Category Archives: Oddities

Got my printed AS3 Language Reference today!

It’s not like me to obsess over something I cannot have (OK, so it’s exactly like me to obsess over something I cannot have), but lately I’ve been whining that a hard-copy language reference has yet to be published for the now well-established ActionScript 3 language. Apparently, other developers have also been waiting for such a book, and today I finally decided to do something about it.

But good lord, what have I actually done?

Behold the 2,603-page ActionScript 3.0 Language Reference (and for comparison’s sake, its puny 1,028-page ancestor, the ActionScript 2.0 Dictionary):”

Printed volumes containing LiveDoc info

Yep, it’s the entire Language Reference — compiled and pulled from the Flash CS3 help files with the help of a custom script — and it’s freaking huge. I now understand the reluctance on the part of commercial publishers: This thing is unwieldy at best. Using almost three reams of 20-pound copy paper (front and back), two 800-sheet three-ring binders and a vast majority of the stock toner cartridge in my new Brother HL-5250DN laser printer (which rocks, by the way — full duplexing for less than $200), it took way more time and effort than any sane person should spend on such a project (And sadly, I’m not counting the time I spent writing Perl code to format the pages more to my liking before pouring them into Adobe Acrobat Professional for final compilation into a single volume).

Unlike past versions of Flash, I don’t think anybody can complain that the documentation hidden away in the online help files of Flash CS3 is incomplete. If it is, I’m not even sure I care.

So now that the papercuts are healing and the hole-punch confetti covers my workdesk, you’re probably wondering: Will I ever actually use this tome in my daily workflow?

I’d like to believe I will, simply because I have to think I was justified in compiling it. But on the other hand, now that I’ve got the whole thing out of my system, there’s something telling me a guy could get accustomed to this new-fangled, online HTML language reference, after all.

My other Web site is a Volvo (and it just made “Make”)

An article I recently posted on another site just found its way into geek-chic Make Magazine‘s blog for Do-It-Yourself-ers‘. As a geek-for-all-seasons, I can’t help but be tickled about this.

The article includes plans for a “ramp pit” that allows easy access to the underside of one’s automobile. When built correctly — and used with caution and a willingness to lose a limb or two in the quest for automotive Nirvana — the ramp works out well. Still, most code monkeys — including me — should not try building this at home! I just posted it here to scream “Look at me!” to the two people who are tired of waiting for a May update to

So, um… look at me! Again.

We have a winner!

Congratulations go out to Carlos Nazareno for winning this year’s ActionScript Poetry Contest. His rendition of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “How Do I Love Thee?” captured 45% of the votes to make Nazareno the 2006 ActionScript Poet Laureate, and we’ve already contacted him to collect his much-sought prize (ok, it’s a T-shirt).
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Legacy SWFs not playing nice with their new parents

OK, I give up! While updating a project my company completed a couple years ago, I’m now running into a boatload of issues related to Flash player versions and publish settings, and I’m starting to pull my hair out.

Here’s the scenario: Our client has several “child” movie clips (SWFs created two years ago using Flash MX or MX 2004) which are loaded into a parent “shell” that controls navigation, look-and-feel, etc. For some of these clips, there are no FLAs available, so what we have is what we have. These child clips all contain actionscript hooks to functions it assumes will be found in the parent “shell” clip (e.g., _parent.doSomething(this);).

We’ve updated the shell, taking care to publish for the Flash 6 player. Now here’s the rub: We now find we have some Flash 8-only “child clips” that need to load in, too. Keep in mind we have access to source files for the new stuff (including the parent FLA), but not for all the old stuff, so we’re stuck with Flash 6 clips as a given.

No problem, I think: I’ll republish the shell for the Flash 8 player, and it should be able to load SWFs compiled for both Flash Player 6 and 8.

Apparently, this is wrong. While the Flash 8 shell does load the Flash 6 clip, it never seems to receive the function call from the loaded child clip.

For example, SWF1.swf contains the code:


This works as long as both parent and child have been published to the same player version (i.e., both parent and shell are published as “Flash 6” or both as “Flash 8”), but not when the versions differ.

I can certainly understand a Flash Player 6 parent clip not understanding the _parent call from the Flash Player 8 child, but I’m surprised a Flash 8 parent can’t answer the call from a Flash 6 child.

Make any sense? Any thoughts, suggestions, etc? Or are we just out of luck?

Making screensavers and other goodies using open-source Screenweaver

I’ve been playing around with Screenweaver OS lately. Now that it’s been released as an open-source project, who can resist a readily available means of making real, honest-to-goodness desktop applications from Flash?

Of course, that doesn’t mean I’ve done anything earthshattering yet, but I’ve at least been playing around with its simple-to-use screensaver building tools. I originally released this screensaver on another Web site devoted to the Volvo 1800 automobile, but I figured I’d place it here in case anyone else was interested. The 3d model was designed by Josh Isaacson for and will later appear in one of Turdhead’s game-o’-the-month features, as well as one or more utilities.

Not much to say about it, but I figured it might get a few others’ interests peaked in both Screenweaver development and my favorite classic Volvo sports car. Happy motoring!