July 22, 2002
Flash 6.0r40 debugger released
Macromedia has released the "updated Flash Player 6 for the Plugin installers, ActiveX control installers, Standalone players, and Test Movie players, both Debug and Release versions 6,0,40,0" (Mac/Win). This finally brings feature parity/bug-fix level across the Flash Player implementation base. Readme
July 17, 2002
Updated Flash MX doc and Help files
Macromedia has posted updated Flash MX documentation and Help files.
Changes include errata fixes, best practices, new feature support in the 6.0r40 Flash Player, and now that the Flash Communication Server has hit the streets (more on that later), all the previously undocumented objects are now documented (camera, mic, netconnect, etc.).
July 16, 2002
Flash 6.0r40 released today (fixes and features)
Macromedia today released a version of Flash 6 (6.0r40) that fixes bugs and also includes a few new features.
You may download the new version here.
You can test which version you currently are using by hitting this url.
NOTE that Win IE users may have to hang back a bit; Macromedia's ActiveX servers are apparently still serving up the older version fo the control, but this should be fixed shortly. Also, Macromedia's Mike Chambers promises they will shortly release the standalone and debugger versions of the Flash Player along with new release notes.
You can check the fix list and feature enhancements taken from the beta release notes link I sent around recently; chances are that page will soon die and so I'm including the relevant portions here.
Windows and Macintosh:
*Netscape (all) and IE (Mac): getURL with POST, loadVariables with POST, and XML.send are now working properly. We have resolved issues with the layout of our HTTP headers, and particularly with our content length. The most notable symptom of the bugs fixed was servers that would hang after one POST operation. Please note that Netscape 7.0 Preview Release 1 was released with at lest one known POST bug (insertion of an extra content length field) which has already been fixed for the next release by Netscape.
*All Netscape plugins now fully support Flash scriptability for Netscape versions 6.2 and up.
*Creating a new XML object indefinitely will no longer deplete system memory.
*We have fixed a problem with Flash reading double-byte characters in the parameters of HTML object/embed tags.
*In some cases, text in text fields was exhibiting incorrect word wrapping behavior that appeared to make the text "dance". This has been corrected.
*Text fields are now more efficient and consume less memory.
*Calling Sound.start() for streaming loadSounds now works. However, the second parameter to Sound.start() (number of loops) is currently ignored. For most sounds, calling Sound.start() more than once will cause multiple instances of the sound to play simultaneously. But for streaming sounds obtained using Sound.loadSound(), a second call to Sound.start() before the first instance of the sound is complete will stop the sound and restart it at the position specified. In any case, calling Sound.stop() will always stop all playing instances of the sound. This behavior will be noted in the ActionScript dictionary as part of the MX doc update that is planned for later this summer.
*In some cases, MP3 files were mistakenly treated as corrupt, resulting in a browser crash or a sound that wouldn't play. This has been fixed.
*Masking Device Fonts
You can use a movie clip to mask text that is set in a device font. In order for a movie clip mask on a device font to function, the user must have Flash Player 6.0r39 or later.
When you use a movie clip to mask text set in a device font, the rectangular bounding box of the mask is used as the masking shape. That is, if you create a nonrectangular movie clip mask for device font text in the Macromedia Flash MX authoring environment, the mask that appears in the SWF movie will be the shape of the rectangular bounding box of the mask, not the shape of the mask itself.
You can mask device fonts only by using a movie clip as a mask. You cannot mask device fonts by using a mask layer on the Stage.
*Accessing ID3 properties in MP3 files with the Airwolf Player
The Airwolf Player 6.0r39 and later supports MP3 files with ID3 v1.0 and v1.1 tags.
ID3 tag properties can be retrieved from a sound object when an MP3 sound containing an ID3v1 tag has been loaded using the attachSound() or loadSound() method. If a sound does not contain an ID3v1 tag, the ID3 properties will be undefined. Users must have the Macromedia Flash Player 6.0r29 or later in order for the ID3 properties to function.
Once the MP3 has completely loaded into the Sound object, you can access the following properties:
*mySound.id3.track (available only for ID3v1.1 tags)
Note: The value of genre is an integer, not a name. For a table listing genre names and their corresponding integer values, see the ID3 website. To use a genre name instead of an integer for the genre property value, you must embed the genre table into the ActionScript in your movie.
For example, the following code attaches Some_Linked_Sound to the mySound object and traces the artist's name for Some_Linked_Sound:
mySound = new Sound();
If the attached MP3 file Some_Linked_Sound has an ID3 v1.0 or v1.1 tag for artist, the value is traced to the Output window.
Note: The entire song must be loaded for the ID3 properties to be available.
*Some optimizations have been made that enhance performance on Intel P4 systems.
*It's now possible to type @ and other special characters on a German keyboard.
*Flash Player movies embedded in Microsoft PowerPoint files now display with the correct orientation.
*Flash movies now print with the correct orientation when printed from Internet Explorer 5.0 and earlier.
*When the Flash ActiveX control is embedded in a desktop application, and the application sets the ActiveX 'Quality' property by calling the put_Quality() method with a numeric argument, the correct quality setting is now applied.
*Netscape only: getURL with POST is now working properly.
*Netscape only: XML.send is now working properly.
*Netscape only: We have fixed the URL encoding routine to handle asterisks and pound signs. This problem was preventing some hyperlinks from functioning.
*Flash Movies now correctly display within Microsoft Help system files and Microsoft Outlook Express email messages.
*In Internet Explorer 5.5, bookmarks/named anchors now work correctly when embedded in a CFM or ASP file.
*Using lots of DHTML on a page in Windowless mode no longer causes intermitted browser crashes.
*In Flash Player 6, Latin High ASCII was being incorrectly converted to UTF8 from Mac Roman. Latin High ASCII is now being converted to WindowsLatin1, as it was in Flash Player 5.
*Rolling off of a Flash button onto HTML now correctly detects the rollout and changes the state of the button to the "up" state.
*We have fixed a problem with incorrect high-ASCII character mapping.
*In Netscape 6.2 on OS X, the onReleaseOutside event was not being triggered correctly.
*Crtl+V, Crtl+C, Crtl+X, Ctrl+A shortcut keys now function properly.
QuickTime 6.0 released (MPEG-4)
Just to prove I'm not just about Flash these days...
Yesterday, Apple finally released the eagerly anticipated QuickTime 6.0 for MacOS and Windows. You can download your platform's Web Installer or if you have the bandwidth, get the Standalone Full Installer (comes in at@19MB for the OS X version).
The big news here is the support of the new industry standard MPEG-4 specification, which itself is based on the QuickTime file format. The streaming wars could now get really interesting, because any MPEG-4 compliant player should play your QT 6 created .mp4 content. We'll have to wait to see if Real and Microsoft ultimately play nice with the standard (Microsoft has already released a flavor of MPEG-4 that is incompatible with the spec!), but this could signal the beginning of the end of multiple format streaming/downloads for your video and audio content.
FAQ entry example: Why should I care about MPEG-4?
Delivering media over the Internet has required content providers to author movies in multiple formats. And users have had to maintain multiple media players on their computers. With an interoperable standard, content providers will have a true ?author once, play anywhere? solution, allowing them to develop more high-quality content. And since the MPEG-4 standard extends off the desktop to digital devices, such as cell phones and wireless PDAs, that same content can reach new markets.
WARNING!!!! -- if you have are a registered QTPro user and rely on its extended functionality, then you might want to defer installing QT 6 until you get a new license key -- QT 5 and earlier keys will *not* work with QT6.
July 9, 2002
Rich media interfaces according to MACR; real-world examples
Basically a case study for developing a rich media interface for a fictional client; demo 1 covers the interface as it is implemented in Flash 6, demos 2 and 3 cover the tools used to build the application.
Here are a couple existing real-world examples:
A Flash 5 based webmail service. Check out the "Take the Tutorial" link at the upper left of the screen to get a glimpse of the service's interface without having to sign up for an account. While the support doc claim the interface is designed for an 800x600 screen, it *really* requires a 1024x768 setting if you are not on a PC IE platform (for no apparent good reason). A couple features on the main screen (bookmark, set as home-page) require JScript functionality also only available on PC IE.
A one-screen reservations system also built in Flash 5 -- click on "Online Reservations" if your browser doesn't automatically take you to the Flash version. Built by the folks at iHotelier.
July 8, 2002
New Flash Player Beta
Macromedia has released a new developer-only beta build update of the Flash 6 plug-in/ActiveX control. Probably a good idea to test your Flash content now and report back any issues to Macromedia before they release this puppy to the public. The beta purportedly fixes a number of problems, including the issue where Flash 6 movies would print backwards and upside down when printed from PC Internet Explorer 5.0 and earlier. Check the release notes for the nitty gritty.
From Macromedia's Mike Chambers:
New Flash Player Beta
We have released a new Flash Player beta, codenamed Airwolf. This is a developer only beta, and we are making it available it order to get any feedback or issues from the developer community. There is only a small turn time on this tech beta so your feedback in a quick and timely manner is much appreciated.
You can download the beta here.
Username : betabits
Password : flex475
New features / fixes include:
* Masking Device Fonts
* Accessing ID3 properties in MP3 files with the Airwolf Player
* Flash scriptability (XPCom/LiveConnect) support for Netscape
* Text fields are now more efficient and consume less memory
* Intel P4 optimizations
For more information on further bug fixes please consult the release notes.
Bug reports should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Update (07.03.02) : The standalone, author and debug players are not included in the beta, but will be available with the final release.