The Phillip Newsletter 2003
Semi-annual report to Clients, Colleagues, and Prospects of Phillip Kerman news @ Volume 7 Issue 1

News: “Phillip Newsletter 2002” spotted flying over New Mexico trailer park!

Projects: …another newsletter, another two books___________

I don't know what it means when I can produce books faster than newsletters. Interestingly, the revision of “Teach Yourself Flash in 24 Hours” was relatively easy, where adding “MX” to “ActionScripting in Flash” took longer than writing the first edition of the book! Please note: I did not simply do a “find-and-replace” turning 5s into MXs. Here's some news: I have a third book coming out shortly on building “rich internet applications” (just wait until you hear the real title!)

In the regular job category, I built a real-time cattle auction using the Flash Communication Server for It ties into a database (built by Drew Falkman) using Flash Remoting… but, unlike their existing auction site, this one sells cattle in a matter of seconds instead of days. And compared to competitive online video auctions no one needs to haul cattle. There was a nice piece about the project on National Public Radio despite the fact they didn't mention me by name (or, even by reference for that matter). Finally, because it's Flash it has a fun interactive interface that works great on modem connections. Feel free to watch as a spectator—or round up a few heifers and steers fer yourself.

Along with Todd Greco and Jeff Faulkner (no relation to Drew, above), I helped build to introduce a new office chair. Here's a case where the combination of great design and subtle (non-gratuitous) interactivity turned into a nice site that's been well recognized.

I wrote an article “Flash MX vs. Live Motion 2” for Macworld. While both programs have interesting features, it’s like fudge and caramel—they’re not the same. For a number of reasons the article was killed—but you can read the draft if you want:

Just to list everything I've done since the last newsletter: wanted some training and for me to build a new Flash site. Friend and former ‘tucky colleague Brandon Blank at wanted a dynamic Flash menu engine. wanted to know what-all Flash could do, so I did a little presentation. Finally, wanted a dynamic menu in Authorware. And, presumably, they all got what they wanted.

I've been teaching a fair bit: at I've done a couple two-Saturday scripting classes; at I've taught several Flash courses from general animation/graphics to fairly sophisticated programming; I did one Flash scripting class at right after Flash MX came out. I did a guest lecture at and have had to scale way back on my work at Cleveland High School because I moved.

I started a new class for High School students at I can see two indicators that younger people have an easier time learning Flash programming. First, once I show them something, I never need to show it again. Second, they're better accustomed to the fact computers are unforgiving and picky about syntax. Kids do tend to have less patience however.

Three personal projects of note all use my favorite new product—the Flash Communication Server (hosted at My answering machine ( lets you leave text, audio, and video messages and view public messages left by others. Another (almost identical project) lets you leave snowflakes on a virtual greeting card (suitable for anything from “happy holidays” to “get well”). See The guided tour (on my main website) doesn't look like much more than a video clip synchronized to some event triggers in the Flash movie. The cool part is I can re-record this tour and my mouse events are embedded into the video stream. Not only is this technology easy to produce, it gives you and idea of what FlashCom can do.


Presentations: everything to do with anything but my presentations

Instead of recapping all these presentations (as you can just download excerpts from: let me just mention a random highlight from each one.

CNET Webbuilder (New Orleans)
Michael Ninness (former LiveMotion product manager) and I both stood on stage and took questions regarding Flash and LiveMotion. Not really a debate, though I sort of made it one.

Macromedia Web World (San Francisco)
I saw actor Fred Willard getting out of a cab at my hotel. For the next couple days I prepared various funny introductions on the off chance that I ran into him again—but I didn't. (Stuttgart, Germany)
During Macromedia Central Europe representative Ralph Weiss's keynote he asked the audience a question and I yelled out “More Expensive”... although I didn't understand a word of German, I knew I was answering the question “what do you think MX stands for?” The humor wasn't lost in the translation.

Web Design World (Seattle)
Hmm, I can't say I remember anything... I could very well have crossed paths with the Oregon girl who faked her own abduction then took a road trip to Seattle the same time I was there (no, I don't think she attended my presentation).

Flashkit (San Jose)
For a pretty small conference, I feel like I got to meet and catch up with quite a few other Flash-heads including Australian David Emberton who looks about 16 years old... though a few weeks earlier he had told everyone he was something like 41. (Don't believe everything you read, including email.)

Webbuilder (Las Vegas)
I gave away two books at each session (though that meant lugging 8 copies). One book winner, who works for Disney, generously offered a free room at the Swan & Dolphin resort during the Macromedia conference (below) so I wouldn't have to sleep in a rental car or something. Oh, while walking the indoor “streets” of L.V. I ran into some American Idol runner-ups! Only because they were together did I recognize them. They were polite, sincere, and humble despite my expectations.

Macromedia DevCon (Orlando, Florida)
The best Macromedia conference I've been to—and I've been to six. This was the first combined conference since Macromedia purchased Allaire. The varied backgrounds made this conference so valuable because everyone had something to learn.

In the news: ...also known as “ego-searching”___________________________________________________________

Macromedia “edge” newsletter
National Public Radio
JD on MX better than a link, just google "interview Phillip Kerman"
FlashKit interview
Jarle Dahl Bergersen's blog

Finally, the winner of the longest URL that can still fit on one line without a font size change, The Oregonian:


Editorial: Blog is short for “Web-log”... these easily updated online diaries will be extinct before most know what they are.

The blog revolution will, eventually, turn out to be a fad. That's because the entire world doesn't need to hear each and every person's voice. Traditional and online media, that have real-live editors, offer a level of quality impossible from every Tom, Dick, and Harry or other blog boob. I know it's hypocritical to say blogs aren't valuable as this newsletter could well suffer the same fate. However, not everyone has a “Phillip Newsletter”. If everyone did, then, yes, this would just be another one in the pack.

Without getting super controversial, I see the flaw in blogs as similar to the limit of home-schooling. While I admire some aspects of home-schooling, the whole idea just doesn't add up. Our society can't be as productive if every kid has one parent tied up teaching a student or two. The same way every web-head can't be an editor.
Besides the fact we don't need to hear from everyone, I find many blogs to have either repeated or inaccurate information. Granted, blogs offer a convenient way to keep online journals (which has intrinsic value). And, I'll admit that I regularly read several work-related blogs... but I find new ones every day that are littering the internet wasteland with outdated drivel.

Reviews: are version numbers a thing of the past?

The MXs (Studio MX)
( )
In retrospect, I think Macromedia's idea for a line of products called MX is much cooler than I had thought. It doesn't stand for anything (though I like theory “More eXpensive”). Deep inside, the included products are re-aligned as version 6 which sort of bugs me. Anyway, because Flash MX and Dreamweaver MX have been out for months I feel funny saying they're totally awesome upgrades—I mean, everyone knows this by now... right? Here's a quick tip: use Dreamweaver MX to edit any code files including Client-side or Server-side ActionScript and ColdFusion so that you get syntax coloring and code hints.
Studio MX+ includes Freehand MX and Contribute.

Flash Communication Server MX (
I don't know why this product hasn't set the world on fire... it's probably just a matter of time. I believe the fact FCS can create video-chat may work against it as people automatically think: “gimmick”. But the potential for how FCS lets connected users share variables and publish streams is profound. I think only after a few true “killer apps” arrive will people start to see FCS's power. With no exaggeration, this is Macromedia's most exciting product ever.

Flash Remoting (
Here's a product that's really just a feature in Cold Fusion MX (though you can buy it for .NET and Java). Simply put, it's a way to exchange data between Flash and an application server. Your server can supply Flash with data that it gets from a web service or database. Not only is the process easy and smooth, but otherwise incompatible data types from one language are automatically converted to another—thus eliminating tedious parsing. If you're using form GET and POST in Flash, don’t be an idiot—check out remoting.

Director MX (
Perhaps the best thing about Director MX is that it exists—Macromedia didn't kill this killer product (which, I dare say, made Macromedia what it is today). In fact, Director MX is pretty nice: an MX-ish interface, built-in text-to-speech, and nearly complete support for Flash's ActionScript without the need for a Flash sprite (see Tech Tips below), and a really awesome Object Inspector. These features alone are hardly overwhelming... however, the $399 upgrade is a great value because it includes a personal edition copy of Flash Communication Server that normally costs $499! Plus, if you want to deliver OSX projectors, Director MX is the only way.

Sorenson Squeeze 3 for Flash MX (
Besides an improved interface, Squeeze 3 lets you specify a total filesize, use .swf templates (to contain the video), lets you place in/out markers, and promises slight improvement in filesize/quality. Also, it optionally exports .mp4 (not for Flash).

Camtasia Studio(
This screen recorder has a couple features of interest. First, you can output the screen captures as Flash .swfs. They're nice and small and look super clear. Secondly, the live output appears as a camera to Flash meaning you can stream the view of someone's desktop through Flash Communication Server.

Zoomifyer for Flash (
This is really cool. Zoomifyer serves up super high-res photos into your Flash movie. Only the slices in the current view are downloaded... and they come into sharp focus as they download (like progressive JPEGs). Just check out the demos online because—when you need this effect—there's no alternative in Flash.

Macromedia Developers Resource Kit (
If nothing else, this quarterly product proves you can sell Flash components. Of course, the DataGrid (vol. 1) and the rich-text editor (vol. 2) are valuable enough to justify the entire $99. In addition, each volume includes a nice archive of DevNet articles (from—though about half the links are live so you need an internet connection which, really, defeats the whole concept (and disputes the claim) of a complete offline archive! Anyway, it’s all presented on an old-school format you may have heard of called “CDROM”.

For some very nice (and free) components check:

Tech Tips See… not just Flash tips (one is on how to use Flash inside Director MX)

Director MX
Director's newObject() command gives you a simple way to use ActionScript in Director. Say you prefer Flash's superior XML support... or you'd rather use Arrays than Director's “lists”, here's a sample of how to leverage your AS skills:
myArray.push("first thing")
myArray.push("second thing")
put myArray.toString()

Defining callbacks is only slightly more involved:
on loadHandler
put "parsing here"

Now you just have to remember not to type a
semicolon at the end of each line.

Flash MX
So often you need both release and releaseOutside to trigger the same script. Such “on” events can be combined by using commas... but in MX you shouldn't put code right on the buttons, but rather use callbacks. So, instead of having two complete callbacks (one for onRelease and one for onReleaseOutside) use:

Flash Communication Server MX
One of the coolest features in FlashCom is sending events to
your streams (and having them trigger upon playback). Check it out:
//while recording 'my_ns' stream, embed 'eventName' event:
my_ns.send("eventName", "parameter");

//define how 'eventName' should be handled:
my_ns.eventName=function (param){
trace("event was recorded with this parameter "+param);

Game Corner: Match the description to the quote to the source

description quote


profound "Free is a very good price" Tom Peterson
lie "Now you have a friend in the diamond business"
bogus "You're going to like the way you look, I guarantee it"
meaningless "Discover a new kind of motion picture viewing experience for everyone"
offensive "Not even for Bulgarian Idol" Simon Cowell

The Phillip Newsletter: published nearly two times a year by Phillip Kerman and edited by Diana L. Kerman. Phillip just went wireless so he does most of his work in his la-z-boy chair.

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Last update: 21 February 2003