Context Menus in AS3

I just came across a little article/tutorial that I would like to bring my readers’ attention to. It is something that I have always thought would be a very useful addition to Flash pages but is extremely under used. What I am talking about are customized context menus. These are the menus that appear when you right click.

With actionscript you are able to customize these menus and add a little extra interactivity to your pages. Even though most people don’t right click on anything, some people do. To have something there for them to find and use could prove to be useful. It could be anything… credits, navigation, easter eggs, helpers, etc.

Context menus take very little time and effort to add, and show that you are paying a little bit extra attention to detail when creating a site / application.

here is a quick and easy guide to using AS3 Context Menus > http://www.emanueleferonato.com/2009/03/11/understanding-as3-context-menus/

thanks, marc

PaperFace – Papervision GUI

Hey all,
This may be a little bit pre-mature, but I would like to announce the launch of a new site. It is called PaperFace.

PaperFace is a graphical user interface for Papervision 3D. The goal of the app is to build out 3d scenes without the need to write all the initial code. I am hoping to build it to a state where designers can come in and build a fairly complete scene and export the code to someone that can do something with it. Please go register and tell me what you think. Check out the forum on the site, and post any feedback you may have.

The app is no-where near completion, but I thought it would be good to get some thoughts on it throughout the course of development. Plus, now that it is live it puts a little bit of extra pressure on me to work more on it.

the address is www.paper-face.com

Guide to Getting Started in Papervision 3D

Introduction

Table of Contents

Overview

Papervision 3dIn this tutorial you will learn a little bit about what 3D is and how it is used on the web. As well as how to harness tools that have been created for you to build your own 3D experiences.

I am going to start out with a brief discussion and introduction of 3D and what Papervision brings to the table and then move on to the full tutorial. The files for the tutorial can be found by clicking here: tutorial files

What is 3D?

A standard website is created in 2D space; that is it consists of objects (text, images, video, etc) on an X and Y plane. People have faked perspective in the past using graphics tool, but in general it has been 2D. What 3D does is add another dimension to that traditional plane. Alongside the X and Y, there is now a Z. This 3rd dimension allows for depth to be shown.

circlesI remember my entry exam for college, I had to look at a series of shapes and come up with any number of ideas for what it could be. For instance, if you look at a circle with another circle inside it you would think that it was just two circles. If you were told to imagine those same two circles in 3D space the possibilities are much greater as to what they are. It could be a bowling pin from the top, an empty glass, a garbage can, or a football being tossed into the center of a hoop.

If you are having still having trouble envisioning the 3rd dimension, here is a great video/project by Rob Bryanton explaining how dimensions work:

What is Papervision?

Papervision is a 3D engine built with Actionscript that enables developers to start working in 3D. Using a ton of math, the Papervision team has found a way to create a simulated 3D environment.

Papervision consists of a ton of Actionscript classfiles that developers can use to create objects, scenes, and even worlds in 3D space. 3D applications and engines generally build objects using smaller objects, Papervision is no different. It uses triangles as the building blocks for larger objects in the scene. The more triangles that are used, the better the quality but more triangles means that it is harder on the processor.

Being open-source, developers are able to see all the code that they are working with which allows for a better understanding of what they are using. This also means that the development community has to ability to build on what the original developers have done without having to go through the hardships involved in extending something that is not open-sourced.

Open source means that it can be easier to understand how a complex system works because you can view all of the code that it was built with. If you have any more questions regarding the benefits of an open-source system, there is a good article located here: http://www.directionsmag.com/article.php?article_id=889&trv=1

Why use Papervision?

greatwhitePapervision is a great 3D engine for Flash, but there are others. These include Sandy, Away3D, Alternative, and more. When push comes to shove it is more of a personal preference that I came to like working with Papervision.

I think that the biggest reason to use Papervision (other than comfort from it being the first engine that I tried) is that it is so widely supported in the Flash community. I seem to be able to find more help with Papervision than with any of the other application. Having the ability to tap into the minds of other developers in forums, at conferences, and anywhere really is a priceless tool.

What has been done with Papervision?

I have to start off with a site that I had a hand in building, and that is www.amg-360.com. Apart from a couple of prototypes, this was my first major 3D application for the web.

Some other good examples can be found at: http://dailypv3d.wordpress.com

FITC is done… Back to work

Flash in the Can Toronto 2008 has come to a close and it is back to the real world. I had a great time at the conference and got so much inspiration from what I saw. As always, the presentations showed that there are some people truly pushing the limits of Flash and creating some beautiful things. I got to attend all of the presentations that I wanted to which included most of the technical track.

Yesterday, Grant Skinner talked about his inspirations that drive his work. It was great to see what others do to keep their interests up when they are held back by corporate site limitations. I also managed to catch Keith Peters‘ talk about Chaos which showed how crazy the world of math is.

It seemed as though the focus of many developers in the conference was randomness, with a side of Perlin Noise. It was interesting to see the different methods that everyone uses to generate their work, and it was especially interesting to see just how much randomness their is in the works that look so precise and structured.

If you are interested in some info about the conference and what was talked about, the new FITC blog is a good resource. Most of the presenters also mentioned putting their slides online so keep an eye on their blogs.

FITC – Adobe Keynote

I am just sitting down to watch the Adobe keynote at Flash in the Can in Toronto. Mike Downey is currently running through this. So far he has covered features of Adobe Air and shown demos of QVC and Nickelodeon which show some of the capabilities.

He then moved on to talk about Flex Builder 3 and it’s capabilities, one thing that I didn’t know about was the Flex Component Kit for Flash CS3. It is a toolkit that lets you create content in the Flash CS3 IDE and use it in Flex as a Flex component. I am not very well versed in Flex but I was definitely curious about the options that I had as a Flash IDE user.

Now they are showing us a demonstration of the features of Kuler and all of its strengths. This part of the presentation seems to not fit in very well with the flow of all the presentation content. The only real tie-in is that they are showing an Air app.

Flash Diesel is up ! They are starting off with the showing the new object based animation engine that does not use a timeline. It is the same thing that was shown at MAX and Flash on the Beach last year (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_wRMswNLiU), but impressive just the same. They just unveiled a new track-view feature which allows for much greater/easier control of animations.

Up next is the IK part of the demo where they are using a bones tool to add bone structure to movieclips. This is something that I haven’t seen before, they have a quick option to enable bone manipulation at runtime…. very slick.

The ability to manipulate items on the stage in a 3D style has been added to the Flash IDE. There are going to be new controls and capabilities to work with items in a 3D style, the new controls are able to manipulate images and apply things such as tweens to them.

They are now onto Hydra (AIF Toolkit) which is an image processing language, if you would like more information you can check out the info at the Adobe Labs AIF Toolkit site, it can give you much more information that I can. One new things that they are talking about right now is the ability to work with files in the browser without having to send anything through the server. They have added the ability to take something at runtime and save it to your system without having to do a round trip to the server.

Well, that is all for the keynote. I was hoping to see something about Thermo but I didn’t catch anything about it. I did show up 10 minutes late and may have missed it.