Archive for May, 2005

Flash and AJAX Integration Example

Kevin Lynch is at the O’Reilly AJAX Summit in
San Francisco today and tomorrow. He gave a presentation to the group earlier today
about integrating Flash and AJAX, and he demoed a cool new proof of concept Mike
Chambers
and I put together for him. We’ve integrated Flash and AJAX before
for the MXNA
reports
, but the new MXNA
Category Feed Report
takes it to a new level by using two-way
data exchange between Flash and JavaScript. First of all, click on the category
names, and notice how the feed names reload below without reloading the page. Pretty
standard "AJAX" stuff, really, but now click on a feed name and notice how both
the Flash chart and the posts below the chart update without the page refreshing.
When you click on a feed name, we’re using JavaScript to pass data into the Flash
movie which then updates itself using the MXNA
web services
. When you click on
a bar in the chart, we pass data from the Flash chart into JavaScript to load the
selected post at the top of the list. Overall, I think it’s a very good experience.

Ajaxian is reporting on the summit, and
wrote a
good summary
of Kevin’s presentation. There will be lot more information available
on how we did this with lots of code and documentation (along with a more generic,
reusable framework), but for now, feel free to view source and steal. You can
even right-click on the Flex chart and view its source, as well.

Google Accelerates the Web

Google is now offering to "accelerate" the web through their free Web
Accelerator
browser plug-in. How does it work? From the Google Web Accelerator FAQ:

Google Web Accelerator uses various strategies to make your web pages load faster,
including:

  • Sending your page requests through Google machines dedicated to handling Google
    Web Accelerator traffic.
  • Storing copies of frequently looked at pages to make them
    quickly accessible.
  • Downloading only the updates if a web page has changed slightly
    since you last viewed it.
  • Prefetching certain pages onto your computer in advance.
  • Managing your Internet
    connection to reduce delays.
  • Compressing data before sending it to your computer.

Sounds both very cool and a little scary at the same time. The idea that a significant
percentage of Internet traffic could one day go through one company’s proxies is
a little mind boggling. I haven’t decided yet whether I want to participate in
the beta. Anyone out there give this a try yet?

Use MXNA Reports to Optimize Your Posts

Note: It looks like the What’s
New contest
is over now, so I
can go ahead give away one of the answers. Mike and I will be announcing the winners
shortly.

As a blogger in the Macromedia community, how do you know what kinds of posts
are more likely to get people’s attention? How do you know how your post on the
object oriented nature of ColdFusion components compares with your post examining
the merits of crunchy peanut butter versus smooth?

The new MXNA 2.0 Click Reports chart the popularity of your last 50 posts. Take
mine
,
for instance. I can see that my post on Internet Explorer 7 was the most popular
in recent memory with a couple of posts on JavaScript and AJAX close behind.
It looks like I should clearly be spending more time blogging about web technologies
rather than new search engine features, or talking about PDAs. And apparently
only about 8 people care that I’ve returned from TODCON. Thanks a lot, everyone!

The blue bars on the chart indicate clicks (along the Y axis), the red line is
a moving average based on your last five posts, and the green line is your overall
average. To find your feed’s Click Report, go the the MXNA 2.0 list
of feeds
, and click on the "Click
Report" link next to your feed’s name.

You might also want to check out the new views we’ve added to the "Most Popular"
pod. Now you can view the most popular posts of the last day, week, month, year,
and of all time (and get them in RSS).

MXNA 2.0 Feature Contest

As Mike Chambers recently
posted
, we did a new MXNA 2.0 installation
last night with a few cool new features. If you can find them quickly, you can
win a nice Macromedia Timbuk2 bag. Check out Mike’s
post
for details.

Creating Custom JavaScript Alerts

Slayeroffice has a
nice tutorial
on creating custom JavaScript alert boxes. Custom
alert boxes, in and of themselves, are nothing to write home about, but the
slayeroffice tutorial suggests an interesting twist. Rather than calling your own
alert function, like this…

if (foo) {
myCustomAlert("Hey, you can't do that!");
}

… they suggest actually replacing the default window.alert() function with your
own. There’s plenty of code in the tutorial, but here’s the code that actually
performs the magic:

window.alert = function(txt) {
createCustomAlert(txt);
}

What’s the advantage of overriding the default window.alert() function rather
than calling your own? First, it’s way cooler. But second, it allows you to easily
retrofit existing applications with new and improved alert boxes.
For instance, most web applications include a common header, so in order to change
all the alert boxes for an entire application, you can simply drop some new code
in your application’s header, and magically, all those ugly gray default alert
boxes are transformed. Pretty cool stuff.

Concentric Flash Contest (in other words, win $$$!)

I have a friend who does PR for XO Communications which owns Concentric hosting.
The other day, he mentioned that Concentric was holding
a contest
for Flash designers
with a first place prize of $2,500. No, it’s not enough to retire and live a leisurely
life of video game playing (you’d need several more zeros for that), but it will
get you a heck of a lot closer to that plasma TV you know you want. Here is an
excerpt from the contest
page
:

We are looking for movie entries that depict Clustered Hosting and our "don’t
compromise" message in the following ways:

  1. An intriguing, thought-provoking, potentially humorous, possibly irreverent,
    animation for our front page, drawing people in further to our site, our
    message, and our products.
  2. A well thought-out, lucid, easy-to-understand animation explaining the clustered
    hosting technology.

This isn’t a commercial for Concentric because I have no idea how good they are,
but this is an opportunity to walk away with some pretty serious gadget and toy
money just for doing what you love to do. I will be charging a 10% referral fee
to the winner, by the way. PayPal information forthcoming. :)