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Archive for the ‘Digital Publishing’ Category

Is EPUB the future of rich media?

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

The EPUB file format is definitely taking off like a rocket for ebooks and text-based “packaged” web content (such as RSS feeds).  But what about rich media?  Well, the format certainly can contain content that includes video, sound, animation, games, apps, etc.   And, Adobe Digital Editions will render that kind of content (if it is Flash-based) and Adobe Content Server 4 can apply copy protection to it (if you need that because you are a library, etc).   Ah, but what about mobile you might ask…


Ebooks on a card

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

Scenario: I go to 7-11 and grab the latest NY Times bestseller as a wallet-sized plastic card.  It has a lotto style scratch-off strip…


Bluefire at O’Reilly Tools of Change

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

I’ll be heading to NY soon (Feb 8-12) to attend the Tools of Change conference.  While I’m there, I’d love to meet folks that are interested in innovating in the digital publishing space with RIA (rich internet application) technologies such as Flash and Silverlight.   Whether that be video, audio, games, etc. as ebook content, social network marketing tools, or online applications for reading and publishing.  Idle banter is welcome, almost as much so as paid projects ; )  Contact me in advance if you please at or txt me at the conf at  206.714.6265


Micah Bowers is the UX director at Seattle-based interactive agency Bluefire Productions.

Silverlight Feedbooks RSS Browser - Part 2

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

Creating a Thumbnail Grid


In Part 1 of this tutorial we stepped through the process of fetching and parsing an RSS feed from the results of which were bound to a DataGrid UI Control.

In this post we will detail how we can use the new WrapPanel and ViewBox controls, which are a part of the  Silverlight Toolkit December 2008 release to create grid of thumbnails from a Feedbooks RSS source.

Download Source

Feedbooks RSS Browser Application

See it in Action


Text Layout Framework Resources

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

The new Text Layout Framework for Flash Player 10 is very powerful and feature rich, but there’s a bit of a learning curve because of that (as we discovered while building the World Class Text Tour for the TLF site on Labs).  Here’s a list of some resources for learning more about it.  Or, if you’d rather hire someone to do it for you, just give us a ring at (206) 781-1411.  We plan to post a few tutorials ourselves in the near future.


Text Layout Framework on Adobe Labs (Note that each section of the “World Class Text Tour” demo on that page has downloadable FLA files with source code - download button is in upper right.)

Text Layout Framework Team Blog

MAX 2008 TLF session videos

Adobe Evangelist Mihai Corlan’s blog post:  ”How to use Text Layout Framework in Flex 3.2 or AIR 1.5″

Flex 3.2 Language Reference for Flash Text Engine

Richard Dermer’s Pagingation example for Flex builder

If you come across any additional resources, please submit a comment with a URL.

Silverlight Feedbooks RSS Browser - Part 1

Monday, January 19th, 2009

Tutorial - Creating a Simple Silverlight RSS Reader


This is the first post of a multipart blog tutorial explaining how to create a simple Silverlight 2.0 Web Application that displays a grid of thumbnails from a Feedbooks RSS source.  Under each thumbnail is a button that allows users to download an ePub version of the book to their desktop.

Download Source See also: Tutorial Part 2

Feedbooks RSS Browser

See it in Action

In this first part we are going to step through the process of fetching and parsing an RSS feed with Silverlight and then bind the RSS data to a Silverlight DataGrid control.


Text Layout Framework: a new reason for publishers to love Flash

Monday, January 19th, 2009

The Text Layout Framework (TLF) is new tech that dramatically improves typography and foreign language support in Flash player 10. Adobe recently tapped Bluefire to build a TLF demo for Labs that showcased what it could do, and while working on it we became rather impressed with the capabilities. In fact, it is a game changer in the RIA space. If you are a Flash developer or work in the digital publishing arena I highly recommend checking out the World Class Text Tour we did as a quick primer. Here’s a few screenshots:

World Class Text Tour

First Library Offers EPUB eBooks

Monday, January 19th, 2009

The EPUB file format has taken another significant step forward with the announcement that the Cleveland Public Library has begun offering eBook downloads in the format (via).  This is only the beginning of what will clearly be a massive shift toward the proliferation of EPUB  in public libraries.  Why?

Bluefire in 2008

Friday, January 9th, 2009

Believe it or not, 2008 was a great year for us.  We continued to work in the Digital Publishing arena, which we are really into. We did a few projects in the mobile space, which was a goal going into the year.  And in the fall we got a new client - the Flash Platform team at Adobe.  Given that we’ve always been a huge fan (and user) of Flash Player since the FutureSplash days it was very meaningful to us to do some R&D and a product demo for them.  I’ll try to blog about the various projects in some detail, but here’s an overview of our 2008 work:

  • Adobe Digital Editions 1.5 -  UX design and Flex dev on this update that added content portability and support for the Sony Reader Digital Book.
  • Adobe Content Server 4 Admin Console -  UX design and Flex dev of the admin console for Adobe’s new digital publishing and distribution management tool.
  • Dexter Widget 1.5 - UX design and Flex dev to update a book preview Flex widget that added customizable styles,  fluid layout to work in a variety of sizes and screens,  and mySpace compatibility.
  • World Class Text Tour - Creative and Flex dev on this interactive marketing piece that showcases the world languages and text layout features of Flash Player 10 and the Text Layout Framework.
  • Mogreet Widget - Flash dev on this widget for sending fun video messages to mobile devices.
  • Sumisho Website - Design and HTML on major update to a site we had done in a previous year.
  • Mobile Application - UI designs for an un-announced mobile application: iphone and windows mobile versions.


Adobe Digital Editions 1.5 Rocks the Scene

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

Congratulations to our good friends at Adobe for releasing Digital Editions 1.5. (Bluefire provided UX design and Flex development support for both the 1.0 and 1.5 efforts). Digital Editions is a lightweight, rich internet application for reading, acquiring and organizing digital books and other publications. This update adds content portability to protected items in both EPUB and PDF formats. Meaning you can now buy copy protected items online and, well… copy them - to other computers and devices. This portability is enabled by a new feature for authorizing a machine with an Adobe ID.

Bluefire Presenting at 360Flex Seattle

Friday, August 10th, 2007

Bluefire will be presenting at the 360Flex Conference this Tuesday, August 14, at 1:00 pm at The Red Lion Hotel in Downtown Seattle. The presentation will cover topics of experience design, RIA development and Flex coding relating to our experiences working on the Adobe Digital Editions team.

The presentation and its support files, including Flex source code, can be downloaded here: 360 Presentation Files.

In addition to presenting on Tuesday, Bluefire is helping to sponsor the Northwest Charity Flex Code Jam, a 3-dayFlex-coding event aimed at creating a Virtual Food Drive application for Seattle’s own Northwest Harvest. This event was put together by the Seattle Flex User Group in conjunction with Adobe’s Flex Champions Program and is set to kick-off Sunday, August 12th. Conference goers will have the opportunity to donate their time to this coding endeavor and Bluefire will be on hand as project mentors for this awesome cause.

Drop us a line if you will be at the conference. Hope to see you there.

New AMG 1.2.0 Source Now Released

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

The new version of the Adobe Media Gallery was just uploaded to –in version 1.2.0 we made the following improvements to the AMG code base:

* the ability to add menu commands to the gallery
* the ability to list multiple photo groups in the menus
* the ability to change styles via the menu commands
* easier project compilation (no extra steps, just Test Movie or Publish)
* better use of the external flashvars xml file
* various bug fixes

A zipped archive of the source, including sample galleries that make use of the new menu features, can be downloaded from the Downloads section of the
AMG open source site at

A sample gallery illustrating these features can be seen here:
sample 1.2.0 gallery

Stay tuned to this blog for more posts concerning how to use these new features in the next couple of days.

Patrick to Present at SeaFlex -July 12th

Tuesday, July 10th, 2007

Bluefire’s Technical Director, Patrick Keating, will be presenting at Seattle Flex Users Group (SeaFlex) on Thursday July 12th at 6:30 pm.

You can view the presentation here: view the presentation and view and download the source code for the demonstration app here:
download source code

Hope to see you there!

New Menu Features for AMG Flash Galleries

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

Did you know that you can modify the menus and menu items in the Flash galleries generated by Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Bridge CS3? Well, you can, and soon you can do even cooler things with those menus. You can add whole new menus that change styles on the fly (changing things like colors and layouts), menus that load a whole different set of images into the gallery, or menus with links to other html pages. You can even create menu items that do multiple things at once (e.g. load a new set of images AND change the style). To see what I’m talking about, check out this sample gallery.


What’s Cool About Adobe Digital Editions 1.0

Tuesday, June 19th, 2007

Today Adobe Systems announced the release of Adobe® Digital Editions 1.0, a new desktop application for “acquiring, managing and reading eBooks, digital newspapers, and other digital publications”. There’s so much that is cool about this app that it is hard to know where to start. But before diving into that, I should mention that Bluefire provided experience design and Flex development services to Adobe for the 1.0 version effort, so I’m not exactly “impartial”.

A good top level overview of the app can be found in Adobe’s press release, so I won’t regurgitate that in detail, rather I’ll give you a couple excerpted highlights of it, and then dive into my own personal (slightly more geeky) perspective.