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Embossed / Shadowed text in Flex

If you get it right, drop shadow effects can really improve the appearance and clarity of text.  Mark sent me the starting code for this a little gem a while ago, but I’ve extended it to support Flexs’ CSS Styles support, and have been playing with different settings, which – with a bit of creativity – will give you anything from drop shadows to a bevelled appearance.

There are 4 classes we’ve created which are extensions to 4 basic Flex components – ShadowButton, ShadowLabel, ShadowText and ShadowText.  To each you can customise the shadows’ distance, angle, colour, alpha and blur amount.  Here’s some examples of the usage, and output of these classes;

Bevelled text:

ShadowLabel, ShadowButton, ShadowText, ShadowCheckBox
{
shadowColor: #ffffff;
} 

Drop shadowed text:

ShadowLabel, ShadowButton, ShadowText, ShadowCheckBox
{
shadowColor: #333333;
}

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Getting FTP access in Flex Builder…

Little nugget of discovery for today;

If like me, you hate having to open a separate FTP program to upload projects to a remote server you can install an FTP plugin for Eclipse, aka Flex Builder.  It’s not easy as pie to configure and it’s not so good with copying large volumes of files or folders, but it’s perfectly capable of uploading files to the server without having to leave your development environment.  I haven’t found a way of setting projects up to publish to a remote server yet, but at least it bypasses opening that separate program.

Here’s a little link that tells you how to install, configure and use the plugin: http://www.venukb.com/2007/06/06/how-to-browse-remote-files-in-eclipse-ide/

Link: Comparing files in Flex Builder

Useful link I’ve come across today – http://undefined-type.com/2008/07/flex-builder-built-in-compare-tools/ – how to use the built-in Flex Builder / Eclipse compare tools.

Link: Creating a snazzy background in Flex 4

Peter deHaan has posted a cool example of the way things work in the new Flex 4 ‘Spark’ framework;

http://blog.flexexamples.com/2009/06/13/creating-a-fading-bitmap-fill-background-on-a-spark-panel-container-in-flex-4/

The aim of the new Spark components is to make it much easier to customise the appearance of standard Flex components – similar to the Degrafa project. If you’re interested in either of these, then I hope you’re already signed up for Flash Camp Birmingham, June 16th 2009 (tomorrow), as James Whittaker of RefreshingApps.com will be doing a session entitled “Skinning components with Degrafa & FXG” which should be interesting!

Talking about: Flex Gumbo – new features

After seeing Andrew Shorten’s presentation on Flex 4 (Gumbo) and Flash Catalyst at #FlashMidlands this weekend, I thought it would be a good time to post a few Flex 4 links and a few thoughts.

Flex 4 is looking exciting – Flex is one helluva good tool anyway, so the step from the Flash IDE to Flex builder that I experienced is hard to top when going from Flex 3 to Flex 4, but there are a few nice features that I remember from the presentation. [Note - this is all done from memory, so please correct me if I've said anything incorrect.]

Flex 4

Remote services – autogeneration of data models.

Flex 4 has a whole load of new wizard-type processes for automatically generating classes and data models for remote services, using a combination of introspection and descriptors.  Livecycle and PHP are the main (most widely supported) languages for this, but it will also work for webservices or httpservices written in any language, such as ASP.Net.

Data models are basically classes in actionscript that represent objects stored in other places/locations.  I spent days putting together data models manually for my side-project on the Unfuddle API, so to hear that Flex 4 can autogenerate these is really cool (and slightly disheartening).
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