somewhere to talk about random ideas and projects like everyone else



stick figure animator 22 June 2010

One thing the ajax animator’s pretty bad at is stick figures. Sure it’s not impossible, but it can’t really compare with the ol-fashioned frame-by-frame joint-manipulation likeness of Pivot. It’s called stick2 because the original experiment with stickfigures was named stick.html, and when I went to extend it and didn’t feel like setting up a git/svn repo, I copied the file and named it stick2.html, and with no good project-naming skills, it stayed that way.

Anyway, this was a project that got pretty close to completion in early march, but I never bothered to blog about it until now. It should work pretty not-bad on an iPad J(except the color picker), though honestly, I’ve never tried it.

The interface is pure jQuery/html/css. The graphics are done with Raphael, but the player actually uses <canvas> for no particular reason.

Basically, it’s organized into two panels, the left-side figures-box and the bottom timeline. The figures-box contains figures (amazing!) and clicking on them adds them to your canvas. The two defaults are the pivot-style stickman, and something called “blank” which is a root node with no additional nodes. Though it shows up as a orange dot, unless you add something to it, it doesn’t have any actual look when viewed in the player.

On top is the context-sensitive buttons. Well the buttons in my screenshot aren’t context sensitive, they’re permanent. But when you click on a node, a new set of buttons (and words too!) appears. One is a line and the other is a circle. Click them to add a new segment or circle to the currently selected node. Then are various settings for the current segment (each node other than the root one is associated with a segment). Clicking those allows you to modify them. Also, a red X appears on the right, and that basically means remove the node and the child nodes.

So, now you have some extra nodes, how do you change them? Simply hold it down and drag, and the the segments move as well. But note that the length of the segment doesn’t change as you move it. That’s because by default, it locks the length of the segments. There are two ways to get around it. The first is to hold shift while dragging. The second is to tap the little lock icon on the top left.

On the bottom, is the timeline with live-previews of your frames with a semitransparent gray backdrop of numbers. Switch between each one by clicking on them and add one at the end by hitting the green “Add new frame” button.

On the canvas, there are two yellow squares, those allow you to resize the canvas.

On the very left of the top toolbar, is the play button. Hit it and the figures toolbox minimizes and it plays out your animation. Click it again to get back. Then is a little upload button. Hit it and then a little box pops up with a link to where you can find your animation in a way that you can share and to edit (not actually edit, but more like fork, as each save is given a unique id). Next is the download button which you hit, and get prompted by a big prompt-box which you use to paste in the ID of the animation you (or someone else) has saved, so you can edit it. Most of the time that’s useless as when you send a link with the player, it has a button which says “Edit”.

Sample animation:

Try the application out:


gravity 10 June 2010

Here’s my foray into the flash-esque html5 game arena. It’s a simple game built initially in <canvas> but later scrapped for Raphael because I guess it’s something more suitable for svg than canvas. The interface is fairly simple, you click to start the game, where your projectile is sent off at the velocity relative to green blob in the center. Once it’s launched, the projectile is affected by the gravitational field of all the planets in some fairly pretty near-orbits. Once the projectile is in motion, clicking drops a new planet at where your cursor is, holding down makes the planet grow. The objective is to have the projectile not accelerate off the screen.

As per Kepler’s laws, getting near a planet produces the “gravitational slingshot” effect. Since the projectile tends to fly toward the center of planets, a magical divide-by-zero causes the infinite acceleration toward doom.

As with several other of my recent projects, it supports various configuration options via the url query string. If you don’t know how it works, basically, you append ?opt1=val1&opt2… to the url. Example: gravity2.html?grav=4 , simply gravity2.html?fastest or a combo of gravity2.html?fastest&grav=4&random. The current options are fastest to prevent the targeting of 80fps (accepts no args), target the target fps (obviously can not be used with fastest, in the case, fastest takes precedence) and it accepts one numerical argument, the default is 80. grav accepts one numerical argument, the default is 4 and is the attraction of the planets (zero isn’t very fun). _random _makes the planets start off in random places rather than the predefined magical positioning.

Feel free to post highscores in the comments.

The future of the Ajax Animator 12 December 2009

Eventually, what will happen is a pluggable editor system and swapping between the new Mini UI and the old standard UI. The pluggable editor system will enable switching between the existing VectorEditor and OnlyPaths editors as well as SVG-edit. Possibly, OnlyPaths will be phased out as SVG-edit supports every feature of the former as well as many more. The priority editors with the new version will be VectorEditor (the Mini UI editor, based on Raphael so it works fine cross-browser, but is also much more limiting than the rest, including OnlyPaths which it partially replaces). SVG-edit is an awesome project which is being actively developed, and will add new features that may make the Ajax Animator viable for more than just stick figures. New features that will come from the transition could include Gradients, Curved paths, Wireframes, Zoom, Groups, Align tools, Rotation and Resizing (without bugs!), Polygon/Polyline editing, to name a small subset. It’s likely that SVG-edit will have far more features by the time it’s fully implemented. It’ll be awesome.

The SVG-edit UI won’t fit well with the Mini UI (which I actually like more), so the classical UI will be revived.

RSVGShim A new SVG Shim that renders to SVG and VML using Raphael 04 September 2009

For like an hour (so, not a really long time, and nothing near SVGWeb) or so, I was working on a new SVG shim similar to SVGWeb except that it renders to VML and SVG through Raphael rather than Flash (so now I can actually brag about not having any plugins :P). Using it is somewhat simpler than SVGWeb, except that you need some replacing, but no need for a server, htcs, etc. Plus, the file is only 3.2 kb uncompressed, only 740 bytes gzipped and YUI’d. Also, it only works with rectangles and ellipses but could be somewhat easily modified to support anything that raphael does. While probably it does not work on IE (as I use linux and have no way to test), it’s an interesting concept.

It only works with pages where a SVG element is added dynamically after the page is loaded (contrasting to SVGWeb which only allows a SVG element to be added in code).

var svgroot = rshimdoc.createElementNS(null, "svg"); //you coudl also just use normal createElement("svg"), but it must be rshimdoc instead of document

svgroot.setAttribute('height', 100);

(new RHTMLElement(html element)).appendChild(svgroot)


rshimdoc.getElementById(element id).appendChild(svgroot)

So it doesn’t deviate too much from the SVG spec (just replacing document with rsvgdoc should work). And in other news, I’m moving some of my smaller works to github, so this project is also going to be hosted on GitHub.

VectorEditor Updates lines, rotation, more 10 August 2009

During the last two days I worked a bit on my cross platform, Raphael based vector graphics editor. It now supports Firefox, Opera, Chrome, probably Safari and magically, something called IE. Yes, it works on that nasty terror. Really, the project started with just the idea of being able to support IE. Sure it has a few neat features (multiple select mainly), but the fundamental idea is to support IE and to do so in a stable manner. It’s actually running quite well in IE, though only the latest version has been tested.

Among the updates is a new delete tool that is far more flexible and powerful. It is now not just a button but an entire tool. So while you can still click on it to delete your current selection, you can also use the tool to click on shapes or drag and delete whole groups (not sure what that thing is called). It even has a nice red tint to signify deleting. There is also event listening, vX support (it only uses events and position), and selecting fill, stroke, stroke opacity, fill opacity, and stroke width.

It also integrates well into the Ajax Animator in an almost drop-in replacement type. Maybe eventually something to choose between VectorEditor and Onlypaths. The really only bug features there are multiple select and drag and line editing.

Lines are now done almost perfectly. Dragging them works perfectly and it shows two little boxes on the ends that fan be dragged to edit. This vastly simplifies the old issues with lines and stick figures. Stick figures that inherently satisfy me a lot because that was the highes level of animation I ever did.

It’s probably a bad thing that the developer od an animation application never did anything more complex than stick figures, and probably makes it seem strange for me to even start it. But anyone with more knowledge of animation would not be so naiive as to attempt this.

VectorEditor 10 August 2008

I was experiementing with using another framework for Vector editing. So I used the relatively new Raphael framework. I wanted to use dojo.gfx, but I still don’t know how to use it without the dojo dependency. Raphael is not as powerful as dojo.gfx, or even OnlyPaths… so, it needs work.

It has many of the features in OnlyPaths, but it keeps the core showTracker() and such functions in the main script, not in the renderer. That allows the system to be simpler, and more easily cross-platform.

I’m not currently using cross-platform event handling. so it only works in Firefox for now, but converting is easy.