Archive for January, 2010
I need beta testers to use my e2publish AIR application. Can anyone spare some time, or help me spread the word through their blogs and twitter? It’s a very sophisticated project, and as well as bug reports – It could benefit from any suggestions, feedback and discussion.
Recap: I develop these applications in my own time, when I’m not working on commercial Flex projects. e2publish is an ambitious project to allow users to collaborate and create snazzy magazine-style electronic-publications. Later, I will also introduce features to enable the creation of much more interactive content. (hotpots, animations, slide-shows, etc.).
Here is an example of the kinds of pages you can create in the current version. (download/update now!)
e2publish is pure actionscript, and utilises Adobe’s Text Layout Framework, and Squiggly spell-check technologies.
Also in the works, I have a “viewing” application called e2network, which will allow users to browse, subscribe to, and read e2publish magazines. It is my intention to create versions of e2network for the desktop, iPod, and iPad. I see electronic magazines of this kind to be a killer-application for tablet devices.
So, please please help me test this and get through to version 1.0 (currently version 0.253). Here is a suggested testing plan. You don’t have to stick to this though – just a guideline…
SUGGESTED E2PUBLISH TESTING PLAN
1. Bugs. (Tell me exactly what steps to perform in order to reproduce the problem).
2. Difficulties. (Anything that is difficult to understand or operate).
3. Suggestions as to how the application can be improved. New features, etc.
Install e2publish, e2spreadsheet and e2vector.
Create a document with more than one page of text.
Highlight portions of text (using the highlighter).
Change the background colour of each page.
Apply one, two, or three column formats to pages.
Import pictures into your document.
Import graphs and drawings into your document. (Created using e2spreadsheet and e2vector)
Click on pictures/graphs/drawings to select them. Change their placement, frame, shadow, and colour, etc. using the PICTURE palette. (left pop-out palettes).
Apply other changes using left pop-out palettes.
Apply Cut, Copy, Paste, Undo and Redo to the actions above.
Save, Save As… and Open documents. (Use the File menu, or click on saved document icons, or drag documents onto application icon.)
Modify a page layout. Click on the arrow icon (between the “e:” and “A” icons). On this screen, you can:-
Resize and move linked text boxes.
Create new linked text boxes.
Create and position text boxes (stand alone- not linked).
Create and position pull-quotes.
Delete Text Boxes.
Change the appearance of a text box. Colour, gradient, style, etc.
- using text box drop-down menu.
Add page layouts to favourites
- Use the + symbol within the templates drop-down menu.
- Apply a favourite layout to a particular page.
Apply Cut, Copy, Paste, Undo and Redo to the actions above.
Click on the “e:” symbol and create a new account.
Browse projects and shared files.
Open shared e2publish documents.
Import shared e2spreadsheet graphs and e2vector drawings into your e2publish document.
Share your own documents. Online->Share this Document
…Thank you for your valuable contribution.
People are often surprised that I’m not interested in gadgets or electronic novelties.
Having made a significant technical contribution to the GSM standard, and my pioneering involvement in mobile telephony - Yet I waited a decade before I owned a mobile phone. My phone is simple and fit-for-purpose. It makes calls and sends messages.
I spent my teens writing computer games (for the primitive computers of the time) – yet I’m not interested in gaming.
I first turned my attention to the Flash Platform a long time before it appeared on the software professional’s radar. I was writing sophisticated applications before Flex, and before Adobe invented the acronym “RIA”. I used to get flamed by irate graphic designers. Disturbed that I was subverting their pretty pretty eye-candy technology for ugly and functional purposes.
I’m not interested in Flash widgets, gimmicks, mash-ups, or style without substance.
(I’m going to say something about the iPad soon – I just want to establish where I’m coming from).
I’m not a fan boy either. My allegiance with Apple or Adobe are based on merit, not loyalty. I like Apple computers. But I’m not compelled to buy every Apple white-plastic or aluminium-clad novelty.
The iPad doesn’t run Flash in the browser. That’s a disappointment.
Of course, ActionScript 3 is much more powerful. Flash developers like myself were writing spreadsheets, text editors, and consumer-oriented applications in Flash 5! – Unfunded Flash enthusiasts were ahead of the curve. Not that you’d know this. Google have done a much better job of nurturing and showcasing the potential of “standards” than Adobe has achieved with the Flash Platform. Adobe is an eye-candy company. Google is much more focussed on functionality.
So if the iPad’s lack of Flash support undermines the market significance of the Flash Platform – Adobe only have themselves to blame.
No Flash in the iPad browser – but the iPad WILL run Flash-authored applications! If they run on iPhone they’ll run on iPad. I just need to cater for the 768×1024 screen size.
I’m likely to buy an iPad. Not because of what it does, or the novelty. But I’m interested in the potential of what it could be made to do. I’m excited by a completely new class of application that could be created for a device like this. It’s great that I’ll be able to author things in pure ActionScript and utilise all my legacy pure actionscript classes.
Flash is capable of so much more than simple eye-candy widgets. But that was a little difficult to convey on a 480×320 iPod-touch or iPhone screen. I’m excited to see what other Flash/ActionScript developers do with the iPad. (Contact me maybe? – we can discuss our ideas.)
I’ll be starting with a e2publish. While everyone gets caught up in the excitement of Apple’s reality distortion field, you’ve gotta ask yourself “What’s the killer application for an iPad?”. I think a big niche use is electronic magazines. And I’ve been saying for a while that e2publish is intended for tablet devices.
An iPad user may be deprived a rich Flash experience within the browser – but I intend shared e2publish documents/magazines to convey a rich and interactive Flash-based experience.
I’ve noticed that iPad applications employ a user interface that flip like the pages of a magazine. This is something I was always planning in the e2publish reader application. But people are going to think I ripped this idea off now.
I’m a little concerned that the iPad is aluminium clad. My MacBook is developing metal fatigue on one of the wrist rests. A small patch of tiny dark indentations in the metal. I showed this to an Apple Reseller a few days ago – No offers to replacement it. The iPad will be handled much more than a MacBook – let’s hope that Apple tested their materials properly this time.
There are updates to all three e2 AIR applications available from my web site.
The updates allow you to share documents online. Or to import shared documents into e2publish documents. To use these capabilities, you need to register for an online account (free of course):-
This is still a beta test programme, and I’d love more feedback about this project. I’m hoping that the ability to share documents will stimulate more interest.
To upload a document, simply select a project, and then select (click on) a file within that project:-
Notice the three application icons in the e2publish file sharing window.
Click on them to filter online files by file type. e2publish can upload/import all three kinds of document.
To upload your own document, simply select the Online->Share this Document option in the drop-down menus.
At the moment, the filesystem is simple. Each user has a public area, accessible to everyone else. Actually, I’ve written a much more powerful filing system with groups, privileges, etc – but for now, I’m just using the basics.
I’ve also made some improvements to the e2publish user interface.
There’s a new “text box” drop down menu allowing to to alter the colour, gradient and style of a text box.
And there are new buttons in layout mode to insert or alter text boxes:-
With the latest beta version of e2publish, users can import illustrations or graphs (e2vector or e2spreadsheet) into their document. There are updated versions of all three applications from my website. I’ve also got around to implementing native windows for Windows PC users (and presumably Linux users? … Can a Linux user verify that everything works ok?)
To import .e2s or .e2v content, simply press the picture import icon, but instead of choosing a .jpg or .png image, choose a file saved from one of my other AIR applications.
A spreadsheet may have more than one graph – so just click on the one you want:-
The cartoons shown are actually imported from Flash, via the import (.fxg) feature. So it’s possible to include illustrations in e2publish that originated in flash, or from the Creative Commons (.svg) library via e2vector’s search feature.
One more feature worthy of a mention is the ability to save favourite page layouts. In the “template” drop-down menu, notice that there’s a plus symbol in the bottom right corner. Select it to save the current page layout as a favourite. To remove a layout from the favourites click on the (X) symbol.
Please, please leave me your comments and suggestions. These are very sophisticated AIR applications, so I need plenty of testing and feedback before I’m happy with releasing a version 1.0.
The next beta releases will incorporate the ability to collaborate, share and browse an online filesystem of documents.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Update: There seems to be a problem on a Windows PC (and presumably Linux too) – with opening a saved document by clicking on the file icon. But opening a file from within the application is ok.
On a Mac – everything is fine.