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Nov 04 2009

Aspire UI v1.3 Update: Skin Assets Packing

Published by at 12:42 pm under Aspire UI,Flash,News

The Aspire UI library, for pure ActionScript 3 development, has been updated to version 1.3 (changelog).

Among the many improvements, the most important is implementing support for the use of packaged themes. The Aspire UI library uses external PNG images for component skinning, which means that skin assets can be easily modified by theme designers using any image editor (capable of exporting to the PNG format).

With the Aspire UI Version 1.3 Update, the skinning work flow has been further enhanced by allowing developers to optionally use packaged themes.

It is now possible to compress skin assets from a theme folder, along with the “rules.xml” file, into one single binary file.

This is advantageous for the following reasons:

  • the overall total payload (bytes to download over the network) is now reduced due to compression;
  • only one network connection is required, instead of multiple simultaneous connections to the various PNG files;
  • moving skin assets is now easier since you only need to move one file around;
  • if embedding skin assets into the application SWF is preferred, this can now be done easily since you only need to embed one single file.

The benefits of using packaged themes will be especially visible when deploying to an environment where slow network connections are expected.

Included in the update is a tool for creating packaged themes. This tool, codenamed “Amber”, allows developers to select skin assets from a theme and pack them into one single binary file.

"Amber" screenshot

* For simplicity and cross-platform compatibility, “Amber” was created as a Flash Player 10 SWF. You can run the SWF either directly using Flash Player 10+, or via a web browser (if the web browser has Flash Player 10 plugin installed).

* “Amber” was compiled using the Aspire UI library with the “xp” theme embedded in the SWF.

Aspire UI Components
Aspire UI is a library of Actionscript 3.0 (AS3) classes for building flexible and lightweight UI elements in Adobe Flash applications. Key features of the components include easy skinning using PNG image files, automatic tab focus ordering, CSS text styles, and layout management. This is a pure AS3 library with no dependency on the Flex framework. You may experiment with the various features by downloading the trial version (which is based off an old version of the library).

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