Tech Roundup 06.10.10

Interesting bits from around the web as uncovered by the Odopod Code Forum.

Adobe's iPad-izer
Adobe worked with Wired to bring a digital version of their magazine to the iPad as a native app. Here's an interesting article about how it was built.
• Cool: Nicely designed. Seeing Adobe trying to provide alternative tools to create content for iOS.
• Not Cool: A 527 MB download and being all image-based doesn't seem like a viable approach.

Exposing Audio Data to JavaScript
In a previous post we pointed out the limitations of the current html5 audio tag not having access to raw data. It turns out that a group of web audio and Mozilla developers are working on bringing audio data to audio and video elements.
• Cool: Offering a solution to bring raw audio data to the browser. This is essential to be able to create web-based audio applications or at least fully featured audio players.
• Not cool: As usual, when will we have this (or something like it) for ALL browsers?

Open-source project aimed at converting Flash to JavaScript/HTML5.
• Cool: Simplifying the conversion of Flash ads to JS and HTML (who loves making ads?)
• Not cool: We did a quick test and unless your swf is timelined and really simple it won’t work. Minimal bits of ActionScript broke it.

Web Fonts at the Crossing
A very nice and concise article about the history and current landscape of web fonts.
• Cool: A List Apart bringing great and relevant content to the web.
• Not cool: Nothing really.

Click for more...

HTML5 vs. Flash? How About Both?

Apple's HTML5 showcase was passed around and discussed a bit in the studio today. It spurred a lively conversation and reanimated our long-running conversation about the recent tiff between Apple and Adobe.

On one hand, we are expert Flash gurus with a long history of creating immersive experiences. But, as iPhone (and increasingly iPad) and Mac users, we also want to create beautiful and compatible experiences, as well.

Our current thinking is that Flash isn't going away anytime soon. There will continue to be lots of great opportunities where using Flash is the best choice. We often combine video, animation, 360 degree interactivity and custom type into a single experience. The Sony Bravia Showcase is a recent example of a seamless combination of lots of creative elements. For these situations, Flash is a sophisticated, mature tool that will continue to improve and that we know a lot about.

At the same time, we can already see many great opportunities to use HTML5 and other modern Web technologies -- CSS3 and Javascript -- to present Web sites that are more compatible, more beautiful and more refined. For example, we are currently developing a new Web site for one of our clients that will feature custom typography and animations all without using on Flash. This approach simplifies search engine optimization (SEO) and mobile compatibility.

In most cases, HTML5 will add to what we can do, rather than replace what Flash does. In the right situations, we can definitely see custom fonts, simple transitions and animations and video being delivered without needing to use Flash. From there, it doesn't seem too far off to say we're probably going to move away from sIFR -- hello, @font-face! -- and stop building simple application components (such as navigation) with Flash.

However, we know it's not always going to be a simple decision. There will be times where each approach offers distinct benefits and we only have time to do one. How will we and our clients compare the trade-offs and choose the best course?

With so much attention being paid to the relative merits of HTML5 and Flash, it's really pushing us to rethink what is possible and how we deliver things. In the end, it's really about great experiences. We don't have a betting interest in this debate. No matter how this fight shakes out, it's exciting to have more and more sophisticated tools to make those experiences real. Either way, we'll be watching closely and experimenting a lot and, if we do our jobs well, it's the users that win.

Some links:
Apple puts HTML5 where its Mouth Is (for Safari users) (for Chrome and other WebKit browsers)

What do you think?

Odopod Welcomes Technical Director, Jason Muscat

We're pleased to announce the newest member of our leadership team, Jason Muscat who joins Odopod as a Technical Director, focused on projects and initiatives for the UFC account.

Before coming to Odopod, Jason was V.P., Director of Technology at Freestyle Interactive as part of the company's leadership team. He was responsible for collaborating across disciplines on client strategy and creative concepting while managing the technology group of Flash and .Net developers as well as the QA team. He has worked with some notable brands including Electronic Arts, Boost Mobile, Adidas, Alberto Culver, Luna Bar, and Burton.

Throughout his fourteen year career in the digital marketing industry, Jason has contributed his expertise to Zendo Studios, Red Sky Interactive, and CKS|Interactive working on numerous award-winning projects, garnering Clios, Pencils, Lions, and more.

Jason is passionate about the creative application of technology and the collaborative approach to development that thrives in great digital agencies such as Odopod. Jason's other passions are film, comic books, dogs, and food. He has eaten 85% of the items on the 7x7 Top 100 Things to Eat in San Francisco Before You Die list and plans to be at 100% by the end of the year.

We're thrilled to have him on board.

Tech Roundup: 05.27.2010

Interesting bits from around the web as uncovered by the Odopod Code Forum.

A project dedicated to developing a high-quality, open video format for the web that is freely available to everyone.

• Cool: Creating open standards. Bringing high quality video content across all devices. That big influential companies are behind this initiative.
• Not cool: Open doesn’t necessarily mean free. Its uncomfortably close relationship to H.264 is causing some patent concerns. Also, lacking any sort of DRM might mean losing the battle since a lot of content providers need their IP to be protected.

Responsive web design
Hello CSS3 Media Queries. Creating smart and flexible grid layouts that gracefully adapt to different screen properties.

• Cool: css3 media queries and flexible-grid layouts allow you to tailor your layout to a device's physical characteristics without the need for separate stylesheets or subdomains.
• Not cool: Media queries are not supported by certain browsers (guess which!), necessitating JavaScript solutions to target the stragglers.

Dynamic Sprite
Utility AS3 Class for easy runtime asset management.

• Cool: We see this being very useful in some situations. A couple examples would be: sites that allow users to customize the UI with themes or when localizing sites with not a lot of text (and translating teams are used to changing swfs).
• Not cool: If your site has a lot of text content, this is probably not a very feasible way to setup your project. In that case, going back to having all your localized copy in XML would be more reasonable.

Click for more...

A Deeper Look at the Open Graph Protocol

What is the Open Graph Protocol?
The Open Graph Protocol specifies how to provide structured data and turn content into objects recognizable by Facebook. The goal is to make consistent information available to Facebook’s software so that it can understand how to organize and present the content within its platform. As a result, content that lives on any website can become part of the Social Graph.

While there is a good deal of debate about what this protocol means for the open web movement, it is difficult to ignore a protocol that will affect the presentation of content to Facebook’s massive user-base. Among other things, integrating this data within a site will improve how content appears within users’ newsfeeds and their profiles as well as likely boost the content’s ranking within Facebook’s search.

Continue reading the full article »

Tech Roundup: 05.14.2010

This week's discussion on technology from around the web.

Edwin – a speech-to-speech assistant (think accessibility) Android app built by one of our very own developers Carl Rice. Some cool features include asking for weather, location, translations, closest public transportation, etc. Note that the app is in an early alpha stage, this is a very early release and still a work-in-progress.
• Cool: It only took Carl under a week from downloading the SDK to publishing the app to the Android Market. Cool? More like Awesome!
• Not cool: Carl showed the app in our forum and you won’t get the full effect until you see it in person.

A Book Apart - "A Book Apart publishes highly detailed and meticulously edited examinations of single topics"
• Cool: Zeldman and company bringing insightful books to the world. We are excited to get our hands on their first published book, HTML5 for Web Designers by Jeremy Keith. Here’s an interview with Jeremy about the book.
• Not cool: We need to wait a couple more weeks. We want more!

HTML5 Doctype - "... you can write your web pages in a completely standards-based way (CSS, HTML5, JavaScript) and not have to use a single browser-centric tag in order to do so."
• Cool: New doctype will be supported by current browsers even if they don't implement the new html5 spec, they will just switch to standards mode.
• Not cool: We have to test this to believe it!

Tech Roundup: 05.06.2010

This week's discussion on technology from around the web.

Akihabara - A set of libraries, tools and presets to create pixelated indie-style 8/16-bit era games in Javascript.
• Cool: HTML5 GPL2/MIT licensed game library.
• Not cool: Still in its infant stage, no documentation, only 2D (no isometry), no audio yet, etc.

Interface - Mockup & prototyping app for the iPhone/iPod Touch.
• Cool: No coding experience needed to put together a prototype, hello prototyping designers!
• Not cool: Missing important features to be completely viable such as the ability to run on the desktop or sharing prototypes with other phones.

Volkswagen App my Ride - Contest to design car UI.
• Cool: Potentially designing a car interface that millions of people see.
• Not cool: VW trying to get design work for free.

Apps for Healthy Kids - Competition to end childhood obesity within a generation.
• Cool: Being part of a good cause.
• Not cool: Not having time for pro bono work.

Tech Roundup: 04.29.2010

Here at Odopod, the dev team meets weekly to talk about what's happening with technology around the web. Here's our top this week:

Aves - Paul Bakaus' JavaScript game engine.
• Cool: Everything.
• Not cool: It won't be released as open source (hey the man needs to make money right?) - Eddie Abrams' HTML5 audio project.
• Cool: HTML5 Winamp port including Winamp skin loading.
• Not cool: It still relies on Flash to grab the raw audio data.

UI Thread Presentation - Nicholas C. Zakas' super interesting talk from the jQuery conference.
• Cool: Understanding the inner workings of the UI Thread allows us to be smarter about page loading as well as maximizing user perception of speed.
• Not cool: The UI thread is a linear queue of execution.

Web Workers - Defines an API for running scripts in the background independently of any user interface scripts.
• Cool: Asynchronous JavaScript execution.
• Not cool: Only Firefox 3.5 and Safari 4 currently support this.

A Recap from the jQuery Conference

This past weekend (Apr 24th and 26th) the jQuery Team had their first west coast conference, and it was a total success. The sold-out event, with an attendance of 500 people, was the biggest JavaScript conference to date.

Throughout the conference it was evident that talks and takeaways were more far reaching than the world of jQuery alone. This was not, by any means, a conference about pure evangelism. This approach, in my mind, made the conference even more of a success.

Read the full article »

A Handy Reference for Type on the Web

It's an exciting time in the world of real type on the web. With most modern browsers now supporting the css @font-face property in some way, the emergence of font-hosting services, and interim replacement methods like cufon getting a lot of attention, the time feels right to stop relying on cumbersome image-replacement techniques to display dynamic text with real, rich typography. Unfortunately, it's not exactly that easy, as font license agreements, and the need for type foundries to protect their intellectual property has put a bit of hold on widespread use of @font-face - and has led to some confusion over what, exactly is allowed and supported.

While there is certainly no shortage of articles on the matter, we at Odopod needed a central place to keep the latest information on the various techniques, links to useful resources, and lists of the pros and cons and rendering implications of each method. We put together this handy reference page (a work in constant progress, which we will update as necessary) to meet these needs. As foundries and browser-makers continue to move towards a solution that will ideally result in an accepted universal standard, this discussion is constantly shifting. Hopefully this page will act as a guidepost to help navigate the current state of things.

Odopod is now Nurun

We're still in San Francisco, still under the same leadership, still doing great work (here are some case studies). But now we're a lot larger. We've joined a host of Nurun offices around the globe, all part of Publicis Worldwide.

Our focus remains on helping clients succeed in a connected world with products and services that transform the consumer experience.

We continue to work with forward-thinking, longstanding clients including Tesla, Google, Sony and Audemars Piguet. More recently, we've established new relationships with Dolby, the San Francisco 49ers, GoPro, and Blu Homes.

We welcome the opportunity to work with you too.

Tim, Dave, & JT

The best way to reach us

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