News and views on the world of interactive media from the gskinner team
Tag / open source
While building the Wonderous app, we wanted to craft a great experience for visually impaired users using screen readers. Flutter does an admirable job working with these systems out of the box, but app developers also have work to do to create a polished user experience.
In this post we’ll look at how screen readers work and then run through the top accessibility related lessons we learned along the way.
Ever wish there was an easy way to add rich animation to your Flutter UIs? I did, so when we started working on the Wonderous app, it seemed like the perfect excuse to build a best of breed open-source animation package.
I’m very excited to announce the release of v3.0 of the “XD to Flutter” plugin, with a number of powerful new developer features.
Prior to v1.0, the primary goal was just to output as much of the content in Adobe XD to Flutter as possible: Vector graphics, text, images, fills, blurs, blend modes, etc. Version 1 tackled responsive layout, and v2.0 built on that with support for stacks, scroll groups, and padding. Version 2 also included the ability to export null-safe code, a critical developer feature for working with Flutter 2.
In v3.0 we’ve doubled down on improving the workflow for developers, including providing new ways to clean up the exported code and integrate dynamic content.
Flutter is a mobile UI toolkit that combines fast development, expressive and beautiful UIs, with native performance. To test-drive the platform, Grant Skinner & Mike Chambers recently built Redrix: a mobile companion app for Destiny 2.
Don’t get me wrong, the “Cloud” is great. Being able to utilize existing apps and not having to worry about updates or security is a huge time saver. But when it gets down to it, “In the cloud” is a buzz term. When translated to laymen speech it means “Storing your data and running your applications on an offsite server, somewhere”. It’s that “somewhere” that is a legal gray area for us, and for certain clients. For example; let’s say we’re working on a project for Microsoft, but are storing documents and files on Google servers. The two companies can (and do) collaborate, but what if they don’t on this project? And we’re storing sensitive Microsoft information with Google? It could cause legal issues if a dispute ever came up. This is the primary reason why we choose to self-host the vast majority of our infrastructure. The services we self-host include a Git server, bug tracker, wiki, file syncing server, and a custom built timetracker. Having a local server host all these services allows us to be extremely agile in development and with our workflows.
Typographers and type enthusiasts will attest that aligning a typeface to its baseline grid is an essential part of any text-heavy design. Maintaining a consistent vertical rhythm is an important part in the creation of beautiful typography and layouts. This is accomplished easily in programs such as Adobe InDesign. However until now, I have yet to find a tool that easily accomplishes this with web type, while remaining flexible to the individual needs of a project.
We would like to let everyone know that Spelling Plus Library (aka SPL), our Flash/Flex spell-checking library has been released open source.
We first released SPL as a commercial component over 6 years ago, with a major overhaul to support the Text Layout Framework almost 4 years later. It was always our goal to provide a high quality, performant, and feature rich product, backed by great support. As the requirements of the industry have shifted, and the demand for Flash components has dropped, we felt it was a great time to release it to the community at large.
The entire SPL repository is now available under an MIT license, meaning it is free to use for everyone, including on commercial projects. This includes:
The SPL source code. Word list loader and parser, text highlighter, and spelling suggestion and replacement utilities
The Flex-based AIR application that helps create, modify, and export word lists
All examples, spikes we used for testing, and some internal demos
The build process to export Flash and Flex SWCs
Generated word lists using custom compression for US and UK English, along with tested word lists for Spanish, French, and German.
You can check out the GitHub repository to get everything. Feel free to submit pull requests. Please note that we are no longer supporting SPL, so any questions or issues reported may not get immediate responses.
Thanks to our supporters over the years, we are super proud of what SPL has accomplished, and hope that it will continue to see life moving forward.