Tuesday, April 21, 2009

soapUI: Open Source way to explore WSDL

SOAP is my least favorite server side web service to hook into. It can be one unforgiving SOB... I've spent countless hours trying to bend and break code to get it to interact with different soap variations. Seems like every company has their own namespace and naming convention to follow and many times these conventions are not labeled or easily found. Tech support for one of these lovely companies recently pointed me to an outstanding piece of open source: soapUI.

Open it up, drop in the URL to the WSDL and it will immediately show you all the Operations that are available. You can then explore any operation and view the variables and structure of the XML that the Operation is expecting. It will even let you enter in variables and hit submit to see what kind of response you will get. This is 100x easier than trying to figure out why the call failed via logs and Flash stack traces... which usually just say streaming error or something else equally generic.

On a side note... anyone have a better tool than wellconsidered as for as AS3 Soap methods go? I greatly appreciate Pieter Michels efforts, they helped me immensely during my first SOAP excursion. However, the more I use it the more I realize how it is unfinished and lacking key functionality. We are considering trying to create a Flex swf just for the SOAP methods and load it into our Flash project next time... but seems like there should be an easier way.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Apple may find Flash on the iPhone Afterall

We all know that Adobe already has a Flash version that is compatible with the iPhone. We also know that Apple has denied Adobe access since it would undermine their control and ultimately their App store. It seemed that the only way Flash would hit the iPhone is through competition from other smartphones... which didn't seem like it would happen anytime soon.

However, it there is enough competition out there for Google to throw its support behind the Web as the "unifying platform" for mobile devices. The main points I got Technology Review's article are the following:

1. Web Applications can do similar functions as those purchased from the App Store.
2. Web Applications are free.
3. Web Applications are not be device specific and therefore are easier to develop cross platform.

If fact #1 holds true, and Web applications becomes the common platform as Google hopes, then Flash's presence on the iPhone is inevitable. The article quite clearly states that the one downfall of web apps is the following:

Nonetheless, mobile Web apps may have limited capabilities in the near future. "Apps that will work in this environment will be more text heavy or static," says Sharma. They won't be the type of apps that need to be constantly updated from a server. "But when you get into games or applications that require [device] support, it becomes tougher to develop applications that are browser only," he says.

Can anyone think of a solution? hmmm, Flash perhaps? If Web Apps are the common platform then they will have to accept Flash to overcome the browser's shortcomings... even with Canvas enabled.

NY Times Recognizes that Adobe Flash is Moving to TV

Jacob recently pointed to the following article in the NY Times: "Adobe in Push to Spread Flash Web Video to TV Sets".

The news that Adobe is expanding Flash to the TV is fairly old in our "Flash Bubble". But to see it being broadcasted to the real world (NY Times definitely qualifies as the real world) is exciting. It validates what we already know plus it bring awareness to our industry. It should help us out when we try to explain what we do for one ;). Plus, continuing my with my interactive TV theme of late, it ties directly into my last two posts about merging TV with the web... which you can view here and here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Alright, I finally jumped in. I have been debating twitter for awhile (why is it something that people debate?). My main excuse for not joining was because I don't have internet on my phone... I am old school, I know.

I still don't have internet on my phone, but I stumbled across some good info that was on Twitter and not the blogs so I decided to make an account and start following some people... That is like a gateway drug I guess because now I am following 25 people. And I can't just follow, I need to post things that I wouldn't normally blog about.... sooo yeah. Addiction. Here I am. First step is admitting it, altho I am not trying to break the habit. But if I were, I have the first step taken care of.

If you would like to connect, you can find me here: http://twitter.com/ickydime

Monday, April 13, 2009

DirectTV offers Interactive TV (Plus Dinosaurs evolve from Birds)

My last post showed how baseball was bringing the web one step closer to interactive TV. This weekend it was golf's turn to push TV towards the interactive elements of the web.

On a side note, do you think its a coincidence that our arguably two most boring sports are the ones pushing the boundaries of the entertainment industry? I think not...

But anyways, back to the post. Direct TV allowed its viewers to watch 4 different channels of golf at once while also offering additional stats, history, and trivia. If you didn't get to see it, there is a good image in an article on dish-television.

There you have it. On one hand you have MLB allowing you to watch multiple games, pick your audio stream, and follow your favorite players... via the web. On the other hand you have Direct TV allowing you to watch multiple holes, keep track of stats, and play trivia... via satellite TV.

So what needs to happen before we have true interactive TV? Whats the missing link? We have birds with teeth and dinosaurs with feathers, but how do we prove that one came from the other? Actually that analogy doesn't quite work since it involves one thing evolving and not two things merging... I'll keep thinking...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Interactive TV is Knocking at the Door... and Adobe is Delivering

Corny title for a post. Sounds like it should be in a newspaper or bad magazine article... but its all I got right now so deal.

I have stumbled across a few interesting articles involving the merge between Web and TV over the past few days that I would like to touch on.

The first one can be found on CNN Money. They go over MLB's latest update to their web video platform. The main paragraph that I found interesting is the following:

"Beyond pausing and rewinding live games like you could with a DVR, subscribers can watch up to four games at a time with "mosaic" picture-in-picture; select different audio channels, including synced-up radio commentary streams; and follow their favorite players (or fantasy team) as they play their games, including live video peeks. Nothing comes close."

To me, this is incredible. Being able to select which radio commentary to stream? The ability to just following your favorite players? Sounds like we are finally able to start customizing our TV experience.

However, not everyone is happy about this. There is a link from the CNN article to Business Insider which
states how NBC wants to prevent Boxee from accessing Hulu. This is a joke. I watch Hulu on my TV via a laptop that sits next to my TV and streams the connection. Basically, you can try to stop Boxee, but you won't stop the tidal wave of internet content hitting the TV. The dam will break, its just a matter of when. So why not embrace it? Instead of fighting over this pettiness they should be coming up way to capitalize on the Web/TV experience.

How can they make Hulu more interactive and customizable, similar to MLB? How can they get rid of the tradition commercial model that is seen as an unwanted interruption and nuisance? At the very least can we personalize which ads we see similar to Google adSense? Or could we even break the model and start advertising in non-traditional ways?

I don't know the answers to these questions. And obviously NBC doesn't know either, otherwise they would not be scared of Boxee or the future in general.

The interesting thing to note for us Flash Developers is that we are going to play a key role in this entire transition/revolution. Adobe has positioned itself well as shown by the following related article: Home Run for Flash Video Player.

We are the ones who will be called upon to figure this out. We are the ones who will create the interactive content seen on TV. Exciting times are ahead.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Designing Websites to Fit in the Browser

Title sounds easy right? Just check out W3Schools and you can see that about 95% of web users use 1024x768 or above. Soooo, lets crack open photoshop or flash and create a canvas 1024 by 768. Right?

That would be fine and dandy, however, you are forgetting about the browser. You are forgetting that most people have Navigation Toolbar, BookMark Toolbar, AddressBar, Tabs, ScrollBars, etc... You drop your lovely 1024x768 into a browser and suddenly you are clipping 100 pixels off the top and another 20 off the sides.

Solution? Some of the creative folks here at the basement (Brian and Amy) use a browser.psd template when they start designing a project.

It is just a png of the browser that they lays on top of their design. Many times they will have their design expand out beyond the browser's frame so they know what the site will look like when it scales... but they keep the frame here to turn on whenever they want to see the site at its minimal size. This way, when the site goes live, no one is surprised by the extra space taken up by the browser.

Hopefully you find this helpful.