Silverlight 2 Released

Silverlight 2 has been released. This is the real silverlight release.  The release last year 1.0 was just a javascript release and only had one object, the downloader, not even a text input.  But now there are real tools like rich ui controls, services support (REST), DLR (C#, Linq, ironpython/ruby) and Sockets which are much needed for games and game platform development.

There are also much better tools at this stage:

Bam. Silverlight 2 is out. There’s the expected stuff, like the final SDK, Expression, and Silverlight tools:

And from Tim’s blog:

But there’s also http://www.eclipse4sl.org/. Yes, that means you can code Silverlight in Eclipse. Details and progress at the Eclipse Tools for Silverlight Blog. It’ll be licensed under the EPL 1.0 License.

I have done lots of Silverlight initially when 1.0 came out as well as the agency I was working at.  We did video players, mini-games, demo apps and even the Halo 3 online manual at silverlight.net.  But it wasn’t really ready until now.  It still has a long way to go to really be an alternative to Flash but it is capable platform at version 2 for applications, mini-games and video apps for sure. But in the end it just provides competition to make both the Flash/Flex platforms and Silveright compete for developer support.

Google Tech Talk: Simple interactive 3D modeling for all – VideoTrace

3D models from basic video… This can be huge in all sorts of ways.  For exponential growth you need to go virtual.

  • This is a technology called VideoTrace from Australia
  • The Siggraph paper describing VideoTrace is available here (pdf 6MB)
  • Larger videos available here, with a more compressed version here.

Andre Michelle Brings It with Audiotools and Re-Makes Rebirth Alive and Better with AS3 Flash and Java

If you ever were a fan of Rebirth and Rebirth 2, this was a music kit that had two 303s, a 909 and an 808 kick drum (beastie says mmmmmm-m-m drop!).  Well Andre Michelle has re-ignited that awesomeness and upped it with the Audio Tools from hobnox!.

This not only has the famed 808, 909 and 303 (conveniently covered with stickers of love) but also sorts of channel mixers, pedals and sweet interface that mimics the inputs and outputs as well as customization on nearly every aspect of the audio creation with these tools. Use your mouse to move things around, connect ins and outs and move the whole setup around.

This setup on about 80 bpm and a little tinkering is groovy.

I think I just found my new batcave evil genius code monkey theme music

Apparently Andre and Joa made some noise and now you can too.  Also I noticed that some of it is in java for the sound output.  I wonder if Adobe missed an opportunity here in audio with flash, which will change probably in Flash 10 due to the Make Some Noise Adobe campaign and Tinic Uro for listening.  But for now have some fun. It is hard to find something that doesn’t sound good in the 80-90 bpm range.

AS3 Flash 3D Engine SWFZ Source Code Goes Open Source

Jono is giving SWFZ to science and the open source devices.

The SWFZ engine is one Flash 3D engine that took a different approach. It is a bit early in its technique used but the author at custom:media Jono has decided to float the source code out there in ghost mode (no active development but not dead). It is just ready to branch and others to run with it. He is floating the source but I think in 1-2 years this will be the preferred method if processors and multicore parallel usage is optimized. We shall see.

The implementation method and difference with SWFZ engine in Flash for 3d is that is is a pixel based renderer or scanline. It is based on a really fun game engine called Irrlicht which has been pretty active for the last few years but is a C++ DirectX and OpenGL engine. Since SWFZ has to run in Flash and it is a pixel renderer/scanline it has some limitations currently in Flash. Games and renders have to be fast to pull this off and Flash is limited by the software renderer but as computers get multiple processors and flash player gets better at this then this will be a viable option (it is the same thing that limits Canvas based renderers right now). One main problem with this is you can’t go too full screen the biggest sizes that perform well are smaller windows 320×240 etc. But if the processors can handle it it is actually more efficient when it removes overlap, extra triangle drawing and painters algorithm like problems dont’ pop up (triangle overlap when on same plane). This method draws pixel by pixel but fast enough flash engines like Papervision, Sandy3D and Away3D draw overlaps due to the drawing technique, back to front.

But SWFZ still manages to pull off some amazing feats such as these demos

Quake Demo

Terrain Demo

Yoshis Hip Hop Couzin

Jono has put some great classes into SWFZ engine such as bsp parsers, quake md2 parsers, animated mesh, and lots of great examples in porting C++ Irrlicht to AS3. This was a very early example of how AS3 was fun for programmers to port stuff from C or C++ into Flash. AS3 is just fun. Also be sure to check the site for more samples like an FPS game, some basic ai etc.

Jono has been working on 3d in Flash for a while and actually this message is what shows the difference betweeen this approach and other flash engines the way Papervision, Sandy and Away3D (pv3d derivative) make 3d in flash fast enough (Painter’s Algorithm and drawing skewed movieclips and textures.

Demos

More about the Engine Some Notes

The SWFZ engine.

Overview:

SWFZ engine is the result of four years of me messing with 3D in Flash.

I was a complete newbie to 3D, so a lot of learning has happened to get to here.

If you’re interested in 3D engines check out the resource links at the bottom of the page:

The Demo:

Model

  • .md2 format from ID’s Quake2.
  • Uses frame based animation
  • Textured with jpeg
  • No lighting, No Gouraud Shading, just plain texture

Skybox

  • Textures are just jpegs.

Boxes

  • Rendering – Textured Gouraud , Textured Gouraud with Alpha, Textured Gouraud with Quick Alpha, Gouraud Shaded, and the large box is just Textured.
  • Star Texture – Targa (.tga) file format.

AS3 classes

  • 171 classes and interfaces

Scene

  • No lighting
  • No collision detection

SWFZ engine technology:

The demo only shows a small part of the capabilities of the engine. In the coming weeks I will get www.custommedia.co.nz up and running and start to post more info then.

Currently implement stuff:

New file formats supported

  • .tga – Targa Image
  • .bmp – Bitmap Image
  • .3ds – 3D Studio Max
  • .bsp – Quake3 levels
  • .md2 – Quake2 models
  • .obj – Wavefront 3d object (static)
  • .zip – Read from a zip archive (all in Flash, no server side scripts)

3D Rendering

  • mipmaps
  • perspective correct texturing + affine texturing
  • Flat shading
  • Gouraud
  • Textured Gouraud
  • Textured Flat
  • Textured Two Layers
  • Gouraud Alpha
  • Textured Flat Alpha
  • Textured Gouraud Alpha

3D Scene

  • Billboards
  • Parent, Child scene nodes
  • OctTree
  • Skybox
  • Static Meshes
  • Animated Meshes
  • Basic collision detection
  • Scene node animators

If any code is useful to you maybe drop him a donation or what would be nice if this was all setup at google code and used to be integrated into other engines. Irrlicht ports are fun and there is a future in this method when processors catch up I think.

TweenMax Bezier Tweening Released for AS2 and AS3 by Jack at GreenSock – And List of Animation Kits

TweenMax (Speed Test) has been released that adds a main feature missing from GreenSock’s offerings in tween animation libraries and kits over Tweener. That is the bezier curve tween. Tweener is very popular for use in PV3d and AS3 due to the bezier curve and Zeh’s great example that is really the base of a possible 3d editor. TweenMax now adds this and bezier tween capability for the GreenSock animation libraries.

Tweener and TweenLite have become the micro animation kits as well as micro kits you can make with Go base kits. TweenLite, TweenFilterLite and TweenMax divided up into different kits allows it to be embedded for banners or small assets easier if you don’t need the filters or other advanced tweens (this comes into play heavily with large games and asset collections when the compiled SWF each need the library). Tweener packs all features into one kit for simplicity. GreenSock kits are divided up for need. The comparison together is about the same but for basic tweens TweenLite is only 2k.

Performance is one area that the kits from GreenSock have really shined and since the addition of the speed tests and benchmarks it has become a great focus on showing how the open source kits are much better than bloated included animation calls in Flash and Flex defaults. I think all the kits have niches that they fit and Tweener and TweenLite are just very simple to use which adds alot to an animation kit success.

List of Animation Kits for AS3 (some for AS2 as well)

If you are using the Flex of Flash default animation classes, I am sorry…

Flash/Flex Application Proofs: Adobe Launches Photoshop Express

If there ever was a proof that more intense applications like word processors and image manipulation software are capable of being built and some aspects even better than their desktop counterparts with flash and flex then Scrapblog, Buzzword, Picnik and Photoshop Express are that (in fact Photoshop Express is a direct competitor with Picnik it seems…).  

Adobe launches Photoshop Express today to add to that set that are very usable, quality applications built with Flash9/Flex and most of all actionscript 3 (as3) and the new AVM2. These apps just weren’t possible with AS2 and with Flex they can be easily managed codebases (one major problem with old skool flash actionscript is it was throwaway many times because it was so scripter specific and full of optimizations just to barely perform – now these are actual code bases made by programmers and you see the results).  The great thing about buzzword, picnik and photoshop express are that they are easy to use. Flash/Flex make sense in their case and they tend to mimic and use very good usability patterns.There is no way an AJAX app (even though I build lots of those too) can come close to this integration of style, usability and expected results on all browsers.One important point of this article on news.com mentioning this:

The service will go live in beta test mode on Thursday. Mack said that the company intends to use the test period as a way garner feedback from customers.Adobe intends to offer more features to consumers who pay a yearly fee. Some planned features include a printing service, more storage, support for audio and other media, and the ability to read additional image file types (the service works with .JPGs now.)Adobe also plans to build an offline client using AIR (the Adobe Integrated Runtime) so that people can edit photos offline, executives said.

A couple things here.  First there is going to be an AIR version for the same experience on the web and the desktop for a major application.  Second, flash IS limited to certain file types JPG, SWF, PNG, GIF, and a few others for sound and video.  So why an online photoshop is great, it is still only web based photos, simple edits, etc.  Photographers and users above 72dpi in the 300 600 ++ ranges will still be using Photoshop.  Users with EPS,RAW, etc will still have to use Photoshop until Adobe figures a way to either proxy an image and handle the real source (be it another format) behind the scenes.  Or, improve the flash player to handle other raster and vector image types.A project a while back we had this issue where it was a approval system of media types but the types could be PDF or EPS in addition to web image formats or on occasion other formats and it became a challenge where the content was marked up with flash.  Eventually it was in a div overlay so we could load in the unsupported types behind and sync them with javascript, where flash was just a canvas or screen on top to put notes and markings.  But when it comes to editing that is different, you expect to edit. Also, working with the real source in image manipulation is extremely important so a proxy to the real image seems unlikely a good choice except for simple web uses.In any case, Photoshop Express is a great web based image tool but there are limitations that prevent it from taking any large swath of share from the normal old desktop Photoshop any time soon.

Director 11 Is Released

I was able to download the demo and it is in the store and on Adobe’s site. The new AGEIA™ PhysX™  physics engine and some sort of updated 3D with hardware rendering is nice.

But, Director is like the Rodney Dangerfield of products at Adobe.  Everywhere you have to dig for it, it doesn’t even have updated marketing in most places, the shockwave player link is still from 2002 etc.  I wish that Adobe would support it more, open it up, allow better IDEs, integrate ES4 based Actionscript 3 or 4 into it and keep the 3d market that shockwave supports moving along.

Maybe they will give Director more love but if they don’t allow for some community input and work on the platform like Flex and Flash have thrived on, well they might just lose that piece of the market (3d gaming, hardware).

First impression is the fonts do look much better.  Unicode support is so far so good and I haven’t had a chance to dig into the AEGIS PhysX engine yet but that looks very very fun.

For instance here is a Physics Engine call that creates a rigid body terrain


//JavaScript Syntax
var objTerrain= member("PhysicsWorld").createTerrain("myterrain",terrainDesc,position,orientation,1,1,1);

Or some raycasting:

//JavaScript Syntax
var lstraycast = member(“PhysicsWorld”).rayCastAll (vector(10,0,0),vector(0,0,1));
for(i = 1; i < = lstraycast.count ; i++) {   raycstEntry = lstraycast[i];   put("Name:" + raycstEntry[1].name);   put"Contact Point:" & raycstEntry[2]);   put("Contact Normal:" & raycstEntry[3]);   put("Distance:" & raycstEntry[4]); }[/sourcecode]I use the Javascript source simply because it is much more usable to me. Unfortunately the docs are only partially converted to Javascript.  Lingo is pretty close to it though but it scares people off. What Adobe needs to do is port into Flash the ability to use Shockwave3D (hardware rendering for 3d), AEGIS PhysX, would that not blow up big time or what?