Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Sunday Funnies

I've been a big fan of Comic Life from Plasq since I first saw it a couple years ago. It almost made me reinstall Panther on my G4 PowerBook. I like all those kind of tools that let a person without true artistic ability fake it. You know, like Photoshop. I thought it would be cool to allow people to create their own comics, but allow them to embed the finished product on their blog or web page. This could be an image, or even better, a Google Map-type viewer. I also wanted to create the product as a web-based project. After all, that would be about the only way to differentiate the effort from Plasq's fine product. As I look at Plasq's web site today, I discovered that they now have a Windows version of their software. Even more incentive to try to build a web version. Such an undertaking would require some cutting edge Web 2.0 skills (I just can't bring myself to type skilz). The server architecture would have to be very interesting. I'm thinking of a JMS implementation in order to process events from the client side in an asynchronous manner. This would also allow me to leverage comet to improve the responsiveness and scalability of the application. This could be a very fun project. Of course it could get bogged down due to the browser's inability to perform certain tasks. I think I will try a few experiments to act as a proof of concept.
  1. Allow drag and drop for image files external to the web browser. This is the first gotcha that will require an impure solution. Browsers can't do this yet. Probably use a very slim Java plugin or something in Flash. I hate to do it though. If I end up sticking Flash in there, the inclination is to do all the image manipulating in flash also. Before you know it, the whole app is just a Flash app. That's no fun.
  2. Allow the user to right-click on an image and convert it to grayscale. Other image filters can come later.
  3. Demonstrate how an image can be masked. This is important in comics because the image usually doesn't bleed beyond the confines of its cell.
That's probably a good enough start. If I can accomplish those tasks and they work very well and are cross-browser, that may represent 50% of the hard work.

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