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Thread: Zinc versus SWF Studio

  1. #1
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    Zinc versus SWF Studio

    Hi guys,

    I am in the midst of evaluating Zinc and SWF Studio for a Desktop Application project.

    As I have never used either before, I would be glad if some one could provide an insight into each and give me your views on which SWF2EXE application is better in terms of reliability and features.

    I have seen SWF Studio's website and noted that it seems to be Vista OS ready. On the other hand, Zinc does not have much information regarding the Vista OS. Is there any reason why?

    Thanks in advance for anyone who can provide some views on the above two applications.

    Regards,
    ellils

  2. #2
    Tim (Super Moderator) Northcode's Avatar
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    Let me take my moderator hat off for a moment and give you my completely biased opinion. Actually everyone's opinion about which product is better will be biased, I'm just going to be honest about it up front

    If you want to get a good feel for the reliabilty then I'd suggest you check out the support forums for both products. Hang out with people who are using each product on a daily basis and see what they're saying. People definitely aren't shy about complaining about problems with specific features, reliability, support or anything else.

    Do a search for "access violation" in the Zinc forums if you have a few hours to kill. Then try the same search in our forums

    Vista support in SWF Studio is stable and has been for a while. According to their FAQs, Zinc doesn't support screensavers under Vista yet. I think that's the only Vista related limitation they've officially acknowledged. Mystery ~sw1.dat files appearing in the startup folder is not officially acknowledged (I guess because it happens on all operating systems).

    SWF Studio doesn't support multiple windows or Mac applications but aside from that, feature for feature both products seem to stack up pretty much the same.

    I think what you'll find as you dig deeper is that Zinc implements a lot of the same feature categories as SWF Studio but the depth isn't always there in Zinc.

    Here are just a couple of examples...

    - Zinc has joystick support but you can't use more than 2 buttons, even if the device supports more. SWF Studio gives you access to all 32 buttons that Windows supports as well as a rich set of events.

    - Zinc has ActiveX support but you can't get events that the OCXes fire like you can with SWF Studio. The Zinc method for calling ActiveX methods is primitive, requiring you to stack parameters using mutiple calls to addMethodParameter(), you're artificially limited to 10 parameters and you can't get the results of method calls you make.

    - If you want to make your application so that only one copy can run at a time (a common request) Zinc doesn't allow you to do this. Instead they have published a clunky workaround using a local connection that may not always work (timing dependent) and it's been that way for years. For a Windows developer this is a very simple operation so In SWF Studio, you just enable a single checkbox called "single instance only" and you're done. And it always works.

    On the surface both products appear to be similar. MDM puts on a very good show on their web site, but as you dig deeper, Zinc just doesn't measure up. In SWF Studio we implement features they way we would have wanted them instead of just enough to say we support something. That's probably the biggest difference you'll encounter comparing Zinc and SWF Studio. We care about your experience. Corny? Yes, but it's true.

  3. #3
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    Hi,

    Thanks for your quick and comprehensive reply

    I have a few other questions if you could help me answer them, that would be great.

    (1) UTF-8 XML files

    Another question is regarding unicode/UTF-8 support. The desktop application that we intend to build shall use CSS and XML external files in conjunction with the "main.exe" file. Does either Zinc or SWF Studio allow this interaction between external UTF-8 XML files and CSS files with the "main.exe". Will either of these tools fail in this aspect?

    (2) This is not really a Zinc vs SWF Studio: Is there anyway for a Flash File using actionscript to detect network status on a local computer?

    I have not been able to find a script that can do so. If you could point me in the right direction, that would be great.

    Thanks, once again, for your quick response.

    Regards,
    ellils

  4. #4
    Tim (Super Moderator) Northcode's Avatar
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    1. I'm not aware of any issues with external XML/CSS files in SWF Studio, especially if you're just using built in features of Flash to access the XML/CSS files. If you're talking about reading and writing those files from your application then SWF Studio has no problens. However, you should check the Zinc forums for more info but I'm pretty sure they have issues with UTF-8 I/O being slow or failing and I know they have a problem with translation of html entities in XML files (converts stuff even in a CDATA section). Someone had to write an extension to handle large text file I/O in Zinc (over 100KB is apparently large for Zinc), I don't suppose UTF I/O is any better.

    2. In SWF Studio you can use SysInfo.getConnectInfo and I believe Zinc has something very similar. Networks vary and depending on how your LAN is configured you may or may not get enough info to determine your real status. The most reliable solution is to periodically "ping" the server you're trying to talk to or just try to retrieve a resource you know should be there (like a small text file, html file, etc).

  5. #5
    FK's Official Mac Hater jasonsplace's Avatar
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    I have been an SWF Studio user for 5 or so years and have been very pleased with it's performance and stability. It's been running very well on my Windows Vista machine for quite some time now.
    Jason L. Wright
    I'm not that hard to imitate. Just make some random negative claim at Apple or anything else for that matter and then have nothing to back it up.

  6. #6
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    Hallo...

    Thanks guys! for your fantastic response.

    I am curious to know when/if SWF Studio will implement a feature that allows the creation of Mac OS EXE ?

    Is this in the works or will this not in the development pipeline?

    Regards,
    ellils

  7. #7
    Tim (Super Moderator) Northcode's Avatar
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    It would be difficult to port SWF Studio to OSX because a lot of the functionality in SWF Studio is dependent on Windows. So instead of providing a full solution on Windows and a partial solution for OSX, and aggravating our customers, SWF Studio will remain a Windows only product.

    We showed off our Mac compiler back in the summer of 2003 at FlashForward in NY, but the demand never really materialized. Instead of devoting a lot of our resources to a product that only a small percentage of the market would use it has remained an internal tool that we use for custom development projects.

  8. #8
    Senior Member random25's Avatar
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    I have been using Zinc for several years now, and honestly i am sick and tired of having to go search their forums for complex workarounds to simple problems.

    I mostly use zinc for apps that connect to an access database.
    I am stuck having to use zinc 2.0 instead of 2.5 because the newer version crippled most of the functions i was using, and i would have to completely rewrite all of my apps from scratch to work with 2.5, and even if i did this then i would have lost allot of functionallity.

    This thread has really got me thinking about switching, so i have a couple questions about SWF Studio also:

    1. Any limitations that i should know about in the way SWF Studio apps interact with an access database? i assume i can still use common SQL statements to interact with the database.

    2. How about asynchronous operations? this is one very big problem i have with zinc,
    I really don't understand the problem completely, but allot of times i have to split my functions into separate functions that call each other. the people at the zinc forums say its because of zincs limitations with asynchronous commands.

    Thanks

    If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe. Carl Sagan

  9. #9
    FK's Official Mac Hater jasonsplace's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by random25
    1. Any limitations that i should know about in the way SWF Studio apps interact with an access database? i assume i can still use common SQL statements to interact with the database.
    SWF Studio fully supports connecting to an access database. You can see an example of it working with an access database here.

    Quote Originally Posted by random25
    2. How about asynchronous operations? this is one very big problem i have with zinc,
    I really don't understand the problem completely, but allot of times i have to split my functions into separate functions that call each other. the people at the zinc
    I've never had a problem with the asynchronous operations functionality in SWF Studio. This is from the help file:

    Most calls in Flash are synchronous which means when you call a function or method the results are available for use immediately. However, some methods in Flash execute asynchronously where the data is not available immediately but returned later via a callback function.

    XML.load is an example of an asynchronous Flash method. When the data from a call to XML.load is available a callback function, such as XML.onLoad or XML.onData, is called telling you the data is ready. This functionality is similar to the way asynchronous commands in SWF Studio are handled.

    When you call an SWF Studio command asynchronously you provide the name and location of a callback function that SWF Studio will call when the data is ready.

    Example: asynchronous call with data returned to a callback function
    Code:
    ssCore.Win.getPosition({}, {callback:onComplete});
    
    function onComplete(return_obj, callback_obj, error_obj)
    {
        ssCore.App.showMsgBox({prompt:return_obj.x + "," + return_obj.y});
    }
    Asynchronous commands are useful when calling SWF Studio methods that take time to complete their tasks. Calling a method asynchronously is often the most effective way to make a call because an asynchronous command will not cause the Flash player to block (freeze playback) while waiting for data to be returned.

    Some SWF Studio commands, like FTP.transfer, can only be called asynchronously. If this call was allowed to be synchronous your SWF Studio application would appear unresponsive for the duration of the transfer. Asynchronous-only commands are identified in the help by the phrase "This method can only be called asynchronously."

    Attempting to call an asynchronous-only command synchronously will fail. Asynchronous-only commands that are called without specifying a callback parameters object or that set the sync property of the callback parameters object to true will not execute and the success property of the return object will be set to false.
    Jason L. Wright
    I'm not that hard to imitate. Just make some random negative claim at Apple or anything else for that matter and then have nothing to back it up.

  10. #10
    Senior Member random25's Avatar
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    As soon as my boss gets back i'm going to tell them i need SWF Studio.
    I just took a look at the features list on the site, honestly i had no idea that SWF Studio was this advanced.
    Now I wish i had used it instead of zinc when i started this data base project.

    If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe. Carl Sagan

  11. #11
    FK's Official Mac Hater jasonsplace's Avatar
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    When I started using it the feature list wasn't that big yet but the support is unmatched. Their message boards are very helpful and Northcode is always willing to help out.
    Jason L. Wright
    I'm not that hard to imitate. Just make some random negative claim at Apple or anything else for that matter and then have nothing to back it up.

  12. #12
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    I am new to SWF Studio.

    And I have to say, so far I am amazed.
    I know there is far more under the hood that I don't even know about yet.

    I have VB6 and .NET experience and I will be able to tap into that using SWFS, which is much easier then Zinc.

    The support for this product is increditable.

    I have read a lot of posts concerning the Zinc vs SWFS comparisons; and Tim (northcode) is very honest about his competions strengths and weaknesses. He is very helpful from a developer standpoint. Most developers of products are not very accessable.

    Just on the support alone... I would go with SWF Studio!!!


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    Blimey

    I have used both products and as I dont *run a company that makes one of them* feel I am unbiased. Fair enough, Northcode admitted being biased up-front, so come one you lot, accept it at that... biased.

    If you use either product for any length of time and frequent the forums , you will realize both products have bugs/faults/limitations.

    Northcode and MDM seem to be bitter rivals and given any opportunity will bad mouth the other.

    IMO, have both in your arsenal. If one fails on a particular thing, hope the other doesnt.

    There has been the several projects I have worked on where a Mac version is a must, and hence Zinc has been the only option regardless of bugs. Other times its been a windows only job and SWFStudio has fitted the bill - again bug workarounds.

    To summarize, dont bother siding, use what works for your project best. Dont get drawn into these two companies war.

  14. #14
    Tim (Super Moderator) Northcode's Avatar
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    The products reflect their makers. Our approaches are vastly different and, as a result, so are our products.

  15. #15
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    Our approaches are vastly different and, as a result, so are our products.
    I would disagree. Both companies seem to have the same attitude and approach. The products are very similar in many ways...
    1. They both, ahherm, convert swf to standalone exe's
    2. They both add extra scripting functionality
    3. They both have loads of bugs which leads to
    4. They are both constantly releasing upgrades
    5. And on this topic, they both claim to have the best product and will always give biased advice to potential customers.

    Where are they different?
    1. Name and owner
    2. Zinc can output for Mac
    3. They have different bugs

    My previous post still stands.

  16. #16
    FK's Official Mac Hater jasonsplace's Avatar
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    Do you just like to argue? Northcode may be biased but i'm not. I don't work for Northcode, I don't even know him. I couple of years I was presented with a project that required a 3rd party tool. I tried out all of the tools that were available at the time and I stuck with SWF Studio because of:
    A) Support
    B) Stability
    C) Feature set.
    The support that Northcode offers is unmatched by anyone. Just browse his message boards and see how many times he's been willing to add a new feature quickly for a customer or how quickly they are to tell you how to fix your scripting to work. The product is stable. EVERY computer program has bugs in it but i've actually found SWF Studio to be a very stable product and I dont' remember the last time one of my projector's crashed...I know it something to do with Vista incompatibility though back when I had Vista RC2. Also, the features that Northcode offers are great. There may be more base features in other products but the depth of his features is wonderful. You can call me biased all you want but I took the challenge and tested the different applications.
    Jason L. Wright
    I'm not that hard to imitate. Just make some random negative claim at Apple or anything else for that matter and then have nothing to back it up.

  17. #17
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    Do you just like to argue?
    No. Clarity.

    I have never stated that you (jasonsplace) or anyone else in this thread has made a biased post other than Northcode, for which he knew and stated he was being biased, which I also acknowledged.

    I cannot quite work out why you have this tone with me? Or did you just mis-read my first post here?

    I too have used both SWFStudio and Zinc and have come up with my own opinions that I thought worthy of posting in this thread.

  18. #18
    Tim (Super Moderator) Northcode's Avatar
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    1. They both, ahherm, convert swf to standalone exe's

    True, but that's not an approach that's the line of business we're in. I guess I should have said "our philosophies are vastly different" instead. It's the "how and why" we do things, not the "what" that makes us different.

    2. They both add extra scripting functionality

    True, and here's one place where our philosophical approach become apparent. If a point release of SWF Studio forced our users to change every line of code that made a call using our ActionScript API, everyone here would hang their heads in shame. Zinc has done this at least twice. When we released V3 we re-architected our API specifically to avoid ever having to do this. Maintaining backward compatibility is extremely important to us.

    3. They both have loads of bugs

    Bugs are unavoidable, but they should be the exception rather than the norm. I would invite anyone to compare the bugs reported against SWF Studio to those reported against Zinc both in severity and number. When we release a fix, we very rarely (if ever) break something else at the same time.

    which leads to
    4. They are both constantly releasing upgrades


    We release a lot of private builds with new features and fixes for customers, but our last official public release was June 13, 2007. Yes, there have been bugs reported since then but nothing that would require everyone to upgrade. For some people the builds were required to meet their objectives, that's why we made the fixes. When the next build is released, everyone benefits from that work, and it's stable. Having to switch back to an older version of Zinc where a required feature wasn't broken is pretty much standard operating procedure.

    5. And on this topic, they both claim to have the best product and will always give biased advice to potential customers.

    It's traditionally called marketing. For me it's backed by the belief that my product is the best. If I believed otherwise then I'd have to find something else to do.

    However, when someone comes to us looking for Mac support or a feature we don't have (and don't plan to add) then I direct them to one of our competitors. I don't have to that, but I do.

  19. #19
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    Just to throw a spanner in the works why don't you all have a look at

    http://www.shu-player.com/

    As far as I am aware this is the first AIR wrapper to market, AIR is a great technology that adobe are pushing really hard but it does have a number of short comings, namely.

    1. AIR applications must be installed in order to run.
    2. AIR applications will only run on a machine with the AIR runtime installed
    3. AIR applications can not be run directly from a CD
    4. AIR applications can not open files such as word documents or PDFs
    5. AIR applications can not execute other applications
    6. AIR application can only make use of the built in SQLite database


    The shu wrapper allows you overcome all of these issues and develop true desktop applications using AIR.

    Shu doesn't have all of the feature sound in Zinc or SWF studio but it is a light weight tool that will quickly (seriously quickly) enable you to create content for both PC and Mac deployment using the latest Adobe development platform.

  20. #20
    FK's Official Mac Hater jasonsplace's Avatar
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    You might want to read the rules as this could be considered spam. You registered only to post a plug for your product and then you posted it in 2 places. Both of those things are against the rules. I think that the Product Announcements area was probably appropriate but I wouldn't go around reviving dead threads just to promote your product.
    Jason L. Wright
    I'm not that hard to imitate. Just make some random negative claim at Apple or anything else for that matter and then have nothing to back it up.

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