Grant Skinner

The "g" in gskinner. Also the "skinner".


Spelling Plus Library (SPL) Version 2 Released

I’m happy to announce that we have released version 2.0 of our Spelling Plus Library (SPL). SPL provides real-time (as you type) spell checking for Flash, Flex, and AIR applications built with AS3. Version 2’s most significant new feature is full support for TLF text and components, including the Spark component set in Flex 4. We’ve also made a number of other bug fixes and enhancements.

To make up for the long wait for this version, we’re offering existing customers who purchased SPL within the past year a free upgrade, and a significant (~60%) upgrade discount to everyone else who owns a previous version of SPL.

We’ve already started work on SPL 2.1, which will add a number of new features targeted at mobile, and will be a free upgrade for all SPL 2 owners.

For more information on SPL, check out the product page here.

Music Visualizer in HTML5 / JS with Source Code

It’s no secret that I like building music visualizers, or that I’ve been playing with HTML5 a fair amount lately. Given that, I thought I’d combine the two interests, and build a music visualizer using JS, the canvas & audio elements in HTML5, and the EaselJS framework.

The primary challenge was that Javascript doesn’t have any built in mechanism for accessing the volume of a playing audio tag. To address this I wrote a little AIR application that will read an MP3 file using Sound.extract() and export peak volume data as a text or JPG image file. I then wrote a JS class called VolumeData.js that reads in these files and provides access to the data via a simple interface (ex. myVolumeData.getVolume(time) ).

With those pieces in place and tested, I started putting together a demo of it in action using EaselJS. Two of the newest features were compositeOperation support (which let me approximate an “add” blend mode), and the drawPolyStar method, both of which I used to excess.

I think the end result is pretty cool, though it requires a fairly modern system, and will still melt your CPU – I was intentionally pushing things hard to try to find the performance limit. It requires an up to date browser to run.

I built two variations: Star Field and Atomic. Occasionally dynamic audio loading seems to break on certain browsers, just reload if it gets stuck on “loading music”.

If you’re interested in building your own music visualizers in HTML5/ Javascript, you can download the demo source, VolumeData.js class (MIT licensed) and VolumeData AIR application here. Also, be sure to check out the latest version of EaselJS (we just released v0.3.2 today).

Please let me know if you build anything cool with the code. I’d love to see it.

DiggTop AIR Application Updated

This week, our first public AIR application, DiggTop, surpassed the 10, 000 download mark, thank-you to all who have downloaded it!

We initially announced DiggTop back in April, Flex + Apollo + Digg API = DiggTop!, for the then brand new Digg API. We had hoped to have many new versions and features out by now, but due to our internal work load, free products like DiggTop suffer (an all too common story). But fear not! We have not forgotten about this project and still have great new features planned for (hopefully) the near future. We will also be updating it to match any future builds of AIR. So stay tuned, as our little AIR application will keep wasting your time well into the future.

**Note: Digg has recently updated their api, so any current builds of DiggTop will not work anymore. We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused. This build resolves that issue, and adds a new images section to match the site.

AIR Panel for Flash CS3 Updated

We’ve updated our panel for testing, configuring and packaging AIR applications in Flash CS3. The most significant updates are the addition of a setting for window mode (system or transparent), and support for XML round-tripping, so edits/additions to the AIR application XML file will be preserved.

We’ve also tweaked the interface, and made some other minor updates. Click over to the original post for installation instructions, and a download link. Please use extension manager to remove the previous extension prior to installing this version! Everything should still run ok, but removing the old version in the future may cause problems.

We think we’ve also isolated the issues some people were having with packaging to a bug in the JSAPI, and have added troubleshooting information about this to the end of the original post.

Thank you to everyone who tested it, and provided feedback! Please continue to do so.

Creating AIR Projects with Flash CS3

UPDATE: Official Adobe AIR support, August 21

Adobe has released official support for AIR in Flash CS3. We’ll keep the AIR panel available, but it’s unlikely it will be updated any further. Get the Flash CS3 update for AIR.

Currently, you can only create AIR (formerly Apollo) applications with FlexBuilder. Adobe has already announced that they will be adding support to Flash CS3 to create AIR projects, but we wanted a solution in the meantime. As such, we’ve extended the work that Guy Watson began with his “Test in Apollo” jsfl command, and built a panel that lets you test, configure and compile AIR applications from within Flash CS3.

Continue reading →

Flex + Apollo + Digg API = DiggTop!

When we were invited to build a sample application for the Digg API contest, my first thought was to do something cool with another new release. We’ve been doing a ton of work with Apollo (our “gTimer” time management app for example), and I decided it would be fun to do something more “creative” with it.

The concept was to build a desktop Digg reader that I would personally want to use (I’m fussy). I wanted it to be something really functional and useful. I wanted an Apollo application that added value to the Digg experience, and skipped the seemingly obligatory cube flip effect (fast becoming the hallmark of Apollo apps). This wasn’t planned to be an application that wowed you at first sight, but rather be an application you’d want to keep using after the first day or two.

The end result was DiggTop. It’s a nice, small (<500kb), unobtrusive (especially in mini mode), cross-platform application (Mac OSX and Windows XP) that lets you view a custom blended Digg feed on your desktop. We mainly aimed to keep it simple and usable, but we also threw in a few cool features, like keyword feed support, custom article notifications, video preview, application update notification, and image slideshows.

I’d love to go into depth about it’s features and how we built it, but I’m catching a plane to FitC Toronto in the morning, and should probably finish packing. Instead, I’ll leave you with a screenshot, and a link to the DiggTop home page, where you can learn more, and download the alpha application for free.

Continue reading →