April 2, 2008

MLB Gameday 2008

MLB Gameday 2008: New features in this year's live-data display. Requires Player 9.0.115 or better, and takes advantage of the performance benefits. They're doing more source-site data collection: all games will have pitch-location replays. They're also working on ball identification (curves, sliders, etc), 3D camera views of individual pitches, as well as a widget-sized display you can keep in a corner of your screen. The site's JavaScript routines currently recommend Firefox for Macintosh; prior versions had a detection issue. Check any FlashBlock, AdBlock, and PopupBlock settings in that browser too. They're using the Player Test Page for diagnostics, and recommend the uninstall/reinstall cycle if problems are seen. Video is iffy... they are using their existing video pipeline, and it's not a Flash issue. ESPN.com is also running a SWF RIA for their Gamecast... nice ability to change the games without changing the page, and I think their pitch-locator is new this year. Sports.yahoo.com also offers their SWF-based GameChannel, while I think CBS Sportsline (which had one of the first rich-baseball interfaces, in Shockwave) is sticking with last year's text-based display.

Posted by JohnDowdell at 4:49 PM

March 20, 2008

Casual Gameplay Competition

Casual Gameplay Competition: I don't know much about this except that, uh, as soon as I blog about it I can close the window and get the temptation out of the way.... ;-) (It's 25 SWF minigames which seem to emphasize different types of design principles.)

Posted by JohnDowdell at 2:30 PM

February 14, 2008

Take NASCAR for a spin

Take NASCAR for a spin: While I was researching the MSNBC Super Tuesday dashboard I came across this auto-racing project which launched last month. The link goes to a static demo. Your broadcast TV has the overview of the race, but your laptop drives a Flash interface with controllable inputs. The real wild thing is that each car has a GPS unit, and satellites beam back car positions to the production studio to fractions-of-an-inch. This drives a 3D modeling simulation, which pumps out live rendered video stream. Result: While you're watching the broadcast video, you can choose custom camera views of the synthesized race, following any driver from any position, listening to their radio conversations -- customizing the broadcast to your own needs. Awesome. (Not much in MXNA about this project either, although I think many people will find it of great interest, even inspiration.)

Posted by JohnDowdell at 2:36 PM

MSNBC Super Dashboard

MSNBC Super Dashboard: For US political races, MSNBC seemed to have the best web presentation. I didn't watch the political contests myself, but was struck by this quote from Steve Borsch: "This, my friends, is the future of television... It provided me, the viewer, with a comprehensive perspective of near real time results along with the commentary, interviews and banter of live television coverage. Can't tell you how many times I've missed some scrolling race result on live TV and been bugged that I have to wait for another cycle until they display the results again. This time, it was all at my fingertips. Great job MSNBC." Doing a little searching showed other raves such as "best online Super Tuesday online coverage", "a terrific way to follow the election results", "Really digging MSNBC's Super Dashboard" and more. I don't know much about the project -- didn't see other references in MXNA, and the MSNBC support pages describe the Flash Player 9 requirement -- but if you're looking for worldly RIA examples, this mixture of video and live data in a pretty interface seems a high-profile, mission-critical success. (And I agree with Steve that other types of broadcasts would benefit from user-controllable data displays, too.)

Posted by JohnDowdell at 2:28 PM

January 24, 2008

Box seats, third base line

Box seats, third base line: This Flash-based mapping service has been around for awhile -- it's a staple across the high-profile MLB.com site -- but it's nice to see people at 37Signals react so positively to it. Pre-season is only a month away, and the live Gameday interfaces (example) are pretty interesting apps too.

Posted by JohnDowdell at 3:36 PM

45 minutes from London

45 minutes from London: A great interactive map, of a type I hadn't seen before... a subway map of London has a two-ended slider, setting minimum and maximum travel times. Specify that you want a trip to take no more than 45 minutes, and distant regions are shaded out. Conversely, if you know that someone takes a half-hour to reach central London, adjust both sliders to find the possible stations they may have entered. A second SWF map adds a second two-ended slider, so that you can find house prices within a certain range, within a certain transit time from the center of town. There are additional static images comparing bike time vs subway time. Flash work by the interactive-mapping folks at Stamen Design. Smart! [via Jason Kottke, via Brady Forrest]

Posted by JohnDowdell at 2:39 PM

January 3, 2008

Weather Channel radar

Weather Channel radar: I hit an old bookmark, but found a new UI... The Weather Channel has a SWF which allows interactive time-based control over live radar maps of cloud cover. Combines it with satellite photos via Microsoft Virtual Earth. Giant green clouds sweeping over Townsend St...! ;-)

Posted by JohnDowdell at 1:25 PM

December 14, 2007

YouTube game

YouTube game: More an interface than a game, but it's fun to play. Danny Mendez at DownloadSquad.com describes how to pull up a new SWF at YouTube that lets you find videos related to the one you're currently viewing. You could do the same thing with static text, but this just seems more fun.

Posted by JohnDowdell at 4:10 PM

November 27, 2007

Engadget ad problem?

Engadget ad problem? Hi, do you have any hard info on this story? I was doing post-holiday cleanup on some of the popular general weblogs, and see that Engadget had a problem last week with a particular advertisement, delivered as SWF. Key line for me is a rather superficial yet damaging one: "We've managed to patch things up by pulling the Flash and replacing it with something much more browser friendly." For their prior post they offered anti-SWF advice which was even less useful. From reading their text, I'm not sure what the actual problem was... it sounds like it was one particular misbehaving ad, and there's LOTS of ways to make a greedy SWF... high framerate, tight loops, big media demands... such abuse could be deadly on a webpage which is already pushing the edge. Did you see the particular "Apple ad" yourself, or do you have other info on what the core problem was? The only lead I have is recent conversation praising the snarky "Give Up On Vista" dual-SWF ad (video), but I don't see other sites reporting the same problem with the same ad. I want to make sure this problem is fully resolved, but don't see hard info in the text... do you know what the problem actually was? Thanks!

Posted by JohnDowdell at 3:47 PM

August 12, 2007

Cloning Photosynth?

Cloning Photosynth? I'm curious if anyone's doing a project like Microsoft Photosynth in SWF. Feed Photosynth a bunch of photographs of a scene, and design-time software analyzes shared features and constructs a 3D model of the scene, then runtime software texturemaps the photos atop the model as the user navigates the virtual scene. The Seadragon acquisition makes 3D construction easy, but there's lots of ways to produce some geometry to accompany an image set, and Collada export to Papervision3D seems a clear shot. Transforming photographs during 3D navigation of a virtual scene... anyone doing something like this yet...?

Posted by JohnDowdell at 11:56 AM

July 30, 2007

Casual Games contest

Casual Games contest: The contest may be over, but you can check out the winners and the runners-up... hey, it's summer, and a Monday, and for you it's research anyway, right...? ;-)

Posted by JohnDowdell at 1:58 PM

June 14, 2007

When was that house built?

When was that house built? The link goes to a satellite map of Haight & Ashbury Streets in San Francisco. There's an animated data overlay of when property assessor records indicate a change in the property. Result: Columns of text data have turned into a visible representation of which lots in a neighborhood have been improved. Their FAQ describes how the entire US property assessor system is available through this visualization engine -- if you're in the US, then it's fun to see how buildings in your neighborhood have changed over the decades. The project was done by Stamen Design, using the Modest Maps library. Brady Forrest of O'Reilly has some good background on the project, and Mike Potter has pulled out some of the highlights. Lots to browse here... central San Francisco has a very different assessor record than I would have imagined (maybe incomplete records), but you can see the post-1906 boom, and the move from solid ground to landfill through the late 1900s.

Posted by JohnDowdell at 2:43 PM

6 million widgets a day

6 million widgets a day: ComScore has started tracking widget use in social sites, and found that in April such widgets were activated about 180 million times. I don't see a methodology, but "The current universe of widgets is defined as embedded flash (.swf) objects... Desktop widgets are also not included." (That "flash" should be capitalized and branded... "Adobe Flash" is correct, and "flash" is not.) I was happy to see that BunnyHero Labs placed so highly in the results... Wayne Lee has been a prime contributor to tracking the changing widget-hosting scene... all these folks use Flash (Max Levchin and Slide had over 100K unique audience members in April!), but it's particularly nice to see someone active in weblogs placing highly in public results like this.

Posted by JohnDowdell at 1:05 PM

June 13, 2007


EveryScape: Navigable photography, sort of a cross between Google Street, QuickTime VR, Microsoft Photosynth, and Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended (features, docs, example). In their current example you can photo-navigate around Union Square in San Francisco. According to Brady Forrest at O'Reilly, EveryScape will be opening up the image-capture process to community contributions, which could be really exciting if you have different people showing different perspectives on a realworld (or fantasy?) scene. I know there's lots of work being done now on navigable imagery... EveryScape was a surprise to me, and a nice experience, and if you've got some time to do a virtual stroll around Union Square, then I think you might enjoy it.

Posted by JohnDowdell at 1:05 PM

June 7, 2007

Akamai visualizations

Akamai visualizations: New "Visualizing the Internet" graphs look real attractive... even though I'm not yet sure what all the numbers mean. ;-) Their "Net Usage Indices" are static graphics, regularly generated by their servers, but the visualization examples are interactive... makes it easy to see that China currently has more network attacks than anywhere else, save Venezuela, which has had five times the number of attacks in the past day (not sure if these are attacks which originate in the region, or which are reported from the region... Estonia is not represented on that chart). Awesome to see live, customizable data represented so clearly and responsively. More background from Associated Press.

Posted by JohnDowdell at 1:46 PM

May 23, 2007

BBC History Timeline

BBC History Timeline: [link fixed] Nice data-fed timeline... multiple timescales available, eras labeled by name as well as number, individual entries are fed live links for further resources. I got it from Kottke today, as did lots of other people... I'm not sure when this webpage went live, but it's a nice piece of work. (There's also an HTML version available... has the data, not the experience.)

Posted by JohnDowdell at 12:48 PM

May 17, 2007

Data-fed Digg gaming

Data-fed Digg gaming: Clever... someone posts a SWF on Digg, which reads the number of recommendations the site has received: "Each digg this story receives will add another moving ball which will eventually reveal a hidden image." (Related: Digg API contest accepted entries up thorugh May16... judges are Kevin Rose, Daniel Burka, Shawn Allen, and Jonathan Gay.)

Posted by JohnDowdell at 4:00 PM

April 20, 2007

Digg, free CS3

Digg, free CS3: Digg is holding a contest for best use of their data services, and prizes include Adobe Creative Suite 3 Master Collection, lots more. Due to the range of national laws, this content is constrained to USA. See prior visualizations at Digg Labs. Submissions due May 16.

Posted by JohnDowdell at 6:12 PM

April 3, 2007

Papervision shading

Papervision shading: There's a lot of good work being done these days, and I don't catch it all, but I wanted to call out the work of Ralph Hauwert and the other contributors to the Papervision project. They're now doing realtime Phong shading... in a scripting language! A 3D model is rotated in memory, then mapped into the 2D camera plane, then textures for each polygon are distorted to fit, and every pixel has its own lighting calculation applied. This happens many times each second. And it does so on the majority of the world's computers today, no additional downloads or configuration needed. I think this is really a remarkable, shocking, accomplishment. (And check out the cartoon shaders too... I think this can be very popular stuff.)

Posted by JohnDowdell at 9:56 PM

March 23, 2007

Desktop Tower Defense

Desktop Tower Defense: Jeremy Zawodny of Yahoo says of this game: "The lack of posting here in the second half of this week (especially to my linkblog) has been a direct result of attempting to beat this highly addictive game. Whatever you do, please DO NOT click the link and start playing that game. You may find yourself in the very same time warp that I did. You have been warned...." (Game blog is interesting too.)

Posted by JohnDowdell at 4:00 PM

March 16, 2007

Google Gapminder

Google Gapminder: I called this "the best SWF I've ever seen" last autumn, and today Google announces that they've acquired the technology and the team. The announcement was made by Marissa Mayer, no less. The application was created with opensource tools, atop the predictable clientside capability of Adobe Flash Player. I'm particularly interested in interactive data visualizations like Gapminder -- tools like this offer new ways to see, to understand. Congrats to all involved!

Posted by JohnDowdell at 2:48 PM

March 14, 2007

Jumpcut video editor

Jumpcut video editor: Yahoo's video-editing team has released a new build of its tool, which edits casual video within different web browsers. I think it's amazing that people are doing such things within WWW browsers today.

Posted by JohnDowdell at 8:48 PM

March 9, 2007

SXSW Twitter

SXSW Twitter: The South by Southwest conference has a SWF display of messages texted into the Twitter service. The interface makes sense to me -- easier to understand the feel of a crowd like this than in a linear text stream -- easy to picture this on a wall display. On my own computer I'd like to be able to click on people I'm interested in, to weight them for a little more prominence in subsequent display, maybe drag them around, be able to browse their recent history. Being able to enter a list of hotwords, to find other people at the same event, could be useful too. Here's the API, and there's prior research by Peter Elst, Aral Balkan, Mike Chambers. [via Dominic Sagolla]

Posted by JohnDowdell at 7:08 PM

March 7, 2007

Yahoo Maps kudos

Yahoo Maps kudos: No prizes, but Fred Oliviera concludes "Yahoo! wins in mapping user experience". (In comments, the data from mapping suppliers is different than the interface from the service provider, and the politics for mapping data are significant.) Related: Yahoo has released an ActionScript 3 API for Flash and Flex developers (commentary).

Posted by JohnDowdell at 3:40 PM

March 6, 2007

I believe in Andre Michelle

I believe in Andre Michelle: He's working on a Player 9 update for splicemusic.com, an in-browser audio tool. I don't know the details, and there's a whole bunch of other factors which determine a project's overall path, but for technical amazement, I'm looking forward to what he's doing here. Even with such a brief mention on his blog, I believe this will be an important work. (A lot of people are doing jawdropping stuff right now... it's a special time to be in this field; we're fortunate.)

Posted by JohnDowdell at 8:19 AM

February 27, 2007


swfir: Cool... JavaScript control over image rotation and framing effects, through communication with a small SWF container. An HTML file calls an external .JS which includes all the work, and you can invoke through normal JavaScript in the content page. Reminds me of sIFR, but for images rather than display text. I learned of it from Scott Fegette... lots more comment through Google Blogsearch. Mike Davidson had a funny post, and sparked a good discussion. I like this approach -- instead of designing across different browser engines, you're using different browser's scripting to access a common universal capability.

Posted by JohnDowdell at 12:23 PM

February 22, 2007


Sketchr: Neat. Flash-based drawing app; can save a zipped SVG, or SWF, to your local drive. Drawing tools are currently minimal. I haven't tested the resulting files (nothing at SVG-developers yet). Good idea. [via Julio Rodriguez]

Posted by JohnDowdell at 11:27 PM

February 17, 2007

Photobucket screenshots

Photobucket screenshots: TechCrunch has photos. Handles simple editing of photos, music, video online, and is made with Adobe engineering. It's apparently publicly accessible to Photobucket premium members now, with expansion next month. Tim O'Reilly had some one-on-one with the team yesterday; Ryan Stewart ties together some of the current public information. (I'm not sure yet what info I could personally add, and I think the team behind this is working too hard to blog itself right now... I've got to stick with public info.) You sequence media in a timeline, adding text and graphic overlays, and the audience can view the result in their browser. Many of the initial negative comments at TechCrunch seem to be from those who are using an old Player, and who post before reading prior comments. (The Filmator guy is strange.) Bottom line: The media-sequencing capabilities of mid-90s desktop multimedia apps are becoming available to OS-independent in-browser apps, with fast web distribution of the final content.

Posted by JohnDowdell at 1:34 PM

Weinberger on Virtual Ubiquity

Weinberger on Virtual Ubiquity: David Weinberger profiles the SWF text editor: "The VirTub product is like Writely (bought by Google) in that it runs in a browser and stores your docs on its server, but Virtub's is a slick wysiwyg word processor while Writely (which I've been using and finding handy) is more like a textbox enhanced with plugins... The documents are 'trickled' up to the server as you edit it. You'll also have the option to save locally. The software is itself saved locally, transparently to the user. When Adobe's Apollo ships, you'll be able to work offline." David has lengthy info on project features and goals. This project is supported by Adobe. [via MyFeedz]

Posted by JohnDowdell at 11:40 AM

February 7, 2007

New Disney.com

New Disney.com: Requires Adobe Flash Player 9... intro page is a single SWF... lots of candied accordions, pulsations, translucencies... most links go out to page-refreshes... some big background images on some pages. Overall it seems a rich, attractive, multimedia experience... I liked looking at some of the background at shooting Chronicles of Narnia, for instance. I got the link via The Disney Blog, during a blog trawl on "adobe flash". Update: Hold it... a major property like disney.com is specifying Player 9 as the minimum version...!?!

Posted by JohnDowdell at 1:09 PM

February 1, 2007

Flex gallery on Flickr:

Flex gallery on Flickr: This open gallery was set up last December by Ted Patrick, but a post from David Mendels on FlexCoders prompted me to bump it up today. This Flickr gallery is a place to show screen captures of different types of Flex interfaces, for apps which may be for internal use or other restricted audiences. It isn't a showcase gallery of theoretical work, so much as a survey of actual work people are creating today in Flex. Set it up as a slideshow and you can quickly survey the different types of interfaces people are creating today. Add your own if you wish, too. Flex is free, is fast to develop in, and runs on the majority of consumer machines today, whether they're Mac, Win, or Linux, regardless of browser brand. Looks good, too. :)

Posted by JohnDowdell at 2:31 PM

January 30, 2007

Adult Swim

Adult Swim: Kenny Bunch writes of how the video site changed from Windows Media to Flash Video last week. The interesting thing for me was the architecture: "When I wrote it (as well as the Cartoon Video and Toonami players which are still WM), I wrote the player to be format agnostic. When they play video, they have no clue of what the video is, just that it is video. The players are set up where their playback can be changed in a one line reference switch to: Windows Media Streaming, Windows Media Progressive, Quicktime Progressive, Flash Streaming, or Flash Progressive. The rest of the application logic remains the same including the ad serving, tracking, service request, etc." He'll be talking more about this architecture at Flash In The Can in Toronto in April.

Posted by JohnDowdell at 4:33 PM

January 15, 2007

Footnote library

Footnote library: This looks like a great collaborative resource... the US National Archives are migrating to the web for viewing and for members-only annotations. The above link goes to a 7-minute screencast of features, and the first 3 minutes show the Footnote Viewer, a Flash applet to navigate a photocopied historical document, to leave annotations which other members can search, to filter viewing of prior annotations and comments, and to view other metadata of the document. Here's the main page... their weblog may be the most accessible overview of the service... the developers have a weblog too... I got the link from a review at Solution Watch. This is a great use of Flash for collaboration on static photocaptured documents... the full Adobe Acrobat provides more ability for groups creating new, live documents... the new beta 2 of Adobe Digital Editions is a nicer way to simply read static electronic documents. Different solutions for different needs, but I was happy to see how the National Archives is incorporating decentralized annotations like this, good stuff!

Posted by JohnDowdell at 5:41 PM

December 22, 2006

RIA rave

RIA rave: Michael Arrington of TechCrunch likes a little SWF which helps people design customized casino chips as giveaways. (The site itself requires registration before design, but the screenshot at TechCrunch shows the apps' interface.) I found the comments a fun read... a few of them recommended the RIA interface at Spreadshirt.com, which is a nice piece of work... Click-shirt.com got other recommendations. Should someone have to learn Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop before designing a shirt? I don't think so... these specialized interfaces are directed to the task and to the audience, and I think they're very effective in getting the job done.

Posted by JohnDowdell at 12:52 PM

December 19, 2006

Awesome SWF work

Awesome SWF work: I don't have a full list of all recent projects, but these are open in my browser right now, and I find them very impressive and exciting. Papervision 3D transforms a 3D mesh in space before projecting to the 2D screen and applying per-polygon textures. Fisix Engine uses standard native-code physics algorithms in platform-neutral ActionScript 3. Terra Landscape Generator is very parameterizable, check out the menu items. Fauxto takes in-browser image-editing to very new places (see Techmeme commentary). I wouldn't have guessed any of these tasks to be possible in a lightweight and portable virtual machine, but here they are, they all exist, amazing. Can you add other stunning recent AS3 work in comments here...?

Posted by JohnDowdell at 1:47 PM

December 11, 2006

Flash Panorama

Flash Panorama: This is a me-too post -- Mike Downey and John Nack got the site into the aggregators this weekend -- but it's a significant experience, well worth the time to explore. Unlike other "fullscreen panoramas", this actually uses your entire monitor, not just the entire browser window. The first digital panorama work was done by Eric Chen of Apple (history, overview), and for a survey of how people have been doing panoramas in Adobe Flash lately, check MXNA.

Posted by JohnDowdell at 11:58 AM

November 15, 2006

Next-gen video

Next-gen video: Adobe Flash Player is more than a traditional video player. It treats video as a first-class media type in an interactive, programmable environment. Grant Skinner shows where this is going... he greenscreens an actor against varying backgrounds, but then applies vector graphics which interact with the actor... falling leaves settle on his arms, buildings light up in concert with his motion, the actor wipes away steam which fogs the screen, a virtual ball is tossed between two actors. This is heavy stuff. But it's where our abilities are taking us next....

Posted by JohnDowdell at 3:16 PM

November 9, 2006

Vista sounds

Vista sounds: MSN Video hosts a comparison of the system sounds in Windows XP and Vista. Media shell uses Adobe Flash Player. Long Zheng has context.

Posted by JohnDowdell at 4:58 PM

October 18, 2006

Sealed with A Kiss

Sealed With A Kiss: At the Cold Hard Flash discussion board, Phil Nibbelink answers questions on the 77-minute feature film "Romeo & Juliet: Sealed With A Kiss," opening in Los Angeles Oct 27. He took 4.5 years to draw all 112,000 frames of it with a Wacom tablet into the Macromedia Flash authoring tool. More in the interview with host Aaron Simpson, including a short trailer that shows the animation smoothness Phil achieved. Sounds like a great project, discussed on a great site, thanks to all involved in this!

Posted by JohnDowdell at 1:43 PM

October 12, 2006

Why AJAX needs Flash

Why AJAX needs Flash: If you develop SWF you may have already seen this Visual Synthesizer from Big Spaceship, but I think it's useful for Web2.0 types to look at as well, particularly because any browser which supports XmlHttpRequest will likely support controlling such visual effects from JavaScript too. Interactive graphics like these are available to JavaScript today... I'm not joking, they really are. The individual SWF would just need to expose appropriate interfaces to JavaScript, as these examples for Flash and Flex show. JS folks do want the ability to make simple bar and pie charts... doesn't this Visual Synthesizer from Big Spaceship look like much more fun...!?

Posted by JohnDowdell at 1:35 PM

October 10, 2006

Fullscreen slideshow

Fullscreen slideshow: Todd Dominey tests his SlideShowPro in the new fullscreen mode. You'll need the beta Flash 9.0 r18d60 player, and then context-click on Todd's piece to "go full screen". Todd's got more story here. By the way, Player PM Emmy Huang is soliciting examples of fullscreen work... I'd put a link to Todd's stuff there but am not sure if he wants the bandwidth. Worth a look, though... try the little rectangular widget on the left to choose among slideshows... it's nice to get rid of the browser chrome, and to have the interface totally under your own control.

Posted by JohnDowdell at 4:43 PM

October 3, 2006

Scalent Virtual OS

Scalent Virtual OS: I came across this while doing news searches... the backend lets you move servers across hardware, while the control interface is done in SWF... here's the nut: "Although I'm far from a GUI guy, Scalent's Console interface is as attractive as it's functional. It's completely written in Adobe Flash. When viewing the infrastructure in Virtual mode, you see representations of each server persona with 'cables' linking those personas to virtual switches, which then link to other servers. The result appears similar to a Visio diagram with a notable difference -- this one is interactive. Dragging another persona into the diagram and linking it to the proper vSwitches, giving it IP address information, will automatically place that new persona in the right logical network segments."

Posted by JohnDowdell at 6:01 PM

MLB Enhanced Gameday

MLB Enhanced Gameday: Baseball postseason is here, and MLB.com is testing a new type of realtime data display. Their regular display shows where each pitch breaks the strike plane, but now they've automated the publishing of far more pitch data: "We've spent the season installing equipment in select ballparks to very accurately track pitch trajectory, break, and speed. What you're seeing in Enhanced Gameday are the real time results of that data capture, designed to allow you, the fan to better understand what each batter faces on a per-pitch basis." The Cards and Padres have this display working right now, if you read this post during gametime -- click the MLB logo in the upper-left to toggle between display types. In our area it's the presentation and control of data that gets the focus -- this MLB example shows that it's the capture of realworld, realtime data which determines what types of interfaces we can create.

Posted by JohnDowdell at 1:23 PM

September 27, 2006

Songbird media player

Songbird media player: Described as "the Firefox of media players". You install Adobe Flash Player into it, same as into an HTML browser. The UI, though, is optimized for media tasks in the way that an HTML page or document browser is not. I got the link via Digg... if you've got experience or thoughts on it, just drop a line here, thanks.

Posted by JohnDowdell at 3:57 PM

September 14, 2006


Gapminder: Holy Smokes, this may be the best SWF I've ever seen in my life... it can't be, I know, but it sure feels like it right now. The Gapminder Foundation in Stockholm is working with the United Nations, the World Bank, and Google to offer easy interactive control over the visual display of world demographic data. On the Open Source Flash mailing list co-creator Henrik Lindahl describes the opensource tools they used to produce this work. Impressive work, looks like it will address realworld needs too. Great stuff!

Posted by JohnDowdell at 12:13 PM

August 27, 2006

Wikipedia datasource

Wikipedia datasource: If you're looking to make a popular widget, then this may be useful... Leon Weber of the German Wikipedia team has started to publish the daily page-visits of the English Wikipedia pages. This data is just numeric, as is this, with some static graphs here, but it seems like a more visual or interactive presentation could expose more of the trends. Potential opportunity for a buzzometer here...? [via Philipp Lenssen]

Posted by JohnDowdell at 2:25 PM

August 11, 2006

Odeo improvements

Odeo improvements: Odeo offers SWF-based audio for webpages. If I'm understanding these two new features correctly, then the first lets you customize a player's appearance and content, creating HTML markup which anyone else can publish to invoke your customized player on their page. The second automatically remembers where you stopped listening to a long stream, so that you can start back up and resume without repetition.

Posted by JohnDowdell at 1:31 PM

August 9, 2006

HTML audio UI

HTML audio UI: Jason Kottke points out an effective set of audio controls in an HTML page. This Vanity Fair article has simple "Play" and "Stop" HTML text, inline to the audio description. When clicked, these call a JavaScript function in an external file which invokes a particular audio asset to play within an invisible SWF. (See JS files here, here.) Result: Straight HTML UI, reflowing naturally within the page, yet calling upon an invisible SWF for the rich-media aspects. I don't know the browser dependencies for this page, because not all permit browser/plugin intercommunication, but this usage seems like a clear shot, and offers a good, integrated reading experience.

Posted by JohnDowdell at 11:43 AM

Maps + interactive vectors

Maps + interactive vectors: Some questionable subject matter (I hope "drones over London" stays fictional forever), but it's an arresting set of visuals... Mark Caswell-Daniels has combined satellite imagery via Google with keyboard control of the 3D flight of a simple, flat-shaded aircraft. There are lighting and shadow effects as you roll, climb, etc. Straightforward, but effective. I picked this up from the SVG list, but I see Jens Brynildsen has already linked to it. Jim Rutherford has a link to an article discussing vector overlays atop map imagery. Traffic may be heavy, but it's worth a quick look. (Good luck on the resume spread, Mark! :)

Posted by JohnDowdell at 8:37 AM

August 7, 2006

MOD Player

MOD Player: I took last week off and didn't have solid weblog access, but this work from Andre Michelle really impressed me. He has already synthesized audio within the Adobe Flash Player 9 (see details), and now has a little multi-voice audio synthesis engine which can read the old Amiga MOD sample/instruction audio files. Advantages of this style of audio include low file size and interactive flexibility. The MOD file format was extremely useful to people on these early personal computers -- flexible, many talented artists, lots of legacy content, but lots of potential too. The killer thing for me is that MOD support for Amiga was built atop the native-code Commodore platform, and now Andre has built it atop the OS-neutral Flash Platform... seems like evolution has circled around, and we're now building atop a higher level of platform abstraction. Very impressive project, and I appreciate the work the group is putting into this area. Making such a thing controllable through Flex invocation would be icing on the cake, great stuff here.

Posted by JohnDowdell at 2:41 PM

July 25, 2006

Digg Labs

Digg Labs: Two SWF-based data visualizations here, from Stamen Design. Both examples use realtime data, so I'm going to let these run awhile, see what patterns the images reveal. Good examples of how imagery can make data more accessible than text.

Posted by JohnDowdell at 12:31 PM

July 3, 2006

Freddy&Ma menu

Freddy&Ma menu: The "corner-peel" animation is pretty common now, where it appears that you can bend down the corner of a webpage like you would a piece of paper. This website uses it to expose or hide a navigation menu, however -- I haven't seen this combo before, and it makes sense, feels graceful. The handbag configurator uses visual blurring and other effects from Adobe Flash Player 8. The total number of bags you could design are far greater than what any store could stock. I'm surprised that configurators have moved down from automobiles into less expensive items like handbags. [via Virginia Postrel]

Posted by JohnDowdell at 1:52 PM

June 8, 2006

World Cup apps?

World Cup apps? I don't know soccer as well as baseball, but am curious how they'll be using the WWW to distribute news. Do you know of any good World Cup applications which display in a browser? I'd like to see how they present information to their audience. Thanks for any leads!

Posted by JohnDowdell at 2:19 PM

June 7, 2006

Flash stick author

Flash stick author: That "Animation vs Animator" cartoon has picked up big play this week, and I spoke with a bunch of Adobe staffers last night who wanted to contact the author. I think this is his text page... the name matches that in the final frame of the piece, Alan Becker, turned 17 years old last month, from Cincinnati, took three months to animate. ABC News already contacted him for an interview. I have a feeling this might be a good candidate for some kind of Adobe demo reel too.... :)

Posted by JohnDowdell at 10:32 AM

June 5, 2006

Flasher vs Flashee

Flasher vs Flashee: The stick-figure fights back, and if you've ever struggled with Flash's timeline you'll empathize. :D I haven't seen Alan Becker's animation listed in MXNA yet... I first saw it as a blind link in internal email this morning but didn't check into it until catching the discussion on Digg. Anyone know Alan's own website...? (Full disclosure: I'm in a meeting now, and people are looking at me funny 'cause I'm guffawing at the wrong time.... ;-)

Posted by JohnDowdell at 4:40 PM

May 22, 2006

Vista, in Flash

Vista, in Flash: Silly, but the guy was able to get his idea across.... [via Nathan Weinberg] Update: Link deleted... was rerouted to a porn site. 020207

Posted by JohnDowdell at 3:38 PM

May 10, 2006

Commodore BASIC, today

Commodore BASIC, today: Darron Schall writes of running simple Commodore BASIC programs within the emulation in a beta SWF9. As someone who has written more PEEK and POKE commands than I care to admit, I've got definite mixed feelings ;-) but the project is clearly impressive. Ongoing blog info comes from Darron Schall and Claus Wahlers.

Posted by JohnDowdell at 2:04 PM

Booty Call

Booty Call: uh, this can't be right... "the first feature-length film made in Macromedia Flash" is titled "Jake's Booty Call"? Somehow I was hoping for something with a little more dignity, some gravitas, a title which would stand for the ages.... ;-)

Update: I've closed comments, for obvious reasons. I haven't felt the need to do that often, but I'm sure there are fanboards out there where you can affect low-class language to your heart's content.

Posted by JohnDowdell at 1:57 PM

April 28, 2006

Browser chess

Browser chess: Richard MacManus points to a two-move-deep chess engine in JavaScript, and of how "it succeeds in extending the boundaries of what a browser can do." I'd leave a comment there (my first move was somehow king's pawn to queen 4?), but ZDNet requires Yet Another Password, so I couldn't. Lots of these have been around for years, with master challenges streamed live worldwide, and some of these efforts actually have "rich" interfaces too. A universally-deployed browser extension, which works across browser brands and browser versions, may not be JavaScript and DIVs, but I still think it's part of the world's everyday WWW browser experience....

Posted by JohnDowdell at 3:39 PM

April 27, 2006


SWF/PHP lab: Chris O'Shea is investigating SWF capabilities in v2.7 of Sony PSP. He has made some SWF examples and tests, but has not upgraded his own firmware yet. [via PSPCulture]

Posted by John Dowdell at 11:04 PM

April 10, 2006


Cabspotting: This SWF queries GPS signals from San Francisco's Yellow Taxicab line and displays the trails on a map of the city. The data display updates as you watch. The FAQ describes how their example SWF and API are available for use by others. The work is from Stamen Design (see more examples on their data viz page) and is affiliated with the Exploratorium.

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:04 PM

April 5, 2006

ESPN Gamecast

ESPN Gamecast: Thanks to Buck Defore for the tip... ESPN has also switched over to a Flash interface for its live web coverage of major-league baseball. I think the above link will bring you a random game, but you can switch to any current game through the left-hand menu, or go ESPN MLB, hit "Scoreboard", and find a "Gamecast" link. Both ESPN Gamecast and MLB Gameday present info over the web more engagingly than using HTTP text refreshes every 60 seconds, and at much lower bandwidth and great nonlinear access than using video. Even if you don't like baseball it's worth checking into the user experience for such live data. When we hear claims every day of "XAML this" and "Ajax that", it can be helpful to remember how many realworld people are already using such future technology today.

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:23 PM

April 3, 2006


MLB 06 UI: Professional sports sites have led the way the last decade in realtime data-fed UIs for mass audiences. This year mlb.com moves their frontpage game lists to SWF, accompanying their feature content pane, while keeping news briefs in HTML. Try clicking the baseball diamond next to one of the live games -- opens up a very efficient, push-driven game window -- really worth a look. (Their audio is still in Real/WMP formats, but this year within a SWF shell... probably for rights-management.) ESPN.com doesn't use their Java interface anymore, but their HTML interface lays out its text oddly in my Firefox on WinXP -- hard to evaluate today. CBS Sportsline uses HTML for its GameCenter display, but I think MLB.com takes the prize for usability and engagement on this one.

Posted by John Dowdell at 12:40 PM

Google Maps + vidchat

Google Maps + vidchat: Christophe Coenraets augments the usual Google Maps interface by adding synched-viewing among multiple computers, as well as realtime video chat and graphics map annotations among these multiple machines. Lets you look at the same mapview a friend sees while you converse, draw routes, circle sites, zooming when they zoom, etc. Requires Flash Player 8.5b2. Available as a full-function standalone app, or without realtime communication for in-browser use. (Tip: In Firefox 1.5 I didn't see the maps at first... going Tools / Options / Content brings up the "load third-party images" which needs to be disabled.) Good example of using JavaScript and SWF together.

Posted by John Dowdell at 11:56 AM

March 21, 2006

Google Finance

Google Finance: Uses SWF for charting... this page is their NASDAQ chart. You can drag in the main chart area to load and chart more data, from different dates, without refreshing the page. This drag apparently passes a message to the browser engine so that it does a parallel XmlHttpRequest to fetch news headlines from your new date range. (I say "apparently" because I haven't dug through the various external .JS files to confirm.) Up on the top of the chart is a windowing tool to control the time-duration of the chart below, and the HTML news headlines change in response to this interaction as well. Incorporates the common "mouseover to see numeric values for a given sample" that I first saw in MXNA Reports, and later in Measure Map, recently acquired by Google... different duration control here, though. Blog commentary at Memeorandum varies but seems to compare it unfavorably to the established Yahoo Finance across their total sets of services, with some commentators calling the charting system "ajax widgets". Update: Folks who took the time to check the source markup showed that Flash Player 7 was the minimum audience requirement, so the browser/plugin intercommunication technique was "Flash JavaScript Integration Kit", which went plugin-to-browser via "javascript:" pseudo-URLs, and browser-to-plugin with the invisible DIV/FRAME technique, loading a hidden SWF which communicated to the visible SWF via Flash's localConnect ability.

Posted by John Dowdell at 6:12 AM

March 13, 2006


Wider CANVAS: Apple's Safari browser had a CANVAS tag, subsequently adopted by Mozilla Firefox, offering simple drawing mechanisms. Here Paul Colton implements this drawing markup in SWF, so that people in older Firefox or Safari, as well as other browsers, can see such instructions. (Yes, if you already know Flash work then you could make a universal drawing more directly, but for those who wish to use a "standards first" approach this new implementation can help make their work more universal.) Great stuff! (although, don't look too hard at that toucan done in DIVs, it'll hurt the brain to think of the algorithm involved.... ;-) More general info on CANVAS is at the Yahoo Groups board.

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:50 PM

March 10, 2006

Goowy plug

Goowy plug: Michael Arrington writes, on the addition of messaging and storage: "Goowy is turning into a lot more than just another ajax/flash home page - its a full on desktop platform that is shaping up to be the best competitor to Microsoft's Live.com."

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:41 PM

March 1, 2006

Massively Multiplayer Pong

Massively Multiplayer Pong: Simple idea, but I haven't seen it before... as people visit a site they're added to one of two teams, and the ad hoc group's mouse positions are weighted to discover what the team does. Effective visualization of "voting" along the edges. Appears to be a new site, got Digg and other citations last week.

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:46 PM


MLB RIA: The new-mown grass, the crack of the bat, the hotdog vendor's cry, and the clicks on the little Flash applet that gives you the rundown on what's happening around the teams in Major League Baseball. Spring training games are starting this week, and it looks like MLB.com has already rolled out part of their new interface. I'm pretty sure this navigation is new, even though most of it is currently last year's data... the UI exposes a whole ton of info, but never too much at one time, it's a nice hierarchical presentation. I wonder how the intergame interfaces will be handled this year.... (Games are available on mlb.com web-radio, and the SF Giants schedule starts tomorrow on broadcast AM-radio.)

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:13 PM

February 16, 2006

NPR news visualization

NPR news visualization: Neat... Geoffrey Gaudreault offers an interactive timeline display of stories on the US National Public Radio website. This experiment displays NPR stories tagged with "iraq"... his front page has adifferent, geographical visualization of where stories occur. More info at neurofuzzy.net.

Posted by John Dowdell at 12:10 PM

February 15, 2006

Flaraby2 beta

Flaraby2 beta: For right-to-left scripts (Arabic, Hebrew, etc) in Flash Player. I'm not in a position to test it, but wanted to spread the word. More discussion at NewHive... thanks to Ahmad for the link.

Posted by John Dowdell at 5:17 PM

February 14, 2006

Altoids SWF8

Altoids SWF8: The candy company offers a customizable Valentines Day card, and the presentation uses some of the video-overlay and compositing methods available in Macromedia Flash Player 8. [via Todd Dominey]

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:54 PM

February 9, 2006

Calendar needs

Calendar needs: Joel Spolsky details features he needs in a calendar application: planeflight-friendly... control over sharing parts of the calendar with friends... a notification mechanism, to computer or preferably to phone too... ability to make an intelligent bundle for printing. He has been examining JavaScript applications and hasn't found a satisfactory implementation yet.

Posted by John Dowdell at 7:51 AM

February 2, 2006

Gtalkr improvements

GTalkr improvements: I haven't been able to evaluate this technology myself (reticient to open a Gmail account), but Gtalkr has received a good amount of praise inside the shop and on the lists. Here, Michael Arrington of TechCrunch lists some of today's improvements.

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:56 PM

January 23, 2006

Face muscles

Face muscles: Great SWF which isolates and illustrates the muscles of the human face... try the "Level II" screen in the application to set transparency for skull and muscles, then choose individual emotions on the right side of the screen.....

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:58 PM

January 19, 2006

Graphical passwords

Graphical passwords: Roland Piquepaille describes research in using procedural graphics to reveal knowledge of a password. This seems like it would be a good opportunity for someone with SWF development skills who is seeking higher exposure for their work....?

Posted by John Dowdell at 3:00 PM

Bullpen RIA

Bullpen RIA: The "Baseball Visualization Tool" from Visual i|o uses a SWF interface to control the various factors influencing a manager's decision to replace a pitcher. They have a online walkthrough where you can modulate sample data, and see how the RIA processes the results. It's hard for me to imagine Felipe Alou at a computer during a Giants game, but the SWF itself is a great example of how to handle what-if scenarios with multiple variables. [via Jason Kottke]

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:40 PM

January 5, 2006


Flickeur: Pretty and, I suspect, quite practical -- Mario Klingemann procedurally sequences and blends still photos in a SWF applet -- seems useful as a computer screensaver, or television display, or for electronic wall-hangings. Right now he's pulling source bitmaps at random from Flickr (via proxy server, so I hope he doesn't get Slashdotted or Dugg), but the process seems a good way to review your own photos, or those on a buddy list. I'm betting that consumer devices will eventually ship with something like this built in...? [via John Nack]

Posted by John Dowdell at 11:34 AM

January 3, 2006

Date Slider

Date Slider: Adaptive Path releases, under Creative Commons License, a Flash widget which communicates with hosting JavaScript. You use the SWF interface to set a date range, and the JavaScript/HTML has the text with aggregate totals. (Yes, if you're SWF-centric you could show the text in SWF too, but if you're HTML-centric then it's a clear demonstration of the benefits of multiple media types.) [via Rael Dornfest]

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:44 PM

December 20, 2005

Needs easy data viz

Needs easy data viz: Jon Udell tries to show how time has influenced his blogging tags, and spends a lot of effort in production only to find the graphic didn't show what he had hoped. He calls for easier ways to plugin available data into graphics engines: "We need an environment that's open to users and developers, that fully embraces web standards and XML, that is dynamically scriptable, that deals with text, images, and vector graphics in the same domain, and that is tuned for rapid creation and wide propagation of memes." (He thinks it may be Firefox, but there's no sign that the audience will ever exceed a minority.) The world wants the ability to easily tweak and publish visualizations of arbitrary datasets... looks like an opportunity here for someone...?

Posted by John Dowdell at 3:27 PM

Reuters Video

Reuters Video: The news service offers websites and blogs free updated news video. The format is Flash. The financial model is currently ad-supported, but may change after this pilot program. Brightcove is handling the mechanics, CNET has the story.

Posted by John Dowdell at 8:33 AM

December 10, 2005

Reuters' big board

Reuters' big board: Robert Scoble describes the display in the lobby of Reuters' main office: "It's a huge screen right behind the reception area when you walk in. Something like 30 or 40 feet wide... It's a Flash app running on a Windows XP box.. The app, every few minutes, checks with one of Reuters' news servers around the world. It's like a big RSS Aggregator. While we were standing there it checked with the server in Russia, pulled down several photos and news headlines and displayed those. It had a cool animation that showed which city it was displaying, then you saw current news headlines flying across the screen... A second screen displays news and market prices from around the world to the public square outside of Reuters' headquarters."

Posted by John Dowdell at 12:31 PM

December 7, 2005

Virtual persons in SWF

Virtual persons in SWF: Codebaby adds SWF delivery to their prior "download for IE/Win" approach to virtual agents, interactive characters with recorded speech. I'm not sure of their authoring process... their Studio info describes a post-processing step to SWF. The press release mentions that they hope for eventual migration to non-PC devices.

Posted by John Dowdell at 10:50 AM

December 5, 2005

Firefox testimonials

Firefox testimonials: In SWF... capture from your own webcam, win prizes. Related: "Can others use my webcam to spy on me?"

Posted by John Dowdell at 3:04 PM

December 1, 2005

i.get.it, Flex

i.get.it, Flex: I came across this press release in the morning news search... CADPO introduces a new behind-the-firewall engineering training/assessment system, using Macromedia Flex for delivering the user interface to web browsers. The system requires a log-in to use, but the demonstration videos show the types of interactions. Points which struck me: (a) Much of the Flex 1.0 work has been for intranet rather than for internet, particularly because of the tight server integration... I suspect we'll see a change in the mix of realworld examples once the next-generation Flex splits into both standalone authoring and enhanced enterprise versions. (b) It's not just "what can the browser do?" but more "how can my serving computer work with the audience's viewing computers?", and serverside integration is still non-standardized for pure JavaScript UIs ("Ajax" as marketing term, eg). (c) SWF UIs can handle data-driven text quite easily, but also handle more media types, more predictably and economically, than relying on the varying current markup-oriented ways to do so.

Posted by John Dowdell at 12:33 PM

November 30, 2005

Fave free SWF audio?

Fave free SWF audio? Niall Kennedy is seeking a Flash-based audio player as a podcast adjunct, and I haven't compared the currently available players... if you've got suggestions, he'd appreciate them, thanks. "I plan to include a Flash-based audio player directly on each podcast post. If you have a favorite single track progressive download Flash-based player -- requiring Flash 7 or 8 is OK by me -- please let me know."

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:51 PM

November 9, 2005


HotPads.com Mapper I caught this link in a GeekNews opinionfest... the site combines mapping and real estate data, so that you can find a given dwelling in a given range in a given area.

Posted by John Dowdell at 3:29 PM

November 8, 2005

Etsy marketplace

Etsy marketplace: Billed as "your place to buy and sell all things handmade", the database has a number of pretty SWF interfaces from Jared Tarbell... you can browse items from when they were submitted, to where they were submitted from, to colors and more. Marc Hedlund picked up on this in September, but I didn't pick up on it until today from Michael Arrington.

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:58 PM

Perlin textures

Perlin textures: Great work from Joel May here... this example is for generating marble-like bitmaps in Macromedia Flash Player 8, and he also has an example of wood shaders too. If you're interested in this area, check out the RenderMan Repository, which contains links to many procedural shaders and tips. The RenderMan stuff calculates pixel values in 3D space, where in Flash we work with a 2D surface, but the octave-like randomizations in Perlin calculations are a vital part of the toolkit in both. Compute-intensive, but pretty!

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:38 PM

November 4, 2005


MIT iSPOTS: Massachusetts Institute of Technology collects data on local network activity, displays them in a series of SWFs. I'm not sure of their data collection/integration scheme -- not sure if this is an optimized public presentation. Background on the need for wireless usage analysis is here. [via Paul Heersink?]

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:20 PM

Michelle's Raycaster

Michelle's Raycaster: I just passed by the cube of Scott Fegette and saw that he had a really fast 3D navigation open on his desktop, and I stopped in my tracks to stare. Andre Michelle has updated some old ActionScript raycasting code for the Macromedia Flash Player 8.5 Alpha, and... uh... it was a beautiful thing. If you've got a second machine, or some type of virtual machine or plugin-switcher, then this is worth looking at!

Posted by John Dowdell at 12:09 PM

November 3, 2005

Yahoo Maps notes

Yahoo Maps notes: This was the big news on tech.memeorandum.com today, although I don't think most writers yet realize that this was created through XML and Flex rather than the visual authoring tool. (They will, though. ;-) In the extended entry here are notes from my morning reading of what people are saying. If you've got time for only one link, I'd strongly recommend the range of examples, delivered as SWF or HTML/JS, at Yahoo's Application Gallery -- it's really astonishing, the range of interfaces people have already created for this service.

Michael Bazeley and Solution Watch describe the advantages of the Yahoo interface from a user's point of view... a good intro for those who wonder why they'd want to use the app, rather than how it was made.

In comments at 37 Signals: "the only thing that i didn’t like about it was that after browsing around on the map, i had a bunch of yahoo entries in my history, so i had to hit the back button about 50 times to get back to where i thought i should have gone with a single back-click." (I think it's cool that Yahoo Maps shows it's possible to get application states into the browser's navigation stack, but I always found that "back button doesn't work right" objection to be strange anyway -- the browser navigates documents, and I suspect that an Undo function would be better in the app-on-the-page than in the page-switching mechanism.)

At Metafilter, after a bunch of content-free "eww flash!" comments, someone tickles my snarkybone by writing: "Did Flash steal your girlfriend once or something?" (The Metafilter comments also mention Paul Neave's work, which I appreciate.)

Top negatives have been "Where's Europe?" and "slow for me". Working out legal agreements for mapping data for all countries takes more time than for one country, please don't feel slighted. The "slow for me" posts usually alternate with "wow it's fast!" posts, which should provide a clue... I'm guessing most of those with slower action are in Firefox/Mac, and if so, then try Safari for faster performance on the same machine. (For escalation, try detailing what precisely is slow, whether it's loading new map data, or scrolling with already-local map data, or a particular operation... I hit it in FF/Mac on dialup early this morning and app performance was great, but loading new map data remained the sticking point.)

I saw a couple of comments from people who said they couldn't see it in Firefox with FlashBlocker, but that combo works normally for me... I can't yet repro their reports, don't know yet what the missing ingredient is to see the problem.

Rich Ziade likes it, and gets two "but my 64-bit linux!" comments in reply. Then he writes something which somehow sounds much more persuasive from him than from me: "Let's be realistic folks. Flash is arguably the most widely deployed platform in the world. Anyone who's suffered thru browser compliance efforts across Safari, Opera, IE, Mozilla knows the pain avoided." I guess this means I owe Rich a beer.... ;-)

Mike Chambers notes that MXNA now has a Yahoo-specific view into 600 weblogs via the Yahoo Maps Smart Category. (What makes it "smart"? It combines categorization with some text analysis to find releveant posts automatically.)

If you use HTML or other markup, then take a look at Jesse Warden's example on Flexcoders. Yes, this markup produces an interactive SWF file! You do not need to look at a timeline or asset library if you don't wish -- you can mark up text which is then compiled to SWF if you wish. More info on Flex 2 is at Macromedia Labs.

Nat Torkington at O'Reilly has one of the better early write-ups on advantages of the Yahoo services API over others... Simon Willison also focuses on the services, rather than just a particular interface.

Jeremy Zawodny has a whole bunch of selected links to posts from others on this set of applications... in comments people particularly appreciate the geocoding API, which finds where you are in a very HarryPotter-ish way.

One of the longest negatives is at netweb blog, but the text itself has some usability problems... I'm guessing he's waiting for map data for a new region to be transferred to his machine.

Robert Scoble had a multi-screenful hunkatext on the subject, which after three readings I think just boils down to "Google has better ads".

By now there's probably been a second round of writing... if you saw something which would be good to get into this edited list of links, then please feel free to add it in comments, many thanks! :)

Posted by John Dowdell at 12:09 PM

October 28, 2005

Fancier sIFR

Fancier sIFR: Mike Davidson discusses possible improvements to his utility which displays fonts desired by designers in an ol' browser. One idea is to take advantage of shadows and blurs when the visitor has Macromedia Flash Player 8. He also lists a number of high-profile sites using this Flash-based typographic solution.

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:52 PM

Jag screenshot

Jag screenshot: The new Jaguar XK 2007 automobile will arrive early next year, and Carpages.co.uk has a screenshot of the Flash-based touchscreen controls. There's more info in the fullscreen Jaguar screencast... a 7-inch touchscreen, with spoken-voice output, control over audio, climate & vehicle, maps & navigation, and telephony functions... go to the "Feel it" section, to "Interior Features", to "Jaguar Touch Screen". I'll take two.... ;-)

Posted by John Dowdell at 11:20 AM

October 25, 2005

VideoEgg on TypePad

VideoEgg on TypePad: Cool... the blogging host teams up with the video-blogging service to make it easy for anyone to add easily-viewed videos. The video format is Flash, so audience members can see the video right in the page, just with the normal Macromedia Flash Player. The conversion to FLV is done through the "VideoEgg Publisher" program, currently running on Win2K and WinXP, with OS X coming very soon. I did some searches but couldn't find a demo... more on the story from Michael Bazeley and Harry McCracken. Congrats to all involved... it will be interesting to see how ordinary people use this easy new ability....

Posted by John Dowdell at 1:03 PM

October 21, 2005

Flash 8, Living Dead

Flash 8, Living Dead: I know this isn't a legit stat for adoption rates of Macromedia Flash Player 8, but now there's a full-length feature film using it... George Romero's "Night of the Living Dead" has been encoded and streamed by On2 with the new codec. (Wikipedia has info on the copyright status of the film.) [via Todd Dominey]

Posted by John Dowdell at 5:20 PM

October 12, 2005

Veen on Measure Map

Veen on Measure Map: Jeffrey Veen of Adaptive Path goes into a little more detail on Measure Map: "... an experience that offers meaningful insight into the effects caused by small changes in how you blog, rather than the overwhelming complexity of most web stats tools with their query/report-style analytic methods." (This is the application shown by Kevin Lynch at Web 2.0, which uses various clientside technologies in tandem for the best user experience.) It's not available yet, but there's a tiered release signup at measuremap.com.

Posted by John Dowdell at 3:54 PM

October 11, 2005

CNET news visualizer

CNET news visualizer: This data-fed SWF example got passed around the office here today. I'm not sure when it went live. It apparently looks into CNET's news resources and constructs a live changing graph, linking selected articles, the topics which contain them, and the companies mentioned in the articles. The interface provides a way to drill down into CNET's large resources of tech reporting. I'm not sure of the mechanics... the SWF is written dynamically into the page via JavaScript, and the GetBigPic() function seems to be the main SWFfy part. Anyone else have observations on how this piece is put together...?

Posted by John Dowdell at 11:47 AM

September 29, 2005

Multi-window SWF

Multi-window SWF: Unusual Samsung demo, using SWF coordinated across multiple browser windows. I'm linking to the Digg.com page with the link -- make sure your browser is set to allow popup windows, and try opening the link into its own window instead of into a browser tab. The motion styles are similar to things we've seen before, but I've never seen this done with browser windows before. Striking effect.

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:05 PM

Visual manipulation

Visual manipulation: I've seen some demos along similar lines, but this example from Bruce Tang made me realize how helpful it might be for accessibility. He does image-analysis upon a webcam input to reposition interface elements... essentially, you can wave at the screen instead of using mouse and keyboard to get things done. The site is very slow-loading for me today, even pure text pages, so you might want to wait on the video for a day or two. But wouldn't this be great, if a standard computer equipped with a webcam could be used by those who can't physically manipulate a typewriter interface...?

Posted by John Dowdell at 3:12 PM

September 28, 2005

Samsung SWF UIs

Samsung SWF UIs: I don't read Korean well (see Wikipedia), but there's stuff of value in this Samsung site regardless... just examining the overall look and appeal of these SWF applets they sell is instructive. (Tip: the browser's status bar reveals URLs on rollover.) The colors, sense of depth, the easing of motion, the use of natural objects drawn into the computer screen... all of these provide clues about how consumers actually handle such personal devices.

Posted by John Dowdell at 5:55 PM

Google Video commentary

Google Video commentary: I've been tracking some of the reaction to Google's recent use of Flash Video... I've got about 80 browser tabs open now, so I'll log some of the noteworthy addresses in "Comments" to this weblog item....

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:34 PM

MS at 30

MS at 30: Thanks to Ivan Todorov for pointing this out... Microsoft has used SWF for years, but it's interesting to look at how they use it, in this company retrospective... video is integrated as a first-class, flexible element in the page... timeline shows both navigational and content-oriented views, with motion used to show user context... the whole panel-resizing convention is similar to what you can see in Breeze presentations. The "Trivia" section uses background data requests (I think), but we're still figuring out how to signify that the machine is processing (in this case, via a discrete "Submit" button). For comparison, check out some of the interface conventions used in the new AOL music site... there's a different aesthetic in this piece, but those same principles of motion and reaction apply in both interfaces.

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:09 PM

September 27, 2005

Camera Flash

Camera Flash: Kodak's EasyShare-One wifi-enabled camera has now shipped from the manufacturer and is expected to reach consumers within the month. The viewing screen is touch-sensitive, and the interface is created with Flash Platform. The above review has a small view of the SWF UI... InfoSync World has a clearer shot, as well as a site in Brazil (I couldn't find the URL, just the photo). There's also some firsthand commentary from developers who have seen the device. The more I think about this, the more significant it becomes -- it makes absolute economic sense to deliver interfaces in software rather than hardware or firmware. Most leading-edge devices offer rich-media interactivity now, but we're also seeing a few bleeding-edge devices rely on this as their own core graphics layer (Kodak EasyShare-One, iRiver U10 music player, Samsung phones). They're not delivering SWF content -- they're delivering themselves via SWF. Significant....

Posted by John Dowdell at 1:22 PM

September 26, 2005

Publish SWF, win car

Publish SWF, win car: This contest is only open to those in the continental US, but the payoff is big. Limits are two minutes or ten megs, whichever comes first, and must be in FLA8 format. More info from Richard Leggett and Eric Dolecki.

Posted by John Dowdell at 3:55 PM

Google on video

Google on video: The official Google weblog confirms this weekend's surprise discovery that Google Video now calls upon the Macromedia Flash Player for video services. The advantages they cite: "There's no viewer to download, and the bigger video window (which expands automatically to your browser size) is now compatible with Mac and Linux as well as Windows. You can skip around in the video and start watching it instantly, even beyond what's been buffered. And you can watch a 10-second snippet of playable videos right on the results page - making it easier to decide whether you want to commit to the whole thing."

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:07 PM

SWF in journalism

SWF in journalism: At the Online Journalism Review, Mindy McAdams has a long article describing how various newsrooms are using the Flash Platform, and why. The first part is about stuff we already know, the predictable capability across varied audiences. Then there are observations about how interactivity can be used for a different type of storytelling than that possible in print, radio or TV: "The things we get the most traffic out of is when the users get to decide what they’re going to see... Online is really the only medium where the users define their experience by their actions." The there are sections about multimedia journalism being "much more intimate" than linear journalism... how the process of choosing the storyline leads to readers more likely to stay active after reading the story... how general multimedia knowledge remains an upfront cost to acquire... how photographers are gravitating to audio presentations to convey context which is often edited out of print captions... how a new aesthetic for multimedia journalism is gradully appearing among those who do similar work but in different groups... the early interest among journalists into data-fed graphics. (Adrian Holovaty wants to be able to link to various application states, like a voting map for certain regions at certain times... this can be done in SWF as well as HTM, but it requires setting up the app so that state is represented in the URL.) Lots of links at the bottom, too. I found this via Editors Weblog.

Posted by John Dowdell at 1:50 PM

September 24, 2005

Google Video to Flash

Google Video to Flash: Thanks to Rich Ziade for pointing this out... an IceRocket search shows the first mention late last night from Paul Westbrook. The video search engine now uses Macromedia Flash Player as the playback engine. Here's info at Inside Google... no info at the official Google blog yet.

Posted by John Dowdell at 8:59 PM

September 23, 2005

Mobile Flickr explorer

Mobile Flickr explorer: Justin Everett-Church of Yahoo makes a Flash Lite file to automatically preview recent Flickr photos tagged with a term of your choosing. The example works in a web page too. This is still the old SWF4-style of scripting rather than the upcoming SWF7-style work of Deuce (see Rajat Paharia for a summary), but it's still oddly compelling for me... I can definitely visualize people wanting to sit back and watch the world's current photos like this.... ;-)

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:08 PM

September 21, 2005

Presidential Flashing

Presidential Flashing: I don't remember a head-of-state choosing rich media for his message before, at least not quite like this... we've seen linear text used to convey ideas, but a graphical story can convey other types of ideas. The Korea Herald has English text on the SWF use... thanks to Aaron Simpson for the tip.

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:24 PM

September 19, 2005


VideoEgg: I thought part of this press release sounded familiar: "... a new Web-based video publishing technology that makes it easy for everyday Internet users to capture, encode, upload, and watch online video for the first time... painlessly publish video that anyone can watch without worrying about player compatibilities, encoding settings, or extra software." They mention later that they rely on the Macromedia Flash Player for these services.

Posted by John Dowdell at 5:37 PM

September 16, 2005

Flash on TV

Flash on TV: In this case, not the Player, but the authoring technologies... Aaron Simpson describes another TV cartoon being created in SWF and then captured for video-style delivery.

Posted by John Dowdell at 3:50 PM

September 4, 2005

JabberNow developer?

JabberNow developer? Anyone know who designed the Flash applet for the JabberNow messaging applicance? "JabberNow is natively interoperable with any other XMPP (Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol) server and works with any XMPP client, Jabber officials said, including the recently announced Google Talk IM client. The appliance also ships with a Macromedia Flash-based Jabber client and can be configured to work with AOL's AIM network." I know lots of us have worked with Jabber, but does anyone know the developer of this client application that Jabber is shipping? Tx.

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:31 PM

August 31, 2005

Facebook SVG

Facebook SVG: I've seen SVG applications mentioned on the main SVG mailing list, but rarely see them in the commercial press, so this article from Matt Marshall about the friend-to-friend Facebook website was a surprise. From their FAQ they require Adobe's implementation of an SVG rendering engine. Elliott Back has an illustration of the result: a data-fed node graph of people you know and who they know. There must be a ready-to-roll SWF out there which can provide similar services, but I don't know where it is... do you have a lead on a way that these folks could help more people view their personal networks more easily...?

Posted by John Dowdell at 3:11 PM

August 26, 2005

Modular Dwellings

Modular Dwellings: This SWF brochure came in from Macromedian Sandy Balzer, in a discussion of other "little houses" sites like Tumbleweed Tiny House Company and Weehouse, both of which use advanced JavaScript display techniques. I saw the SWF site first, and thought it was an attractive experience, but then I clicked the other two links and the contrast was significant. I liked the first line of text at Tumbleweed ("My name is Jay Shafer, and since 1997 I have been living in houses smaller than some people's bathrooms"), but if I was going to invest in a small dwelling (ceteris paribus), the DHTML presentations wouldn't inspire me with as much business confidence as the SWF site would. You...?

Posted by John Dowdell at 11:54 AM

August 25, 2005

Got webcam?

Got webcam? If you do, and have the beta Maelstrom Player, then Grant Skinner has something which would blow the minds of anyone slaving in other web technologies... yeah, it's all a bit of a snow job, but still.... ;-)

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:37 PM

August 16, 2005

Mapping UI, SWF vs AJaX

Mapping UI, SWF vs AJaX: I'm slow on this -- Paul Neave posted it Friday -- but it's a great example of how a single, universal, and predictable graphics/interactivity engine can deliver a much more enjoyable user experience than those developed for a range of general text & interactivity engines. The above bookmark goes to the southern part of Ueno Koen in Tokyo, and the general functionality is similar to that in Google Maps or Microsoft Network's Virtual Earth. One small difference? Compare zooming -- the Macromedia Flash Player can zoom in or out itself (animated if desired), where Google Maps and MSN VE require a trip back to the server for fresh bitmaps if scaled -- no flash of white, no loss of context, and the specific source imagery is smoothly streamed in for best resolution over time. Paul has more in his weblog... I think this is great stuff, thanks! 8) [soapbox] The varied JavaScript engines will continue to converge and become more capable, but other engines are simultaneously growing too -- you could go to a downloadable native-code engine like Google Earth or many Microsoft initiatives, or you could use least-common-denominator browser abilities like much of the AJaX work, or you could use a single neutral, portable, easy-to-accommodate engine like the Macromedia Flash Player to abstract away all the differences and provide predictable advanced abilities. Three different approaches: native, LCD, or universal. I think one takes us further.... [/soapbox]

Posted by John Dowdell at 12:54 PM

August 12, 2005

Harely Customizer

Harley Customizer: Nice user experience here... choose a motorcycle and outfit it, with all dependencies handled in business logic ("can't have that bag without this seat", etc). Developed in Flex. Good stuff, worth a bookmark. [via cruciallimit.com]

Posted by John Dowdell at 12:13 PM

Tri-Nations Rugby

Tri-Nations Rugby: I caught this in a news aggregator... it's a SWF presentation of current rugby matches... just a nice, everyday use of video integrated into an interactive display, SWF work by Matthew Absalom-Wong.

Posted by John Dowdell at 11:48 AM

August 11, 2005

Realtime webcam manips

Realtime webcam manips: This is very exciting for me... Andreas Rehnberg uses the beta Macromedia Flash Player 8, gives it a webcam feed, and his ActionScript overlays flames atop areas of changing pixels. Result: He waves his arms, they burst into flame. (The sample is in QT format because of the screen-capture utility used -- does not require FP8 to view.) You know what this means, of course... we'll never, ever, ever have to sit through another discussion like Janet Jackson at the SuperBowl, ever again...! (Seriously, check it out and consider what he's doing, it's wild, many possible applications.)

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:24 PM

August 9, 2005

Skinner's crossfades SWF

Skinner's crossfades SWF: I've been amazed at all the pre-release SWF showoff files I've seen -- got no rhyme and reason to what I link here, more of a subjective "wow gotta blog this" feeling -- Grant Skinner here shows an aesthetic that I think we'll be seeing a whole lot more on the web this coming year -- seems more like a broadcast tv/film sensibility, 'cept it's all handled in realtime. Nice stuff. 8)

Posted by John Dowdell at 1:31 PM

SWF cloudscape

SWF cloudscape: Nice animated example of using the Perlin Noise pixel-manipulation functions in Macromedia Flash Player 8... Ralph Hauwert generates the clouds and their shadows algorithmically, and then modifies them over time. The animation is slow and subtle, but if you don't see much change at first, try hitting "reload" to change the seed values. (What's "Perlin noise"? It's a way to generate randomness which is similar across scales, sort of like how the bumpiness of a large cloud is similar to the bumpiness of small parts of the cloud too -- makes for natural-looking phenomenon -- see Ken's page on the subject. These multiple fractal calculations for each pixel are quite computationally expensive, and we'll need to figure out acceptable levels of computational demands for acceptable framerates on various types of playback machines.) Other early examples of this pixel-level manipulation are from Flaver blog and Justin Everett-Church (hit the spacebar), and many of the effects at Franto blog.

Posted by John Dowdell at 11:27 AM

August 8, 2005

Pirillo & telemarketers

Pirillo & telemarketers: Chris Pirillo entertains incoming telemarketers, then puts the audio results on his weblog in SWF format via AudioBlog. "Ethically speaking, I shouldn't have done that - but ethically speaking, they shouldn't have called me in the first place. Telemarketers? It's huntin' season."

Posted by John Dowdell at 11:48 AM

BBC-TV scheduling contest

BBC-TV scheduling contest: "The way people watch television - and choose what they are going to watch - is changing. More channels, new delivery platforms, new ways to consume television programming... For the first backstage.bbc.co.uk competition, we are offering you the opportunity to innovate and build prototypes that demonstrate new ways of exploring the BBC TV schedule. Plus we have arguably the ultimate 'geek bling' prize for the producer of the winning prototype." They follow up with some social customizations which may be useful for different audiences. Here's schedule format info. [via Jeff Jarvis]

Posted by John Dowdell at 11:30 AM

August 3, 2005

Video UI convention

Video UI convention: The videos at inspireme.tv don't have a standard control console at the bottom of the screen -- the pause/play, forward/back buttons are overlaid atop the main image area instead. It took me a moment to recognize but was then easy to work with. Project from Brendan Dawes; pointer from Jeffrey Zeldman.

Posted by John Dowdell at 3:54 PM

BobAndMark's Flow

BobAndMark's Flow: A music/graphics SWF where things happen when you click. The programming is minimal, but the design experience is unusual. Some of the comments say this is an old piece, but it was new to me, and Digg is interesting anyway.

Posted by John Dowdell at 12:28 PM

August 1, 2005


Planarity: Topological game in SWF... I learned about it through PCWorld... the site linked there is 404, but the above link is working right now. Game is similar to Sudoku in that it emphasizes logic over reflex.

Posted by John Dowdell at 3:21 PM

July 29, 2005

Largescale commercial video

Largescale commercial video: This link went around earlier this week, but it took me awhile to read and digest. Mark Fritz of streamingmedia.com offers an analysis of how Yahoo serves an extremely high number of interactive video streams, practically routed to many types of visitors, through many types of websites, every minute of the day. Their old workflow was to manually change the SWF files when content changed -- this required a specialist to implement each change. Now Yahoo has abstracted their changing video content from the web page -- the HTML invokes a SWF shell which includes the standard Yahoo video controls (pause/play etc), and which then loads in the movie trailer, presentation or advertisement via an XML reference. They also use a web-based administration tool, delivered as SWF, so that team members can easily change the XML directions or file sequences without having to wade into code. Finally, they use the Macromedia Flash Communications Server for analysis of server delivery -- critical when delivering millions of video streams each day, as Yahoo routinely does. The exciting part for me here is how they've created a framework with appropriate tools for different people doing different tasks -- how they've made it easy to automatically insert appropriate video content into the millions of pages they deliver each day. You probably don't need this on most websites -- if your videos don't change as frequently it's still easy to hardcode a video reference -- but it's good to know that there are established paths to follow if content needs scale up even to the largest levels.

Posted by John Dowdell at 12:36 PM

July 26, 2005

Sudoku SWF

Sudoku SWF: Nice implementation of this solitaire game of logic. Easy to lose time here, for sure. [via franto.com]

Posted by John Dowdell at 1:26 PM

July 19, 2005


Flipbook: Juan Ospina's drawing SWFlet has been getting linked around... Mike Schleifstein got it into MXNA last month, and it made its way around to Robert Scoble today. It uses the drawing API within the Macromedia Flash Player to produce, store, and reproduce line drawings which you can then send to friends. The serverside storage is handled by a PHP/MySQL combo, and I'm curious how the data storage choices were handled (like SVG? more compact? etc). The front page shows the newest entries, but I think it's more fun to see what people scratched out for the "Top Rated" entries.

Posted by John Dowdell at 5:18 PM

July 6, 2005

Personal World Map

Personal World Map: A novel interactive, data-fed SWF... most maps show geographic distances between world cities, but this map morphs into "Which cities are closest in air travel time?" and "Which cities are closest in air travel costs?" It's easy to compare how Beijing is closer than Tokyo to New Delhi, but that it costs less money and time to travel to India from Tokyo. [via a tip from Kottke]

Posted by John Dowdell at 5:02 PM

June 24, 2005

2D IK in SWF

2D IK in SWF: Nice example of planar inverse kinematics -- while the doll drops among the spheres, grab a toe or other joint, and the rest of the body follows in a natural way. 2D inverse kinematics are much easier than 3D, because solutions are usually unique without that extra degree of freedom. German site; bikini warning; and unfortunately the creator is not credited here. [via franto.com]

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:34 PM

June 22, 2005

Aibo a-go-go

Aibo a-go-go: Sony & Virgin host a contest... dress up your Sony Aibo robotic dog, then tape it as it dances. SWF interface for the videos. I laughed, you may too. [via Todd Dominey]

Posted by John Dowdell at 1:30 PM

June 21, 2005

SWF WTF puzzles

SWF WTF puzzles: My productivity was already low today, when I ran into John Gallant's links at CommunityMX... Hapland and Archipelago are Myst-like games, where you're in a scene and have to figure out what to do next. Not what I needed to see, I've got work to do today.... ;-)

Posted by John Dowdell at 5:20 PM

Wimbledon Shot Tracker

Wimbledon Shot Tracker: Looks like a nice way to study the tennis tournament -- the background offers various perspective views of the court, and arcs are programmatically drawn over it to show the successive plays in a game. You can change the viewpoint from which the data is rendered -- very nice. The above link goes to the main Info page. Finding a match took me awhile... first click "Launch the IBM On Demand Scoreboard", then enlarge the new window if needed... if you don't see "Shot Tracker" at the bottom-right of the scoreboard, then you need to find another court where this data was tracked (this is where I got confused)... once the display comes up it's quite nice. Check out the "Preferences" dialog for customized viewing too, because it seems to focus on actual audience needs, not just production desires. I like data-fed SWF like this, kudos to the team! [via Pete Hotchkiss on FlashCoders, in the middle of a thread about Maelstrom]

Posted by John Dowdell at 3:30 PM

June 14, 2005

Webpage diff engine?

Webpage diff engine? Andy Baio is seeking a way to visually scan the differences between Wikipedia edits... right now, from a history page you can choose two versions to see differences, but I think Andy is seeking a scrubbable single interface to explore how a document has changed over time. Do you have an idea how to visually represent such changes...?

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:22 PM

June 9, 2005

Remote pokerface

Remote pokerface: I can't reach the site to see if they have an open implementation yet, but the press release makes sense: EZ2poker.com will offer online poker with webcams, so you can read the other players' faces.

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:41 PM

June 8, 2005


Myscreencast.com: Over the last few months I've been seeing how tutorials for web technologies like PHP, AJaX and such have been using SWF for onscreen demonstrations, because it combines the ability to watch someone else's desktop while they describe what they're doing, and is viewable at any subsequent time. Here's a whole site devoted to web-technology screencasts, with volunteers linking on the board to various resources they find on the net. [via Jon Udell]

Posted by John Dowdell at 3:08 PM

June 6, 2005

Dressing Steve Jobs

Dressing Steve Jobs: Not the most complicated SWF in the world (I don't see a way to save an outfit through an <80-character URL), but it's a timely game, over at geekculture.com.... [via Virginia Postrel]

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:32 PM

May 27, 2005

New Goowy

New Goowy: This update to the SWF-based webmail service got some good attention in internal Macromedia conversation today. The emphasis is on providing a user interface that is cleaner to use (and probably cheaper to make!) than comparative JavaScript-based webmail. Features now include the ability to import a contact list in comma-separated format for auto-complete... drag'n'drop filing of messages to a folder... multiple selections, to (say) delete large quantities of mail at once... sort of a missing link between other browser-based mail services and a dedicated local mail client. I don't see a link there for news of features or technical discussions, but here's comment on the previous version from BetaNews, Jonathan Boutelle, Javed Mandary, and a Haiku fan whose name I can't find....

Posted by John Dowdell at 3:05 PM

May 20, 2005

Levi's Digital Arts Award

Levi's Digital Arts Award: They're seeking JPGs or SWFs by summer, with prizes of iBooks and iPods. Preliminary judging will be from a public web gallery, and winners here will go before a European design panel. The SWFs can be either linear (video, eg) or interactive. Entries must be around one of the two briefs listed in the press release (the text reads ambiguously to me). The front page of the Levi's site has an interesting language/purchasing UI, where it tries to guess what language and nation you're in, but lets you click through countries one at a time to correct it (no USA listed, don't waste your time clicking). A chance to get your work in front of some new eyes...?

Posted by John Dowdell at 12:44 PM

May 19, 2005

Musical baton

Musical baton: It should be possible to parse these, construct a playlist, and then play the results, true...?

Posted by John Dowdell at 1:48 PM

May 16, 2005

Income mobility

Income mobility: You may not be able to see this New York Times infographic because of the registration wall -- and the paging structure used within the illustration confused me a bit (it has a lot of info, in different tabs) -- but I liked it because I had tried in the past to discuss income mobility, without being as clear as this graphic seems to be. Try it -- when you look at where people in the top quintile of income in 1988 ended up in 1998, about half of them stayed in the top 20%, half of the remainder dropped down to the next quintile, half of those left moved to the middle of the income distribution, and some moved all the way from top to bottom. Looking at those who earned among the lowest 20% in 1988 shows the reverse shifts ten years later -- about half stayed in the same quintile, and half moved out of that group. (Y'see? Even after looking at the graphic my words aren't any more graceful than before.... ;-) Anyway, if you can see this piece, then it's a good example of how even simple visuals and interactivity can be more effective than text alone might be.

Posted by John Dowdell at 5:38 PM

May 12, 2005


Funnyfox: I saw this link yesterday, but didn't understand that it was a series of Firefox commercials in Flash Video format until today... doesn't seem like it's in the aggregators yet, so let me do my bit with a link here....

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:38 PM

May 11, 2005

Udell screencast links

Udell screencast links: At InfoWorld, Jon Udell links to a half-dozen presentations around the net which use screen-captures to reinforce a narration. Some of these are in WMV format, many are in SWF. Software like Captivate helps with such linear stories, and in the current version can be added to a Breeze presentation for more presentation options, multi-way communications, etc. It almost feels like audio narrations with screen-captured visuals are becoming their own self-contained media type...?

Posted by John Dowdell at 5:52 PM

Invisible RIAs

Invisible RIAs: SNL Financial has a press release today about a new business SWF they've developed. Logically enough, it's not available online, because they're selling this tool to other businesses. (The link goes to some type of audio/screencap in SWF... text is bitmappy and there are audio clicks, and it doesn't look like it's from Captivate.) The SNL application itself looks Flex-y, but might have been handrolled too, I don't know. Anyway, it's worth a look at how RIA-style development is making business types more effective by handling the calculation for them... not all this stuff ends up on the World Wide Web.

Posted by John Dowdell at 1:54 PM

May 10, 2005


Face-builder: This has apparently been around for a while, but I just saw it today from a link by Marco Casario. It's a very functional facial identification kit -- instead of an artist sketching with a pencil while listening to a witness describe someone, here you can choose, position, and scale a variety of facial features to build up a portrait. Seems very functional and useful... if you have to build faces, that is. ;-)

Posted by John Dowdell at 12:11 PM

May 5, 2005

Paint comparisons

Paint comparisons: The link is to the Sherwin-Williams paint-shopping tools, created via Flex, and getting a lot of links on the lists today. I saw people comparing it favorably with the older Behr painting tool, created via Laszlo server, but on a quick browse both have tools to visualize colors in a room, or find complementary colors, but I haven't had time to really critique how the experiences compare. Do *you* have comments after using the two applications, to jumpstart my own study...?

Posted by John Dowdell at 5:03 PM

April 27, 2005

NASA video

NASA video: I picked up this link from Jens Loeffler, and spent more time than I expected examining how the designers set up this work. Flash video is used for all the explanations -- a real person tells you the information. But the navigation is set up using rollovers, tree choices, and other interactive screen conventions. Result: you can quickly examine the range of info offered, and then jump into a more personal presentation when you've found a likely subject. Other nice touches include the motion blur on the camera movement to simulate smoothness even on slower classroom machines, and the Closed Captioning options on all video speech. Overall, I think this is a strong example of using current web technology to get a message across, and to get that message across effectively.

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:57 PM

April 26, 2005


ABC sIFR: I just noticed that ABCNews.com is displaying headlines in SWF... Mike Davidson has more info on this whole approach.

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:58 PM

April 25, 2005


Guess-The-Google: Grant Robinson uses Google Images and a SWF client for a game... you look at 20 web graphics and try to figure out which search term returned the set. I like the principle of the game, but got annoyed at the resolution, the lack of progressive hinting or final answers. Then again, it's Monday, so it's likely me. ;-) I think Grant's got something here, give it a spin. [via Ryan Guill]

Posted by John Dowdell at 3:52 PM

Yahoo/SWF apps

Yahoo/SWF apps: The Yahoo API lets you query their engines via query terms in URLs, and returns XML. This Application List already shows some SWF tools which use these engines. More info in FAQ. [via Justin Everett-Church]

Posted by John Dowdell at 3:34 PM

April 15, 2005

Capture The Map

Capture The Map: Great browser-based SWF game, based on Google search... two players take turns submitting search queries, which the app then compares against "the netgeo database" (here?), and any hits are pinned to a world map. The goals are to get the most pins and to cover the most territory. Trying to figure out the terms is the tricky part, because I'm not sure how search results are resolved to locations. Addictive, though, and I bet it will get linked highly next week. [via Mario Diogo]

Posted by John Dowdell at 12:57 PM

April 14, 2005

Trek wrap

Trek wrap: SWF video is used here on the Crave Video site, for interviews during the farewell party for the "Star Trek: Enterprise" series. UI integration includes the standard pause/play/stop, scrubber, and audio controls, as well as an "enlarge video" button. They actually use a great deal of SWF video on this site, as you can see from the nearby HTML index. (If the link doesn't work because of SessionID, try this.)

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:06 PM

April 13, 2005

GoPro video reporting

GoPro video reporting: I like some of the interface conventions in this series of live video reports from recent home-improvement tradeshows. Each video file is just a chunk of the total presentation, and the sideboard has a series of thumbnails with floating captions -- easy to navigate, easy to go back. Why does the project exist? "GoPro.ca is a leading Canadian home improvement directory with information and links to major manufacturers and local contractors, retailers and designers... 'Many of our visitors to GoPro.ca who live outside the GTA and across Canada only have access to small home shows with limited exhibitors. Our visitors wanted us to show them what they were missing at the major shows in Toronto.'" Makes more sense to me in this format than in a 30-minute block of commercial broadcast television. More in this press release. Nice work!

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:16 PM

April 8, 2005

CraftMax mobile baseball

CraftMax mobile baseball: Wireless Watch has a piece on data-driven baseball displays for iMode phones. (They require a subscription to read the full text, but there's a 20M video available for free download.) I couldn't pull up web hits on "craftmax macromedia" or "craftmax flash" (nor "craftmax java" or "brew", either), but their website describes making Flash-enhanced webpages for teams like the Yokohama BayStars, and in the video it sure looks like SWF, so I'm assuming they're going to iMode phones in this popular format too. Download charges can be light, even for long games, because only the data is transmitted, and this is transformed to visuals on the client. The phone can alert you when a favorite player is about to bat. Game viewing can be time-shifted, which is handy when following US games. The animation viewpoint I saw in the video was from center-left, over the pitcher's shoulder, like you'd see from a television camera. I'm not sure whether they have a type of "progressive game compression", where you can pull out your phone at the third inning and see current highlights, then while waiting for the train catch the highlights from the next two innings, etc.

Posted by John Dowdell at 1:44 PM

March 30, 2005

Flickr Related Tag Browser

Flickr Related Tag Browser: Nice way to explore Flickr's photograph database, by navigating among related keywords which people attach to photos. From Airtight Interactive. (Was the angled-photo idea a "Betcha can't do that with Ajax" kind of thing...? ;-)

Posted by John Dowdell at 3:53 PM

March 28, 2005

Flash accessibility examples

Flash accessibility examples: In case you don't already have Bob Regan among your incoming newsfeeds, then he's got a large list of SWFs here which illustrate various accessibility demands (screen readers, self-voicing, captioning & signing, keyboard accessibility).

Posted by John Dowdell at 5:58 PM

March 25, 2005

Tork game

Tork game: It's like the old "Adventure" text game, but graphical, and you have to figure out how to "talk" in this new environment. It's fun, but I've got work to do today, so.... ;-) [via MetaFilter]

Posted by John Dowdell at 1:45 PM

March 23, 2005


Pixel3d.swf: Ben Stucki experiments: "Each pixel in an image, already having an x and y coordinate in the 2D space, is given a z coordinate based on its color and placed in a simple 3D Flash Engine... Lighter colored pixels are closer, and darker colored pixels are further away. When this somewhat chaotic cluster of 3D points are viewed at the correct angle they form a 2D image, even when all the points are the same color." There's a PHP routine on the server which does the heavy-lifting of initial JPG analysis and 3D transform... after a user interaction, the clientside SWF apparently requests a new dataset and then renders it. You can enter an arbitrary URL to display additional JPGs through this application. I'm not sure what it means, but it's interesting to play with.

Posted by John Dowdell at 1:27 PM

March 22, 2005

CMX sidebar

CMX sidebar: I missed this when it came out in late February... the CommunityMX sidebar offers a variety of relevant feeds and searches in a single UI (can search Macromedia LiveDocs, newsgroup discussions, etc). The article by Paul Newman contains usage tips. Something that particularly interested me was how SWF is used for the main guts of the capability, while there are different wrapper layers above it for working in the various Mozilla-family browsers, with their differing mechanics for hosting sidebars... keeping the environment-specific code separate from the environment-independent code like this seems a smart way to minimize development costs across multiple engines.

Posted by John Dowdell at 3:08 PM

March 19, 2005

NYT: SWF "vital"

NYT: SWF "vital": An unexpected line turns up in search results... here, the editor-in-chief of NYTimes.com is quoted as "While it is not necessary to be skilled in writing HTML format for many blogs, Apcar advised that if one is looking into a career as a reporter, it is vital to learn HTML as well as the software program Macromedia Flash, which allows for multimedia presentations." (That's nice, but seems a little backwards to me -- SWF is a presentation layer, and active use of search engines during the research stage seems more important for good reporting overall, but....)

Posted by John Dowdell at 10:58 AM

March 10, 2005

Body jigsaw

Body jigsaw: Great SWF at the BBC... instead of just reading about human anatomy, you get to actually put the body parts where they should be, and the program lets you know how you're doing. [via Metafilter]

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:19 PM

March 9, 2005

Baseball SWF

Baseball SWF: Just noticed that MLB.com is showing video highlights from spring training on their front page, in SWF format. Controls include Pause/Play, Replay, and Mute. The video is part of the page (rather than a separate media element), and there's no user cost for configuration setup.

Posted by John Dowdell at 11:50 AM

March 8, 2005


Ultracane: This SWF shows how a cane has been outfitted with ultrasonic emitters and force-feedback to help people navigate a sidewalk without necessarily being able to see the sidewalk. The SWF is a basic animation -- the FAQ has more on this sight-to-touch assistive device... cost is still high, at about $US750 for the UK device... but I'd expect prices to drop as such realworld computing becomes more prevalent.

Posted by John Dowdell at 12:52 PM

March 6, 2005

Toho Cinemas

Toho Cinemas: The major Japanese film company uses SWF for navigation as well as presentation. The thing that caught my eye, though, is the dual-language navigation -- main menu items and film names are in Japanese, but on mouseover show an English state for the link. Not all links offer this feature, but it's useful for those of us who read one language quicker than another.... ;-) [via genzooz]

Posted by John Dowdell at 3:44 PM

February 24, 2005

Un-flexy Flex

Un-flexy Flex: Macy's retail stores offer a new website which apparently uses Macromedia Flex (see press release, news article), but which looks like no Flex site I've ever seen before... looks more visually-designed than component-based... my best guess, from personal inspection, might be that it's a hybrid of visual authoring with XML authoring, but I have to learn more about this. Keep an eye on Macromedia Showcase, which is where I'd guess production-oriented background may first arise.

Posted by John Dowdell at 7:10 AM

February 16, 2005

Amazonian Hitchhiker

Amazonian Hitchhiker: I haven't seen this in the Macromedia-oriented aggregators yet, but the front page of Amazon.com now offers a video version of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, in SWF format.

Posted by John Dowdell at 5:16 PM

February 15, 2005


Mappr! Wow, lots of neat SWF visualizations of the Flickr database these days... this project displays recent photos according to tags for geographic location... Michal Migurski has more on the background of the project.

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:34 PM

February 14, 2005

Linspire SWF

Linspire SWF: This review of the new operating system mentions towards the middle that their "welcome" sequence is SWF-based... looks like another candidate for the OS distribution partners for the engine. "Upon first use, you're greeted with a Flash tutorial that helps guide you through general Linspire use."

Posted by John Dowdell at 9:09 AM

February 11, 2005

Colr Pickr

Colr Pickr: There was just a little crowd around my cubicle, checking out Jim Bumgardner's "show me all photos of a specific color" SWF interface to the Flickr photo-sharing service. How's it work? I'm not sure, but get the sense that certain photographers have agreed to add a specific "color field" tag to some of their photos, and Jim uses the Flickr API to query the database and display these particular photos...? (Quote of the day: "Hey, it's Flash, you're supposed to do stuff like this." )   [via Smug Canadian]

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:55 PM

FlashPaper T-shirts

FlashPaper T-shirts: Sorry, not a Macromedia giveaway here, but a T-shirt company that ended up publishing DTP materials to the web as FlashPaper SWFs. Tickles my funnybone, somehow. [via Ng Wai Mun]

Posted by John Dowdell at 12:29 PM

February 10, 2005

GoDaddy SWF

GoDaddy SWF: Wendy Seltzer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation notes that the GoDaddy Superbowl commercial is delivered as SWF. (You have to click a few links and checkboxes to view it.) The long form is actually funnier, because it puts explicit emphasis on a "Broadcast Censorship Committee". (We have these in San Francisco too, but there's just a different set of things you can and cannot say.... ;-)

Posted by John Dowdell at 5:40 PM

Flickr Graph

Flickr Graph: Marcos Weskamp provides a SWF interface to explore interrelationships on the Flickr photo-sharing service, using the Flickr API. Matt Haughey provides a link to his own relationships here.

Posted by John Dowdell at 5:22 PM

1020 bytes

1020 bytes: Microgame... Grant Skinner puts a workable Asteroids-type game into a kilobyte of SWF. Why, I remembah when we used to make a big to-do about a 5K HTML brochure.... ;-)

Posted by John Dowdell at 3:46 PM

February 9, 2005

Global time doohickey?

Global time doohickey? The link points to TimeAndDate.com, a very handy place to find global time conversions. This particular link I set up for a 3pm meeting Friday, my local time, and you can see the clock times in other regions, below. But couldn't we make a SWF widget which works right inside any page, without requiring a trip to another page on another server? What I'm picturing is a three-pane rectangle: the square left pane shows an analog clock face, the square right pane shows a pannable section of a world map, and the center rectangular pane would have text for time, date, locale, and equivalent time in your specified region. The generic SWF would be settable with originating date/time/place in HTML's FlashVars. Reality-check me here, if you would please... something like this would be possible, wouldn't it...?

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:31 PM

Squared Circle

Squared Circle: SWF slideshow at Flickr, of photos from varied creators which all share the tag "squared circle", and which all have visual content of a circle filling a square frame. Curiously refreshing. More info at Richard Koman's interview with Stewart Butterfield at O'Reilly.

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:01 PM

February 8, 2005


Quoteplay: Matt Round tackles that problem of "how can i point to a specific range in an audio file?" (Jon Udell has also been pursuing this problem.) Matt's SWF-based reader has an interesting wrinkle, though, because of cross-domain restrictions: you can choose the content you offer -- to link to a part of an audio file you need to host the audio file and the in-browser SWF-based UI. Comments, thoughts, advice, concerns, brainbursts are all welcome here, but may be more useful at Matt's place, thanks.

Posted by John Dowdell at 1:26 PM

February 1, 2005


del.icio.us+flash: Someone writes that they'd like to see more del.icio.us visualization in SWF instead of Java. I'm not sure what data they're seeking to display, nor to what end, however. Might be worth a read if you enjoy turning abstract data into visual patterns.

Posted by John Dowdell at 5:06 PM

January 31, 2005

Keynote SWF

Keynote SWF: Nitesh Dhanjani made a test SWF from the new version of Apple's Keynote presentation software. There's not much content here... just two slides doing some type of book-transition... filesize is about a megabyte, which seems remarkably large... I'm wondering whether the authoring application is generating discrete frames for that transition, rather than applying SWF-like instructions to assets...!?

Posted by John Dowdell at 6:06 PM

January 25, 2005

New Ballmer video

New Ballmer video: This might be legit... apparently Steve Ballmer made an internal TV-style commercial back in Windows 1.0 days. No dancing, though. (I came across this link at Mitch Hedberg's site via a blog search, but if you're tempted to re-link this then it may be better to find the source copy on eBaum's World.)

Posted by John Dowdell at 1:40 PM

January 18, 2005

Nicktoons reviews

Nicktoons reviews: Aaron Simpson previews and reviews some of the dozen-plus SWF animations in the Nicktoons Film Festival. (Also, check out how he refactored a conversation about computer animation from a "conventional animation" point of view: all the flavor with half the calories.)

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:51 PM

World's Biggest Picture

World's Biggest Picture: This photo has 2,487,227,305 pixels in it, and the producers call it "the largest digital panoramic photo in the world". They're displaying it on the web in SWF via Zoomify. [via Illusions, etc]

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:23 PM

January 13, 2005

Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Chicago Symphony Orchestra: There's a different type of UI for choosing a seat here... the left pane shows all seats in the theatre, and when you roll over a seating area, the right pane will show a representative photograph of the view from that area. Click on a seating area, and you drill down into seat-by-seat selection. [via Jeff Key]

Posted by John Dowdell at 5:43 PM

January 12, 2005

Satellite radio control

Satellite radio control: This Pocket PC app apparently uses the Macromedia Flash Player for UI and interactivity logic, with the goal being wireless management of your satellite radio system. One of the things I like best is the nascent "headless agent" ability, where it keeps watching in the background for the appearance of certain favorite artists, alerting you when they're on any available channel.

Posted by John Dowdell at 6:23 PM

January 5, 2005

"Liquid Stone" SWF

"Liquid Stone" SWF: Roland Piquepaille's daily essay on new science focuses today on innovations in concrete, and he points to the above SWF presentation, among others. This material is mostly text, with a few photos, and at first I wondered why it wasn't in HTML. Then I realized that this SWF worked for me, even though it was mostly just text and the interactivity was restricted to navigation. I'm usually not keen on SWFs-which-could-be-done-in-HTML, but for this one I have a different reaction, and I'm not sure why. Do you have any thoughts about this SWF...?

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:08 PM

December 24, 2004

Google Zeitgeist Interactive

Google Zeitgeist Interactive: SWF which exposes 12 months of the year, categories for most popular queries, images, and news, and a world map with locations for top stories. I'm not sure if this is final -- it seems like the dynamic links could be tuned. I don't know who made it, but the about page suggests they were assisted by pigeons. I found this through Chirayu in Pune, who I located through a Technorati trawl on "macromedia". I'm not sure of the overall user-experience differences with this richer approach, but it's a nice clean example. I'll add more later if the search blogs have perspective.

Posted by John Dowdell at 12:01 PM

December 21, 2004

Rubik's SWF

Rubik's SWF: I'm not sure when this Eviltron example went up, or if others have done similar things before, but it's a nice little twisty-cube implementation... the visual cues work for me, even the four sets of cues available at a center cube. Be sure to mouse over the astronauts, particularly #3.

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:10 PM

December 20, 2004

Santa don't be slow

Santa don't be slow: NORAD's Santa-Tracker has a "test video plugin" page here... I'm on an old box, and it took over three minutes to start getting content. Do you hit any startup costs when viewing this video on your rig? Seems a shame to wait up, when other video technologies can start up in, uh, in a flash.... ;-)

Posted by John Dowdell at 6:15 PM

Adblock in Captivate

Adblock in Captivate: Did you know there's a Mozilla extension can block SWFs & GIFs from specified domains? I guess you did, but it's rare to get a how-to for the extension sent in SWF format like this, huh...? ;-)

Posted by John Dowdell at 5:05 PM

Capra SWF remix

Capra SWF remix: Jennifer Shiman offers "It's a Wonderful Life in 30 seconds, re-enacted by bunnies." The accordion player in the final scene apparently got left on the cutting-room floor....

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:47 PM

Remarkable vectors

Remarkable vectors: Jerome Birembaut's photograph of a model's face is actually a SWF... he has the zooming menu turned off in this HTML page, but you can confirm that these aren't fixed-res pixels by zooming in on the SWF itself. File is 162K. [via Saul Rosenbaum's FlashInsider weblog, which has other material such as SWF charting roundup]

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:43 PM

December 16, 2004

Carol maker

Carol maker: Nice little music-making SWF... check out the "Most Popular Carols" list to the right too. Lots more SWF examples at ZeFrank front page and weblog. [via Jeffrey Zeldman]

Posted by John Dowdell at 12:25 PM

December 15, 2004

Dell Tech Force

Dell Tech Force: SWF video of puppetized Michael Dell, Bill Gates, Larry Ellison and others, used as the entertainment portion of a corporate keynote... more info at CNET.

Posted by John Dowdell at 5:10 PM

December 14, 2004

Giant Steps

Giant Steps: I saw a link for this SWF last week, but didn't pick up on it until now... it's a visual representation of the changing tonal centers in John Coltrane's "Giant Steps", synched to the music. I'm not sure why there are two iix triangles in each group, but even if you ignore the ii-V changes and just focus on the three general tonal centers of G, B, and Eb, it's useful to see the change as you hear it... different type of experience than following along in a score.

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:47 PM

December 13, 2004

Video blogging

Video blogging: Userplane offers an easy way to put audio/video messages into your current blog. Free beta... more info in the press release. They also offer a range of other social and business tools which can be plugged into existing websites.

Posted by John Dowdell at 5:50 PM

PubSub SWF

PubSub SWF: From Niall Kennedy I learned that blog-analysis service PubSub displays week-to-week site rankings in a dynamic SWF file. I suspect that data is being bound to visuals on the client machine rather than on the server (ie, XMLsocket or webservices vs Macromedia Generator or Ming), but I'm not sure... do you have a better analysis of how this particular job was done...?

Posted by John Dowdell at 3:46 PM

December 10, 2004


SWF on TV: I found this "Cold, Hard Flash" blog via web searches, and I'm not sure of Aaron's last name, but here's his synopsis line: "Welcome to 'Cold, Hard Flash,' a collection of thoughts on the recent swell of Flash-animated TV shows in the US. I work in the TV animation industry, and I've watched Flash expand beyond the web and into broadcast TV and even feature film. Check in to follow my experiences, and follow the explosion of Flash animation on a TV near you!" This November post I'm linking to lists nine different TV shows which are currently produced in SWF.

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:53 PM

December 9, 2004

Anti-blogspam tactic

Anti-blogspam tactic: Interesting... Jesse Warden is exploring whether the use of SWF comment fields can encode information which spammers can't easily find, so that a serverside check can bar their automation attempts.

Posted by John Dowdell at 6:33 PM

"Design a Suite"

"Design a Suite": Sorry I'm late on this -- the sale times-out later this afternoon, and it's for a regional market anyway -- but even if you're not in the market for tools, there's an interesting SWF application on this page. Purchase options for each piece of software are loaded on demand... the top pane has an overview of the current order... the "cart" checkout to the right loads shipping details in response to choices made in other panes. Once you go through checkout there's the usual single-page accordion layout for shipping details. Good model, oui...?

Posted by John Dowdell at 1:05 PM

December 3, 2004


Zoomquilt: This is one of those "how'd they do that!?" SWFs... you can figure it out, but it looks a lot different than what we're used to. More info here and here (they're seeking bandwidth help too).

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:47 PM

November 30, 2004

Broadmoor analysis

Broadmoor analysis: Peter Merholz is starting a series of UI analyses... first up is the iHotelier reservation system that was first seen 2-3 years back... he focuses on where the piece works, where it doesn't, and closes asking why more multi-page reservation systems don't have a user experience like this.

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:50 PM

Neomyz polls

Neomyz polls: Nice SWF/server service, to add polls to a website... I got the link from Guy Watson who is running a poll on favorite Maelstrom sneaks. The pricing seems flexible, and there are sixteen skins already. You could write it yourself, but having it as a ready-to-go hosted service seems attractive too.

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:29 PM

November 19, 2004

about.com FLV

about.com FLV: I got the link from Peldi, who has accumulated a collection of high-profile sites using SWF Video by now. What I particularly like about this About.com/Style page is how video is just a natural part of the web browser display... all the text links & structure are still there... they preface their free content with a commercial, so their costs are covered... the viewing controls click in once the main content comes into view. It just seems a very natural way to get such a verbal presentation across to a web audience.

Posted by John Dowdell at 3:34 PM

November 17, 2004

Slashdot on comics

Slashdot on comics: The crowd makes its opinions known on Broken Saints and Strong Bad, both of which have recently migrated from SWF-on-the-web to DVD. I'm sure there's at least a clever comment or two in there.... ;-)

Posted by John Dowdell at 5:03 PM

GiftMixer 3000

GiftMixer 3000: I don't know if this Border's promo is a scam or not... the SWF lets you set sliders on different personality traits and it supposedly picks out appropriate gifts... when I leave all the sliders at zero it picks out a slightly-changing set of books each time, and I'm not sure how large their selection set is. Nice appearance, and it's easy to pass to a friend... I'm not sure how they're handling that "bookmark" feature, because I'm not seeing a list of marked states in Mozilla, and the page's JavaScript is uncommented... got the link from Lisa Heselton of the Macromedia User Group Manager's mailing list.

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:39 PM

November 15, 2004

CNN Under Your Command

CNN Under Your Command: I picked up this link from Todd Dominey... CNN's new campaign is another one exploring the new use of video as just another interactive media element, instead of being just a special type of non-interactive content isolated off in its own window.

Posted by John Dowdell at 3:48 PM

Feedster iPods

Feedster iPods: The serverside search engine is holding a developers-only contest, seeking the best examples of use of their output: "iPods will be awarded to the winners for the best use of Feedster in the following categories: standalone RSS aggregator, Web application, invoking a specific category (i.e. jobs.feedster.com), tutorial for RSS newbies, advanced search documentation, Safari extension, Firefox extension, Thunderbird extension, with a publishing engine like TypePad or WordPress. iPods will also be given for winners of the oddest use of Feedster and a wildcard for the overall favorite application." If you've got a good UI & service idea, and are seeking a data source, then there may be an MP3 player in it for you...?

Posted by John Dowdell at 3:01 PM

November 12, 2004


Speegle: Search engine is under high load today... should have more servers tomorrow. It does serverside text-to-SWFaudio conversion before pumping the results down to your browser. The URL to the SWF implies that it keeps a unique session going on your search term and speech settings: speegle.swf?tts=b64Z2dPZkptNm8=&verbosity=1&voice=slt&rnd=1100290421.1137 They also have a page of news feeds from BBC, Reuters, etc which apparently aren't suffering the load... I guess it's the text-to-MP3 (presumably) conversion which is the costly part today. [via Richard Sprague of Microsoft's speech recognition group]

Posted by John Dowdell at 12:48 PM

Friday resume

Friday resume: Alexandre Gueniot's SWF-based resume is getting passed around the office today... it's just a linear animation, but has a good charm factor.

Posted by John Dowdell at 12:42 PM

Virtual bartendress

Virtual bartenderess: Semi-work safe... in style of Subservient Chicken, Tammy responds to typed commands. [via cleoag.]

Posted by John Dowdell at 12:22 PM

November 11, 2004

Non-SWF election maps

Non-SWF election maps: Election night was a good time for live data-fed SWF, because everyone was focused on electoral college tallies. Now we're seeing the second wave of visualizations, in this list at "The Big Picture" and at blogs like The Obsidian Order. They're using GIF and JPG here to display single aspects of the data set... compare handlings of counties vs density from BigPicture and Obsidian to see how we're still refining the presentation. At some point I think we'll move back to SWF, but at this interim stage GIF/JPG are handy for snapshots of deeper patterns within the data set.

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:41 PM

November 10, 2004

Wunderground satellite SWF

Wunderground satellite SWF: oooh, I think you'll like this... while logging that conversation from Jon Udell, below, I first went to Weather Underground to find a radar map with a long URL... I remember something like this to see a realtime satellite photo above Northern California. But they've switched! Their new SWF display has a simpler URL, but does UI controls locally, and fetches only new data on demand, instead of reloading all the UI and logic and advertising and the rest you see with a trad serverside web app. I *like* being able to see Lat/Long with a mouseover! And check out the little navmap lower-right! Nice, nice, nice. (Now, I'd send you a custom view within this application, but because it doesn't go back to the server with new query terms each time, there's no new URL after each user interaction, like Jon was describing in his posts....)

Posted by John Dowdell at 5:02 PM

WaPo borealis

WaPo borealis: Nothing super-technical here, just a short, pretty SWF slideshow at The Washington Post, with photos of the recent Northern Lights. [via Virginia Postrel]

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:20 PM

November 9, 2004

Amazon SWF

Amazon SWF: This item was already picked up by other folks today, but I remember hearing online debates years ago saying "They'd never put Flash content on the front page of Amazon". To see a full, in-page video like this probably just means... probably just means... probably just means that the people arguing it would never happen have likely forgotten they ever said that, I guess.... ;-) [More background in this CNET article.]

Posted by John Dowdell at 5:54 PM


10x10: I like data visualization -- turning abstract numbers into things you can see. There's no single "best" answer; more art than science. Here, Jonathan Harris carries along some of his Wordcount themes into the data archives of Reuters, BBC, and NYT stories, finding the words and images most common during a one-hour period, and reproducing these in a ten-by-ten grid. The data he collects is available for subsequent projects, and here's the "about" page for general readers. Interesting user experience, worth the time to examine.

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:01 PM

Postini stats

Postini stats: The SWF on this antispam site contains multiple pages of live data on current email, spam, viral activity. I'm not sure when they're binding their data in -- whether they create a new SWF nightly with fresh data embedded, or whether they're delivering the same unchanging SWF each day which makes a live data call for latest stats. The maps are pixel-based, which implies a periodic refreshing. (I got "buy me" spam from Postini once, and sent a "what are you thinking?!" email in return... a very nice marketing rep replied, but she didn't seem to get the irony of an antispam firm sending unrequested commercial email to an unqualified buyer like myself.) Anyway, this link has a nice data presentation.... 8)

Posted by John Dowdell at 3:19 PM

November 8, 2004

More election maps

More election maps: Ben Metcalfe, a software engineer at the BBC, has his own list here... includes some not in that "Flash the only winner" item from The Inquirer, which Kevin also elaborated upon. Additionally, Andrew Lucking pointed to the CBC map, Mike Lyda to WSOC TV, Kim Cavanaugh has an essay on some trackers and interactives he happened across in daily life. I'm sort of expecting the definitive collection & critique to end up at Poynter.org, although I haven't found a post-election overview there yet.

Posted by John Dowdell at 3:48 PM

November 3, 2004

Election map collection

Election map collection: I noticed this during the time I was able to get online last night, but it's nice to see The Inquirer making the same observation, in this article titled "Macromedia Flash the only winner in US election": "Perhaps this presidential election will go down in history as the first one where Macromedia Flash was widely used for reporting the progress of the election count." What's even nicer is that reporter Fernando Cassia includes screenshots and links to seven mainstream media websites which included data-fed SWF graphics. I don't see CSPAN there, however, and I suspect that there were many additional maps in local news sites for regional elections. Do you have leads to additional sites? I'm also looking to do some feature-matrix comparisons, like "Does the map do live data requests, or does it need a full page refresh?", and "Are data refreshes automatic or user-initiated?", and "Does the map have additional features like drill-down to the county level?" (I think it was the CNN map which offered this... veddy cool), "Are there additional sidebars like text returns, local races, or other?" Do you have additional maps or features that we can collect together here? It'd be a nice antidote to those who still say "ugh, ads and skip-intro", know what I mean.... ? ;-)

Posted by John Dowdell at 8:42 AM

November 2, 2004

Keynote links

Keynote links: Highly recommended... Kevin Lynch has posted links to sites he displayed during today's keynote, as well as additional new work of the same level which could not fit into the two-hour session. (These are the public internet sites -- the private intranet sites, with much of the new Flex work for instance, aren't linkable.) I haven't had the chance to go back personally through each of these sites today, but I recall from the main hall that some of the Japanese commerce sites amazed me... I wasn't aware that businesses were already offering such interfaces and experiences. Kevin had additional shocking info about the business returns that people are finding with these pieces... great confirmation that these directions actually make a difference in the world. Anyway, if you've got some time then please do prowl among these links on Kevin's page, I think you'll find some good stuff here.

Posted by John Dowdell at 3:11 PM

October 29, 2004

Blogpost sparklines?

Blogpost sparklines? Gregory Narain at SocialTwister offers a challenge to high-end Flash coders here... he has the syntax to parameterize an implementation of Luke Wroblewski's weblog diagram, and is seeking an example of this in use in SWF. These two pages are worth a read regardless, because they're about conveying information visually... if you're going to MAX and can put this together on the plane, then you've got an Abita on me.... ;-)

Posted by John Dowdell at 3:32 PM

FlashComm Emmy

FlashComm Emmy: Congrats to Kevin Towes, of New Toronto Group... their ZeD Uncut project for Candian Broadcasting Corporation has been nominated for an Emmy. In addition to press accounts of the project, Kevin described it this way on the Flash Communications Server mailing list: "The project used Macromedia Video technologies: Flash, the Flash Communication Server and Flash Video to allow viewers to participate in a live television episode. Viewers could be interviewed live from their home and broadcast nationally over CBC National Television. Other features of the solution were a live picture wall; video clip voting and video messaging. The tool was also used in the Canadian National Elections to allow people to submit a video message to federal candidates." As a synchronous broadcast project, this isn't available asynchronously on the web, but Kevin will have a demo of it at MAX next week... this isn't listed on the website's Birds of a Feather schedule yet, but there's a FCS get-together at 5:30 Tuesday in the Community Pit.

Posted by John Dowdell at 1:26 PM

October 25, 2004

Political SWF

Political SWF: Louise Witt at WIRED surveys a few sites using SWFs in commentary on the US election... I've seen similar "increase in political cartoons" articles online, but I'm not sure whether anyone has performed an actual quantitative analysis of the scene... plausible, but not so far as I know proven. My beef: The article talks throughout about "Flash", but doesn't use the actual term "Macromedia Flash"... with all the talk about generic "flash players" these days it's really useful to use the full name of the technology.

Posted by John Dowdell at 6:03 PM

October 21, 2004

Unsubservient Chicken

Unsubservient Chicken: I thought cockfighting was illegal, but maybe Burger King wants to Have It Their Way... the main presentation is a 1.5M download, but it seems just a standard click-to-kick game, without the wittiness or sense of exploration (and apparently with a heavy framerate/processor load) of their text-based chicken SWF from earlier this year. Maybe you see something I didn't see on my play...? [via Todd Dominey]

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:26 PM

October 15, 2004

"Love & Yearning" interview

"Love & Yearning" interview: Marc Garrett of Since1968.com speaks with John Gordy and Jacqueline Bullock, who design projects for Smithsonian museums. Here they talk about the implementation of a presentation of a set of 500-year-old Persian manuscripts. One of the main chores in this project is to ease zooming on large bitmaps, and the final result is a compelling use of the Zoomifyer technology. There's also an angle about how technological choices are sometimes dictated by social setups: the more brains available, the richer your own choices are. Part one of the interview describes some of the audience and speaker needs behind the final project. This isn't super-nerdy stuff, but it's a good example of a project's execution nicely fitting its audience's needs, and the background decisions which brought it to this point.

Posted by John Dowdell at 3:05 PM

October 14, 2004


AOL SWF UI: A CNET article today mentioned that America Online's broadband service has switched to a customizable SWF interface. I don't know how to test the UI itself, but this demo presentation shows how you can choose which modules to display on-screen, and customize content within each module.

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:17 PM

NYT FLV debates

NYT FLV debates: I'm not sure how long this link will be live, but it's a good example of the benefits of interactive video content. The New York Times offers a large streaming SWF of the recent US presidential debates: you can jump between "chapters" of various topics... can scroll to a particular time (not sure if you can specify a given chunk in an URL link)... can link into a text transcript, etc. The older video formats could theoretically integrate an interface with video content, but this SWF is a good example of the benefits of actually making video an interactive, first-class media type. Strong project. [Link via Todd Dominey]

Posted by John Dowdell at 1:19 PM

September 9, 2004

Zawodny on Flickr

Zawodny on Flickr: Jeremy Zawodny of Yahoo lists reasons he thinks this application is a useful model for future designs... both the back end services and the front end UI work for him. The lengthy comments show how different people seek slightly different feature sets, though -- with a webservices backend you can then offer various user-interfaces to the same data, satisfying different audiences.

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:09 PM

September 1, 2004

More Davidson SWF text

More Davidson SWF text: Mike Davidson picked up over 120 comments and 50 links on his work with creating a parameterizable SWF for HTML specification of designer text... amazing feedback and interest. He hopes to have a final version very soon, but would appreciate final comments on this amended version, if you've got the time. (I don't know whether anyone asked for right-to-left scripts yet....)

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:21 PM

August 31, 2004

Flash Hall of PR Shame

Flash Hall of PR Shame: They list four dozen corporate public-relations sites which feature "skip-intro" SWF. Text here.

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:35 PM

August 30, 2004

Davidson SWF text

Davidson SWF text: Mike Davidson does dynamic replacement of HTML display text with SWF text... I haven't absorbed it all yet (it's multiple screens and I'm in a phone meeting while typing), but note that he mentions "custom fonts" as one benefit over other approaches. Worth a read.

Posted by John Dowdell at 1:14 PM

August 26, 2004

Tokyo phonecam map

Tokyo phonecam map: This in-browser SWF is a front end to a database of photos snapped and sent via GPS-enabled phonecams in Tokyo. Use the smaller navigator window to drag around the large map in the main window. (Hmm... I like the project as-is, but when I call up a photo I'd like to know more about it, who took it, why they found it interesting... I guess I'd like to drill a little deeper. Some type of time-based display would be another way of navigating the database.) Nice presentation, worth checking out, congrats to the creator(s) on it.

Posted by John Dowdell at 5:35 PM

August 24, 2004

Graffiti Creator

Graffiti Creator: This "customize me!" type of SWF got play in some of the A-list blogs today (I don't remember where I got the link)... checking back through Goog search I see that Moises Garcia-Consuegra linked to it in March 03, but it looks like there has been a revision since then, it's worth a re-link. You can type in arbitrary phrases and see it rendered in common streetsign font, customize its appearance, and send a message to a friend.

Posted by John Dowdell at 5:14 PM

August 23, 2004

"Human Locator" ads

"Human Locator" ads: This is an in-browser demo of actual in-store signage... clicking to their "Public Signage" link may give the best idea. A computer connects a display monitor with a webcam/visual-analysis system, changing the performance of SWF or other computer assets to respond to people passing by. [via Lost Remote]

Posted by John Dowdell at 5:03 PM

August 19, 2004

Flickr stuff

Flickr stuff: I've been catching increasing comment about this photo-sharing site among general bloggers, and finally checked into it today... it's an interesting blend of serverside work and clientside SWF management functions. That top link is to a SWF widget which dynamically displays recent photos on the service. Their Organizr RIA seems like a very neat photo-management RIA client. There's an API to handle server requests from your own RIA. News is at their blog. Some Flash-oriented bloggers have written of the overall service before, but this Organizr RIA seems like it's new today...? (btw, for "bluishorange" in their support forums, the most frequent cause of "swf dont work" these days seems to be ad-blockers that you've forgotten about... the "some-or-all sites" test can help show whether it's just Flickr or all SWF which that browser is balking on.)

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:09 PM

August 16, 2004

SWF vs Prez

SWF vs Prez: JibJab's "This Land Will Vote For Me" cartoon picked up three times as many visitors in July as did the Bush and Kerry websites combined. Impressive... at peak they were seeing a million visitors a day. CNET has more on how the popularity affected their business model... watch Ernest Miller for news on the legal front.

Posted by John Dowdell at 3:51 PM

August 13, 2004

Wimpy AV Player

Wimpy AV Player: Their goal is to make it easy for anyone to view your MP3 audio of FLV video assets... frontend software is regular SWF work, and they describe clearly how to set up a site for this work. They make their money off the kits they sell... you could do it yourself, but if it's packaged up and tested then it could save you money overall. Nice HTML customization page. Their video page, in the first link above, has a good rationale for "why video in SWF?"... I'm starting to see more people approach this tipping point now.

Posted by John Dowdell at 7:19 PM

Storm audio

Storm audio: Nice use of SWF at the "Citrus County Chronicle" site... it's just a small "Play Audio" button which brings up a recent mobile audio report on the large hurricane which is arriving. No external player to spawn, no big latency... just audio-on-demand. (Good luck to all on getting through Hurricane Charley, too.)

Posted by John Dowdell at 11:56 AM

August 11, 2004


MXNA SWFfable: You may have seen this already, but earlier today Christian Cantrell noted that the serverside XML-to-MP3 conversion of Macromedia-oriented blogs is now compressed at a rate compatible with use in SWF files... if you wanted, you could build a webpage which pulled fresh synthetic audio with current news. (If done in a browser, there would likely be the need for a proxy-server relay of this remote material... I don't think there's a policy file arrangement yet.)

Posted by John Dowdell at 5:08 PM

Forces of Nature

Forces of Nature: This SWFfy site at NationalGeographic.com accompanies the IMAX film of the same name. The website lets you navigate your own nonlinear path among the subjects, however, and also design your own earthquakes and volcanos and stuff. Much of the material is loaded on demand, but I spent a good amount of time looking at the different examples, trying to figure out how much was pre-rendered and how much calculated on-demand, examining the techniques used. I don't see a "Credits" link, so I'm not sure who made this piece...?

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:05 PM

August 6, 2004

Google Breeze

Google Breeze: I saw a link on Google Blogoscoped, but oddly enough don't see it on Google's Adwords pages... this Breeze presentation is used by the search engine company to explain the benefits of their contextual advertising system.

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:37 PM

July 30, 2004

Flugtag video, tomorrow

Flugtag video, tomorrow: If you're near a computer just after noon Pacific time on Saturday, then check out this single-interface, multiple-camera live-video event. It's hosted by VitalStream, so you can do similar types of events without buying harddware. More info in prior post.

Posted by John Dowdell at 6:13 PM

Blog Pet

Blog Pet : Little interactive SWFs for Japanese blogs. I can read a little bit, but not efficiently enough to pull meaning... here are links, though, where you can see some Japanese blogs which use the service... more via Technorati. There seems to be another one at Harbot. If you've got more info, or thoughts on this type of project, then I'd be interested in hearing, thanks. [Hat tip Anil Dash]

Posted by John Dowdell at 1:02 PM

July 29, 2004

MAX hotel guide

MAX hotel guide: If you'll be going to the Macromedia MAX conference in New Orleans in early November, then this interactive SWF map to local hotels may be useful... it's a regular zoomable pannable map, with radial distance from the convention center drawn out, and each hotel is marked and offers a popup with name, address, distance etc. (Oddly, there doesn't seem to be a link to each hotel's website.) I got this from Aaron West, a Team Macromedia member who will be attending... if you won't be able to hit New Orleans, then check out the various local events coming up around the world. (If there's not a Macromedia-hosted in-the-flesh meeting near where you live during this calendar, then check out the worldwide user group list to find more.)

Posted by John Dowdell at 12:13 PM

July 28, 2004

SWF talking heads

SWF talking heads: Sort of spooky, but good to know about if a client wants this type of thing... Oddcast's VHost SitePal lets you input text or voice, and a character design, and they supply the motion and lipsynch to make talking head work. Scroll down a bit to see demos.

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:57 PM

July 27, 2004

JibJab Top 10

JibJab Top 10: Lycos reports that the Bush/Kerry "This Land Is Your Land" SWF was among the top ten search requests last week. I don't recall another SWF that showed such strong public demand in the search engines like this...? Update: Oh, but Cory Doctorow says that people related to Woody Guthrie are suing the brothers for reworking the tune, despite how Woodrow ripped the melody from "Little Darlin' Pal of Mine" and the first lyrics from Irving Berlin. Golsnargled communists, sayin' this tune belongs to you'n'me, tarnation.... ;-) (More at CNNMoney.)

Posted by John Dowdell at 5:41 PM


Wordcount: A SWF which lets you inspect the usage frequency of common English words. Jonathan Harris did the work, and I got the link from Marc Garrett... it looks like Ben Hammersley launched it in blog conversation this week. Why not use just a big paper chart of frequency? Because the SWF/database is faster at finding specific terms. What's the interface experience? You can enter a word, or rank, or click on the frequency curve, and the SWF sends off a request, then does a discrete little animation of moving you along the frequency curve to the next point. Why does it "work"? I think there are gamelike elements here... it's attractive, and you can use it various ways, and you can try to predict outcomes. What did I seek that was not there? I wanted to grab the line of words and sling it to quickly scan neighbors... I sort of expected sound or a drumroll while calling results... for more gamery, a list of synonyms where you guess the most frequent could have worked... a multi-lingual version could be interesting too. Nice piece, Jonathan... watch out for your bandwidth costs this month.... ;-)

Posted by John Dowdell at 1:45 PM

July 22, 2004

JibJab "This Land"

JibJab "This Land": The two-minute SWF singalong which makes fun of the Bush/Kerry campaign process is apparently still increasing in viral attraction... after more server brownouts it moved to AtomFilms this week, which has already served it up a million times. (Here in California we see only a little bit of advertising, in addition to the stock footage for talking-heads... in swing states they're getting blitzed pretty hard, though, so I can see how people would like to send a message back.) Mainstream media coverage still seems to be on the upswing... the Boston Globe coverage shows what can happen when a SWF gets real popular, real fast.

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:26 PM

Assault petition map

Assault petition map: Shirley Kaiser points to an online petition for someone who wants to influence a soon-to-sunset US law about "assault weapons" (context: some kids shot up a school with weapons which were already illegal, so the petitioners want more laws which criminals would disobey instead of just enabling teachers and administrators to be able to resist such force). The political content of the piece aside, check out how they not only map names & addresses, but also the referral path that each person takes to reach the map... I'm linking to Shirley's entry, rather than the map itself, so that you can see how her references map into the database.

Posted by John Dowdell at 1:42 PM

July 21, 2004

Linspire promo

Linspire promo: Okay, so this is funny... it's fiercely partisan ("Vote for me 'cause it's 'Anybody But Bill!'"), and it's weird to use music from two generations ago, but still, the lyrics are well-executed and the SWF succeeds in getting its point across. I'm not sure whether Jim Morrisson wrote tunes under a GPL license, however.... [via David Bisset]

Posted by John Dowdell at 12:09 PM

July 16, 2004

Clock/calendar example

Clock/calendar example: Anyone know who did this? The "Date & Time" SWF is about a hundred pixels square, down in the left sidebar of CoolSmartPhone.com. I've seen pieces like this on Flash-oriented sites, but it was a nice surprise to see it on a phone-oriented site...?

Posted by John Dowdell at 6:50 PM

Google vs Yahoo SWF

Google vs Yahoo SWF: Good visual data from Christian Langreiter... enter a search term, which is then submitted to both Yahoo and Google... the top 100 returns from each are then linked to each other, so you can see ranking differences for a single site across engines. It may be bandwidth-restrained... if your Yahoo request times out then just try again later. This has apparently been online for a while, although I just came across it today from the XAMLon folks (whoops, guess I missed it at David Bisset's place earlier this week).

Posted by John Dowdell at 5:16 PM

July 15, 2004

Flash Zen Garden

Flash Zen Garden: Sorry I'm late on this, but Jed Wood is seeking feedback on a project to show CSS style changes in SWF, similar to Dave Shea's excellent CSS Zen Garden. If you've got thoughts on this subject, then please do add 'em there, thanks.

Posted by John Dowdell at 7:11 PM

July 1, 2004


SWFaganda: Michael Erard in the New York Times interviews several people who make evangelical games for US political campaigns. (If you haven't signed up for a NYT registration, try this news search for syndications.) The article doesn't mention "Macromedia Flash" by name, which is fine by me, although I like the line that "games terrify traditional political operatives"... gives me a feeling of empowerment, that does.... ;-)

Posted by John Dowdell at 8:41 AM

June 21, 2004

Stamen news visualizer

Stamen news visualizer: Michal Migurski has a nice example of data-visualization here, which analyzes Google News in a slightly different fashion than Weskamp's Newsmap. From what I understand, Michal does a serverside parse of the dozen or so items Google News selects for its "In the News" sidebar, and then uses this data clientside to construct an interactive visual display. The result? Mouse over news blocks and see the related topics ("Bill Clinton", "Big Brother", "Bertie Ahern" etc)... click on a block to highlight and compare that item's press coverage over time. This automatically builds up little frequency graphs towards the bottom too, so you can quickly get a visual comparison of these top-covered items changed in relative proportion over the last week.

Posted by John Dowdell at 6:02 PM

Flash Kerry Rss

Flash Kerry Rss: This CNET download page doesn't correctly say "Macromedia Flash", but from the authors site it does seem like a standalone Flash projector which notifies you via Windows System Tray of new items in a US presidential candidate's group blog, or from selected other writers.

Posted by John Dowdell at 1:46 PM

June 16, 2004

FinancialContent Flash Lab

FinancialContent Flash Lab: Nice examples of business SWFs, with live data feeds... configurable event calendar, world market figures, live stock graphs. (Sometimes I feel bad linking to any example, because I know I don't link to all the good stuff out there... if you could forgive my arbitrary attention-span then I'd sure appreciate it, thanks.) (btw, please feel free to note other work in the comments... I like stuff like the Los Angeles Times mention in those election examples, or Bradley Miller's citation, for instance! 8)

Posted by John Dowdell at 1:34 PM

June 14, 2004

Finding RIAs

Finding RIAs: I haven't put together a Blogspot commenting account yet and so can't directly reply to the "ColdFusion Purists" thread from "Craig"... you can have whatever judgment you wish, of course, and others in the thread show how he hasn't convinced them yet... but one post, from "Anonymous", wrote, "Macromedia has been promising us these RIA's but as yet I haven't seen any new ones?" The above link is to the Macromedia Showcase, where you can filter by industry type, project type, or software used... gives you a gallery of 30 RIAs chosen as Site of the Day, along with 16 Case Studies describing projects behind-the-scenes. (That Macromedia Showcase has been accumulating links to content for a number of years now, and it's a great resource when you're trying to find projects along particular lines.)

Posted by John Dowdell at 3:25 PM

June 11, 2004

Election maps

Election maps: In the US presidential election most newspapers and TV focus on overall moment-by-moment popularity polls, but in blogging discussions the emphasis is on Electoral College trends. (Each US state is a winner-takes all popularity contest, and then each state's total votes in the Electoral College go to the candidate most popular in that state.) This SWF infographic in the Wall Street Journal is a type of calculator, where you can change the results of an individual state to see the effect in the total EC votecount for that candidate. It's not quite a Rich Internet Application, because the various data scenarios are based on the static data of past elections or stored scenarios, rather than being live data pulls from current polling results. (To see the great variance arising from the polls you choose, see Dales 2004, Dales Classic, Running The Numbers or Election Projection... each has a slightly different methodology of choosing and blending polls, and each reaches very different predictions, each with a lot of hand-labor and manual maintainence.) Anyway, it seems that something like the WSJ calculator/scenario approach could work well with sets of live data feeds for the various polls, huh...? (For a related type of data-display, Steven Grosvenor mentioned a UK Local Elections SWF infographic at the BBC today, which updates results as they arrive... I'm not sure whether they bind the data to the SWF before it's served, or whether they do a live request of the data on demand.) Both are examples of using interactive controls over visuals to more easily understand lotsa numbers.

Posted by John Dowdell at 12:15 PM

May 25, 2004

Comcast Fan

Comcast Fan: Okay, now I sound like a shill for praising Comcast's anti-spam work below, but David Bisset pointed to the above StreamingMedia article describing the SWF UI Comcast is using for their highspeed customers. Visually it reminds me of the new Netscape interface (which I can't find to link to at the moment), and actually using the UI apparently requires being a Comcast customer, but the two things I found most important in the article were: (a) writer Larry Bouthillier found himself going back to this interface after writing the article because it just worked better than other UIs; and (b) Comcast and their mainstream media content partners succeeded in finding a workflow to get the video and metadata assets formatted correctly and passed around among the various firms efficiently. The first is a signficant point for the design group, and the second is equally significant for the production group.

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:53 PM

May 24, 2004

Weskamp interview

Weskamp interview: Naoko Fukushi of Shift talks with Marcos Weskamp about Newsmap, Social Circles and other projects. I particularly like the emphasis put on using computer to visualize things we know exist, but which we can't otherwise see....

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:02 PM

May 21, 2004

Zongrila swirling

Zongria swirling: Quick-loading infinite recursion SWF of someone holding a picture of himself holding a picture of... you get the idea. Link via Kottke.

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:10 PM

May 19, 2004

Mac SE

Mac SE: heh, I wonder what the bandwidth costs will be on this by Friday... Mike Downey points to a WIRED article about a Flash-based emulation of MacOS 7.0 on Mac SE by Oliver Soehlke & Lukas Pajonczek... a twelve-year-old setup.

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:02 PM

May 7, 2004

Backpack WiFi

Backpack WiFi: Seems to go that MagicBike project one better, by providing portable connectivity zones in a backpack. It's local connectivity, not necessarily global connectivity... the Wi-Fi Planet article also talks about a sibling project which uses an interactive, location-specific SWF file.

Posted by John Dowdell at 5:58 PM

May 3, 2004

Central opportunity

Central opportunity: Signals vs Noise had a long item about online catalog comparisons this weekend. The shopping sites often do a database dump to HTML of all fields for a selection of records, with the result that if you're comparing cameras that much of the display does not contain meaningful differences. Trying to customize this on the backend seems like it could be hard, because the typical catalog store carries lots and lots of different types of items. (ie, should they build special pages for camera comparisons, or should this be a general function also applied to camptent comparisons?) With trustable clientside tools like Central, though, it may be easier to make a comparison app, which can just highlight fields which have differences, or which can include or prioritize certain fields the tool's user finds most important (eg, "I want it to be lightweight most of all, and am then concerned about price and battery type.") Why not in a web page? Because for many items you reach a decision over a number of days, and it's easier to keep your prefs and data in one place on your own machine than to reconfigure prefs across a whole bunch of web pages for different sites in different sessions.

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:30 PM

April 29, 2004

Gmail experience?

Gmail experience? Anyone in their beta program yet? If their agreement allows for discussion, then I'm interested in those system requirements of IE/Win or recent Mozilla-based browsers... from some of the comments in the above thread it sounds like they're using ActiveX on IE, which would make me guess XUL on Moz... if you've played with it and are free to speak, then do you see any showstoppers to doint it with in-browser SWF? (Is there local file manipulation, for instance?) No biggie, but it would be nice to open up the audience if the technical requirmements permit

Posted by John Dowdell at 12:13 PM

McDonald's web app

McDonald's web app: The fast-food chain has a special partner site where franchisees can order posters for their restaurant. This sign company uses data-fed SWF for realtime visualization of a design. The application is more utilitarian than startling in its aesthetic, but I think it's still a good example of this type of work seeping out into the real workaday world. (Link via Jarle Bergersen... I'm not sure that it's all that much like the Bush or Kerry [content warning] public-input projects, though, because here you're just making a screencapture unless you buy a store banner, and they're not publishing for you... good security reminder all the same, though, any time there's unqualified public input.)

Posted by John Dowdell at 11:14 AM

April 27, 2004


SeeWhoGotFired.com: On the one hand, this launch site for Corel WordPerfect Office Suite chose a good video format which didn't require testing various configurations and slow startup and what-all. On the other hand, the content is a little strange... I mean, wedgies...?! [Link via Joe Wilcox]

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:13 PM

Honest $50

Honest $50: Looks like the United States Bureau of Engraving was happy with the response to their interactive $20 bill presentation, because they have just added the new $50 bill to the presentation. At first I wondered why there was no voice-over, but then realized they may also be trying to reach people who have little English-language skill. Anyway, it's a good example of how doing little things, even simple things like making choices or tracking motion, can result in a more powerful experience than just reading serial text.

Posted by John Dowdell at 1:00 PM

April 26, 2004

AIGA/Minn entries

AIGA/Minn entries: Peter Merholz links to a few of the entries in the AIGA conference in Minnesota. (What does "AIGA" stand for? Something about graphics, although their main site doesn't immediately jog my memory beyond that.) Most of these linked here are Flash pieces, although stuff done in Dreamweaver is interesting too.

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:52 PM

April 23, 2004

Peldi's Player

Peldi's Player: Intriguing... Giacomo 'Peldi' Guilizzoni of the Flash Communication Server team has been working on generic video-hosting SWF, with the goal of just plain making it easy for anyone to show video. On the other hand, it's also automated (bandwidth detection, HTTP tunneling etc) and can be parameterized through HTML if desired (skinnable, different user interface elements, etc). But here comes the most intriguing part. The way it differs from a regular system-level video architecture is that these interactions are defined in the transferred SWF document, rather than written into the clientside rendering engine... such a strategy is more amenable to "open source" style work because the 20K of customizable bits are delivered afresh with each new video, and you can add improvements as you see fit. Should be online in a few days... in the meantime check out the screenshots....

Posted by John Dowdell at 7:20 PM

April 22, 2004

Slideshow request

Slideshow requests: Scot Hacker at O'Reilly is trying to collect techniques students can use to create slideshows (I think web delivery may be optional, not sure). He says SWF may be the best but it's hard to learn. But the site requires membership to comment, so I'm not sure if he's seen ready-made packages like Todd Dominey's and others cited in his comments. If you've got a password and could pass the link in, then I'd appreciate it, thanks.

Posted by John Dowdell at 5:34 PM

April 15, 2004

Viral sites

Viral sites: Subservient Chicken goes mainstream... Baltimore Sun article discusses why some sites get passed from friend to friend, from a layperson's point of view. (We used to call these "viral sites" back in Mahir's day, but I'm not so sure "viral marketing" is as good a term these days....) Anyway, considering that most websites want to build traffic, then studying natural incentives for people to spread the word can be helpful.

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:39 PM

April 14, 2004


SimpleViewer: Felix Turner offers a free photo-viewing tool for use on websites... it's up to v1.4 but I didn't see it listed in MXNA or Google yet. It's a pretty thing, and could be useful for some of the people you meet, check it out.

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:21 PM

April 13, 2004

Flex case study

Flex case study: It's nice to see that a financial service is going for "a richer experience," but it would be nice to see what it is, too. The story reads like it might be a redeployed press release of some type, but most of the positive items it mentions -- the page refreshes in HTML applications, the lack of state, overall efficiency -- seem to be attributes of clientside SWF, of "Rich Internet Applications", rather than an XML-based authoring method with server-time compiles like Macromedia Flex. It's also intriguing that the interviewee says "Macromedia said" something about automated testing abilities... a search of the Macromedia site doesn't turn up details, so I'm not sure what the story is here. Down in the bottom paragraph of the article it almost sounds like they're describing an out-of-the-browser Central experience rather than regular SWF RIA or Flex-created work...? [via David Bisset]

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:20 PM

April 10, 2004

Learn Devanagari

Learn Devanagari: Nice to-the-point SWF from RA Woodward for learning the script used for written Hindi. The first two items list consonants and vowels, with handwriting animations, male and female words, and background text. There's a "Conjunct Engine" where you can dial in two characters to see how they combine. Another section lets you test your aural recognition, and there's a section of extra material as well. Nothing glitzy here... just a good example of how clientside interactivity, reliable in-context media, and incremental loading can enhance a web document.

Posted by John Dowdell at 10:21 AM

April 9, 2004

Chicken commands

Chicken commands: That "Subservient Chicken" thing got linked quite a bit this week, but Xeni Jardin of Boing Boing somehow got ahold of its command list here. (Anybody know who actually constructed this thing?)

Posted by John Dowdell at 12:50 PM

CNET video handling

CNET video handling: Check out how CNET now handles video on its front page -- it is integrated right into the HTML content, has its own playback/volume controls, exposes its own content list, and starts up immediately. And it plays across a wide range of hardware and operating systems too, no hassle. Peldi highlighted the link, another example of using SWF video for a better user experience. (Hosting info here.)

Posted by John Dowdell at 11:20 AM

April 7, 2004

"Ubiquitous InfoPath runtime"

"Ubiquitous InfoPath runtime": Jon Udell also notes requests for a free, low-hassle runtime to fill out InfoPath forms. (Currently it seems that people have to buy some software to fill out a form!) I haven't researched InfoPath much... can anyone fill me in on which features would be impossible in a SWF file rendered in the Macromedia Flash Player? (ie, instead of having people install a new .EXE to fill out a form, can they display a .SWF in their browser which then does the clientside form processing?) Thanks for word of any prior research you may have done here!

Posted by John Dowdell at 3:34 PM

Usability testing via SWF

Usability testing via SWF: Jon Udell raises an interesting point at InfoWorld... he had been testing SWF and other formats to show others what he was doing on his computer, but notes here that it can also be valuable for someone in your audience to show what they're doing. (One example would be if you're designing an application and want to watch how people approach and use it... such usability observation is usually done in the same room, which can be difficult to arrange.) This could be a good use for Macromedia Breeze Live, where any participant who can run MS PowerPoint can be designated as "the presenter" and enable screensharing to the group of what they're doing on their own desktop. Jon has subsequent comment in his blog, including some discussion about the audience lock-in at MS Ch.9. Anyway, if a team inside Macromedia has a round of usability testing coming up, then this might be a job for Breeze Live...?

Posted by John Dowdell at 3:12 PM


CTRL-SHIFT.NET: Sounds like an interesting combination of realworld portables and remote communication functions... Jason Kottke has a concise description: "Players will control [Jason Corace, the creator] through a Flash interface, voting on what actions he should take to achieve the game's objectives. Jason, roaming around New York City, will be equipped with a camera & mic to keep players informed of where he is (not sure if GPS is involved), and he'll send data and receive commands with a mobile device (like a laptop or handheld device) using wifi hotspots. According to the site, prototype games will be running this spring with a full-scale 5-day game to be initiated sometime this summer."

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:14 PM

April 5, 2004


Superformula: Neat visual math from Andy Makely... he takes an academic formula for general shape construction and then provides parameter controls and instant visualization. I don't yet have an intuition of the formula, but if I was studying the formula then an interactive interface like Andy's would help me do so faster than just reading text would, for sure. Check it out!

Posted by John Dowdell at 9:47 AM

April 2, 2004


SuperSeinfeld: I saw a couple of mentions in blogs this week about Jerry Seinfeld and Superman, but these were mostly "blind links", without much text saying why I might find the link interesting. It turns out that this ad (branding?) for American Express uses the web in a new way, to create something longer than a TV commercial but still leaving customers with a "hey, they'll invest in this, so I'll invest in them" feeling. If you click on "Uniform" it has the actual spot... "Behind The Scenes" gives the clearest idea of what they're trying to do. I don't know if they've aired those "TV Teasers" yet. Good example of SWF integration of video clips too... no waiting for something to load in its own isolated little window, quick startup, doesn't require that people change their browsing environment to use. (The above may be a staging site... try http://www.americanexpress.com/jerry if the first link drops out.)

Posted by John Dowdell at 6:12 PM

March 31, 2004

Newsmap comment

Newsmap comment: Yow, this data-visualization project from Marcos Weskamp has picked up a lot of interest over the last 24 hours... I'm not currently able to view "Rank by Authority" with a keyword on Technorati at the moment (and URL phrasings vary), but I see that PaidContent has picked up on it, John Battelle's search engine notes, BoingBoing... this interactive data-fed clientside engine seems to be tickling the fancy of lots of people....

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:10 PM

March 30, 2004

Central opportunity

Central opportunity: Jeffrey Veen talks about using existing social-network software as a feed into various other types of apps. He got buzzed by Richard Soderberg's Filster, which uses socialsoft outputs as antispam inputs, and built off an essay by Matt Haughey on socially-cooperative applications. One of the drivers behind Kevin Lynch's vision for Macromedia Central was that various applications could be permitted to cooperate and share data on a single device... do you see a way to grab outputs from Orcut, Friendster, Tribe.net et alia to filter permissable data-sharing among applications on different devices...?

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:05 PM


Newsmap: Drop what you're doing and look at this, particularly if you're in the general webdev world rather than the SWF world. Marcos Weskamp and friends have taken the Google News feed and provided visualization selectors: geographic region, category, and archive date. Each story is displayed in a cell proportionate to its news cluster, and with some shading to indicate freshness. Immediately see the relative popularity of top stories among major news businesses. Hey, Google, you should buy this, unless Microsoft or Yahoo! beat you to it! ;-) Technorati and other blog indices, you could use such an approach too, right? (More info in Marcos's blog.)

Posted by John Dowdell at 12:11 PM

March 22, 2004

Visual search displays

Visual search displays: Technology Review discusses the Gnod engine, a DHTML-based display of search engine results. You're limited by what lots of other people find of interest, but the odd result does trickle through. I believe its motion may be due to incremental refinement of the archive's internal connections. Compare Kartoo.

Posted by John Dowdell at 3:36 PM

March 10, 2004

Central link checker?

Central link checker? Possible opportunity here... Chris Flick describes how he wants to be alerted when someone else changes their own pages, so the links on Chris's pages don't break. In Dreamweaver you can choose to check external links through an extension, but there's no notification system. Suppose a Central app lets you point to your page, and it then parses your page, extracts remote links, does an HTTP pull and bytecount, and then as background agent regularly re-polls those pages on the schedule you specify, popping up an alert if there are changes to the remote files? This seems like something HTML developers would pay for, true...?

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:41 PM

Sparkline examples

Sparkline examples: Jeffrey Berg (aka "persist") picked up on that discussion of Sparklines (inline data-fed graphics, to show trends in a way that words cannot easily reproduce... see text and discussions), and has already done some implementations in SWF format. He offers source script in this thread... seems like he has kept the data separate from the presentation by doing a live XML load for the numbers, cool.

Posted by John Dowdell at 12:35 PM

March 8, 2004

Bay Area artist?

Bay Area artist? Sorry for the provincialism of this item, but a San Francisco area television station is looking for artists-in-technology... if you use Flash in your artistic work and can be covered by this station, then dropping contact info in the comments here can help connect you. (I don't personally know the presentation of this show, any associated political demands, or who actually pays to produce this show... I'm just sending along the connection notice.)

Posted by John Dowdell at 5:09 PM

Stoned criminals

Stoned criminals: No significant content, just a good example of how video captures are increasingly using SWF as web delivery format. I picked up the link from Evan Williams.

Posted by John Dowdell at 1:16 PM

March 3, 2004


Sparklines: This got good A-list bloggage today, but it may have direct relevance for those of us dealing with visual presentation engines (Flash, Director, Fireworks). Edward Tufte has some draft chapters of his next book up, and here he talks about "Sparklines are wordlike graphics, with an intensity of visual distinctions comparable to words." He is displaying data within small graphics, in close association with the text stream... think of a fever chart with a grey background bar showing normal ranges as one example. We have the ability to procedurally construct graphics from external data sources through scripting, and so would find it easier to produce such graphics than most people would. I don't think this book has reached many people yet, so there may be an opportunity here for a savvy developer to create and sell a set of routines to create such word-sized data-driven graphics...?

Posted by John Dowdell at 6:51 PM

Sun launch SWF

Sun launch SWF: This went live last month, while I was offline, but appreciate that Dominick Accattato posted a notice earlier today. Sun introduced a new line of computers at an event earlier this month and webcast via SWF. The video captures, with synch'd audio capture, are held right within the context of the rest of the display... infographics appear in synch alongside the speaker, and they're surrounded by text and menu choices. Video is just another integrated media element here, instead of being shunted off into its own window as in most web video presentations.

Posted by John Dowdell at 5:59 PM

March 1, 2004

Intro plug

Intro plug: This Forbes article is about the TED conference, but includes a brief approving mention of the Intro application produced by Mixed Grill... more info in this DevNet article. I think it has also been used at FlashForward in the past, so if you're in town this week please check it out.

Posted by John Dowdell at 10:56 PM


MailVeil: Cool... Jordan Klassen sets up a service doing that "avoid spammers by hiding email in SWF" thing that Chris MacGregor and others have been experimenting with. Jordan apparently took it to the further steps of providing an automation service to protect new addresses on a site. The FAQ takes info we all already know, but reformats it for the need of spam-inundated people who may be reading this for the first time. The FAQ also includes counters to the "why not spell out the address" and other inferior suggestions others may offer.

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:00 PM

Free Breeze

Free Breeze: You may have seen the press release about Macromedia offering free remote meetings this month via Breeze. (Limitations include the total number of applicants, total bandwidth, and some geographic restrictions.) I'm not sure this will have much of an impact on blog-reading developers, because you can set up your own remote meetings in a variety of ways. But if you have contact with people in enterprise or government settings who already have a need for remote meetings, then could you pass the word along, please? The company is trying to get some exposure among new potential customers with this offer, so if you could connect someone who would buy it with this deal then that would be appreciated by both parties, thanks!

Posted by John Dowdell at 3:47 PM

February 5, 2004

Tokyo subway map

Tokyo subway map: Whew, much smarter than a static map like this... my thanks to whoever put this together. It makes finding stations much easier, as well as putting two stations in context of each other... I guess for a 2.0 version things like distances between stations could help, but this is a lot better than the maps I had been looking at, thanks!

Posted by John Dowdell at 6:29 PM

Dynamap demo

Dynamap demo: Nothing tricky here, just a good example of how interactivity and richer-media can complement text. The product is a realworld map with lenticular imagery, which displays streetnames at one angle, subway lines at another, landmarks at a third angle, etc. Moving the mouse up and down simulates this in the SWF demo.

Posted by John Dowdell at 5:34 PM

Buggy Woogie driving

Buggy Woogie driving: Speaking of 3D emulations in Flash, this mini-racecourse is a nice piece of work... it's all 2D sprite techniques for display, but it seems that there's actually an internal 3D mathematical model of the major elements in the scene which is calc'd each frame against the current camera position... choosing which pre-rendering of the car to show, etc.
[via Den Ivanov]

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:11 PM

February 3, 2004

42" SWF

42" SWF: Todd Dominey describes setting up a live SWF news system on 42-inch plasma screens at several locations throughout a conference. He used ColdFusion on the backend to create XML instructions (in RSS flavor)... the SWF on each machine would read these instructions to discover news items and media assets (see screenshots of news and current events). Instead of delivering as standalone applications he went with in-browser use, so that he could automatically update the clientside code remotely if necessary. He also found value in rolling his own components for one-time use. "All told, I'm pretty proud of the result, for the whole deal was storyboarded, composited, designed, and developed within a couple of weeks. It's one of the most dynamic, challenging Flash pieces I've created thus far, and everyone seems to be thrilled with it (especially since they don't have to lift a finger and Flash does all the work)."

Posted by John Dowdell at 5:18 PM

January 29, 2004

Paul Neave's arcade

Paul Neave's arcade: Got a mention on Boing Boing today, and apparently somewhere on LockerGnome too... nice SWF collection of classic arcade games... see also "Lab" experiments like Planetarium, where you can set lat/long, view, and date/time, then mouse over the stars you see to learn their names.... 8)

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:49 PM

January 27, 2004


MusicPlasma: A KartOO-like interface to some type of music affinity engine... the UI has circles and lines to predict what type of music you may enjoy... most of the buttons seem to be for UI customization... it slows down my older NT box, which makes me wonder whether the framerate is set at the high end... I don't see a methodology, though, so I can't tell what data sources or analysis they're using on the back end for this collaborative filtering. (Some comments at John Battelle's entry indicate there's something going on with the Amazon API... few comments at current Technorati, but lots at Beta Technorati.) The database doesn't contain favorites like Pixinguinha, Gus Viseur, Raul Barboza, but does return results on Naftule Brandwein, Boswell Sisters, Johnny Gimble... maybe it can accurately predict you if you're right in current consumer mainstream, or if someone else has made money off the musician recently...?

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:33 PM

Yakkety Adfare

Yakkety Adfare: Jeff Jarvis points to a SWF ad at iwantmedia.com which has someone talking over the page without a "shutup" button. Jeff's comments seem to be down right now, but if you context-click an obnoxious ad you can usually untoggle "Play" to stop it. (This won't work for some nested ads, but handles the majority.) Me, I work in an office so I keep headphones plugged-in... I choose to listen by putting the headphones on, I don't trust strangers to set my volume correctly. For the people at Adfare, even including a "shaddup" button in the UI may not help, because someone would have to hunt down which part of the page was being offensive, and there's an overall negative risk to your client's interests in such advertising... if you have something which requires an audio message then some have handled such needs by audio-on with mousewithin. Your money, your bet, though.

Posted by John Dowdell at 1:52 PM

January 23, 2004

Poynter on RoadRunner

Poynter on RoadRunner: Larry Larsen at the journalist site Poynter Online writes approvingly of the new RoadRunner interface.

Posted by John Dowdell at 6:08 PM

January 15, 2004

Follow-me man

Follow-me man: I got the link for this SWF from Robert Ameeti on a Dreamweaver list... it's a variant of that "drag the face by its nose" bitmap-slicing idea, a nice implementation that uses a whole body that you drag by the head... done by Aaron Clinger. (I don't know who did this type of thing first... if you know the credits than a comment would be great for the archives, thanks.)

Posted by John Dowdell at 1:54 PM

January 14, 2004

Abstract porn

Abstract porn: Okay, this is just plain silly... but it's still a good example of getting particular visual ideas across with a minimal filesize. This "Minimal Porn" from "flvb" at libero.it also features a small color-fill applet through the "game" link on some pages. (Probably worksafe, depending on how abstract your workmates get.... ;-)
[via BoingBoing via Fleshbot]

Posted by John Dowdell at 3:43 PM

January 7, 2004

Project "We Say Tomato"

Project "We Say Tomato": I knew that yesterday's item on the Speech Accent Archive rang a bell, but I couldn't turn up a match until Jim Duber's reply... he's collecting similar cross-culture readings in an interface with Flash Communications Server backend. Can you supply additional readings...? (Speaking of tomatoes, the Gershwin site has a Flash-based UI for Harry Connick Jr. singing that song.)

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:36 PM

December 18, 2003

Graffiti Archaeology

Graffiti Archaeology: Cassidy Curtis and Eric Rodenbeck transform photos taken by various people over the years into overlays to show how graffiti'd walls in San Francisco change over time. The SWF interface is a little slow for me... some disk swapping... but I may need to restart my machine.

Posted by John Dowdell at 1:20 PM

December 17, 2003

Nigel's comments

Nigel's comments: I had tried to view this last week but apparently came too early... check out how Nigel Pegg's blog uses a static three-pane reader to pull up blog comments on demand. Even though there are over 50 comments in the thread it still seems straightforward to navigate. As the "reinventing the wheel" thread shows, this component-based approach can be tweaked for different types of user experiences....

Posted by John Dowdell at 6:07 PM

"From Cow to Cone"

"From Cow to Cone": I know this Ben & Jerry's site got a lot of attention yesterday, but I didn't get a chance to see it until today (and still don't have the time to finish it... getting hungry ;-). It's a great example of the benefits of keeping video assets right within the main presentation instead of off in its own little window. Video is just another media element now. Look how the video playback controls look like the rest of the site, instead of like the OS chrome. I was wondering how a classroom of kids would use this material, instead of the same material being on a VHS tape... you can jump back and forth, easily pause, and can drill deeper into selected topics like pasteurization. Instead of sitting back and watching TV like potatoes, would they instead say "go here, I want to see this" and "hey have you seen the cow on cone 4" and whatever? Another neat thing is revealed in this article at Streaming Media IQ, where the presentation itself uses a main video component whose content is determined by an external XML file... the presentation itself is controlled at a high level through text.

Posted by John Dowdell at 1:14 PM

December 16, 2003

Flash Video Gallery

Flash Video Gallery: I read about this earlier today but didn't have a chance to walk through it until just now... I like how you can filter by category ("news", "commerce" etc) to pull up different types of sites that use video integrated into the page. I haven't dug through the new Video Resources at the Flash Developer Center yet... there's a lot there, and I'm already seeing positive comments on different pieces in the blogs. That Red Bull motocross site is a different way to see a race too... lots of good stuff today, will take awhile for me to absorb it all.

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:05 PM

December 12, 2003

Swedish Gingerbread

Swedish Gingerbread: Kristofer Labedzki posted this piece to Flasher-L... you cut out, bake and decorate a gingerbread cookie and can then send it as a card to a friend. The knife motion reminds me of that GE example awhile back. Cookies in email can often be a security risk, but I think this particular example is okay...? ;-)

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:57 PM

Big Al Jefferson

Big Al Jefferson: I got the link through an article which came up in a Google News search... this high school basketball star has his own Flash-enhanced site, complete with external news feeds and video of key games. The things ya never expect to see.... ;-)

Posted by John Dowdell at 1:56 PM

Timeline Tool

Timeline Tool: Neat ready-to-roll implementation at the University of British Columbia... an instructor uses a web-based form to specify media and sequencing, and XML and PHP combine to form the final SWF timeline presentation.
[via Jason Kottke]

Posted by John Dowdell at 1:51 PM

December 5, 2003

CoolestShop IM

CoolestShop IM: They've got a live a/v messaging service in this online store... click that "Live Customer Service" button during weekday work hours to ask a rep questions. Implemented by UserPlane, who have a lot of their other great realworld projects listed on this page. I got the link through Instant Messaging Planet.

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:37 PM

Mr. Picassohead

Mr. Picassohead: This example got linked heavily overnight, and I can see why... good little toy app... congrats to Ruder-Finn, ya done good! 8)

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:15 PM

Shopping aids

Shopping aids: Stores are starting to use wireless Pocket PC to find more info about items in brick'n'mortar retail stores... the link above is for a story on how SmartWorld's iShop lets you type a book's ISBN number into a Flash-enabled PocketPC to connect with Amazon's database, mail wishlists, etc. Meanwhile, Virgin Megastore lets an HP iPaq swipe the bar code on CDs to pull a sample of the music through the store's wireless, using the MusiKube implementation. (See details.) Virgin also uses in-store kiosks, but the handheld tool lets each shopper customize the info they pull. I hope to take a walk-through of the San Francisco store within the next week.

Posted by John Dowdell at 12:16 PM

December 2, 2003


MeetUpOnline: This is another commercial use of the Macromedia Flash Communications Server for audio/video, along with a text chat ability... try the "Take a Tour" section on their site to see some of the interfaces.

Posted by John Dowdell at 5:13 PM

December 1, 2003

Sydney to Hobart

Sydney to Hobart: Nice story here about Adrian Wiggins' work in putting the Australian yacht race online. The consumer demand far exceeded expectations. Interestingly, it was the database access that was the chokepoint, even though the streaming Flash audio/video had larger bandwidth. I like projects like this that tie together sensors in the real world and generate reports on demand.

Posted by John Dowdell at 3:59 PM

November 24, 2003

SWF Twister client?

SWF Twister client? The client to this remote-Twister game is currently in Java... I don't see that they've exposed their server API, but considering that the next game isn't until December 5, there might be time to build a friendlier front end...?

Posted by John Dowdell at 6:18 PM

November 21, 2003


More SWF ISPs: In addition to the new front-end features of America Online and Comcast, Todd Dominey points above to the full SWF front end used by Road Runner. (To see it, you can enter any state and service provider... it's aimed at broadband subscribers.) Because it repackages existing external news you probably wouldn't need to externally search its presentation of that existing content. Lotsa comments. David Bisset points to another ISP's SWF front-end, at Earthlink, with demo here... I hadn't picked up on this in news searches because their press release describes that it's driven by an authoring tool, and doesn't include mention of the Macromedia Flash Player(tm) which makes it all possible. (The FAQ in that "beam" presentation could use some terminology correction too, if any of the parties involved are reading this, thanks.)

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:13 PM

November 20, 2003

Comcast video

Comcast video: The cable firm uses SWF video for its site content. CNET says they chose this over other video architectures because of the easier client setup (no bitrate dialogs, etc), but a Comcast speaker makes mention of its use as a "remote control", which leads me to suspect that the integrated interactivity and avoidance of "video-in-a-box" were factors too. Then again, the ability to play across multiple brands and versions of operating systems and the fast download for a current version are practical factors too. The deeper video architectures definitely have more features and abilities... it's one of those "rich vs reach" balances, and SWF video is just easy. The video features are apparently only available to registered Comcast subscribers, but their FAQs contain info on The Fan and The Assistant... the former is a video preview SWF, while the latter is a multi-pod sidebar.

Posted by John Dowdell at 5:10 PM

November 18, 2003

Flash AV Players

Flash AV Players: This link has also been sitting open on my desktop for awhile, and I don't think I'll get a chance to test it myself, but if you're interested in an XML-driven console to display MP3, SWF & JPG playlists then check this out.

Posted by John Dowdell at 1:27 PM

November 17, 2003

Singing database

Singing database: Nifty collaborative toy from Erik Bunger... you type a phrase into a textfield, which goes back to the server and finds MP3 snippets for each word, then sequences these back to you... pop stars sing your words back to you. The database is still being created, so an unusual word may prompt you for a song which includes it.
[via BoingBoing]

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:22 PM

November 10, 2003

Smiley Toolkit

Smiley Toolkit: Neat idea... sliders control high-level emotional inputs like "happiness" or "irony", and the algorithms change the vectors making up a smiley graphic. This example is in Java... you can see a screenshot at BoingBoing. Many other interesting ideas on this page of "Computational Semiotics" from Adam Grant... how should a piece of programming best respond to user action and context?

Posted by John Dowdell at 5:22 PM

Kasparov vs Fritz

Kasparov vs Fritz: Garry Kasparov is playing his annual chess match against the best machine in the world... the X3D chess applet (see sidebar of this WIRED article) lets you see moves as they occur. A game's going on right now as I write this. (Although it says the tool requires Flash 6 and IE/Win, it seems to work fine for me in Mozilla... not sure what browser/OS dependency they might have.)

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:27 PM

November 6, 2003

Ballmer's iPod

Ballmer's iPod: Gratuitous SWF of the day, via The Register.

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:03 PM

November 4, 2003

"Intro" case study

"Intro" case study: Last week I noted that "meeting people" application which Microsoft had developed for their recent conference, and couldn't figure the right terms to search for the SWF-based tool used at recent TED, O'Reilly, and Macromedia conferences. When searching for something else I found this article at DevNet, which walks through the functionality and also described how the new generation of this app has been updated to Macromedia Flash MX Professional 2004. It's very interesting to compare the screenshots of the two... one looks more driven by the database contents for the one conference and is text-oriented, while the other seems more focused towards general shared-interest uses among people and is much more graphical. I don't think you need to buy a certain brand of computer to view the Flash app.... ;-)

Posted by John Dowdell at 12:17 PM

Smart SWF badges

Smart SWF badges: Verisign had used a GIF to show that a site belonged to its program, but had problems getting it removed when a site went out of compliance. Now they're moving to a small interactive SWF which both conveys more information and which phones home for confirmation before displaying itself.

Posted by John Dowdell at 9:20 AM

October 27, 2003

Rich ad stats

Rich ad stats: Over a third of all online ads served by DoubleClick are now "rich media ads"... they've got a little quarter-by-quarter chart in the middle of this MediaPost article, and it seems that the rate of increase is still accelerating.

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:59 PM

October 21, 2003

MacGregor on Configurators

MacGregor on Configurators: Chris MacGregor at Flazoom is running a four-part series on "RIAs that Work", and today he discusses the business drivers for "configurators": applications which make it easier for customers to achieve a custom solution from many options. (Something like a site map is easy to conceptualize because each leaf has only one root, but when multiple values can be chosen independently of each other a tool like a configurator can dramatically ease navigation.) He cites usability and ROI info for Yankee Candle, Timbuk2, and Mini-Cooper. Tomorrow he'll be discussing how business forms which pass a certain level of complexity with persistent clientside interactivity. (Chris also brings to light many interesting SWF examples, such as the walk simulator or how the US Bureau of Engraving uses SWF to demonstrate new currency features.)

Posted by John Dowdell at 11:34 AM

October 20, 2003

Burger King

Burger King: This is the site of the day at the Macromedia Showcase, and although there isn't a particular single feature here that will knock your socks off, the overall effect is a good example of a high-end commercial site... I noticed the simple navigation and language, the use of color and motion, the obligatory disclaimers in particular spots ("kids, ask an adult for those scissors!" etc)... the online nutrition guide is a good use of the web because it allows people to customize a meal to meet certain caloric goals. When you look at it, try to imagine the group discussions and approvals which went into each part of the project, and look at what they didn't add to this project....

Posted by John Dowdell at 12:21 PM

October 17, 2003

Yahoo to SWF7

Yahoo to SWF7: I held off on blogging this today because I was trying to collect more info, but this is all I've got so far... Yahoo says they are accepting ads in SWF7, which seems to imply that all the other destination content on their various sites will be able to do the same. I'm not sure about one line in this InternetWeek article: "A Macromedia spokesperson said the company has no estimates for consumer adoption of the new software."... I suspect that the speaker meant there was no current estimate... in the past there have been various estimates... the last few Players have had accelerating adoption rates... usually it has reached majority consumer viewership within 6-8 months of release, and the 80% mark within its first year or so... this is the first time that I remember such a major site giving the OK so early, though, so maybe their internal audits of visitors are surpassing previous rates. I'll post more next week if I get it.

Posted by John Dowdell at 5:38 PM

September 29, 2003

Political SWF info

Political SWF info: George Raine at the SF Chronicle has a short item about that cartoon on Arianna Huffington's site that was discussed last week. There's info about the increase in traffic and payment rates. (The writer calls it "a flash movie", missing the proper name... this error should not have made it past the paper's fact-checkers and editors....)

Posted by John Dowdell at 10:40 AM

September 26, 2003

BMW SWF video

BMW SWF video: This is a great example of combining video content within an interactive presentation, rather than off-to-the-side in its own video box. I also like how they set up the on-demand downloading to avoid disrupting the main experience. You can pull up particular sequences (opening the hood, eg)... there are navigable sections (drag to view cabin from various angles)... the menuing lets you jump directly to an area of interest. (Link came from Dave DeVisser of Macromedia's field staff... I sorta get the feeling he wants one of these himself.... ;-)

Posted by John Dowdell at 3:12 PM

September 24, 2003

Election SWFs

Election SWFs: This Associated Press article discusses a SWF ad from Arianna Huffington, a candidate for California governor. Earlier this week Jeremy Allaire wrote about an ad for John Dean, US presidential candidate. This might be a good opportunity for a dedicated blog, someone who collected and reviewed the various politically-oriented SWFs out there. It would be hard, because most of us find some candidates more distasteful than others, and the comments at Jeremy's show how others tend to want to talk about the message when the focus is actually on the medium, but a non-partisan site that critiqued and catalogued various partisan presentations could be useful...?

Posted by John Dowdell at 6:03 PM

Bruce Sterling's typewriter

Bruce Sterling's typewriter: Nothing tricky here, but it's interesting how someone who works in words portrays wordsmithing in SWF.
[via Cory Doctorow]

Posted by John Dowdell at 1:51 PM

September 23, 2003

WP SWF menu

WP SWF menu: The Washington Post newspaper is apparently testing a data-fed SWF-based menuing system for top news stories. I do not see it on all pages, but Google News indexed it on this Verizon story which is where I saw it too... may be intermittently applied, not sure. In the new Macromedia Flash Player 7 there's a data-loading permission dialog, which leads me to suspect they're either retrieving XML from another subdomain on that server or are using an absolute address which doesn't completely match. (Deneb has the full story in this article on security changes in FP7, and related materials is in the Flash technotes too.) I dropped a note on their feedback form... give a holler if any clarifications are needed, thanks.

Posted by John Dowdell at 12:03 PM

September 22, 2003

Philips keyring cam

Philips keyring cam: I clicked on this link from BoingBoing because the idea of a camera and hard drive on a key ring sounded too nutty to ignore... on this page there are two nice unobtrusive uses of Flash, one for a 360d product inspection, the other for a cascading menu system. I think I'll hold out for the keyring model with the additional highpower flashlight and shortwave receiver, though.... ;-)

Posted by John Dowdell at 5:23 PM

September 17, 2003

SWF blog widget

SWF blog widget: Marc Canter picked up some links today for a widget from Sarah Allen that he put in his blog. (Warning: slow load times on Marc's page... photos, CSAction, etc.) The widget is basically an accordion component which grabs data from an XML file (OPML). The Laszlo angle is that the layout is specified in XML before server-side generation of the SWF, although I'd guess from looking at Marc's source that his data is bound in at the client rather than at the server. I also haven't thought throught he cross-domain scenarios in getting the generated SWF from the Laszlo server, the OPML from a second and the HTML from the third... it appears to work though. Nice stuff, give it a look. (Of course, someone will probably say "What use is a blogroll if it doesn't help my Google ranking!?", but that's another subject entirely.... ;-)
Update: Whoops, forgot... visit Michael Gunn and Greg Burch for other SWF blog widgets, and Philter and Newsmonkey for SWF front-ends. These are more complex than just pointing at an XML file for menu content though... still a lot of work to be done.

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:18 PM

September 10, 2003

Macromedia Product Picker

Macromedia Product Picker: Nifty little questionnaire SWF where you check off the types of tasks you want to do and whether you own any current Macromedia tools, and it figures which tools and upgrade options you have. I'm assuming the data is internal to the app and that it doesn't need live transfers from the server.

Posted by John Dowdell at 12:36 PM

September 5, 2003

SWF color mixer

SWF color mixer: I know others have worked in this area before, but this one is featured on the front page of WebMonkey today. Also in WebMonkey is Michael Kay's eight-page review of Studio MX 2004... summary line: "There are no radical changes here -- you can't do much more with the programs than you could the last time around. However the improvements to how you use the programs are very compelling", which ties in with that Barry Bonds theme.

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:09 PM

August 29, 2003

Magic Shadow

Magic Shadow: This isn't an example of Flash so much as a use of Flash video... it's another realworld simulation of visual effects in the vein of "Matrix Pingpong" that hit the web a few weeks ago, this time with someone acting as another person's shadow. (Looks like it came from a TV show in Japan?) NB: During loading there's a banner on the page saying "Want to see more girls?" but this is actually a work-safe video. I'm happy to see SWF used for in-browser video like this... if you don't need special features available in system-specific video architectures then this is just a real handy way to see clips. (I wonder what this person's bandwidth will be like during this month? ouch! ;-)
[via Anil Dash]

Posted by John Dowdell at 12:00 PM

August 22, 2003

Fatboy Slim

Fatboy Slim: Longform SWF animation by Gareth Forman... notice how the media loads are handled to so that the file can start up immediately (no "please wait" message!), and the ways that artwork is reused and modified to reduce overall download times. I'd like to see an article on how such a project is managed during development.
[via Anil Dash]

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:47 PM

August 21, 2003

MessageLabs VirusEye

MessageLabs VirusEye: This is interesting for its content (current virus, spam, and porn rates from email sent to the businesses MessageLabs filters), but the methodology is interesting too, because they're using SWF to create various charts for various periods of various threats. I'm not sure of the hybrid HTML/SWF implementation, though... why not put the controls in SWF for live data requests rather than putting the controls in HTML and requiring a page-refresh...?

Posted by John Dowdell at 11:42 AM

August 14, 2003

Questia library

Questia library: I hit this link via Jeffrey Zeldman, and the site is good for what it does... HTML and server-side memory for online research tools. But what sold me was the SWF6 demo they feature on the front page... being walked through their resources like this is an effective way to find out what they're offering... no "skip intro" button needed.... ;-)

Posted by John Dowdell at 12:51 PM

August 8, 2003

Adobe GoLive 7 sneak peek

Adobe Golive 7 sneak peek: Okay, so this is a joke site, and an old one at that, but it came up on a web list today and still got a laugh.... ;-)

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:16 PM

August 5, 2003

Laszlo Pot Store

Laszlo Pot Store: Sarah Allen of Laszlo System writes up experiences when creating a sample retained-state commerce site using higher-level authoring techniques like components. It's good that it's open to PHP/MySQL on the backend, but I can't help but feel that even greater efficiencies could be available if that higher-level functionality spans both client and server machines. (btw, be careful there with that kind of store, don't forget what happened to Ed Rosenthal.... ;-)

Posted by John Dowdell at 5:08 PM

July 29, 2003

ClickZ on SWF6

ClickZ on SWF6: Lydia Loizides discusses some of her favorite recent mass-market sites, including Yahoo Movies, Discovery, Barbie, and Volkswagen. "As a consumer, I rarely notice or respond to advertising or marketing. As an analyst, I make it my business to click on almost anything that comes my way, read the fine print, and critique copy. Most of the time, bad banners, annoying pop-unders and -overs, and creative my 11-month-old could have conceived merely disappoint... Now, I'm normally not one to gush (ask around), but [Seabiscuit at Yahoo Movies] was the quintessential use of technology for the correct purpose. Flash 6 can be used to get video to the mainstream online population. It's effectively ubiquitous and tolerable at low connection speeds. And as far as video delivery's concerned, it's the closest you can get to building for the lowest common denominator. To date, I've seen Flash used in several ingenuous ways, including building interactive applications, primary navigation, and menu design." Only problem is that I don't know how to link directly to the new generation of Yahoo Movies sites... their main pages still point to the old "video-in-a-box" approach, and I think they're running the new-gen through a different set of links. Anybody got 'em...?

Posted by John Dowdell at 12:13 PM

July 28, 2003

SWF in Gaia

SWF in Gaia: Jon Udell has a piece in InfoWorld about a "web services fabric" called Gaia from MindElectric. He notes with approval the management console, a browser-bound SWF with live data feeds. (See full frameset in docs.) I haven't run this myself, but I like how they plan to cross both .NET and J2EE.

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:16 PM

2advanced comment

2advanced comment: I haven't visited the site yet (sorry, I'm workin'! ;-) but Jason Kottke's blog pulled in a lot of comment, pro, con, and out-in-space... if you enjoy rants then there's a healthy variety here. (Twisted of me to invest in an ASCII rant rather than SWF, I know, but.... ;-)

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:01 PM

July 25, 2003

FlashPaper examples

FlashPaper examples: This link is to side-by-side SWF and PDF resumes from Geoffrey Williams. There's another example on the main FlashPaper page. If you know of additional examples, could you drop a note in the Comments here, please? It would be good to get a quick gallery, before the main site can get around to it. (For PDF/SWF size comparisons, note that FlashPaper has the UI in the file, while PDF has it in the Player... FlashPaper files all start at 28K or so, and drop down from there... see discussion at Chris MacGregor's site.) You can make FlashPaper examples with the Contribute 2.0 trial, now available... C2 is Mac/Win, but this first FlashPaper printer driver is just Windows... during the first day of sale the product-activation has been going very smoothly, with only positive feedback from purchasers, but it still needs a larger testing base... the earlier implementation in Photoshop has apparently been working smoothly for the past several months in Australia.

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:35 PM

Operation Slaps

Operation Slaps: New Flash game from NowWashYourHands that is being used as a promotional piece... fun.

Posted by John Dowdell at 3:42 PM

July 18, 2003

SIGGRAPH Web Gallery

SIGGRAPH Web Gallery: The annual meeting of the Special Interest Group on Graphics of the Association for Computing Machinery is being held at the end of this month in San Diego. They've got their web gallery up now... lots of stuff to explore here... most of these experiments seem to be done in Flash, although there's also Shockwave and client-side Java... fast vector-drawing, visual tools for determing caloric content of smoothies, 3D interaction, more.

Posted by John Dowdell at 3:51 PM

July 11, 2003

"Spectacular Attacks"

"Spectacular Attacks": Sequenced graphics, text, and sound in a SWF-delivered poem. Notice the effective use of black space in time, and the reduced palette for the graphics... Joyelle McSweeney and Kevin Cornell fit the message to the medium. I'm not sure what the message actually is (reading in a cubicle is different than reading at home ;-), but it's an effective use of the medium itself.
[via Xeni Jardin]

Posted by John Dowdell at 12:56 PM

July 10, 2003

Rich ad overview

Rich ad overview: Zachary Rodgers at TurboAds summarizes the current state of rich-media advertising on the web. It's still growing rapidly, and although the novelty has worn off there's still room to get a better fit to the audience's needs: "It's shameful that people aren't taking advantages of Flash today the way they could be," Picard said. "I see individual sparkles, and they don't transform into processes for building better ads." Picard says the creative work coming out now is no better in quality to what was produced several years ago, when the available tools weren't necessarily as feature-rich. Worse, intrusive and poorly designed rich media ads are bringing down the reputation of the entire online ad sector. "I am worried about the way these ads are being used," said Jupiter's Elliott. "Marketers are covering huge chunks of the page for eight to 10 seconds, perhaps longer. We have metrics that indicate users dislike online ads more than any ad format, and these are the ads that create that perception."

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:45 PM

New Skyy

New Skyy: Skyy Vodka has relaunched their website, and it's an effective piece of work... check how they start immediately, with low-cost media assets, before starting to get into the heavier media loads. There isn't a bunch of hard info (after all, it's just vodka ;-), but they effectively set up a feeling, an experience, which gets the total message across. Nice stuff... work done by The Lambesis Agency.

Posted by John Dowdell at 3:21 PM

ASCRiBO Aquiso

ASCRiBO Aquiso: This is customer relationship management (CRM) software, running in a browser with a SWF front end. (See features.) The combo makes sense... you want to be able to access data across the web, presumably without platform dependencies, and don't want a page-refresh of presentation & interactivity after each interaction. I haven't used similar software in the past and so can't usefully evaluate their trial, but if you've got experience in this area then I'd be interested in hearing how this works at solving problems, thanks. More info is from Matt Voerman over at Actionscript.com.

Posted by John Dowdell at 1:22 PM

Send Phil a message

Send Phil a message: Phil Torrone has a color orb at his desk, and has a SWF interface at his blog so you can affect it. It's not much of a message, sure, but if they've got cats then you might be able to freak them out.... ;-)

Posted by John Dowdell at 1:15 PM

erational sitemapping

erational sitemapping: Great visualization example... enter an URL, they retrieve and parse the page for links, then go out to those pages and map their links, etc. Source available, see links to related projects at bottom, more Flash projects on software page.
[via Matt Rice]

Posted by John Dowdell at 1:12 PM

July 9, 2003

RIA database

RIA database: Matt Voerman at Actionscript.com is trying to assemble a database of RIA examples... worthy effort, add 'em if you've got 'em, thanks. (I know there are more listed in the Macromedia Showcase and linked out through the blogs here... extracting them seems the sole cost.)

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:40 PM

Screenblast SWF

Screenblast SWF: Sony's Screenblast is oriented towards consumer multimedia presentations delivered to multiple channels (fixed-drive, web, etc). Their new version adds DVD menuing features, and export to Sony NetMD and CLIE devices, and also uses SWF as an output format for video presentations.

Posted by John Dowdell at 3:44 PM

July 8, 2003

MLB AllStar voting

MLB AllStar Voting: There's a very interesting use of SWF here. If you click the "All Star Final Vote" banner on this page today or tomorrow then you'll get a popup window which requests identifying info. There's also a challenge-response system towards the bottom to defeat robotic voters... they show a five-digit number within a SWF and require that you retype the number before voting. This is easier to generate than a GIF with a unique number, and with the support for screen readers in recent versions then we should be able to successfully challenge people with low visual acuity too. Such a simple idea... has anyone else seen similar uses of SWF as a multi-modal challenge/response mechanism...?

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:05 PM

July 7, 2003

UJudgeIt! Film Festival

UJudgeIt! Film Festival: Interesting approach... they held a screening on indy films this weekend, in a hall with WiFi access, and accepted votes across categories directly from the device-enabled audience. At Sundance the judging panel could apprently do this, but here the voting has been extended to the entire audience. More details are in this Internet.com article by Gerry Blackwell. Towards the bottom Gerry gets into some of the additional ways to use such a social/technical interaction.

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:57 PM

Conference videochats

Conference videochats: I don't think Jason Kottke got up on Flash Communications Server quickly, but he has picked up on Apple's iChat AV and is now considering how this might fit into the new world of realtime communications during conferences. He notes that live outgoing feeds from speakers might be helpful to track multiple sessions at once, or to evaluate whether the session you're in is the most desirable session for your purposes. The comments are interesting... people are starting to deal with the balance between easiest-experience vs richest-experience (similar to the difference between RSS and visiting a blog, when you come down to it)... someone asks "So how is this cooler than CuSeeMe?" and Jason replies that "everyone with Panther will have it" (which isn't that compelling) and also that it auto-configures to your buddy list and accounts (which is indeed compelling). The recent videochat moves by Apple and Microsoft can really help FlashCom work... it's some competition, sure, but it makes the overall pie bigger, helps raise the awareness of this new mode out in the general world. We've got a great toolkit, how can we most solidly fill client needs...?

Posted by John Dowdell at 1:46 PM

June 26, 2003

Flash Illuminations

Flash Illuminations: Nice gallery from Electric Rain... the blend of vector-based and pixel-based artwork is particularly neat. I'm not sure whether there's any runtime 3D rendering done here -- the "Crime Scene" example looks like parts of it could conceivably be done by keeping geometry in memory and using the Drawing API to construct lines on demand -- but I think the main technique is still pre-rendering all views, downloading, and using 2D sprite animation techniques at runtime? (More info on the three 3D approaches is in this technote.) MacCentral says that there are source FLAs for each project in this "Illuminations" gallery.

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:16 PM

Sun's CNET ad

Sun's CNET ad: There was apparently a new type of ad run at NEWS.COM today, but I couldn't see it across several browsers/platforms I tried... from reading this press release it sounds like an interstitial which displays before the page loads (I did see a Sun banner at News.com in one browser, but it played after the page loaded, so I'm guessing this was not the ad under discussion.) Anybody got more info on this? tx.

Posted by John Dowdell at 3:52 PM

June 23, 2003

StrongBad interview

StrongBad interview: Congrats... WIRED interviews Mike and Matt Chapman. (It's good to know that they're getting a return on their investment through T-shirt sales...!)

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:48 PM

June 10, 2003


ING SWF ad: An anti-advertisement? Investment firm ING responds to bad ads by making a better ad... one that makes it easier to absorb the content on the page! Maybe not as many people will notice the ad as something strobing and squawking, but those that do will likely have a much stronger impression of the company. "... we wanted to raise the bar by poking fun at all the inconsiderate online ad conventions. In other words, not scream for attention, beg for a click, or speak to the consumer in an aggressive tone. That's just so far from what ING is about. So we came up with some funny executions, then got to thinking, how refreshing would it be to advertise no ads at all?"

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:06 PM

Laszlo examples

Laszlo examples: The news of Laszlo shipping flew a bit under the radar yesterday, but check out the new "Sample Apps" example on their front page... very nicely done! (They're using XML to parameterize how a SWF looks and acts... another aspect is how the client exchanges XML-formatted data with the server.)

Posted by John Dowdell at 12:39 PM

Flash Film Festival Finalists

Flash Film Festival Finalists: 60 exemplary works in 15 categories, and the one with the most public votes by June 30 wins the "People's Choice" award. It's okay to spend some time here, it's research, inspiration.... ;-)
[via Mario Klingemann]

Posted by John Dowdell at 12:08 PM


DENG SVG: Claus has a neat thing in the lower-right of this page... when the page is served he collects page stats, transforms them into an SVG file, and passes this to a SWF file in the page which then renders these instructions. (I'm assuming the SVG file's address is hardcoded within the SWF, because I don't see it in the SWF's parameters.) Why not just send the raw data in XML or other format and let the SWF render it directly, instead of combining data with drawing instructions on the server? Because he can use a generic SVG-rendering SWF for display... he's got a general engine here, cutting total development costs. Good stuff!

Posted by John Dowdell at 12:04 PM

June 6, 2003

"Hit or Stand" Blackjack

"Hit or Stand" Blackjack: This isn't a game... it's a training tool that teaches best principles in how to play the cardgame. Definitely more fun than reading a book and checking the back pages for answers... worth checking out.
[via Jason Kottke]

Posted by John Dowdell at 1:49 PM

May 27, 2003

RoboHelp X4 to SWF

RoboHelp X4 to SWF: RoboHelp produces on-screen Help systems... it accepts inputs from various office tools and outputs in various formats, now including SWF. Here are details on their new FlashHelp system. Excellent.

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:41 PM

Videoconferences diversify

Videoconferences diversify: Patricia Yollin in the SF Chronicle describes how videoconferencing technology has moved out from boardrooms and into rentable services to connect cross-national families. For $70/hour a family in San Francisco can talk with other parts of the family in Guatamala City or elsewhere. Large corporations may have provided the initial business plan for videoconferencing systems, but now that the infrastructure is laid out we can start finding a lot more uses for it.

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:24 PM

MeFi J-Flash choices

MeFi J-Flash choices: Metafilter conversation turns to "What's your favorite Japanese Flash animation?" and the result is a good gallery of links.
[via Dave Humphreys]

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:05 PM

May 22, 2003

"Final Easy" game

"Final Easy" game: Scott Barnes says this is a very addictive Flash game, and it does seem hard to stop... you're trying to guide a character through a maze without touching the walls. I'm not sure how he found it or who created it for whom, but it's fun, give it a whirl.

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:21 PM

May 20, 2003


Proof-It-Online: Neat. They've built an annotation system for comps in a browser-based SWF. When multiple people need to approve a graphics project you don't need to email attachments and hope they have the right client software... just point them to a private web page and everyone can track the suggested edits. This is a smart use of servers for central communication, and simple general media engines distributed on client machines worldwide. Why use a special plugin when the general one works...?

Posted by John Dowdell at 3:45 PM

May 14, 2003

Absolut ads

Absolut ads: I've seen some of these on WiredNews this week... I don't know who makes them, and they are indeed clever, but I wish they'd require a click or some other action before playing sound... splooshes and crashes don't mix well with the Pilgrim Travelers I'm listening to. (Nice work, just noisy and could be counterproductive overall.)

Posted by John Dowdell at 3:35 PM

May 13, 2003

Smacromedia Flush

Smacromedia Flush: Jeff Vermeersch has duplicated some of the Macromedia Flash MX authoring tool's drawing within a SWF file... what's neat is that he uses your drawing to create script to generate the drawing procedurally at runtime.

Posted by John Dowdell at 5:07 PM

Yahoo's Angels

Yahoo's Angels: If you hit the front page of Yahoo! right now their feature ad is for the upcoming animated "Charlie's Angels". It uses the Flash Communications Server for fast startup of streaming content, and it also displays multiple segments within the same interactive window (not just one static video). What's unsettling is to look beneath the trailer and to see icons titled "View in other formats" for QT, Real and WMP... I wonder what types of clicks they'll get on those...?

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:36 PM

One Show awards

One Show Awards: There's a lot of stuff here... about 20 categories, with winner and two runners-up in each. Some are GIF/HTML, most seem to be SWF. I've just spent the last ten minutes in the Theban Mapping Project, and there's still more in the main gallery. Definitely worth examining... some great stuff here.

Posted by John Dowdell at 12:26 PM

May 9, 2003

Flash video ads

Flash video ads: Now that the consumer viewability of the Macromedia Flash Player 6 is so high we're seeing mass-market sites start to just present SWF video instead of testing for various video architectures... here at Yahoo you can see use of SWF6 video and the Flash Communications Server for streaming... depending on your browser you may be presented with a WMP/Real page instead, but expect these type of integrated common video displays to continue increasing. It's easier for the audience and gives a better presentation as well.

Posted by John Dowdell at 1:24 PM

May 7, 2003

Timeline critique

Timeline critique: Timeline displays are a good way to navigate a large amount of linearly-sorted data, but it can be tricky to get the details right. Here, Chris MacGregor reviews an implementation which lets you drill into 70 years of advertising materials for Guinness beer. He's probably right, but after going through the various parts of the Guinness site, I realized how they succeeded in presenting an overall view of the company through the site... the information may be subordinate to the experience. Or maybe it's just that it's easier to navigate if you've got a pint-in-hand... whatever, I think I'll have to visit the Plough & Stars after work.... ;-)

Posted by John Dowdell at 1:27 PM

April 30, 2003

BBC election map

BBC election map: This is an interactive infographic where you can zoom in on a county and drill to two different levels of text information. For me, it'd be nice if the names scrolled a little more quickly while mousing around, but the designer did make a lot of information available in a small space, and the general public is becoming increasingly familiar with these types of interfaces.

Posted by John Dowdell at 5:49 PM

April 24, 2003

MSNBC audiographics

MSNBC audiographics: This news site is exploring new uses of multimedia info on the web. Here they offer a standard-looking graphic of a phone accompanying a story about a telemarketing firm which cons people into being billed for unwanted services. But just beneath the photo is a set of playback controls -- clicking them lets you hear an actual pitch made over the phone. (The vocal style adds much to the mere text.) Even better, the graphic adds a text overlay of signficant phrases in the conversation. It's a smarter overall presentation than text alone would be, and the implementation is straightforward and accessible too.

Posted by John Dowdell at 3:22 PM

April 21, 2003

Noel Rubin SWF nav

Noel Rubin SWF nav: Jeffrey Zeldman had a pointer today towards Noel's NaviKana work, which is a way of highlighting multiple featured areas of a site within a small screen area. This reminds me a little of the "Flexible Messaging Area" (FMA) used in previous iterations of the Macromedia site, except Noel uses it more as an element in the page rather than as a main section of the page. But I really liked his nav system at the top of each page... it's a hierarchical hexagonal system to drill into multiple parts of the site, and you never have to choose from more than a half-dozen options at each step.

Posted by John Dowdell at 3:14 PM

April 15, 2003

Nissan Z site

Nissan Z site: Nice example of how car companies provide a good UI experience to lots of info here in mid-2003.

Posted by John Dowdell at 5:03 PM

April 14, 2003

Honda SWF video

Honda SWF video: This got Slashdotted today, and serving is now very slow. It's actually a TV video advertisement, and the web version is delivered in SWF. Fascinating. Production details at the Daily Record.

Posted by John Dowdell at 5:39 PM

April 4, 2003

Another interactive Iraq map

Another interactive Iraq map: I think this may be an Associated Press asset, but I don't know who owns it, much less who actually created it. Like the Poynter reporter map this takes a geographic approach to finding news items, but it doesn't link directly into article text as the Poynter example does. One thing that would help me would be a slider for a chronology sort atop this geographic sort... set the slider to show reports filed from an area within the last month, or week, or to find just the most recent stories filed. People are doing lots of good work in this area... we need ways to discover information from data. (Update: Seems like it was done by Morris Digital Works.)

Posted by John Dowdell at 1:46 PM

April 1, 2003

IndyJunior Flash Mapping

IndyJunior Flash Mapping: That's "Indiana Jones, Jr.", Bryan Boyer's donationware web gizmo... make an XML file of your itenerary, put it and the SWF into your site, and people can see where you were, where you'll be.
[via Meg Hourihan]

Posted by John Dowdell at 5:18 PM

March 31, 2003

Opening Day

Opening Day: Baseball's 2003 season starts today, and the Flash-based "Gameday" presentation at the official Major League Baseball site streams data in incrementally, without reloading the page as HTML-based scores do. Click on any "Gameday" link in the scorebox during gametime to view. (ESPN and CBS Sportsline seem to have dropped their Java and Shockwave presentations and have moved to HTML... Fox uses Java which I can't easily view at the moment... if anyone has more info on good baseball presentations I'd be interested, thanks.)

Posted by John Dowdell at 3:38 PM

March 29, 2003

Embedded journalist map

Embedded journalist map: Poynter.org hosts a SWF map of Iraq which shows various coalition deployments and the number of embedded reporters in each, as well as estimated locations for independent journalists. Clicking on a region brings up a list of reporter names. Clicking on a reporter's name brings up a Google News search of their recent articles. (See also behind-the-scenes story of map creation.)

Posted by John Dowdell at 7:02 PM

March 23, 2003

GeoFlash Gallery

GeoFlash Gallery: This project apparently downloads the data first, allowing for clientside inspection of desired map details without additional server hits. (See press release.) It's great that they have an in-browser gallery of samples here, although I confess that I haven't analyzed the functionality yet. If you've got thoughts, then please drop a note, thanks.

Posted by John Dowdell at 11:11 AM

March 19, 2003

Groningen risk map

Groningen risk map: Waldo has the pointer and best intro to this Dutch map of various facilities, implemented by theFactor.e. When you click on a region then a basic map and optional overlays load in... vector scaling and positioning allow for preliminary navigation... when you go up to 500% zoom you pull in additional detail, with what appears to be an incremental, cumulative load. Despite my language difficulties I found navigation straightforward... even on a modem it's a good, responsive tool.

Posted by John Dowdell at 11:36 AM

March 14, 2003

Tufte on Flash

Tufte on Flash: This Q&A is a year old, but I hadn't seen it before... people on his board discuss good usage and examples. Bottom line: "If it helps, use it."
[via Sean Duncan]

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:03 PM

March 11, 2003

Investigative Analysis Software

Investigative Analysis Software: This isn't Flash... it's a set of standalone Windows applications. But this site is full of good realworld examples of turning database entries into pictures which can be quickly scanned for visual patterns. Just looking at how they set up their interfaces for visual analysis is cool. (Plus it's got that whole CSI vibe going on.... ;-)

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:05 PM

MS Tablet ad

MS Tablet ad: You can write on the screen of Microsoft Tablet, so the advertising writes on top of a web page. If you view this ad in IE/Win you'll see "wmode" used to overlay SWF atop the content. (I haven't seen advertisers use wmode techniques in Mozilla or IE/Mac yet.) I end up hearing from those who don't like these types of ads... it would be great if that feedback went to the advertisers instead of me.... ;-)

Posted by John Dowdell at 3:40 PM

March 10, 2003

IGC and Blue Pacific

IGC and Blue Pacific: This is interesting... no direct impact on MX developers, but still interesting. Informative Graphics Corporation (IGC) implements in-house publishing systems, and they've licensed FLash Printer from Blue Pacific to "publish to SWF" from the print dialog of any application. "For many documents, the Flash player is a better choice than other, bulkier alternatives."

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:41 PM

March 3, 2003

Gawker seeking maps

Gawker seeking maps: Nick Denton, of gawker.com and other projects, is looking to create a dynamic mapping system: "A map showing the best Japanese restaurants, for instance. A form into which we enter the address, and the name of the establishment, and up it pops on the map. Some control of look and feel, at least to the extent of determining whether roads and transport connections show, the font, and colors." I have the feeling he's currently thinking about server-side generation of static GIF, but if you've got a better implementation, then his contact info is on his page there.

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:02 PM

March 1, 2003

SWF makes PDF

SWF makes PDF: I had seen the discussion on FlashCoders but lacked bandwidth to read it... I was alerted because I kept seeing references on flog. Gregg Wygonik first exposes a drawing application, and then translates this user data into a PDF description. (Hey, this would let the Adobe folks capture user drawings into Acrobat!) More info on Gregg's site, and check Flog for other comments. Studly stuff, check it out.

Posted by John Dowdell at 6:26 PM

February 27, 2003

Art Directors Anonymous

Art Directors Anonymous: This is a group-portfolio piece, heavy on a video-like style sense, but it's also a good example of combining multiple pieces into a single interface. Give it some load time.
[via Jeffrey Zeldman]

Posted by John Dowdell at 1:25 PM

February 25, 2003

Bacardi DJ SoundStudio: Okay, I'm

Bacardi DJ SoundStudio: Okay, I'm blown away. Build and store up to seven tracks of many audio types. Built by 2advanced for Bacardi, who will sponsor a contest on it later this year. Really good piece of work here.
[via Mat Bastian]

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:40 PM

Seeking financial applications: The Macromedia

Seeking financial applications: The Macromedia Showcase already has a special section for finance applications, but there will be an upcoming focus on Rich Internet Applications which use both the client and the server together to do financial work. If you're working on such a project, please drop a note to Showcase folks at the above link -- there's no commitment, and they'd really like to learn of what you're working on. If you've instead visited an existing financial RIA without creating it yourself, then please drop a note in Comments here so I can alert Showcase staff myself. (Hey, I'm also interested in any finances-on-the-web work you've seen, regardless of whether it uses anything Macromedia-ish... I'm also interested in hearing of any financial website you've been impressed with.) Thanks!

Posted by John Dowdell at 1:40 PM

February 21, 2003

Map of digital theft: This

Map of digital theft: This Forbes infographic by Nina Gould brings together data for the International Intellectual Property Alliance, the Business Software Alliance, and the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. Mousing over a country gives 2001-2002 data on uncompensated use of software, films and music (they don't yet include stolen site design however). The theft proportions seem to follow the same curve as environmental damage... percentarge rises in developing countries, then lowers as more become enfranchised. Anyway, Nina's graph is a good example of combining several text sources into one visual display can increase accessibility.

Posted by John Dowdell at 1:06 PM

February 14, 2003

Flash Mind Reader: This is

Flash Mind Reader: This is just a trifle, but it's the top-ranked link among blogs at Daypop right now. Those of you whose education included Joseph Leeming magic books will recognize the principle (.lacitnedi si lobmys htnin yreve dna ,enin fo elpitlum a sevael syawla rebmun eht morf stigid owt fo mus eht gnitcartbuS) There are lots of other Flash magic tricks on the web, but regular magicians like Max Maven put a little more pizzaz around it.

Posted by John Dowdell at 11:43 AM

February 7, 2003

Kasparov Chess: Excellent... I had

Kasparov Chess: Excellent... I had heard of this, but hadn't made the connection to a live web application. This SWF-based display pulls and stores real-time data about the current chess match between Garry Kasparov and the Deep Junior computer. You can step, play, back through a game as it occurs. Tabbed panes let you navigate through additional resources without losing your place in the main display. The developers, X3D, have a number of other implementations listed on their site, using a variety of technologies in addition to Flash and Shockwave.

Is this a "web application"? I'm not sure, because it doesn't help you "do stuff", it's just a better way to "look at stuff". Then again, it's not just a document either. There's definitely great client-side control and interaction over the display... you could do similar things by refreshing a text-based document, but this type of live, interactive display is just a far better experience.
[via Mike Chambers]

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:18 PM

February 3, 2003

Columbia infographics: Paul Nixon is

Columbia infographics: Paul Nixon is maintaining a listing of online news services which use graphics to document the loss of shuttle and crew.

Posted by John Dowdell at 12:22 PM

February 2, 2003

Happy Tree Friends: Need a

Happy Tree Friends: Need a Flash Valentine's Day card, but don't wish to be accused of maudlin sentimentality? You'll have time to cue up some Burt Bacharach while this is loading....

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:09 PM

January 31, 2003

Super Bowl Ads This NBC

Super Bowl Ads This NBC station in San Jose offers a SWF-based viewing/voting application for ads which aired during last week's SuperBowl. They have converted the Budweisert Clydesdales, the Osborne/Osmond Twist, The Hulk, more.The SWF video looks quite good. (UI tip: Once you choose an ad, you have to explicitly "play" to start... there's no auto-start upon choice.)
Related: Advertiser websites apparently got very heavy traffic during the game... I've seen a number of articles which comment on how many people were apparently using TV and computer simultaneously. "All those sites were reported to be functioning well, while other advertisers were not so lucky. The Hulk might be powerful, but his servers' strength is apparently more along the lines of Bruce Banner's. According to Web performance measurement firm Keynote Systems, the Hulk's Web site wobbled under a deluge of visits during the game, which featured an advertisement for the upcoming Universal Pictures movie. Keynote said the site's response time slowed to 20 seconds, while its availability dipped as low as 90 percent."

Posted by John Dowdell at 4:08 PM

Level 10 site analysis display:

Level 10 site analysis display: Great example of drill-down data visualization. It's fast because the Flash stays on your desktop, and only the data needs to be transferred when you request a different view. (Site-analysis visualization in HTML requires that the page's chrome and logic be transmitted along with the data.) Scott tipped me off to this yesterday, but I wasn't able to connect at first -- I'm not sure if this site is fully live yet, but it's worth checking out how efficient and deep their data interface is.
[via Scott Manning]

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:21 PM

January 29, 2003

FLY GUY: This SWF was

FLY GUY: This SWF was apparently a holiday piece from Trevor Van Meter and Jason Krogh... it got positive mention on one of the Director lists and I can see why, it's just plain, sweet fun.

Posted by John Dowdell at 1:34 PM

January 27, 2003

Antartica uses Flash? This eWeek

Antartica uses Flash? This eWeek article on Verity/Inktomi contains an intriguing mention at the bottom: "Meanwhile, Antarctica shipped the latest version of its Visual Net visual search engine last week, promising users more control of how they view and navigate large information repositories. Chief among the new features in Antarctica's Visual Net 3.0 is the integration of Macromedia Inc.'s Flash Players at the interface level, which will give users more control over how and what information is displayed in the interface. Users are able to configure the Visual Net interface using color, shape and size to bring the most important data to the surface of the content maps so they can spot trends in data faster." I don't see details in the Antartica FAQ, and in fact I don't find any mention of Macromedia on their site. Demos are apparently only available by CD. Antartica was founded by Tim Bray, and the goals sound intriguing... does anyone have concise info on what they're actually doing? Thanks!
Update Jon Udell pointed me to this post by Tim Bray in the W3C's Tag mail-list. It's three screens of text, mostly about whether an URL points to a real place or contains instructions or what, but he mentions that one thing they do is pass XML data to the Macromedia Flash Player for visualization. I'd still like to see a sample though.

Posted by John Dowdell at 2:50 PM