What programming language/tool should I use?
March 27, 2007 1:14 AM   Subscribe

ApplicationDevelopmentFilter : I want to write an application that allows the user to "build" a flyer based on templates I design. Think of the old Spreadshirt website where you could choose your t-shirt size, type and colour, choose your graphic and where it goes, size etc... and gives you visual progress until you get your finished product.

I am a developer from way back but I don't think my skills (asp & .Net & VB6) are much use. I would try flash as my guess is that would be a good tool - but I haven't looked at Flash for at least 7 years.

I'm comfortable with learning a new skill to be able to do this too.

I've had a looks at places like planetsourcecode.com but what I'm after is difficult to search on!

Browser based or thick client doesn't matter, would be distributed on CD anyway...

Anyone with ideas or examples (even better!!!) would be much appreciated!

posted by paterg to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
i've never coded for flash as a stand-alone application. i just wanted to chime in that, for browser-based applications, flash has never really done me wrong. cross-browser compatibility is not even an issue, and actionscript is robust. and with adobe's recent changes, i think it could be provide your users with a lot of design flexibility & creativity.
posted by phaedon at 1:34 AM on March 27, 2007

Flash'll make it easy to make sprites and text for the user to move around, but it won't make it easy to write the rest of the software. Given your experience, I suggesting using Visual Studio and creating your own interface for placing and moving visual elements like graphics and text.
posted by hAndrew at 3:48 AM on March 27, 2007

I don't think it really matters to most people if they refer to general things as being gay. However, just point out once to them - hey dude, imagine someone here was gay and you said that.

Find out how he would react.
posted by markovich at 4:01 AM on March 27, 2007

excellent advice.
posted by the cuban at 4:55 AM on March 27, 2007

I don't think it really matters to most people if they refer to general things as being gay. However, just point out once to them - hey dude, imagine someone here was gay and you said that.

markovitch did you mean to post your comment to this thread ? I've tried to understand what you're referring to and I really don't get it - could you expand ?
posted by southof40 at 4:59 AM on March 27, 2007

PHP has a library (part of PEAR?) that allows PDF documents to be created on the fly.
I have seen it used for invoices etc. If you just wanted text or simple graphics added to your templates this would be *fairly* simple.
posted by bystander at 5:07 AM on March 27, 2007

I believe markovitch meant to post in this thread.

To answer your question: I don't think the learning curve for a full-on Flash application (or Shockwave) would be substantially less or more than any other software, except that with Flash you'd be able to do more fancy transitions and visuals.

The problem is going to be in the details. It's easy to do a rough templating service, but the problems will arise when the users want more granular control over the finished product. Coding those kind of features could get very hairy.

If it's really as simple as you describe (pick a shirt style, pick a color, pick a decal and pick a location) then you'll do fine with Macromedia's offerings. But how do you plan to update inventory to the user? If this is a web-app, it's easy: just keep the inventory database on your server and update as needed. If it's residing on the client's system, you may have problems keeping the end-user informed of what's currently out of stock (or simply retired from service). And what about order processing? Once a customer has created their design, do they just fax you the specifications? Do they mail something in? Or is this software supposed to then connect to the internet and "beam" the info to your production facilities? Or will they be producing the end product themselves, so this isn't a problem?

You'll need to be more specific in what you want the scope of the application to encompass before you can decide on a framework.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:13 AM on March 27, 2007

Hm. Laszlo is an alternate way to build a Flash solution. Demos here.

This might be helpful, or not. I've wanted to do something with this toolkit for ages.
posted by Pronoiac at 7:43 AM on March 27, 2007

This sounds like a cool idea for an web application. But, if you want to keep it desktop-based, you might look into using Flash (which makes the GUI stuff a lot easier) and something like SWF Studio from Northcode, to give you some more robust stand-alone options.
posted by wheat at 11:50 AM on March 27, 2007

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