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Going, going….

Getting the latest Java version of Transform SWF out of the door has been an enormous amount of work. Most of theĀ  problems were a direct result of reading Joshua Bloch’s “Effective Java” more than a few times – a remarkably good book, discovering PMD andĀ Software Craftsmanship – yes I know this is 2010 and not 2001. Also starting a family and having a day-job did not help either.

So with new versions of Transform and Translate scheduled for release on Sept 15th I started thinking about the C++ versions of the libraries which, although quite useful, have been languishing untouched for quite some time now. Initially I was quite looking forward to getting them freshened up and getting the code to the point where I could say that it was rather nice, or at least it didn’t suck as much. But then, well, I started thinking about what that would take. Getting the code updated to support Flash 10 was not really the hard part – after all at the lowest level, C++ and Java syntax are not that different, especially when reading and writing bytes with streams, so the new Java code could easily be moved over to the C++ version. The harder part was cross-platform support. There are simply too many platform variations to be able to support it effectively. CMake does a good job of reducing the effort by making cross-platform builds easy, but the real issue is answering the “I can’t get it to work” requests. Limiting the set to compiler X on platform Y is too restrictive and does not solve the problem since there are still X * Y * Z versions to deal with.

So the C++ code is going to be retired – permanently this time. Instead if you need a library for generating Flash files with C and C++ bindings then take a look at Ming. After a dormant period, activity on the project is picking up again. They have support for Flash 8. Platform support is good, though building on Windows is kind of hairy (more on that later). I tried porting some examples from the Cookbook to Ming and the API is quite effective. The basic concepts and actions to generate a Flash file are the same and re-writing the simpler examples such as, BasicShapes, did not take long – the hardest (time-consuming) part was changing ints to doubles.

So over the next few weeks I am going to port the rest of the Cookbook to see, overall, how easy it is to use Ming. I’ll also post the code and ming libraries since there seems to be some demand for windows binaries and not a lot of success at creating them.

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