Category: development

Thank you Adobe (Macromedia) for Flash

Google trends, Apple, Google Chrome and plenty of developers put a cross on Flash. In my opinion without Flash the current web tech stack might look different.

Credentials

I wrote my first line of code in ActionScript 2.0 it was 13 years ago and it was streamlined with the style of web. Big boom of flash animations, letters flying around and flash menus. In addition I’m putting myself as the worst person on the World in terms of color matching. At the moment of doing it I didn’t know that I become a programmer, I liked PC though.

A couple of years later I was doing more and more programming, some in Pascal, some in C. Neither of them attracted me for more time (before college) so that I was experimenting in Flash, and I enjoy a lot the simplicity of putting a movement to MovieClips, Timeline manipulation or doing mouse actions. During college, I’ve switched focus to C++98, Verilog and SystemC. Probably by accident I started to work in game industry at GameFactory, where I co-developed around 7 titles in Flash and 2 in Unity 4, then at King I’ve started to work as an AS3/C++ Engine developer. All of it doesn’t make me guru neither of language nor of the best practices. I achieved level where I felt comfortable with API and tech and I could utilize well that Flash offers,

Bright sides of Flash

API

I didn’t notice this aspect before, but after working as an engine developer I understood how hard is to provide clean API what is future-proof. As a noob I was able to deduce what some API call will do. For 8 year of working with Flash Player I don’t remember any problem with breaking changes. API was flexible enough to add new functionality, it was smartly designed around passing an extra configuration objects like LoaderContext. For the instance, when they added an asynchronous image decoding, it wasn’t done by an extra argument for function call, it was an extra property of context. KISS in practice.

ActionScript 3.0

I love in place XML:  var xml:XML = <foo><bar/></foo>;

I love Dictionary with weak keys, and Object where you can put other objects as a key.

I love typed Vectors, (And hate a little bit for weak performance even with fixed size, and conversion between them).

I love for each..in loop.

And I was so surprised that JavaScript has none of them. In such a way ECMAScript 4 (ES4) from ActionScript 3.0 is far more developer friendly than ES5 is. In someway ES6 tries the best by adding classes. But there is plenty of other missing features like: final classes, private, public, protected, internal accessors. Explicit inline (This is more compiler feature than language), strong typed (thankfully we have TypeScript), well designed Event System with nice propagation (It’s more like a library feature rather tan language), no confusion with undefined, no confusion with this, and static variables / functions.

 
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Use CMake and Make, when sh.exe is in PATH on Windows

Problem

In order to be trapped by this problem your project / environment has to meet following conditions:

  1. You need to use Windows.
  2. Your project uses make as a base build system.
  3. You have available sh.exe as a system command.
  4. [Optional] You use CMake for a project generation.

Conditions 1 and 2 are pretty easy to fulfill, for the instance you try to compile Emscripten or Android based project. Condition 3 might look pretty odd. Why sh.exe on Windows? To me it was a natural ripple effect of having Git installed with Linux like tools in system PATH. I just love to use ‘ls’ instead of ‘dir’ in command line.

 
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Windows 10 Creators Update and support of Hi-DPI and Low-DPI displays

This is an extension to my previous post about this problem: http://asria.pl/windows-10-support-of-hi-dpi-and-low-dpi-displays/

I’m right after install an update to Windows 10 Creators Update / 1703 and problem with scaling of some most applications has been solved by introduction new compatibility mode.

From the user perspective: It’s needed to set System (Enhanced) mode for DPI Scaling Behavior:

 

My low DPI Screen looks like below:

 

References

 

Update

After testing this for a couple of days I fount some glitches with Enhancement mode.

 

Windows Explorer

On LowDPI screen: moving location “segment” somewhere in order to link it.

View post on imgur.com

On HighDPI screen: Welcome window after installing Creators Update:

 

Other software what has some issues with enhancement mode.

VS Code

This soft works nicely without compatibility mode, but when I started to use ConEmu with Enhancement mode, it passes execution context to every application what is created from the console. Hence when I type code in my console it inherits settings.Then it looks like that:
HighDPI screen

This case applies on other applications, when improved compatibility mode is enabled.

 

 
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2016 wasn’t the year of Linux for me.

From the beginning of 2016 I decided to move permanently to Linux as a primary system. I thought through decently this decision. So that I did a list of programs, tools that I use day by day on Windows.

 

Challenge 1: Find a stable and well supported Linux Distribution.

A list of choice was rather not so impressive: Debian, Arch and everything that bases on those. After few installations on a virtual machine, I decided to go in Ubuntu.

Installation itself was in like flynn, every device on Asus K95VM worked nicely.

Challenge 2: Customization.

First month I spent for making a system tailor made, mostly from visual and UX aspect. It’s amazing how far a system can be changed, also it was surprise how different is on Linux to install a video player that just works.

In case of development tools I fall in love to Terminator console emulator. ZSH+oh-my-zsh+terminator provide far better workflow than ConEmu+clink.

Challenge 2: Missing WebGL.

Firefox didn’t enable support for WebGL for my setup, although it’s pretty powerful. One change in Firefox’s settings and I’ve got support for it. This made me to think about update a graphic driver for my primary nVidia card. This was my first mistake. I did update and upgrade, then I navigated to a control panel of Additional Drivers and I selected then highest number. After this system didn’t start properly, and I spend half a day trying to restore it. Eventually I managed to downgrade to 340.96. Right now my laptop works with 367.57 binary driver, and even if I can select 370.28 I’m simply to afraid to do it.

Challenge 3: Support by other companies.

In this case Logitech. Even if mouse works nicely, there is no way to customize all mouse buttons. Somehow I manage to live without my custom settings. Unfortunately, it’s not my level to write my own drivers for it.

Challenge 4: Open/Libre Office.

As a free alternative to Microsoft Outlook, Libre office does amazing job. Literally in normal home-usage cases I haven’t find anything missing. Once I needed to use more advanced pivot table techniques in LibreCalc, I admit that we reached a limit. Don’t understand me wrong. Libre Office for home usage and probably in many cases for a professional usage is fine.

Challenge 5: Energy management.

K95 is not an example of mobile laptop I did few travels with him and I had to rely on embedded energy management. What I didn’t find much useful. I know that due a level of customization one can configure Linux to be very efficient, but from a noobie point of view there is no simple option that could simplify it. As a result of my incompetence and lack of tool, I didn’t manage to have more than 50% of the time that I could have on Windows.

Challenge 6: Multi screen configuration.

No surprises here, unless one of screen is set in portrait mode. In my case my GPU didn’t allow me to put a monitor to portrait mode. I’m not even talking about having a nice GUI that could allow to do it, in my case simple xrand didn’t work.

I found few cases that windows manager didn’t handle multi-screen configuration. It’s not uncommon that once a window is moved to another screen then the windows moves back to an original screen.

Layout manager for Unity/Ubuntu is not such useful like in Windows 10. It allows only to move a windows to right/left half and it’s always hardcoded 50%. It’s far better in case of i3wm or awesome, but this requires more time to learn.

Positive aspects.

Miscellaneous tools useful for development like: valgrind, sanitizers ltrace, strace are amazing.

System update works how it should work, so that I didn’t have to restart my system only because system update.

Early access to the newest compilers, so that it’s easy to learn new techniques (C++ especially).

System looks far better than any Windows, every step can be scripted, and due a convention of storing settings in ~ folder, it’s easy to reinstall system, and have an environment works rapidly.

 

Current setup

I didn’t uninstall Linux from laptop, it’s there still as a development machine, nevertheless where It’s needed better performance in a travel I use an other – windows based laptop. Also I found that Window 10 + WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux) fulfills a missing part of lack of tools, so that it’s so far my configuration of choice.

 

 

 
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Compile with WebAssembly on Windows

The base instruction is placed over http://webassembly.org/getting-started/developers-guide/ Unfortunately at this moment (17th of December 2016) It does not cover an instruction for Windows.

One option could be to use Windows Subsystem for Linux :) If this is not an option then remaining options are:

  1. Compile the latest Emscripten locally
  2. Use pre-compiled version
 
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Doppler Effect removed from Chrome

In Chrome 55+ the function setVelocity has been removed. If your C++ game depends on OpenAL and somewhere you call:

alSource3f(mAlSourceId, AL_VELOCITY,

alSource3f(mAlSourceId, AL_SOURCE_RELATIVE, ...

Then you should either remove those calls, but if your game depends on AL_SOURCE_RELATIVE and you cannot remove it, then it’s required to add a simple snipped to your HTML page:

It’s required due an underlying implementation that sets velocity while you call set source relative.

 

 
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Use Docker image directly under Windows 10

Windows Subsystem for Linux allows to run Linux binaries directly under Windows. Next logical step might be to try to install Docker on the Linux, and then run images.

It might work, never tried. But, I’ve discovered (quite late – I have to admit) a way to ‘mount’ directly any Docker image as a subsystem for Windows 10.

What is needed:

 
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Unique identified of any Type in C++

Simple and useful snippet that helps to make an unique identifier for any type in C++.

It uses a fact that function static member of a function is a part of template installation, hence it contains own, unique address.

 

 
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Configure ConEmu and clink to show git branch

This is an extension to http://asria.pl/customize-conemu/ but int this case in a form of a tutorial / guideline that will help me (and maybe you) to mirror this setup.

The description shows how to configure conemu and clink, and display name of current branch:

 

 
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WebAssembly preview support in every major browser

Today it was announced that Mozilla, Microsoft, Google Chrome and Apple Webkit have got a support for binary format for JavaScript.

What does it mean for JavaScript developers? Nothing probably, they will continue doing JavaScript programming until some tool will compile plain JavaScript (or even ASM.JS subset) to binary format.

So, who is a target for this technology?

Mostly C++/C# developers. WebAssembly is a successor of ASM.JS that cooperates with Emscripten SDK. What is super important, it removes majority of constrains like:

  • i64 emulation: In plain JavaScript has no native representation of 64 bit integers, hence such common type has to be emulated. Quick benchmark made by Mozilla shows, that emulation is 8x slower than native solution. In WebAssembly it’s only 1.13x slower.
  • Contiguous HEAP: ASM.JS requires an emulate HEAP what is basically an array that stores what normally would be stored in free memory. Decent game requires to have about 512MB of HEAP. Problem with this is that it’s hard for browser to find free, not fragmented memory that can holds it.
  • Debugging: Debugging ASM.JS code that has 10MB in size optimal version, or 100MB of JS code of debug version can kill every browser, and stepping through breakpoints takes a few seconds.

 

More info: http://webassembly.org/roadmap/

 

 
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