Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Recently, Josh Tynjala announced a new version of Feathers UI for OpenFL and Haxe and its upcoming crowdfunding campaign. Have any questions? Maybe they've already been answered below!

General Questions #

What is Feathers UI? #

Feathers UI is an open source, cross-platform library of user interface components for creative projects. It is especially well-suited for games, interactive visualizations, and other rich, multimedia experiences. With Feathers, you can create apps for a wide range of devices, including phones, tablets and desktop computers.

What technology is used to build Feathers UI? #

The new version of Feathers UI will be built using the Haxe programming language and OpenFL.

Feathers UI was originally developed using the ActionScript 3 programming language with the Adobe AIR runtime and Starling.

Will the new Haxe/OpenFL version of Feathers UI be open source too? #

Yes! Feathers UI will use the same MIT license as OpenFL.

When will the source code be available? #

No date has been officially announced yet. However, it should be no later than the end date of the crowdfunding campaign. Hopefully, sooner!

Will Feathers UI be built on the OpenFL port of Starling? #

No. This new version of Feathers UI will be built directly on OpenFL. That's one less dependency to worry about!

Will I be able to target the same platforms as before? #

Yes. In fact, you'll gain access to more platforms. Similar to Adobe AIR, you can build apps for Android, iOS, macOS, and Windows. Additionally, OpenFL and Haxe also give you access to web browsers (no plugins required), Linux, and game consoles.

Crowdfunding #

When will the crowdfunding campaign start? #

No date has been announced yet, but Josh is currently aiming for the end of June.

Can I get notified when the crowdfunding campaign launches? #

Go here to sign up for updates, and you'll get the announcement in your inbox as soon as you can contribute to the future of Feathers UI.

What crowdfunding platform will be used to fund Feathers UI? #

Kickstarter.

What kinds of backer rewards can be expected? #

Rewards haven't been finalized yet, but a few things are likely. Starting at the lowest level, backers will be granted special "flair" on the official forums/chat to show the world that they were among the first to support the new version of Feathers UI. Backers at higher levels can expect to receive premium components, access to private VIP forums/chat, and even logo placement as an official sponsor on the Feathers UI website.

Technical Questions #

Will there be API differences in the OpenFL version of Feathers UI? #

Yes. Some components and properties will have slightly different names in the new OpenFL version, if the names can be made clearer or more concise. For example, StackScreenNavigator will be renamed StackNavigator. Properties like isEnabled and isSelected will be simplified to enabled and selected.

Additionally, some existing API names would conflict with classes or methods in the Haxe standard library or in OpenFL. For instance, Haxe has a built-in data structure named List, so the Feathers UI List component will become ListBox. Similarly, display objects in OpenFL already have an invalidate() method, so Feathers UI components will use setInvalid() instead. In these cases, there's no choice but to change the name in Feathers UI to prevent collisions.

By the time that version 1.0 is released, a migration guide will be available to help you find any new or renamed APIs.

Can I simply use as3hx to convert all my existing code from ActionScript to Haxe? #

An automated tool like as3hx can certainly be helpful when porting an existing ActionScript codebase to Haxe. It may be able to handle 70-80% of the conversion for you. However, it's likely that you'll need to tweak some of the code generated by as3hx before everything will work properly.

Haxe and ActionScript are very similar languages, but sometimes, they don't behave in exactly the same way. Even if your existing app didn't use libraries like Starling and Feathers UI, you would probably still need to tweak the generated code a little bit, depending on which ActionScript features you were originally using.

Additionally, while OpenFL and Starling were both inspired the display list and event model of Adobe Flash Player, Starling's API diverges a bit more from the original because Starling provides more control over the GPU and managing textures. As a result, some APIs that you used in Starling may not exist or may not work exactly the same in OpenFL. Usually, there is a similar API that you can use instead, and sometimes, you can rely on the fact that OpenFL manages some things automatically that Starling did not.

Finally, this new version of Feathers UI will include some of its own API name changes. See the previous answer for more details.

Will I be able to use MXML to create my UI declaratively? #

Not at first, but it's definitely an important feature to me, and I want to add it as soon as possible.

As you may recall, supporting MXML with Feathers UI for Starling required forking the Apache Flex compiler. Haxe has a powerful, built-in language feature called macros that allows developers to hook into the Haxe compilation process. It should be possible to use macros to support a declarative file format similar to MXML at compile-time (without forking the Haxe compiler). Additionally, I'd like to look into ways to dynamically load UI using a declarative file format at runtime too.

Premium Components #

What are "premium" components? #

Developers will be able to purchase premium components that aren't included for free in the core open source Feathers UI library. For example, some projects may need charts/graphs and other data visualization components. These types of advanced components may be too complex to justify the time and effort for a single developer or a small team to build them from scratch.

At the same time, the extra maintenance required by their complexity — along with their smaller target audience — makes adding them to the core Feathers UI open source library somewhat hard to justify. However, by providing an open core with premium add-ons, Feathers UI can offer a wider variety of components for developers who need them.

Additionally, premium components make it easier for the community to support Feathers UI financially. To put it another way, you can probably convince your boss to make a purchase that helps you get your work done faster, but it's more difficult to get approval to donate to a project that anyone can download for free. These premium components create a source of revenue that helps to ensure ongoing development of the core, open source library.

Will all new Feathers UI components be premium? #

No! You can certainly expect to see new open source components in future updates to Feathers UI.

Will I receive the source code when I purchase a premium component? #

Yes. You will receive the complete source code for the component.

What kind of documentation will be included with premium components? #

All premium components will include written tutorials, an API reference, and one or more example projects.

Will I be able to download updates with bug fixes for free? #

Yes.