Archive for October 20th, 2008


Tabbing and focus in browser problem

(short version: If nested DisplayContainers have a mix of tabChildren states, tabbing from a child at the bottom will yield unwanted results)

We’re porting our Print product from as2 to as3. In that process I had implemented tab navigation in a table element. This was a total nightmare – tab worked beautifully in the flash standalone player, but not in a browser. In both IE and Firefox, hitting tab would change focus to the addess bar of the browser.

Why why why? I read the documentation for the FocusManager as I suspected it had something to do with this – focusManager was a tricky beast in AS2. No answers, so I started reading the actual code in (kudos to Adobe for allowing us to view and debug in the mx.* source code). No answers there either, but a lot of interesting code.

Finally I decided that I needed a more controlled environment to check how the flashPlayer handles tabbing. I created a very simple actionScript project with two editable textFields. This revealed that FP will move focus with tab till it’s at what it perceives as the last element. The tabbing will move focus to the address bar. Next tab will move it back to the first tabbable element in the flash.

So far, so good. But this didn’t answer why I lost focus in my app on every tab. After more hair pulling, I suspected that the tabChildren attribute on DisplayContainer could influence tabbing. I created four Sprite instances, nested them and placed an editable textField at the bottom. Setting all Sprites to tabChildren true or false both gave the correct result, i.e. focus went to the next flash object, not to the browser. But (and this is the finale) if there was a mix of tabChildren=true, tabChildren=false and tabChildren=true, tabbing from textField would send focus to the address bar.  An order of true, true, false, false would work – it was the mix that gave the bug.

After that it was easy to just ensure that the whole chain of DisplayContainers above my textField had tabChildren set to true.


And we’re live

We’ve long wanted to set up a blog to share ideas, opinions and solutions. Mostly regarding Flex and Flash development.

Papirfly is a Norwegian company. We create internet solutions ranging from simple company home pages to complex extranets with lots of custom functionality. We have three flash based products: Print, Banner and Monitor

Print is a WYSIWYG pdf creator. Typical use is job ad creation. The user can edit all content, but visuals are according to graphical guidelines, i.e. you can create ads very fast and maintain brand identity. Much of our flash work is related to writing a framework for the Print templates and also creating the templates themselves.

Banner is a WYSIWYG flash banner-ad creator. The concept is the same as for print: easy to use, hard to mess with brand identity. The end-product .swf files are super-compact and ready to be sent.

Monitor is, surprisingly, also a WYSIWYG solution. It allows content creation for all those nice new flat-screens in lobbies, shops and airports.  Lots of functionality for work-flow and reusing content.

I’ll stop there before this becomes a pure marketing blurb. I’m proud of the work we do, and I know we’re pretty cutting edge in our admittedly narrow field. The point of this blog is that in the daily work of making our products work and work better, we sometimes come across problems that a search on google doesn’t answer. We’d like to share with the community because we’ve so often benefited from similar blog entries, i.e. the times when google searches gave useful results.

October 2008
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