Friday, August 24, 2007

ASTRA -- Open Source ActionScript 3.0 Library From Yahoo

Here is a first look of ASTRA: ActionScript Toolkit for Rich Applications.
ASTRA, the ActionScript Toolkit for Rich Applications, is Yahoo!’s collection of Flash and Flex components, libraries, toolkits and advanced applications. These libraries are open-source and available under the BSD license.

The "Flash Componet Library" is the library that really draws my interest. I only looked at this library. I guess, however, the "Web APIs Library" is the one YAHOO really want people getting attached too. :-)

The download is a complete package that starts to be useful within seconds
The download (9.6 MB) contains complete documentation, source code with detailed comments, examples, and binaries that can be installed into Flash CS3 directly. If you are only interested in using the components, you only need to double click the file "astra.mxp", the components will automatically installed and you can start to use it in Flash CS3. You will find the new components under "yahoo" folder. (Notice: if double click "astra.mxp" does not lead you to anything, please check you have installed "Adobe Extension Manager", a separate installation that can be downloaded here: It is not installed when you first install Flash CS3.)

Small Footprint
All the .swf files in example directory are no more than 50 KB (even chart samples).

Excellent learning tool
If you have reservation on using "Beta" libraries in your product, there may still be reason to have a look at this library. It's source code is fully commented, and neatly organized. This make it a great tool for beginners who are learning to use ActionScript 3.0 and trying to understand object-oriented programming.

As I said, being a "beta" library, we should expect a lot of bugs. After about 10 minutes playing with chart. I already found a few things worth mentioning. The Flash I created is here:
1. Rotated chart cannot be shown properly (although preview on the design surface seems to be ok);
2. Error handling of chart data is weak. It do not show any error message if "dataProvider" has string values. I also managed to make X axis shift to the right by 1 unit, which I don't know why it happens;

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