e2publish now with tables, advanced text wrapping, and new look

The latest update to e2publish is available from my website here.

It has several enhancements over the previous version.  A new user interface.  I’ve incorporated my advanced text wrapping feature.  You can choose either fast or advanced text wrapping by clicking the new icons at the bottom-left corner of the page template menu.

This new version has tables, which an be styled in the same way as text boxes.

New picture options enable a picture to be displayed with a frame, rounded corners, elliptical mask, or custom shape – for text-wrapping around irregular shaped pictures.

There’s an “edit” button that allows the user to crop a picture, or define the custom text-wrapping border, by simply drawing around the picture.

Download it now from my website!.  And please, please leave your comments and bug reports.


March 5, 2010 at 12:18 pm Leave a comment

Adult web site uses my name

I used to own the domain name e2easy.com.  But I lost it years ago, and it got snapped up by one of those parasitic companies that stockpiles promising domain names to sell on at a premium.

Well, It appears now that someone else is using it.  An “Adult” dating site.  Don’t bother looking it up – suffice to say that the “e2easy” branding has become somewhat sullied – and I’m going to have to change it.

So what should I call myself now?  How should I rename my applications?  Perhaps I can keep “e2” suffix to my applications, or the “e:” logo.

Any ideas for a name and branding?

(The most awkward change will be changing the name and URL of this blog.)

I still have an Australian company, under the same name, that I set up years ago.  At the time, I was optimistic about the commercial potential for consumer-oriented RIAs.  Air applications like e2publish.  But I never did find a way of monetizing this kind of thing.  I failed to attract any development funding.  So I tinker with my application ideas in my spare time – and I’m in the process of shutting down my e2easy company anyway.  Does anyone want to buy it?  One careful owner – never left the garage. 🙂

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .


I have no moral objection to the adult entertainment industry.  At first, I was irritated that the name was more appropriate to my objectives than theirs.  “e2easy” with connotations of Australian “Too easy mate!” (although I’m British – I just lived in Australia when I set this up). “e”-electronic, internet-related information sharing hi-tech “e”xperiences, and easy-to-use consumer-oriented intuitive interfaces.

What has an adult hook-up site got to do with “e2easy”?  …  The answer is that what they do is so more “easy” than what I’ve been attempting to do over the last ten years.  I should have just stuck some pictures of breasts up on a website, then sat back and counted the money.

Instead, I got excited about the pioneering new world of RIAs.  I struggled with sophisticated algorithms and applications, pushing the limits of what the Flash platform could do.  I had frustratingly ambitious ideas, into which I invested my own time and money.  Admittedly, I make a decent (day-job) living prostituting my talents as a Flex expert.  But having tried to plug-away at much more technologically challenging projects in my spare time – perhaps there is simply no market for what I’m trying to do?

e2publish will allow enthusiasts of all kind to collaborate on creating their own e-magazines.  But maybe this activity is too niche to be worthwhile.  Perhaps Richard Alston (prior Australian minister for technology) was right when he said that the internet was just for porn.  A lot of people branded him a luddite.  But perhaps he was just pragmatic.  Not an idealist, and idiotic visionary, like me.

February 28, 2010 at 2:56 am 1 comment

Wrapping text around a giraffe

It’s 2:00am Monday morning.  I’ve just spent all weekend obsessively wrapping text around giraffes.

If you’ve been following my blog, you may remember that a few weeks ago I was blown away by Apple’s presentation of the new iPad.  Particularly iWork and “Pages”.  Having watched a demonstration of text wrapping around a picture of a giraffe – I only wished that I had time to implement this kind of text wrapping in my e2publish AIR application.

Then another developer left a comment on this blog, that he and his team had done this in an application they’d made.

Not wishing to be outdone – I locked myself away this weekend, deprived myself of some sleep, and implemented a much more powerful text wrapping algorithm for e2publish.

It’s more computationally intensive than the previous way I did things.  It takes longer to refresh a page.  But the old (fast but less versatile) scheme comes into play when it can.

You won’t be able to play around with the fruits of my weekend labours yet.  I have other significant enhancements to make to e2publish before I release a new version with the ability to wrap text around giraffes (or other oddly-shaped pictures).  But you can still download the current version here.

February 21, 2010 at 4:02 pm 3 comments

Adobe Refresh Roadshow tomorrow in Brisbane

I’m attending Adobe’s refresh roadshow tomorrow in Brisbane.  I’m looking forward to it.  I get so busy and engrossed in my own little microcosm of  Flex, ActionScript, and AIR development – that it’s going to be good to see demonstrations of other Adobe technologies that I never find the time to play with.

And it’s a healthy change for me to be interacting with people, rather than just coding all day.  Chatting in “meatspace” with other developers, and exploring commercial opportunities.

So if you’re attending too – say hi!

. . . . . . . . . . . .

Incidentally, there have been several minor updates of e2publish – so make sure you’re running the latest incarnation.  (And I’m still looking for beta testers!)

February 15, 2010 at 6:28 am Leave a comment

Further thoughts about the iPad, Flash, and what Jobs said.

They are lazy, Jobs says. They have all this potential to do interesting things but they just refuse to do it. They don’t do anything with the approaches that Apple is taking, like Carbon. Apple does not support Flash because it is so buggy, he says. Whenever a Mac crashes more often than not it’s because of Flash. No one will be using Flash, he says. The world is moving to HTML5.” (quote extracted from here).

I’ve always had a lot of respect for Steve Jobs.   If Jobs says something – I listen.  And so does the entire computing industry.

If Steve Jobs were to say something that challenged my world view – I wouldn’t get defensive or upset.  I would listen very carefully to the message.

I’ve said this before: I’m not a fan boy.  I think evangelism is unhealthy.  But I have tremendous loyalty to the Apple brand based on technical merit.

My other foot is firmly planted in the Adobe camp.  I’ve been dedicated and involved in the Flash Platform for the last ten years because I was excited by its ubiquitous nature, its consumer saturation, and its potential for mobile deployment.  ActionScript 3 is a joy.  Most of my waking hours are spent using Flex commercially or coding sophisticated Pure ActionScript.  (resolution 2010 – I really must get out more).

There are three parts to Steve’s message.

I fully agree with the first part of Jobs’ statement.  Think of it as a wake-up call.

I’m not going to talk about “Flash is buggy” accusation .  I think Flash on a Mac is better than it used to be.  There’s a lot of speculation elsewhere about this issue. I won’t add to the noise.

I don’t agree with the last part of Steve’s message.  I’ve heard all about the demise of Flash before.  I’ve seen Flash-killers come and go and fade into obscurity.  Flash has a strong legacy and following and I don’t see it disappearing.

Mac users have often been treated as second-class citizens by Macromedia/Adobe.  Initial releases of software such as Flex and ColdFusion were released for PC only.  I remember having to wait ages before I was able to obtain the first pre-release version of Flex that I could run on my Mac.

Yet, back in the pioneering days – I noticed something about the people who were getting most excited about using Flash to write applications.  Most were Mac users like myself.

The performance of Flash on the Mac has been an issue for all the time I’ve been using Flash.  It IS implementation laziness.  Every software development project I’ve worked on (both commercial and personal) has involved an optimisation phase to make things to run faster.  I do this a lot in Flex and ActionScript.  To improve the user experience on a PC as well as Mac.  Working on my code to compensate for the feeble Flash runtime, or Flex framework.  I wish Macromedia/Adobe had done more optimisation at their end, as it would have saved me a lot of work at my end.

I’ve heard the excuses.  That this is a consequence of executing something in a ubiquitous runtime rather than natively.  That Flash or Flex provide a higher-level authoring experience (compared to Pure ActionScript), so I must accept the consequences .  I don’t accept these excuses.

Flash was probably fast enough for “conventional” uses.  Banner animations, web-sites, e-commerce, simple stuff dragged together in Flex.  But now people are writing applications that resemble the kinds of applications that run on your desktop.  The bar has been raised.  Users expect capabilities more like they get on the desktop, and developers like myself want to be empowered by Flash more than we are currently.

As a developer, my intimacy and familiarity with the ActionScript classes provide me with a unique vision of what the platform is capable of, and what is lacking.  TLF textflows for example.  In 2003, I described this idea (except my name for them was “linked text boxes”).  For many years I was frustrated by the limitations of the TextField object and the lack of control over text on the screen, until eventually we got the flash.text.engine class.

I could mention numerous other examples of enhancements and capabilities that we waited too long to happen – but at least we got there in the end.  The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.  What was the point of ActionScript 2? – superseded so quickly.  Or a bloated, slow, and badly conceived Halo Flex framework?  Every time that Adobe flounders – they weaken their competitive stance.  And that’s a pity – because I’m really on their side when they’re on-track.

I only wish that a little of Apple’s culture, attention to detail, boldness and vision could be injected into Adobe.

To develop AIR (or even browser) applications with Carbon-like capabilities would be incredible.  It’s an almost incomprehensible vision, compared to what’s possible currently – we’re still dragging our knuckles along the ground.

But if Flash is still dragging it’s knuckles along the ground, then conventional web technology “standards” (canvas, javascript, etc.) have hardly evolved from single cell organisms.  JavaScript!??  Don’t make me laugh.  While I admire the tenacity of developers who’ve created powerful applications in JavaScript (particularly Google’s applications) – I’ll stick to the powerful real language capabilities of ActionScript 3, along with the powerful libraries and complimentary technologies that Adobe have released over the last few years.  (Derrick Grigg has cited some examples of what AS3 can do that JavaScript can’t)  I’m not even sure that an application like e2publish, with its control over text formatting, is even possible in JavaScript.

So despite my frustrations as a developer about the limitations of Flash – it’s still better than the web standard alternatives.  In fact, Adobe shouldn’t even be competing with these lesser technologies.  They’re unworthy adversaries.  Be like the Samurai.

Instead, I wish that Adobe could raise its sights to see the potential of Flash in a similar way to how Steve Jobs sees the potential of Flash.

Unfortunately, Adobe sees the world very differently to Google or Apple.  I notice this every time that Adobe runs a competition, derby, funding scheme or incentive to support developers.  It’s always too much about image and eye-candy and not enough about functionality.  Sometimes, Adobe throws its support and money into a mediocre idea, and biasses the playing-field against much more ambitious visions.

Adobe is an eye-candy company.  Apple is much more about functionality – yet they always present it beautifully.  That’s an important difference.

I wrote something else here.  But I deleted it.  What I had to say would have seemed too much like Kanye West (Gay Fish) at an awards ceremony.  My comments may have upset another developer – and I didn’t want to do that.  Suffice to say that Adobe have often supported ideas or developers that demonstrated very little merit beyond an initial and very superficial “wow” factor.

It’s no wonder that the “web standard” fan boys think they have a shot at the title.  The real capabilities of the Flash Platform are Adobe’s most closely guarded secret.

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

On a related issue:  I mentioned how the RIA bar has been raised.  As developers, we’re increasingly aiming for a user experience that resembles the slickness of applications that run on the desktop, rather than the primitive tables, buttons and forms of a traditional web application.

I watched the iPad keynote presentation.  I was so blown away (uh oh, I’m starting to sound like Steve Jobs now) by the iWork demonstration that it almost made me weep.  Not because it was impressive.  Indeed it’s very impressive.  But it’s so impressive that it raises user expectations.  Our Flash based applications will be expected to compete with this level of experience.  That’s daunting – almost defeating.

The part of the video where the text wraps around the giraffes head was particularly daunting for me.  Actually, I know how to do this.  I know exactly how I’d implement that in ActionScript.  I’d love to bring that feature to e2publish.  But that would take time, and divert me from my commercial Flex work that I get paid for.  So that feature probably won’t make it for a while.

While I have lofty ambitions about pushing the envelope of what can be achieved with the Flash Platform – the downside is that I don’t really have the time to realise my vision.

(I tried to embed a link to the youtube video.  It didn’t work, probably because it’s the beta test HTML5 youtube service.  Try part 3 of 4 here.)

February 1, 2010 at 8:50 am 5 comments

Beta testers needed!

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.

e2publish can import graphs or illustrations from my other AIR applications: e2spreadsheet and e2vector.  I would also appreciate any user feedback about these applications too.

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…


Please report:-

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.

January 29, 2010 at 2:01 pm 7 comments

Some thoughts about the iPad, and stuff.

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.

I have to admit that I’m impressed and surprised by what can be achieved using Ajax.  Particularly the bold way in which Google pushes the envelope.  Who’d have thought that such things could be done in JavaScript?

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.

January 28, 2010 at 3:49 am 1 comment

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