Since so many of you (well, at least four people) are feverishly waiting for the release of Alcon 3 here’s a preview screenshot to comfort your waiting time. The shot shows Alcon’s trace output panel with some bogus Array being traced iteratively and as a hex dump. the top of the window displays Alcon’s new App Monitor which can be used to monitor framerate, frame render time and memory consumption. It also shows the version of the runtime that the monitored application is run in (clicking on the version text will list all System.capabilities properties in the Trace panel).
Then there’s the Options dialog with Trace options opened where you will be able to set font, colors etc. On the File Loggers Options you will be able to optionally enable up to two File Loggers that can be used for example to log the flashlog.txt to see output made by ActionScript’s own trace method.
There’s of course the new Object Inspector and a new Help panel for Quickstart Help and API Docs. Alcon 3 is being written 99% in ActionScript 3 using FDT (the 1% left being the Main.mxml that is necessary to compile a Flex application). It’s only a matter of a few days now until release, some bug fixing, finishing touches and a few more documentation to write and it will be out so please endure!
I finally came to play a bit more with AIR and it’s specific features and wrote a small tool that is helpful for freelancers like you and me to make pricing estimation calculations. With FEAT you can calculate your hourly rate based on your expenses and some other factors and it provides a wizard to calculate project pricing estimates (another thing that is hard to get used to for many freelancing starters). It also stores all your values and changes its color if you want and can cook coffee and wash vegetables and …. ok wait, the last part is not true but still, this is a nifty little tool! Find more info and download at this LINK!
I’m happy to announce that Alcon 2.0 has finally been made public. The new version was completely rewritten using ActionScript 3 and Flex 2 and contains several new features that I missed in version 1. The most significant additions are the following:
– Output of up to four log files. You can define which log files to output by changing the settings in the AlconConfig.xml file. Like this it is easily possible to watch the flashlog.txt file that can be created with the Flash Debug Player (more info on this here and here).
– Alcon now features an Inspect panel for inspecting objects.
– A hexadecimal dump of an object can be made. Don’t ask me what this might be useful for now but you never know.
– Alcon now features a stopwatch that can be used to measure passed time more easily.
– You are now able to monitor the current host application’s stage framerate and memory usage.
For more info and download check out the Alcon page over at osflash.org.
Please note that this is a beta version! It still has bugs and the Debug class for ActionScript 2.0 is not yet included.
Filter Forge is a new software for Windows that allows creating Photoshop filters in a tree node based editor. Yep, thats right! You design filters by connecting components together with virtual wires. Imagine the possibilities! The application ships with a standalone tool as well as a Photoshop PlugIn and after you played around a bit with the trial version you might want to file this tool under “apps with that I could spend the whole day long, experimenting with it”!
This is not really a true productivity tool but I think it has enough value that it deserves to be mentioned. If you’re on Windows and work with the Command Prompt a lot, you might be fed up with the overly dull look of the black Windows command console and you look over to the Linux guys with their stylish terminals with envy. Then it’s time for you to grab and install Console, a Command Prompt enhancement that adds several useful features like multiple tabs, text editor-like text selection, different background types and – the real deal – transparent background. This alone is reason enough to throw the old console look overboard. The console font as well as window size and position can be configured. Get the latest release version 1.5 at sourceforge.net/projects/console/ for free.
If you’re working with XML on Windows and you like your tool full-featured there’s a good chance that you have worked with Altova XMLSpy, a first of all very good and powerful XML editor but on second look becomes a nasty bugger that calls home as if there is no tomorrow.
Thats fine and good! Let them try it to call it home as long as they want, I can block it with my Firewall! It was noted by some other blogs that XMLSpy not only transfers data to check the legal ownership but also transfers private data that is none of Altova’s business, so there is good reason to block the spy (what a fitting name!) off!
But what if you want to use the Eclipse (or Visual Studio) XMLSpy PlugIn? If you block Java’s JRE, Eclipse also can’t connect to the web anymore. But fear not, there’s an easy solution. Here’s how to block off XMLSpy …
Go straight to your WINDOWS/system32/drivers/etc/ folder and add the following line to the host file:
This redirects every access to link.altova.com to the local machine, thus blocking of connection attempts. With that you’re free to let Eclipse access the net while XMLSpy has to stay inside the system.
In my book “How to become a Flash Game Developer of World Class” I surely will not forget to mention this useful tool … FreeMind, a Mind Mapping tool that is not only free but also very intuitive! It is written in Java and therefore available for all common Platforms. Where other Mind Mapping tools or even MS Visio fails with being intuitive, FreeMind comes to the rescue!
You can lay out all imaginal hierarchical structures, be it your shopping list, you time plan or the story concept for your next game. After creating a new document with FreeMind, it has one root node. From now on you can add child nodes with the Insert Key, add sibling nodes below with the Enter key or above with Shift+Enter. This way it becomes a breeze to create a large tree structure of your project.
You can assign different color and font styles to your nodes. Another useful feature is the ability to link two nodes together with a bezier line. The tool has a MinMap and a Browse Mode and you can even browse your harddisks file structure with it if you want. You can also link files to nodes.
This is the number one tool I would recommend for brainstorming but it is very useful to lay out projects in more detail as well. There is also a FreeMind Document Reader that has been written with Flash, though I’m not sure if it can be downloaded and used offline.
I’ve updated Alcon (ActionScript Logging Console) to v1.0.8! The only thing that has been added in this version is a Debug Class for use with ActionScript 3.0, everything else hasn’t been changed. The AS3.0 Debug Class can be found in the com.hexagonstar.util.debug package.
Note that you must use Debug.trace() since I’m not even sure if it’s somehow possible with the MXMLC to redirect to a custom trace method (like it is possible with MTASC). If you got any hints on this, please let me know! The new version can be found as always on it’s page at the Flash Game Programming Wiki! Enjoy!
mdm is working on a new tool named Rebus that can turn AS3 (and Flex2) files into .NET2 executables. It’s still in beta but registered users can download and test it. I’ve did a quick test and compiled my SWNameGen with Rebus and it went surprisingly smooth and flawless. It will offer some new and interesting extensions, to quote from the mdm support forums …
MainType is a relatively new font managing tool (for Win only) that puts Extensis Suitcase to shame! I’ve been trying Suitcase for a while but finding and activating fonts with it was a major pain in the butt. You had to dig around in the preview list on the right and then to activate the font you once again had to search for the same font in the left side list (all with no mousewheel support).
After I was fed up with Suitcase I went with OT1 fontmanager for quite a while but this manager, while a crapload better than Suitcase, runs a bit unstable and doesn’t support some important formats. It also can only install/uninstall fonts but not activate them temporarily. There are also a ton of other font managing tools out there but almost all I’ve came across so far didn’t fulfill my requirements.