Friday May 06 , 2016

We Just Open Sourced A User Management System

Skip the Drudgery of Implementing User Profiles

While they're never exciting to code, it's a fact that most non-trivial web applications need a user profile management module. And today, that usually entails implementing OAuth authentication from at least one of the big social networks, since users increasingly choose to place trust with their identity in Facebook over some random website. Anyone who has plumbed the depths of an OAuth implementation can tell you that it's no fun. So when we created such a system for an application we're building, it seemed only logical to open source the profile management module, in hopes of saving someone a week or more of drudgery.

The module is built on Angular 1.x, Bootstrap, and Firebase. It has a mobile-friendly design, and supports authentication by password as well as social sign-in from Google+, Facebook, Twitter, and GitHub. We're standing on the shoulders of giants here, because Firebase has made the OAuth support a breeze. It was only up to us to build the system for adding, updating, and deleting profiles, with the data being stored in a Firebase database. In case you haven't heard about Firebase yet, they're a Google company whose product is a blazing-fast, queryable, JSON database with a powerful rules-based security model and flexible user authentication options. They also offer site hosting from a fast CDN.

So, if you're building on Angular and Firebase, or just want to give Firebase a test drive, check out User Profiles demo and download the code from GitHub today. It's Open Source, available via the BSD 3-Clause License.

 

Zarqon Product Sunset

Our Licensing Product for Adobe Flex and Air is Being Retired

In early 2009, the future of Adobe Flex and Air was bright. A single codebase for desktop, mobile, and web was finally a reality and companies were flocking to the platform.

Then, in 2011, amid industry-wide clamor about HTML5 and open standards, Adobe chose to Open Source the Flex SDK with a little help from The Apache Foundation.

While some developers cheered, industry experts hailed it as a sign that Adobe was abandoning Flash. Businesses no longer saw the Flash Platform as a viable long term option for new products.

Now, in 2015, the call for products such as Zarqon has waned dramatically. As a result it is no longer cost effective for us to offer and maintain Zarqon.

Existing Zarqon installs will continue to work as long as Amazon S3 and Adobe Air remain compatible.

No further updates will be made to Zarqon.

 

Spanning Mobile, Desktop, and Web with a Single Codebase

Futurescale Tapped for Multiplatform Presentation Viewer

When it comes to creating truly stunning presentations, few companies have a pedigree as rich as Manhattan-based Sales Graphics.

Don't let the unassuming name fool you – their diverse client base reads like a Who’s Who of the Broadcast, Financial Services, and Publishing industries. So why do heavy hitters like A&E, AMC, HBO, Dish TV, NBC Universal, Playboy, American Express, Ferrari, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, and Western Union choose to work with Sales Graphics? That’s an interesting story and what sets them apart from every other slideshow application on the market.

To begin with, Sales Graphics is the very embodiment of the term ‘deep domain experience’. They've been in business for over fifty years. Yes, you read that right. When they opened their doors, presentations still looked pretty much like what you see on a typical episode of Mad Men - cards on an easel. Factor in how tough it is to stay in business in a town like Manhattan, and how long it took for computers to revolutionize the process of presentations, and you know they've got what it takes. 

Fast forward to a point a little over ten years ago. Microsoft's PowerPoint has been firmly entrenched in the enterprise as the default mechanism for creating presentations for years, because anyone can create presentations quickly. But there was an unexpected problem with that. All that freedom to 'throw together a quick slideshow' meant that people in different parts of a large company were often doing redundant work, creating similar content. Worse yet, it was difficult to control the corporate brand in these presentations.

So, Sales Graphics decided to tackle this problem. Using Macromedia Director, they created a program called CustomShow which allowed an enterprise to centralize its media resources, creating slides that could be reused in different presentations. Now a typical outside sales person could create a quick presentation customized for her client with the same polished look and feel as the ones shown to investors or stockholders. For years, they pushed Director's boundaries as far as they could. And while they had a great product, they wanted an even better one. They came to realize that the only way to build what they wanted was by switching to Adobe Flex.

Once they made the decision to go with Flex, they knew it would take quite awhile to build everything from scratch again. But they were anxious to let their customers have access to some of the new features like video and custom Flash content that could make their slideshows look as good as their on-air advertising. So, they made a conversion tool that allowed Sales Graphics designers to take a slideshow from their Director app, convert it to the new format and add the new elements using the alpha version of the new Flex-based creation tools.

At this point, Futurescale was engaged to create a set of viewers for web, desktop, and iPad that allowed these new presentations to be viewed outside the creation tool. For a little over two years, Futurescale's Cliff Hall, author of the PureMVC framework, has worked directly with the Sales Graphics team to bring these products to market. 

Since Sales Graphics is a company with long-term clients, they have to take a long view on software development. That's why they chose to build the new version of CustomShow using the PureMVC framework. It has allowed their codebase to grow and easily adapt to the complexities added by the support of multiple platforms. Offline capabilities in the desktop and iPad applications, a completely different user interface in the iPad version, meetings in the web viewer, all of the user management, upload, and layout capabilities in the creation tool - it really is an enormous undertaking. But adding new features today is as easy as it was a few years ago when the project started.

George Chevalier, President of Sales Graphics had this to say about our 2+ year engagement: "Working with Futurescale over the past few years has been a very positive experience. Cliff has helped engineer our CustomShow app and created valuable new features that are helping us win new clients. His knowledge base is extensive and professionalism second to none. I look forward to continuing our relationship as we develop CustomShow into the future."

About Sales Graphics

Sales Graphics is a full-service presentation agency providing award-winning design and industry-leading software to help corporate customers meet their sales goals with maximum peace of mind. They offer CustomShow Enterprise Presentation Software, as well as high-end Presentation Design Services that include video, Flash, and multimedia production.

Visit Sales Graphics on the web at: http://www.salesgraphics.com/

 

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Satisfied Clients

"When it comes to Flex and Flash, Cliff is one of the most knowledgeable and capable people I know. He's easy to work with and does a great job of thinking things through.

I've hired him to help with two of my projects and he's done a great job of taking care of me and getting what I needed both times!"

— Clarke Bishop, Founder of Resultant Systems - Atlanta Georgia, USA

 

Enabling Success Since 2004

Forward-thinking organizations we are proud to have served include Adobe Systems, Ahead.com, Assurant, Avtec Systems, FlashCommGuru, EnableUs, EchoEleven, Effective UI, Chase Manhattan Bank, Cisco Systems, Dorado Systems, HailAppraiser, The Joint Interoperability Task Force (JITC), Jockey Club, Lockheed Martin, MatchMine, Morgan Stanley, NYK Logistics, State Street Bank, Resultant Systems, Rapid Ninja, Sales Graphics, Universal Mind, U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM), Verizon Wireless, Weightwatchers International, Whitman Hart, and Zfx.