Getting started on the Flash development

I have now made significant progress with developing the flash movie which will be responsible for delivering drawtivity activities.  In this project I am attempting to take what is for me a new approach to flash development. This involves the sole use of actionscript to create all aspects of the activity interface.  This approach is being taken to maxmise the degree to which the activity interface can be defined dynamically from settings within the activity XML file and so maximise the ability of users to customise the activity to their own requirements.

One aspect of this customisation are the activity settings that are skin related. These determine the overall look and feel of the activity interface specifing the colours used, whether these colours include a fade and the transparency of the skin. As the activity elements are created dynamically all these settings are read from the activity XML file and used to build the activity appropriately when it loads in the users browser. Below are a series of screen shots that show different combinations of these skin settings to provide some ideas about how I expect these to be used:

Drawtivity activity - grey skin with fade

Drawtivity activity - blue skin

Drawtivity activity - transparent skin

The settings with the XML file that define the activity skin are:


<skinBgColour value="0x999999" />
<skinBarColour value="0x999999" />
<skinFade value="140" />
<skinAlpha value="100" />
<buttonColour value="0x000000" />
<buttonOverColour value="0x333333" />
<buttonTextColour value="0xFFFFFF" />
<introDisplay value="yes" />
<introColour value="0x999999" />
<introTextColour value="0xFFFFFF" />
<introCloseColour value="0xFFFFFF" />
<introAlpha value="60" />

Transparency alpha settings range from 0 to 100, colours are defined with hexadecimal codes and skin fade setting ranges from 0-200 with 100 being no fade. You can try out these skin settings yourself by downloading the current version of the activity files (unzip the downloaded files and open index.html) and amending the drawtivity.xml file before refreshing the activity index.html file. I would be very grateful for feedback anyone could offer on this aspect of Drawtivity’s design and functionality.

Please note that other aspects of the Drawtivity activity are currently incomplete in this downloaded version.

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Activity data structure

Keen to get started I have been thinking about the data structure to be used in the activity XML file to be read by the activity flash movie (SWF file).  This XML file is to contain all the activity settings, text and feedback data and this is loaded by the activity SWF file as it is displayed to the user.  These settings, text etc are then used to determine how the activity will appear and behave. Taking this approach will hopefully provide the activity author with significant scope in defining how the activity looks and responds to user input to suit their particular needs.

The proposed activity XML structure is as follows:

<drawtivity>
   <activitySettings>
      <activityType value="line"/>
      <skinBgColour value="0x999999"/>
      <skinBarColour value="0x999999"/>
      .....
   </activitySettings>
   <activityText>
      <activityTitle>Glioma tumor</activityTitle>
      <introduction>Outline the Glioma tumor on this MRI scan.</introduction>
      .....
   </activityText>
   <answer>
      <point x="100" y="100"/>
      <point x="200" y="200"/>
      .....
   </answer>
   <popupNotes>
      <note xcoord="146" ycoord="245" url="http://www.google.co.uk">This is some text</note>
      <note xcoord="67" ycoord="90" url="http://www.yahoo.co.uk">This is some text</note>
      .....
   </popupNotes>
</drawtivity>

Download a copy of the proposed activity XML file.

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