A journal that focuses on Flash Platform development, and a little bit about what I am up to on any given day.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

SWFStudio3 File Formats

I am just going to do a quick round up of some things I have been playing with in SWFStudio3 that may not be apparent in a quick feature overview. There are so many new features, so I am just going to focus on the discoveries I have made that really got me excited. My next few entries will take a closer look at some of these features 1 at a time.

1/ SPF, SPG, and SPX files

SPF files are the main SWFStudio file format. In SWFStudio3 SPF files are just .ini files. This means that they can easily be opened and edited in a text editor. Inside you will find a list of name and value pairs that represent all of the SWFStudio export options. These files can easily be generated by other programs other than SWFStudio now!

SPG files are batch command files for SWFStudio. Executing one of these files will cause SWFStudio to build any SPF file referenced in that file. The format of the file is as follows:


./myproject.spf
C:\Documents and Settings\tony\My Documents\UDPTest\UPD.spf



This file just contains paths that are relative or absolute paths to the files to cause Studio to build. SWFStudio will open, build the files, then close, making the process very discreet. There are a few other parameters that can be utilized as well:

# autotest stayopen
./build.spf

By including the comment line shown above you can force SWFStudio to stay open after a build as well as launch the project you are building when it is complete. This only works if you are building only one SPF file.


SWFStudio Add-In

The above additions allowed us to build an extension to the Flash IDE that allows the process of using SWFStudio to be totally controlled from Flash Commands.

We have built 2 commands:


[SWFStudio]-Export Settings

This command launches a SWFPanel that allows you to set all of the SWFStudio options. The options are tied to the .fla file that you are working on, so it automatically includes the .swf file generated from the current .fla as the SWFStudio main movie. Doing this, eliminates many of the options that you are required to set when using the SWFStudio interface, including the output, and movie panels.

The SPF data that this command generates is stored in the .fla file itself. This means that you use SWFStudio without ever having to worry about SPF files at all, more than that, passing the project to another developer does not involve resetting paths as they are mostly all relative, and paths that are not are resolved at compile-time.

[SWFStudio]-Build

And of course the simple yet beautiful Build Command. It basically causes SWFStudio3 to build the project. SWFStudio will open, build, launch the resulting file, and enter debug mode! Attach a keyboard shortcut to that, and bling, blang!, Full integration!

I tried forcing Flash to export the .swf file first then proceed to doing the SWFStudio compile, but a Studio build fails if the .swf file is busy. Unfortunately, there is no way to determine when a .swf is finished exporting in the JSAPI, so failures are common when I implemented it in that fashion. So instead I settled on not including the .swf compile in the command.


SPX Files

SWFStudio3 now allows you to export your project from Studio as a .spx file. It takes all of your assets and bundles them together into one package, that you can then send to others to work on. It acts as a project file of sorts. These files will be very useful to many, and most of the SWFStudio3 samples are bundled this way.


SWFStudio3 Add-in Extension Testing

If anyone is interested in trying out the extension, drop a comment and i will contact you. It is pretty much complete, but it needs a few people to give it a test run before I release it in full.


In the next entry I will cover one of the plugins that I have had a blast playing with. The mighty UDP Plugin! Multi-User, No Server!