Jorvik Viking Centre

Today I took my wife and our children to visit the Jorvik Viking Centre in York.  York was the main Viking settlement in the UK and the Jorvik Viking Centre is a museum attraction that features archaeological artefacts, historic information and reconstructions of life in Viking occupied York.

I visited the centre on a primary school trip and I have not been back since, so I was excited to see how it may have changed.  The purpose of my visit was to get inspiration and information for my application, to observe my six year old son’s reactions to the centre and its features and to have a good old family day out.

The Jorvik centre provided me with some good inspirations and knowledge that will undoubtedly filter in to my application, it was very interesting to look at some of the archaeological finds as they will be good reference points for my digital recreations, for example Jorvik has an original Viking shoe on display and I now can draw a more accurate representation of Viking shoes in my application;  this may seem like a minor aspect but they devil is in the detail or so they say, so all information is useful to me.  I was very interested in the touch screen interactive that the Jorvik Viking centre has, I have previously designed two heritage based, touch screen, interactive kiosk applications during my B.A and it was interesting to compare my own work to the ones featured in a very popular heritage visitor attraction.

My son seemed to naturally gravitate towards the touch screen kiosks, this may be due to his love of computer games but he found the ones at the centre to be quite frustrating.  I was not surprised by this as I had the same feeling of frustration in my initial explorations of the kiosks; the information on the kiosk is displayed extremely well in my opinion and there are some nice interactive features like maps and ship building, but there were consistent usability issues across all of the interactive kiosks that caused frustration, followed by boredom for my son, this highlighted the need for my application to be easy and instinctive to use.

Whilst at the centre I picked up a Jorvik Viking Centre Guidebook and some Viking literature that hopefully will help me with my application (see below)

My son enjoyed the visit and he came home with his own mementoes of the visit (see below)

Overall my visit to the Jorvik Viking Centre was interesting and useful and we had a very enjoyable family day out.


Flash CS5.5

In a previous blog I wrote about my experience of learning how to make mobile applications using the new features in Adobe Dreamweaver CS5.5. (See previous blog here)

In this blog I will be reviewing the process that I have just undertaken in learning about the new mobile development capabilities of Adobe Flash CS5.5.  In order to learn what I needed to know, once again I turned to and followed a tutorial course entitled “Building Mobile Apps for Multiple Devices with Flash Professional” I have just completed this course (see certificate below) and now I will tell you about the experience.

Phillip Shakesby








I will start with a description featured on the Adobe website of what Flash is, for any readers who may not know, Adobe describes Flash as:

“Adobe® Flash® Professional CS5.5 software is the industry-leading authoring environment for producing expressive interactive content. Create immersive experiences that present consistently to audiences across desktops, smart phones, tablets, and televisions.”

Flash is a powerful tool that I have used in the past to create interactive games, websites and applications for both mobile and kiosk.

The course showed me how easy it is to develop, test and publish applications for multiple devices using Adobe Flash CS5.5 and if you have read my previous blog about my Dreamweaver experience you will know that I was apprehensive about encountering the same problems with Flash, so was I right to be concerned?  No, Flash CS5.5 lives up to the hype, it is ideal for creating cross platform applications, and by that I don’t mean one application that works on all devices because that is not possible, I mean you can create one source file that can then be converted into the relevant files for the differing devices.  At one point in the tutorials I did have a moment of panic though, as the author said:

“It helps to have a Mac 4 development so Mac Book Pro whatever the case may be now you can use a Windows machine, but it’s just much easier on a Mac computer.”

So why is this the case, what can you do on a Mac that is so hard to do on a PC?  The answer is Apple inc, in their infinite wisdom they have designed the process of iOS development to be made on their machines, using their software and although Flash CS5.5 can now create the iOS applications, you still need to submit the application to the app store using an apple process, this does not stop window users though.  Apples process involves designers and developers joining the “IOS DEVELOPER PROGRAM”, which is a paid service which costs $99/year in GB currency that is currently about £62/year (excessive to say the least), this can be done on both PC and Mac, although whilst trying to enrol you will get this warning “You must have an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X Snow Leopard or later to develop Mac OS X and iOS apps for the App Store”, (ignore the warning).

During the publishing process within Flash, you will be asked for a Development Certificate and Provisioning Profile, these are obtained from the iOS Dev Center, this is where it become more complicated for the windows user.  On windows a change in the SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is needed, we are getting into computer programming territory here which is a place that I am not entirely comfortable but there is a good blog with a step by step guide here:

The Provisioning profile process will also require some computer programming and the information about that is also available at the link above.

This is a complicated process that I am not sure I want to go through but needs must and at the moment I may not have another option, the process on a Mac is a lot easier but it is still far more complicated than it needs to be and in my opinion Apple could learn a lot from the Android publishing process.  So in summary ,Yes I have found the software that meets my development needs for my application, a software that will require very little in the way of learning as I already have previous experience with its use, I can develop and publish my application from my windows based laptop, although publication would be easier if done on a Mac.  So I can now start work on my application , watch this space as I expect some development in the near future.

Useful links

Developing Apps in Adobe Dreamweaver CS5.5

For those of you who have been following my blog, you may remember that I recently purchased the Adobe CS5.5 software to take advantage of its new mobile production features, up until recently developing apps for iOS (Apple’s mobile operating system) had to be done using their own software X-code, which is only available on a Mac (apple computer) and I do not own a Mac nor can I currently afford one, so this was going to be a problem.  The recent release of Adobe CS5.5 software provided me with an alternative and not only an alternative but a platform that would make it easier to create apps using coding language that I already know and have experience with, also the apps could be easily repackaged for multiple mobile platforms.  The two pieces of software that can be used for this are Adobe Dreamweaver CS5.5, usually associated with website design and Adobe Flash CS5.5 which is associated with creating rich interactive experiences.  I have just completed a tutorial course entitled Building Android and iOS Apps with Dreamweaver CS5.5, see my certificate below:

Phillip Shakesby








Early on within this course I was dismayed to find out that Adobe’s claims of what the software can do may not be all they are cracked up to be; in chapter 4 Establishing an iOS Workspace, the videos’ narrator Joseph Lowery says the words:

“To develop for iOS devices, the iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, you’ll need a Mac”

 Lowery, J.

At this point I was very confused, I have just spent a large amount of money on this new amazing software that can do all of this stuff without the need of a Mac, haven’t I?  Lowery goes on in his instructions for setting up Dreamweaver to develop for iOS to explain that you need to install the iOS SDK (software development kit) and the iOS development framework called Xcode and this is where the problem lies; the iOS SDK and Xcode are only available for Macs, so if you are working on a PC like me you cannot do any of this.

How could I have missed this when I was looking at the CS5.5 software before I bought it?  I returned to the adobe website and looked at what it said about the software, see the quotes from adobes website below:

“Extend your reach and create rich applications for multiple platforms, including Android, Blackberry, iOS, and Adobe AIR®.”

“Build and package native apps for Android™ and iOS with new PhoneGap functionality. Convert your existing HTML to a mobile phone application within Dreamweaver using the open source PhoneGapframework.“

“Benefit from new support for mobile application development and testing, enabling the use of a common codebase to build apps for Android™, BlackBerry® Tablet OS, and iOS while sharing code from web applications.”

At no point in this propaganda does Adobe acknowledge that you cannot actually build and package your application in Dreamweaver CS5.5 for iOS unless you are working with the Mac edition of the software on a Mac, although I must acknowledge that what they say is accurate, the problem comes in what they don’t say, their website is advertising one software package available on two different platforms PC and Mac, and if you are using the Mac version of the software on a Mac the software can do all the things it claims.  I am very annoyed that I have been misled by this and until I learn about the Flash CS5.5 software’s capabilities I am not definitely left without a Mac build and packaging option, but I do fear that when I look further into Flash CS5.5 capabilities the same problem will arise.

The software is not entirely useless, in fact I am very impressed with what it actually can do, Dreamweaver CS5.5 makes it easy to create both web based apps(content is downloaded from the internet each time the app is used) and native apps (content is stored on the users mobile device). Development is done using HTML5, CSS, JQERY and Javascript using PhoneGap, this is an HTML5 app platform that allows you to author native applications with web technologies and get access to APIs and app stores (see here

You can basically develop one application and package it for different devices from the same files, which makes it easier to create applications for multiple platforms.

I am impressed with what Dreamweaver can do in terms of creating mobile applications and in the future I believe I will be using this method of development for future mobile apps but for this project Dreamweaver will not be appropriate for allowing me to create the types of interaction I hope to feature in my application.

Where does this leave me?  I know I won’t be using Dreamweaver to create my app so I am a step further forward than I was before, I will now be looking at Adobe Flash CS5.5 to create my application and this is the route that I expected  to take.  I am worried about the journey ahead as I am fairly certain that I will encounter the same issue with iOS development that I found with Dreamweaver, this will not stop my project but it may cause me some fairly significant problems; even without a Mac I will be able to develop my application but I am not sure how I could package the application from an Adobe CS5.5 file without access to Adobe Flash CS5.5 on a Mac?  As a developer I also believe that it is good practice to test regularly through development and although Adobe has some great testing features, accurate testing may become an issue at a later date.

Ultimately I have realised that at some point I will need to purchase a Mac and the CS5.5 software for the Mac, this is going to be a huge outlay.


Drawing Noses

In a previous blog (see here), I tried to learn how to draw the features of a face with some success but the nose was the feature that I struggled with above all others, my fellow MA student and accomplished artist Gareth Sleightholme pointed me in the direction of this tutorial:

I followed this tutorial and you can see the results below:

I admit it still is not quite up to scratch and I definitely need more practice but it is a different looking style and it is a style that I prefer to my previous attempts, I think this could be they way forward with noses in this project, thank you Gareth.

Html 5 in Practice.

Recently I completed a HTML5 course (see the previous HTML5 blog), in the last week I have had the opportunity to put some of the knowledge that I acquired through that course into practice.  I have built a website for a member of my family (see here) using the new HTML5 standards, this has been a useful experience as it has helped me to apply and practice these new skills, and as a result I believe that I am better prepared to use HTML5 in my MA project, where appropriate.


I recently attended a HTML5 master class at Hull School of Art & Design delivered by James Field, this was very interesting and it left me realising that to keep up to date or even stay ahead of the game in my professional field, a good knowledge of HTML5 would not only be useful but essential.  To enhance the knowledge I gained from the HSAD master class, I started and have just completed the course HTML5 First Look by James Williamson on, see certificate below:

Phillip Shakesby








I believe that having a working understanding of HTML5 will be very useful to my project, as it offers new possibilities for my supporting website and possibly an option for my application development, although I do not think this will be my direction with application development I will not rule it out until I have done further research.

What is HTML5 and why am I looking at it as part of my MA?  Basically HTML or HyperText Markup Language is the main code used in web pages and HTML5 is the next generation of HTML.

HTML 5 is the next generation or an evolvement of the current html code.  As the internet has grown and developed, third party plug-ins such as Adobe Flash Player and others have been created and used to meet the requirements of users who were demanding an experience that HTML alone could not deliver.  XHTML 2.0 was born in an attempt to meet the changing user needs but it broke the longstanding practice of being backwards compatible and some web professionals were unhappy with this new direction, eventually the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) who are an international community, whose mission is to lead the World Wide Web to its full potential by developing protocols and guidelines that ensure the long-term growth of the Web and the WHATWG (Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group), an unofficial collaboration of Web browser manufacturers and interested parties who are concerned in evolving the Web by focussing the development of HTML and APIs needed for Web applications, combined their efforts in a single direction under the name HTML5.

Together they established some rules for HTML5:

  • New features should be based on HTML, CSS, DOM, and JavaScript
  • Reduce the need for external plug-ins (like Flash)
  • Better error handling
  • More mark-up to replace scripting
  • HTML5 should be device independent
  • The development process should be visible to the public

They also looked at developing some interesting new features including:

  • The canvas element for drawing
  • The video and audio elements for media playback
  • Better support for local offline storage
  • New content specific elements, like article, footer, header, nav, section etc.
  • New form controls, like calendar, date, time, email, url, search etc.

HTML5 is not yet an official standard, and no browsers currently have complete support for HTML5 but the rate at which major browsers, such as:

  • Internet Explorer
  • Firefox
  • Chrome
  • Safari
  • Opera

are adding support for HTML5 features is incredibly impressive.  HTML5 through its new structure and features should help me and my fellow designers and developers to build richer user experiences for websites and mobile applications, there will also be less worry about people using older browsers, as it is designed to retain backwards compatibility to previous versions of HTML.