I you are a Flash developer producing mobile content for Flash Lite then this week end you really hit pay dirt. First Nokia announced a set of Components for Flash Lite 2. Next Adobe also release a set of Components, for use with Flash Lite 1 and also Flash Lite 2, courtesy of Mark Doherty. Finally Scott Janousek resurrected the google code links for Shuriken, a set of open source Flash Lite2 components from last year.
So with all these ‘new’ flash lite components available what can you expect from each component set?
Nokia Flash Lite 2 Components
Nokia have provided their Flash Lite 2 Component set as an MXP file for simple installation into Flash CS3, the components are easily accessible from the components panel once the MXP has been installed. Included in the zip file you download is a full readme.txt explaining how to install the MXP file through Adobe Extension Manager. The components also include full usage instructions in the form of flash help files and usage examples. Flash Lite Components that are included in the distribution are:
- Signal Level display, including network generation.
- Battery level display.
- Dynamic List Component.
The Signal and Battery indicator components react to softkey placement/screen orientation. All three of the components have easily accessible skin components in the library, and also allow limited visual control from the properties panel. Mark Doherty noted that the components appear to be quite memory hungry. The Signal and Battery Indicators seem to use in the region of 600k according to Adobe Device Central, the Dynamic List Example reports around 800k although the actual memory usage of the list without a demo data set is closer to 700k.
Adobe Flash Lite 1 & 2 Components and UI Examples
Over at flashmobileblog Mark Doherty has released some UI components as well. These are provided for both Flash Lite 1 and Flash Lite 2 projects. There is limited documentations for the examples, the Flash Lite 2 examples look like they should be easy to integrate as long as you intend to use them ‘as is’ in this case they would simply require the addition of key listeners to control them. If you needed the components to be used in a more dynamic fashion, there would probably be some work to do. Included in the Flash Lite 2 component examples are:
- List, this offers similar functionality to the Dynamic list in the Nokia Component set.
- Slider, This offers a horizontally scrolling icon menu.
- Gapper, This is a vertical variation of the slider.
- TileGrid, Shows a gridded icon menu with scrolling screen control.
- NavModel, this demonstrates a full application screen control system, also included are working Signal and Battery indicators and a list components.
The examples in this file are certainly easy on the memory, all of them use less than 500k, this is particularly impressive of the Nav Model example given the amount of interactivity and feedback that is demonstrated.
As with any Flash Lite 1 work, making use of the earlier versions will be a little more fiddly than the Flash Lite 2 counter parts. But the code in each of the examples is clearly identified and if you know your way around ActionScript 1 you should find incorporating the ‘components’ easy enough. Included in the examples are the following Flash Lite 1.1 components.
- Carousel, A full screen horizontal slider.
- Displays, demonstrates the various device stats you can access from Flash Lite 1, also included are battery and signal indicators.
- IconMenu, offers a FlashLite 1 version of the Slider component in the Flash Lite 2 set, this is similar to the functionality produced in the tutorial here.
- Menu, actually seems to be a Flash Lite 2 example, an alternative dynamic list example.
- Story, This is an example of scrolling text in flash Lite 1, similar to the scrolling text component I have released.
Agin the Flash Lite 11 components are very efficient when it comes to memory usage. None used more than 400k when published, and most were below 300k. The trade of with both these example sets from Adobe seem to be the slight increase in the amount of work you would need to do to integrate them. The other thing to note, is that these examples do offer examples of far more compelling UI methods than simple lists.
Shuriken Open Source Flash Lite 2 Components
The last set of Flash Lite components are those that
While the examples are good they do seem to be quite heavy in terms of memory usage, and they are not without issues. The scrolling list example for instance takes around 700k to display, but more concerning is that this memory usage raises during operation, implying the component has a memory leak somewhere. The complexity of this initiative while making development easier, may be its problem. Complex class structures in Flash Lite tend to give rise to cross references and memory leaks quite quickly.
So there we have it 3 sets of components, all certainly have there advantages and disadvantages. The Nokia Flash Lite components are great for Plug and Play development, I would say the Adobe UI examples are great for producing engaging canned demos as they stand, but with a bit of work could be converted for very memory efficient project use, and the shuriken component frame work may be a little heavy at the moment, but keep a watch on them, they could certainly offer a great, familiar framework for Flash Lite development, when they can solve the memory issues.
Also worth a note is that Mark Doherty has put a shout out at the end of his post regarding a shelved component framework that he could release from Adobe if interest is great enough. Mark has asked the FlashLite comunity to provide some support if it were released, to document and update the project, but this could offer a great opertunity to unify the current state of disperate component solutions emerging.
Credit where its due: