The delete key isn't enough. I want a computer that flushes.

Creating Flash Animations on Linux - part 2

Date/Time Permalink: 05/07/07 01:19:32 pm
Category: Flash

On my way to exploring the options for Flash editing on the Linux desktop, I've run into two projects which I will mention, just because they might get somewhere someday. Both of these have led to dead ends for me - for now.

F4L F4L for "Flash for Linux" is a project to build a GUI Flash editor for Linux, similar to Adobe's own Flash tool. As far as I got with it, I managed to grab the tarball and compile it, first with "qmake" and then "make". This produces a binary which apparently doesn't care where it runs from:

F4L interface

The GUI is pretty nice. Unfortunately, 90% of the buttons and menu items don't appear to do anything at all. Going from what I can glean from the main page of this project, it apparently hasn't been touched for over two years, and is still in version 0.2 alpha. I have no clue what else is going on with it. If anybody out there knows if this project has a future, please leave a comment on the status of this project. It would be nice if it were picked up again.

The other one is...

Ming Ming is a C library for generating SWF files, which also has plug-ins for PHP, Perl, Python, Ruby, and apparently (from browsing source) Tcl/tk. This project appears to be active. However, it is still in 0.4 beta, and is an adventure to download and compile (particularly the plug-in extensions).

Somehow either I botched up the install of Ming, or I'm not set up correctly for PHP and Ming to play nice together. (But my PHP works fine from the command line; I use it to generate HTML on my machine all the time.) First I downloaded 0.3 and discovered that the language plug-ins aren't included with that version and failed to find them anywhere else. Then I pulled 0.4 and compiled that, enabling all language plug-ins from the options in the configure script. Sadly, this failed to generate the needed library that PHP complained was still missing when I tried the first example.

But I'm drolling over these example files, which were done with Ming and PHP. Check out that menu in the left frame; there's dozens of smooth SWFs done there, with source code shown, including a Sokoban game! Obviously, somebody got something useful out of this program! So don't let me stop you; it's probably just me.

To my further aggravation, the previous install I made of SWFTools no longer worked after trying to get Ming going. So I had to go back and re-install SWFTools. There seems to be some affiliation between SWFTools and Ming, so maybe the Ming project is getting merged into SWFTools? I dunno.

In any case, the SWFTools compiler, swfc, has proved to be the path of least resistance, and I've been happily hacking away with that. I'll be digging into that in the next installment.

Disclaimer: I don't mean to pick on the two projects mentioned here; I understand they're alpha/beta, still in development, and nobody should expect them to work perfectly. I'm just mentioning them because they're there and others might wonder about them as well; if I've missed something crucial (like the new website for either project where the development is more mature!) feel free to leave me my cluestick in the comments! In fact, if anybody else out there is trying to grapple with editing Flash on Linux, your insight will also be welcome.

Update:

SSWF I checked out another tool, SSWF, which has a lot of benefits. It seems fiendishly well documented, produces smooth animations, and has ports and binary packages for dang near everything. I was ready to snag it when I saw the code.

Some of the code from the samples looks like assembly! This is going to come as a shock to you, but your humble ÜberGëëk blogger curls into a ball and cries for Mommy at the thought of coding anything that looks like assembly. Especially since I've been spoiled rotten already with swfc's simple language.

Next time, we'll get into some serious actionscript compiling!

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