Xical starts but doesn't show anything / Xical stops loading before the presentation is finished

It's probably the main XML file. The problem could be one of these: A tag isn't closed (a missing '>'). A tag is closed once to often '>>'. A tag is opened twice (f.e. you've got a '<scene>' followed by another <scene> before a '</scene>'. In very rare occasions it may be that the Macromedia Flash plugin has problems with special characters, such as german umlaute. But that's usually not the case.

Keep in mind: Flash and thus Xical is *very* picky with broken XML. Which is good, as XML was intended to be strikt. Future versions will have a little error handling and will give you a little more information on what's wrong rather than just not running. Until then you can do the following to prevent to much frustration:

- Write the XML file in little chunks, like for instance, scene by scene.

- Use the demo file as reference when building your own.

- Test often.


What do I need to make Xical presentations/tutorials/'apps'?

As a minimum you need an Editor, preferably one that has tools or extensions for XML-editing. I personally prefer the java-based open source editor Jedit. If you want to add pictures to your Xical presentation you might need a pixel image editor, such as Gimp. If you want to include sounds, such as speech or music you have to have a tool to convert your audiofiles to mp3 format. Audacity is a feature rich open source audio editor that runs on many plattforms.

If you want to integrate your own Flash animations into a Xical application you'll need a Flash tool. See flash question for details.

To test and view your Xical application you'll need the Flash plugin or player. You can get them here for all major plattforms, including Linux, of course.

Can I make Flash Animations with Xical without using a Flash IDE?

No. Apart from Xical itself, that is. Xical, in essence, is a Flash 'animation' so to speak (actually, it's rather a Flash application). But you can integrate into Xical existing Flash animations or the ones you've made with a Flash IDE, or any swf compiler like Ming or comparable tools. If you are using Linux you may want to check out F4L or Spalah. If you are a manly developer with hairs on your chest ;-) or think you can manage without a GUI, there are some very interesting and powerful flash tools and libraries, such as SSWF and the Ming flash compiler.

Are those all possible layouts/'visuals'?

Currently yes. If you want to add new ones you'll have to put them directly into Xical, including the code that instances that visual for a given scene and positions the elvo and all that. It isn't that difficult, since this part of Xical is coded fairly clean, but you'll need to fire up your Flash IDE in order to change things.


Once we have a set of the most possible template combinations (a still missing two-elvos-in-one-scene comes to mind) then we're going to separate the visuals from the core application and adding your own will become easier.

I want to use a different font.

As of now Xical uses Tahoma, which is good for screen use, or, when compiled on a mac, Gill Sans, which is also a good modern classic. We could compile 50 fonts into Xical - I personally got licences for something like 500 Fonts - but that would bloat Xical terribly because every character set weighs about 20-30KB. In the future we'll probably put the fonts in yet another externally loaded swf and offer a switch option in the init file. Maybe even instance entire text-areas from externally loaded assets. We'll see. If you have a Flash IDE feel free to change the font to any one you have a licence for. The text fields are all in the same folder, you'll only need to change the font in 5 or 6 places. For the initial developement phase we'll use only one. Right now that is Gill Sans. Maybe we're going to switch to an entirely free one soon.

I've found/fixed a bug but have no Flash IDE.

Send your fix or extension to coredev(somewhere near)xical.org and we'll compile it into Xical using Macromedias Flash MX 2004 Pro. Please do not compile a new .swf with a copy you are not permitted to use. If you have code changes that you've tested with a demo version or a student version of Macromedia Flash, just send in the .fla, .as or the corrected lines, we'll patch them in asap.

Where are the .as files?

There are none. Not yet. Yes, that's very embarrasing and we are very ashamed. But all code is already concentrated in two or three places, so we willl get around to separating the ActionScript code from the .fla real soon now and we all will be in distributed developement heaven then.


If you feel on top of things and would like to help clean up the existing Xical base in order to make future developement easier you are welcome to join. Either way, tearing Xical to chunky kibbles and rebuilding it in a more professional manner is at the very top of the to-do list. Promise.


Update: Xical 2 has all but some bindings and preloader code in seperate .as files located in the /lib directory of the developement package. You can download that from sourceforge CVS. We will soon release a Xical 2 .zip package for download.

What does 'elvo'/'elmo' mean?

'elvo' stands for 'externally loaded visual object', 'elmo' stands for 'externally loaded media object'. The latter is a more broader term. Both refer to the objects (pixel-images, vector-images, flash-clips or mp3-sounds) that are referenced in your main Xical XML file and externally loaded into your Xical application during runtime. Hence the name.

What does Xical mean?

Xical is an acronym for 'eXtendend Integrated Component Architecture Learning'. But being an open source project, there can be other perfectly valid variants of this acronym. Of course there also is the must-have recursive version 'Xical Is Computer Aided Learning'.


If you can think of any other feel free to mail us you suggestion. If it's good (or funny) enough, we'll add it to the list.


How is 'Xical' pronounced?

Xical has different pronounciations, depending on which country you're from. In German it would sound like 'Ksi-Kul'.


The two official English / international pronounciations are 'cycle' or 'K-cycle', with the 'K' leading right into the first 'c' of cycle. Both are appropriate.

Xical.org and Typo3 suck. I want to help and redo it with [fill in flashy avantgarde open source CMS here].

That's nice, thanks for the constructive critique. But: the CMS is currently administred by a professional German web design company called 'Gestaltende' and I think they aren't doing half-bad. Admitted, typo3 has it's learning curve and maybe even the one or other quirk, but since it's only me managing the site right now nobody is hurt. And to be honest, I'm getting used to typo3. It's quite cool actually. It's loaded with features and I'm also getting used to all those nice little icons and the clicking around. :-)


Once xical.org starts buzzing we're going to make extensive use of it's user management, for instance.


And as for the site design: We like it. And, admit it, it's way better than most other OSS sites ;-).