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Thread: Exporting a standalone app.

  1. #1
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    Exporting a standalone app.

    Hi,

    Just wanted to know if this was possible really. I have some basic activities (drag & drop and multiple choice quizzes etc) - Is it possible to add some functionality to these whereby the user can change variables such as colours, certain bits of text and even images, and then export the activity to work as a standalone fullscreen presentation?

    I'm trying to make a kind of activity / quiz generator. The exported files need to be saved to the users hard drive.

  2. #2
    Tim (Super Moderator) Northcode's Avatar
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    To allow saving data to the hard drive, you'll want to check out one of the commercial third party projector tools.

    SWF Studio http://www.northcode.com (my product)
    mProjector http://www.screentime.com
    SWFKit http://www.swfkit.com
    SWiSH Studio http://www.swishzone.com
    Jugglor http://www.jugglor.com
    Zinc http://www.multidmedia.com

    SWF Studio supports something called the "sratch area" which is a payload that is appended to the end of your EXE. You can read and write this scratch area from your application, which means you could store settings right in the EXE itself. If you're using Flash CS3 you can save date from a ByteArray there as well (for storing images etc).

    SWF Studio, and most of the other third party swf2exe tools, also provide basic operations for saving and loading files. Some, like SWF Studio, support saving binary data and some don't so make sure you check the feature lists of each product before you make a decision.

  3. #3
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    Thanks Northcode, sounds interesting. Would your product allow me to create activities from within my swf and then export them as a standalone file that would run on any machine?

  4. #4
    Tim (Super Moderator) Northcode's Avatar
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    What you would do is build a basic "player" (projector) that could handle all your activities and then use the scratch feature to append data to the basic projector to configure it to behave the way you want. The projector would then read the scratch area data at startup to figure out what it should do. SWF Studio projectors will work on any Windows desktop OS from Win98 SE right up to Vista.

  5. #5
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    Thanks. Just trying to get my head around this........

    So... If I create a web based swf that contains my activities and options to configure colours & text etc, is it then a case of appending that data to an export button so that the standalones can be created and saved. E.g. 'export this activity, with this text, in that colour'.

    I know I'm over-simplifying it, but I want to get it clear in my mind before I start. I think it may be worth me downloading your trial version and having a play around. Thanks for your help.

  6. #6
    Tim (Super Moderator) Northcode's Avatar
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    The scratch feature of SWF Studio is for modifying the EXE itself so you can't use another tool to append the data to your EXE, the application would have to do it itself. A web based solution is out for that reason.

    First, you'll need some way to create a file that contains the data you need in your application. This might be done in a web based application (and downloaded) but it could also be done in a projector.

    You'll need a SWF Studio application that can import the data file you generated and update its own scratch area. You can do this with an optional command line argument (to specify where the file to be imported is).

    You can describe to your users how to do this or you could bundle it all up into another application that automated the process and just presented the user with the finished EXE file after its scratch area has been updated.

    If you don't NEED the activity data to be part of the EXE (i.e. if a separate settings file is okay) then you can drastically reduce the complexity. If not, it's still doable but it's going to take some mental gymnastics and grunt work to get it done

  7. #7
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    Hey everybody.

    My first post here. Reached this thread by a forum search for "projector".

    I hope someone can save me some time.
    I am looking for a SWF2EXE projector that supports these features:
    • Generate a single EXE - with all resources inside
    • Allow a windowless mode and a fullscreen mode
    • Provide some code protection/obfuscation
    • Support Flash 9 / AS3


    In general - I am looking to do some flash applications and "casual" games.

    The generator software itself should be lightweight - not too "heavy duty" and preferably, free/opensource

    Quote Originally Posted by Northcode
    Do these projectors support these features? If they all do, which is the most commonly used / most supported / most developed?

    Thanks in advance, and apologies for the somewhat lengthy post.

  8. #8
    Tim (Super Moderator) Northcode's Avatar
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    The only open source tool I'm aware of is screenweaver. It was once a commercial product and it was orphaned by its owner a number of times (leaving users hanging). There haven't been any visible signs of life from this project for some time. The source is available though, so if you know your way around a C++ compiler you might be able to use it, but you're on your own.

    Most of the time, all you get by asking "what tool should I use" is propaganda from the vendor or great testimonials from current users but none of that will be of any real decision making value to you, there just aren't any quick answers. You should plan to spend some quality time with each product if you're going to be using one of them day in and day out.

    All of the third party tools have trial versions. If you want to get a feel for each of the products the best thing to do is to download them and try them for yourself. When you download the trial, don't just fire up the UI, do something real with it. Build the examples and look at the example code. Pound on the product a bit, see what breaks (or doesn't).

    Pick a simple but realistic project for yourself (like building a CD front end or something) and see how it goes with each product. Pick something that in a perfect world you could bang out in a day and plan to spend a week on it to get yourself over the initial learning curve. Most of these tools cover too much ground to just be absorbed by intuition. RTFM.

    Most, if not all, of these tools also have online forums where you can interact with other users, ask for help, look at past problems and solutions and get a feel for the community. Definitely check out the forums, you'll probably be spending a lot of time in them. The forums are a big open window into the product and the company. See what kinds of problems people have or have had. Are the problems caused by the product (quality, doc, stability), by learning curves or other factors?

    Finally, ask each company questions by forum, email or phone before you buy and see what kind of response you get. If you actually decide to try a little test project you'll probably have to ask for support at some point anyway, so you might as well give that a test drive too.

  9. #9
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    Thank you Northcode, for the detailed and honest answer.
    I noticed that some of these tools are integrating themselves with the CS3 environment. I guess this is nice and good for some purposes, but since I am just learning CS3, and since I want my applications to work on the web and as a standalone, I am looking for a converter/projector that does NOT do any integration with CS3 - it should just take the SWF and generate an EXE after it lets me do some configuration. Plain and simple.

    Off the top of your head, is any of the tools mentioned above meet this criteria? As far as I could see on (some of) their sites, they all brag about this integration, which to me is a disadvantage at this point.

  10. #10
    Tim (Super Moderator) Northcode's Avatar
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    They all work with CS3 but I don't think any of them REQUIRE it, I know SWF Studio doesn't. SWF Studio works with Flash 6,7,8,9, Flex, SWiSH, KoolMoves and basically anything that can spit out an SWF and allows you to use ActionScript. Even ActionScript support isn't a requirement if you just want to wrap your SWF in an EXE and add "cosmetic" effects like fullscreen and transparency.

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