I had gotten it in my head that, absent Flex Builder or Flash, development pretty much meant hobbling something together in Eclipse with the SDk and pasting it all together with Ant scripts. However, I took a look-see at FlashDevelop; installing the latest version, 3.0.0RC1, and creating a couple of small projects. The first project was a Flex 3 Project and the second was an Empty project (starting with just a blank slate onto which to write actionscript master pieces). It was a really pleasant experience. For some reason, however, my favorite coding font, ProggyCleanTTSZBP, just didn't look so good (and, as fonts are a new feature, according to their notes, it isn't so strange, but one has to close and re-open files to see the updated font selections). That is horribly superficial thing as Courier New does the trick until I have some time to play with it some more.

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