Archive for the ‘HTML’ Category

Facebook API: Going Full Screen with Adobe Flex

Monday, September 28th, 2009

I’ve recently been checking out the Facebook API and doing some experiments with the Facebook ActionScript API. It’s relatively straightforward to use, but as I’ve found with other Adobe products, is a little lacking in documentation. Using full screen mode is one of those things. If you do a Google search for it, a lot of results talk about how it isn’t possible, but I’ve sorted it out, and here’s what I did to get it working.

First off, you’ll notice on the Adobe documentation that full screen mode is supported only if you’re using Iframe content and not FBML. This is the only place I found where it is indicated that it IS in fact supported. I couldn’t find any example code on the subject.
Secondly, I went through the Adobe tutorials for Creating a Facebook app and then Deploying your Facebook app. Jeanette’s coding style makes me crazy, but the examples are easy to work through.
After the tutorials, you’re 95% of the way there. We have to make two changes, the first is to add support to your Flex app to switch to full screen mode, and the second is to change your canvas page to enable full screen mode.
Changes to your Flex App
You’ll need to add the ability to switch into full screen mode. This is very simple, and is documented pretty well here. What I did was add a button with a handler that set the stage display state:
ActionScript code
private function toggleFullScreen():void
switch (this.stage.displayState)
case StageDisplayState.FULL_SCREEN:
this.stage.displayState = StageDisplayState.NORMAL;
this.stage.displayState = StageDisplayState.FULL_SCREEN;
catch (err:SecurityError)
// ignore

mxml code

<mx:LinkButton x=”534″ y=”4″ label=”FullScreen” click=”toggleFullScreen()”/>

Changes to index.htm
This was the part I found a little tricky. My HTML/JavaScript skills are a little lacking, so I had to do a bit of reading to sort this out.
The index.htm you end up with at the end of the Adobe tutorial allows you to debug your app AND deploy it to Facebook using the same html. This is useful compared to the default html Flex Builder generates, which always opens a second web page to allow the user to log in. This is all good, except the index.htm you end up with uses swfobject.embedSWF instead of the Adobe generated <object> and <embed> and tags people are probably used to. Enabling full screen mode in the Adobe default html template is documented here.
To enable it using swfobject.embedSWF, you have to pass it as an argument to the javascript function. It seems obvious at first, the you’d just set flashVars.enableFullScreen to “true” and be done, but that doesn’t work. The enableFullScreen flag is set in the params argument, not the flashvars argument. So what you started with:

swfobject.embedSWF(“helloUser.swf“, “flashContent“, “100%”, “100%”, “9.0.0″, “expressInstall.swf“, flashVars);
Ends up being:
var params = {};
params.allowfullscreen = “true”;
swfobject.embedSWF(“helloUser.swf”, “flashContent”, “100%”, “100%”, “9.0.0″, “expressInstall.swf”, flashVars, params, false);

That’s the key really. I fought with the parameters a bit before figuring out that I was setting enableFullScreen in the wrong place. I makes sense after looking through the swfobject documentation and comparing it to the index.template.html, but it’s not obvious to folk like me who sometimes struggle a bit with HTML and JavaScript.
Now when you run your app in debug mode or on Facebook, it should switch into full screen mode when you toggle it, rather than doing nothing (as I was having it to for quite a while).

Web Browser Experiment / Ticker Symbol Power Browser

Monday, June 15th, 2009
I’ve recently been doing a lot of research on stocks. MACD, Bollinger Bands, volume, trend analysis, moving averages, the list goes on. As I’ve been browsing around, I’ve gotten used to one site for one statistic, another for something else, and I’ve ended up with a bunch of sites that TOGETHER give me what I feel is enough information to make a decision about a stock. It’s pretty interesting stuff, but it’s just such a doggone pain to have to open 4 different browser windows just to be able to tell if I’m interested in a stock or not. It takes too long to keep up with, for example, a live chat where people are pointing out ticker symbols to look at.
So I was frustrated with this situation last Wednesday and I decided I’d do something about it. What I came up with is this:

It’s a Multi-Tab, Multi-PAGE Ticker Browser. And since I’m not feeling a snazzy name, MM Ticker Browser for shorter, and MMTB for short. It’s more of a tool for myself than anything, but all the people I’ve shown it to think it’s pretty neat, so I thought I’d package it up in the case anyone wanted to use it. Here’s the rundown:
The General Feature List:
  • It is designed to show you multiple web pages in a SINGLE TAB.
  • It shows you multiple tabs in a single window, like we’ve all grown accustomed to.
  • All window positions, sizes, and scroll positions are saved automatically so it all comes back if you need to restart.
  • SCALABLE windows! If that’s chart is too big, scale it down a bit!
  • All windows are resizable and movable. Web pages can hide their scroll bars to save space once you’ve got your scroll position locked in.
  • You can add multiple notes to each page (really useful if you’re trying to sift through a bunch of tickers).
    Now here’s where it gets tricky,
  • A pseudo-templated window layout. Each ticker symbol you enter will get its own tab, in which it will contain all the same websites for the chosen ticker. This is probably better understood in an example. I’ll show you below.
You’ll need:
What to do:
  1. When you first start it up you get a window like this:

  2. This is the config page, where you specify the URLs for the web pages that show you your ticker information. Incidentally, you also specify ticker symbols here. This page is also used as place you can load up web pages that give an overview of the market, and you can even log some notes for yourself to help remember things.

    If you want to remove something from one of these windows, click it with the mouse and press delete. Any tabs or windows associated with it will be deleted.

    • Local Windows: This is where you enter urls for web pages you want shown on the config page. Paste “” into the text box and press enter. It will add a new window to the config page that loads the google finance main page. You can move it, resize it, and scroll around in it as you need. It’s position, size and scroll position will be saved. try zeroing in on the DOW/S&P/NASDAQ chart in this window. Now click the checkbox in the upper right hand corner. This will remove those pesky scroll bars.
    • Ticker Symbols: This is where you enter the ticker symbols you’re interested in. Each ticker symbols will get its own page of information. Enter “GOOG” in the text box and press enter. Notice the tab that shows up? If you click it now, it won’t have anything on it. That where the Ticker URLs come in.
    • Ticker URLs: This is where you enter the URLs of the websites you use for research. In order for it to work, though, you have to let it know where the ticker symbol should be inserted into the url. For example, I can look at the GOOG ticker at ““, but this URL will be used for every ticker symbol you enter. So you have to replace every occurrence of the ticker symbol in the URL with “{ticker}”. Enter “{ticker}” in the textbox and press enter. Now click the GOOG tab. A window has been added with the google finance webpage for GOOG!

      If you enter another ticker, say MSFT, into the Ticker Symbols list, it will be given its own tab, and it will load up the google finance ticker page for MSFT.

    • You should have something like this now:

  3. Here’s the cool part. On the GOOG tab, resize the google finance window. Now go to the MSFT tab. Your changes are replicated here, and on any other ticker tabs you might have. You’re essentially live-editing a window layout that is applied to each ticker tab.
  4. Charting web sites are just as easy. On the config page, add “{ticker}” (note my usage of “{ticker}”)to the Ticker URLs list. A window for this URL is added to both the GOOG and MSFT tab. You can adjust it, move it around, and lock down the location of the chart.

    But suppose you also like the information at CNBC, “{ticker}“? You’re starting to run out of real estate now. You could go get a bigger monitor, OR you could just scale some of the windows down by right clicking the window header, turning this mess:

  5. using a scaling factor:
    into THIS:

  6. And lastly, should you want to jot something down to help yourself remember a chart trend or date or whatever, you can right click in the background of any tab and click “Add Note Window”. This will plop a note window under your mouse where you can write some text for later. Note windows are note replicated across tabs, so you can add specific notes for each ticker. Add some notes to your config tab, too. I like to track a list of ticker symbols I’ve look at and decided I don’t like.

That the general usage. You’ll also notice some other options on right click menu where you found the scale option
  • Refresh - Just in case you need to do a hard refresh.
  • Reset Position – This move the window back to its original position. If you accidently drag the header off of the page, you can right click the border of a window to show the right click menu, choose this option, and recover your window.
  • Open in Browser – Loads the URL being displayed into a REAL browser. For those time when you just want to go back to a normal web page.
And there are some button in the top right of the main window.
  • Reset Window Positions – If you’ve really lost track of your windows, this will move them all back to the original position. Don’t click this unless you want to have to reposition everything.
  • Clear Everything – Deletes ALL your preferences. Ticker symbols, URLs, notes, all of it. gone forever. Good if you just want a fresh start.
  • Comments or Questions? – Drop me a line through this dialog. Bugs, comments, questions, anything. When you click submit, it will send an email to my special MM Ticker Browser email. I’ll do my best to reply promptly.
  • About – My general about box. There’s also a change log in here, but it’s mostly empty. I’ve used this dialog in another app, and with flash, I can link back to previous versions if you need them. Look for those here if I make and update you hate.
And finally, a few caveats:
  • This is thought experiment turned tool turned thought experiment (yes, I meant to say that) on my part. There is most likely a bit of instability on account of that fact.
  • I suggest not logging into any extra personal websites with this tool (definitely not your online trading account). I don’t know much about security, but my guess is that the browser windows it shows are less safe than normal internet browsers.
  • Since this is written using Adobe Air (flash), its bound to turn into a memory hog if you give it the chance. I don’t usually have more than about 8 or 10 tickers loaded at any one time. Note that each tab only loads when you click on it, so adding a bunch of ticker symbols on the config page won’t do anything until you start clicking on the tabs.
  • And if you see a crash, don’t panic! It automatically saves your preferences every 15 seconds, so you shouldn’t have lost any work.
And once more, for those who scrolled straight to the bottom:
You’ll need:

Photo Gallery Maker

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

In my last post, I mentioned I’d be posting tool to create a simple photo gallery. Well, I finished it earlier than I expected. I’d like to talk about the workflow I designed it around, though, before just throwing a link out.

How To Use It

To use my tool, you’ll need the following:

  1. Microsoft .NET framework 3.5 installed. If you don’t have this, you can get it here.
  2. A website (or an http server) where you can post a folder full of files.
  3. Some photos you want to post online.

The general use case is as follows:

  1. Open up Photo Gallery Maker.
  2. Enter a title for your gallery in the title box.
  3. Drag photos into the large empty listbox. Reorder as necessary using Drag and drop or the sorting options available.
  4. Choose a color scheme.
  5. Click “Export Webpage”, specify an output folder, and click ok. At this point, the app will generate thumbnails and web ready images from your source pictures. It will also copy the necessary CSS and JavaScript files and generate the html for you.
  6. Once generation is complete, copy your destination folder to your
    website. You can then link to the http path of the folder on your website to
    view the gallery.

For example, if I generated the folder “photos” on my computer, and copied it to /www/galleries on my website, then I’d link to or
Other Features

Now, there are a few extra features I overlooked.

  1. You can double click an image or select it and press enter to change the caption displayed under the thumbnail in the web page. You can alse do this through a right click.
  2. If you’d like a faster way to enter captions, select and image, right click it, and choose “Begin Quickedit Mode”. This will allow you to enter a caption for the current image. When you press enter or tab, the edit focus will move to the next picture and you can enter it’s caption. This will continue until you’ve entered a caption for all the images or clicked the mouse somewhere else.
  3. By default, the full size image will be 800×600. You can choose a few different sizes in the “Image Size” group on the right side of the app. 800X600 is fastest with HighSlide, but sometimes you just want a higher resolution.
  4. If you need to regenerate the html or choose a different color scheme for your gallery, but you don’t want to regenerate all the images, you can use the “Export HTML” button. It will do just that (copy the highslide files, the current color scheme, and generate a new index.html). If you’ve changed the photos in the gallery, use this at your own risk!

CAVEAT: You must have the .NET Framework Version 3.5 installed for this to run. If it’s not installed, you’ll get an error message when you start it up.
Anyways, I found this pretty useful for posting galleries to my website to share with friends.
Photo Gallery Maker version 1.0 can be found here.
Photo Gallery Maker version 1.1 can be found here.  Read more about it here.
Drop me an email at if you have any questions.

A Proper Web Photo Gallery

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

I don’t know if I’m the only one, but I’ve yet to see a photo gallery in a web page that I like.  The primary problems are:

1.  I don’t want to have to press the back button every time I look at a picture (like facebook, for example).  To that end, the whole gallery (thumbnails and full size images) should be contained on a single page.
2.  I want it to load fast.
3.  I want to have it look nice.
4.  Each picture should have room for a short description.
5.  It should resize to fill the browser window with thumbnails (so you can treat it much like a thumbnails view in Windows Explorer).
Rather than complain about it, though, I thought I’d make something I was satisfied with.  Well, I worked with my girlfriend to put one together (She’s learning HTML and needed a project).  Here’s a sample of how it turned out.
I used Highslide for the fancy javascript transitions.  It’s a really nice kit that plugs in easily.  The only issue I had with it was because I had defined a style for img elements.  The fix was to… not do that, define class that each image could use (for example class=”imgThumb”).
Anyways, this post is a heads up, because I wrote a tool to throw galleries like this together, and I’ll be posting it soon.  More about that when I get there.

QuickTime Player in Internet Explorer

Monday, December 8th, 2008

I’ve recently been working on getting QuickTime player to work in Internet Explorer (and Firefox and Safari), and as you might expect there are some catches to getting a rich QuickTime UI to work with IE. By rich QuickTime UI, I mean a UI you’ve built yourself that embeds a QuickTime window. Furthermore, to keep your UI updated to the state of the player, you’re using DOM events. I thought I’d do a brain dump to refresh my own memory and potentially help some others. So here we go:

Question 1: Why don’t my DOM events work in Internet Explorer?

Answer: They work, but they don’t work properly, that’s for sure. The Apple documentation provides an example the just doesn’t work. QuickTime DOM events won’t get sent unless you add a [relatively simple] hack, the essence of which requires you to reload the clip you’re playing. Pseudocode looks like this (in javascript):

load clip in QuickTime
wait until plugin status is loaded (or complete )

// begin hack
// end hack

So essentially, you have to generate your object/embed code, load the quicktime player once (by setting innerHTML somewhere), and then do a setURL with the same clip before registering for DOM Events. If you don’t do the setURL, you won’t get DOM events.

Note that for other browsers you don’t have to do this. So I suggest you wrap this code up in an if(IE) block.

Question 2: With the hack above (in IE), why does my app hang when loading long (15 minutes plus) clips?

Answer: Your app is hanging because the QuickTime plugin didn’t get time to stabilize before you called setURL. I didn’t find a way around this, but a solid solution is to use a dummy clip (1 or 2 seconds of black) that you load up before loading your real clip. Once you’ve got DOM events registered, you can use setURL to switch to other clips. Pseudocode looks something like this:

function initQuickTime()
[code from answer 1 loading a dummy clip]

function loadClip(clip)

And you're good to go. setURL can be used from here on in if you need to switch clips.

Other Notes:

1. You can't resize the QuickTime window without reloading the clip. I really want to be wrong about this, but if you need to change the size of the video window, you have to redo your object/embed code. Kind of a pain, but resizing has to be done almost never, so it's workable.

2. If you're writing debug code, make sure all your test clips are on your http server. I made this mistake and wasted a couple hours. If, for example, you're working my pseudocode in question 2 and your dummy clip is on your PC, but your app accesses clips on an http server somewhere, it just won't work. QuickTime player has some initialization in it that defaults to either local files or http files (I don't really know the details).

That's about it. Overall I really like QuickTime player. Compared to the directshow work I've done, it's a lot easier to use. There are a lot less corner cases you have to deal with (if you're trying to get frame accuracy, for example). The compatibility issues in diffferent browsers come with the turf, and they're realtively easy to deal with elegantly if you know what you're up against.

Dreamweaver and my new webpage

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

I’ve never really used Dreamweaver before. Every time I started with it, I’d get frustrated and just end up using Microsoft FrontPage. For basic text, it makes more sense. I mention this because I forced myself to figure out Dreamweaver for my latest webpage. And I’m glad I did, because it also forced me to finally figure out CSS and the the importance of div.

I actually went to this page while I was building this page. I just couldn’t figure out how to add the divider! But it’s not my fault I couldn’t find the command, it the fault of the UI designer :D. And by the way, I’d like to mention that my new apartment has a stove that looks like this. I’m very proud of this fact.