Tag Archives: Flash

Adobe & Flash Hit Main Stream News with TV Deal

Flash Apps On TVThis morning Adobe announced Flash Player will be making its way onto a number of home entertainment devices. Including TV’s, Set Top Boxes and Blue Ray Players. While similar anouncments were made earlier in the year, it is the latest announcement that has seen Flash and Adobe thrust into the main stream news, as the story was featured on the BBC front page and covered in-depth. The article explains this deal could:

create a new generation of connected entertainment services, including streaming video in high definition, and applications that can run in real time alongside video broadcasts, such as interactive news tickers, sport scores, quizzes and the weather.

By embedding the flash player onto chip Adobe and their partners must be solving some of the problems Sean McSharry posted some time ago in regard the challenges on Creating a Flash IPTV System.

On a visit to the IPTV world forum last month at Earls Court both Flash and Adobe were given very little mention. Which I found a little odd. While a large number of vendors were tipping there hat to FLV support, there seemed to be a lack of full Flash based UI’s on display.

Instead most GUI implementations appeared broadly to fall into two camps. First were those using a Microsoft OS implementation, the latest one seems to be Mediaroom (Link requires silverlight). The other choice seemed to use an SVG display layer with some form of webkit or browser based implementation. Regardless, as Serge Jespers mention in his post, most of the interfaces and functionality were a long way away from the slick interfaces and wonderful mashable, connected experiences we have been spoilt by on the web and desktop for so long.

In one conversation I had the problem facing developers was made clear. It will be an issue any mobile developer will know all too well. Limited performance from the device. Even the most recent silicon going into set top boxes or internet enabled television sets is far behind the processing power we are use to on our desktop or laptops these days. For example when using SVG as a display layer on an High Definition Television (HDTV) I was told it may only be possible to re-render a small potion of the screen at a reasonable frame rate, maybe only 1/8th of the screen. Its this limitation that keeps the interfaces simple with very limited animations or transitions.

On television this issue of performance is further compounded by the platform itself. This is not a small screened, only seen for a few minutes, operated by your more technically savvy user, problem that mobile user interface or application development might suffer from. Oh No! This is a 46 inch or larger, always on display, sitting in the corner of the living room, being seen 356 days a year for a couple of hours or more, by any user from 5 years to over 90 years, type of problem. To make things even worse, on a TV the comparisons are not made between “other applications” on the device, as a user might do with an applications on other platforms. No. The comparison is most likely to be made with the main service provided by TV. That would be the full screen video content that the user has been accustomed to recieving and running smoothly at 25/50+ frames a second. Not only that it has worked for the user that way that well for as long as they can remember, well over a two decades.

Lets hope that the flash player talked about in Adobe’s anouncments can really perform on this platform. If it can, it should mean some great performance improvements for any Flash Platform developer. If it can open the door for me to develop the types of experiences Serge discusses as well, were all our modern communication networks can extend and converge into our living room… Well I cant wait!

Catalogue Of 30+ Flash Lite Development Tips

Rien Verbrugghe has done a great job of cataloging a huge number of Flash Lite development, testing and packaging tips from a number of conference sessions and also the various Flash Lite development blogs. If you want a handy quick reference of Flash Lite development tricks and common gotchas this is worth book marking or printing out.

blog.rive.be

Forum Nokia launches Flash Lite Developer’s Library

I missed this yesterday. Nokia have released the Flash Lite Flash Lite Developer’s Library 1.1 . One of the important aspects of this launch is the inclusion of documentation for using the new Nokia S60 Platform Services.

The Platform Services enable flash application to access Device Capabilities and services that were previously only possible through third party solutions Such as Kuneri lite.

Here is a list taken from the Using Platform Services section of the new Flash Lite Developers Library.

The S60 platform allows Flash Lite applications installed on S60 mobile devices to:

  • Access and launch applications on a device using the AppManager Service API
  • Access and manage calendar information using the Calendar Service API
  • Access and manage information about contacts using the Contacts Service API
  • Access and manage information about landmarks using the Landmarks Service API
  • Access device logging events using the Logging Service API
  • Access device location information and perform location-based calculations using the Location Service API
  • Access information about media files stored on a device using the Media Management Service API
  • Send, retrieve, and manage messages such as SMS and MMS using the Messaging Service API
  • Access data from the physical sensors of a device using the Sensor Service API
  • Access and modify system information on a device using the SystemInfo Service API

These new API’s are supported through FlashLite 3.x on Series 60 5th edition devices. Flash Lite applications use the S60 Platform Services through Service APIs. The Service APIs are supported through a Nokia-proprietary ActionScript 2.0 library. Before you can create Flash Lite applications that use platform services, you must install the library for use in your Flash Lite applications.

Here is a run down of updates from the Change History section of the Flash Lite Developers Library.

Change history Flash Lite Developer’s Library 1.1

  • Added information on the S60 Platform Services, the corresponding ActionScript Service APIs, and the ActionScript Service object required to access the APIs.
  • Added section “Flash Lite API reference”. This section describes the ActionScript APIs provided by the S60 platform for use with Flash Lite applications.
  • Added section “Flash Lite authoring and optimization tips”. This section provides tips and guidelines for authoring Flash Lite applications and optimizing their performance.
  • Added section “Flash Lite with S60 touch”. This section briefly introduces the touch UI and Flash Lite touch keypad of S60 5th Edition devices and provides instructions for disabling the touch keypad.
  • Added section “Flash Lite example applications”. This section contains links to example Flash Lite applications that you can download to your computer and then to a mobile device or emulator.

Check out the Flash Lite Developer’s Library Here.

The Real Reason Flash Isn’t on Apple’s iPhone?

Recently Wired posted an interview with The Mozilla CEO John Lilly. Towards the end of the interview Wired asks the question.

Wired: Are you going to develop a version of Firefox for the iPhone?

and the response?

Lilly: No. Apple makes it too hard. They say it’s because of technical issues — they don’t want outsiders to disrupt the user experience. That’s a business argument masquerading as a technological argument.

After dwelling on this I thought, this response could be applied to any number of technologies and applications. Not just Fire Fox. Everyone is now familiar with Apple’s response to the Flash Player going on the Apple iPhone. What if that response was also nothing but “a business argument masquerading as a technological argument”?

On the flip side if Apple were to make it easy for any such ‘outsiders’, as Lilly puts it, to get on its beloved new device then it could be the thin end of the wedge. For arguments sake if Apple were to allow Fire Fox with its XULRunner offline runtime engine on to the iPhone, then surely there is room for Adobe (Flash Player), Sun (Java Runtime) and even Microsoft (Silverlight) to all call foul play?

I dont know the technical capabilities or requirements to each of these runtime technologies. But making it diffiicult, or saying it technically cant be done does make for an easy way to keep a platform closed. I am not sure the advantage to Apple to shut these other technologies out? Is Apple acting in the best interest of its iPhone users and the user experience they receive? Or is something more sinister going on? Is it an attempt to lay claim to the mobile web, blocking out the competition while pulling those lovely user experiences and interfaces over our eyes?

What ever the reason, currently the message seems clear, with Apple and their iPhone, regardless who you are. Its do it Apple’s way or not at all. Maybe iPhone doesn’t need flash, but as a flash platform developer and an Apple user, it seems a shame that its missing to me.

Free Flash Lite Components Bonanza!

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.

Download the Nokia Flash Lite 2 Components

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.

Download the Adobe Flash Lite 1 & 2 Components and UI Examples

Shuriken Open Source Flash Lite 2 Components
The last set of Flash Lite components are those that

  • Scott mentioned, the Shuriken Components. I stumbled upon these components some time ago, I am not sure if the project is still live or has fallen dormant. The project offers a fairly comprehensive attempt at providing a full component framework to Flash Lite 2 developers. Included in the distribution zip are source class files, and example .fla’s for each component in the library.
    • Button
    • Calendar
    • CheckBox
    • ComboBox
    • DateEditor
    • LinkButton
    • List
    • Loader
    • NumericStepper
    • RadioButton
    • RadioButtonGroup
    • ScrollableList
    • SimpleButton
    • TextArea

    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.

    Download the Shuriken Open Source Flash Lite 2 Components

    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:

  • NEC Demos Adobe Flash Lite Intellectual Property

    Following the announcement from Adobe of the open screen project, news comes from the Embedded Systems Expo that NEC is showing what sounds like it might be an alternative to Adobe’s Flash Lite Player.

    Its a little hard to make complete sense of the post from EETimes.com. But some interesting quotes from the short, slightly cryptic article:

    By using our new IP, one can design a portable device capable of processing Adobe Flash Lite several times faster, when compared with using a processor.

    Also in the announcement is a hint of better video quality as well.

    After reducing the number of gates required for an IC and further tuning the video quality output by Adobe Flash Lite, NEC will start offering its IP in August this year.

    One thing that does seem to be missing is an explanation of which Flash Lite version they are supporting, although the mention of video implies this is based around the FlashLite 3 player.

    You can read the full (breif) announcement of NEC’s new Flash Lite IP over at EETimes.com.

    One further interesting thing is that I could find no mention of NEC being involved with the Open Screen Project from its press release.

    Credit where its due: EETimes.com

    Flash Player 10 available from Adobe Labs – codenamed “Astro”

    I have just popped onto the Adobe Labs website and noticed that Adobe have made version 10 of the Flash Player available for download. The player has the code name “Astro” and looks like it was posted yesterday 15.05.2008.

    Key New Features

    3D Effects – Easily transform and animate any display object through 3D space while retaining full interactivity. Fast, lightweight, and native 3D effects make motion that was previously reserved for expert users available to everyone. Complex effects are simple with APIs that extend what you already know.

    Custom Filters and Effects – Create your own portable filters, blend modes, and fills using Adobe® Pixel Bender™, the same technology used for many After Effects CS3 filters. Shaders in Flash Player are about 1KB and can be scripted and animated at runtime.

    Advanced Text Layout – A new, highly flexible text layout engine, co-existing with TextField, enables innovation in creating new text controls by providing low-level access to text offering right-to-left and vertical text layout, plus support for typographic elements like ligatures.

    Enhanced Drawing API
    – Runtime drawing is easier and more powerful with re-styleable properties, 3D APIs, and a new way of drawing sophisticated shapes without having to code them line by line.

    Visual Performance Improvements – Applications and videos will run smoother and faster with expanded use of hardware acceleration. By moving several visual processing tasks to the video card, the CPU is free to do more.

    An further note of interest is that the player is released on multiple platforms straight off the bat. Over on the Flash Player 10 Download Page you will find Mac, Windows and Linux verions of the flash player 10.

    Full information is available from the Flash Player 10 Labs Page

    RIA + OSP = RAA || REA && And how to detect an Open Screen Device

    Keeping with the algebraic/code functions as titles from my Last post I thought I would put some thoughts down regarding the news from Adobe earlier this week of their Open Screen Project (OSP). Anyone working in the Web/Internet industry at the moment will be well aware of the Rich Internet/Interactive Application (RIA) moniker. What Adobe is committing to is much larger though this is about true cross platform convergence. Its about Rich Anywhere Applications (RAA) or Rich Everywhere Applications (REA) if you will. You see what I did there 😉 .

    Interestingly this is a concept I began to scratched the surface of with my presentation at Flash On the Beach Last Year, and over the last few months has been a subject I have continued to keep close to hand both in my day job and my personal development projects. At the moment the Flash Player Fragmentation offers a considerable challenge to any developer wanting to design and or develop for multiple devices and multiple screens.

    Articles like the one posted over at ADC on adaptive screen layouts offer a great foot up. But before we get to visual display we need to know what player version we are targeting. And to do that, we have to hit the time machine button and roll back all the way to Flash 4…..

    Continue reading RIA + OSP = RAA || REA && And how to detect an Open Screen Device

    BitTube Goes Over the Air

    Thats right, its all very last minute but I will be presenting a session at the upcoming Over the Air event in London this week.

    My session is scheduled for Friday afternoon.

    Flash Video Nokia Masterclass – Dave Williamson (Adobe)Learn how to create live video applications with the most popular online video format on Nokia devices.

    Over the Air is all sold out now, but you can find all the information about the event over at the Over the Air Blog

    I look forward to catching up with you if you are there.

    Nokia N95 Firmware Update to 21.0.016 and adds FlashLite 3 Support

    As many people will have seen yesterday Nokia release a fairly major update to the N95 firmware. One of the major bonuses for flash developers is the inclusion of FlashLite 3 as standard onto the device, both as a standalone player and within the browser. For those using detection scripts the player version reported in the browser is:

    PlayerVersion: FL 8,1,55,0

    You can see a FlashLite version test movie here..

    Related to this I found myself in the situation where the Nokia Software Updater would not allow me to install the new firm ware, my t-mobile branded phone was just such a device. A quick search and it seems that devices on certain service providers are locked from the update. However there are always round such restrictions. Below is how to modify your Nokia N95 product code so that it is unlocked for applying new firmware updates.

    WARNING THIS PROCESS MAY BRICK YOUR PHONE, VOID YOUR WARRANTY AND ANY NUMBER OF OTHER TERRIBLE THINGS. DO NOT DO THIS IF YOU ARE IN ANYWAY UNSURE OF THE CONSEQUENCES. I ACCEPT NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY NASTY THINGS THAT HAPPEN TO YOU, YOUR DEVICE OR ANY ACTION YOUR SERVICE PROVIDER TAKES AFTER FOLLOWING THESE LINKS AND INSTRUCTIONS

    That said, I only had one minor hiccup in the whole process, and it seems I am not the only one to have experienced it. I for got to mention that to Mike on MSN 😀

    Right with that out the way, on to the fun.

    1. First off BACK UP YOUR DEVICE! make sure you have a back up of the memory card and also the device memory.
    2. In order to install the new 21.0.016 firmware you will also want to make sure you have the following software.

    * Download the latest version of Nokia PC Suite.
    * Download the Nemesis Service Suite.

    3. Next read this post, it provides a list of the available product codes for the N95.
    4. Finally you should make sure you read this post, it covers how to update the product code on the N95.

    As I began to progress through the steps outlined on changing the product code of my Nokia N95 mobile phone there were a couple of items where I was left to ‘take a leap of faith’.

    1. When installing Nemesis Service Suite I left the device connection as the default virtual USB device. And that seemed to be the right thing to do.
    2. When deciding on a new product code for the device I chose the one for EURO1 Plum, this appears to have worked fine for my location and device. I have a silver/grey Nokia N95 and am based in the UK.

    Once the product code was updated on the mobile phone the Nokia Software Updater worked fine to allow me to upgrade to the latest 21.0.016 firmware.

    Curse my slow blogging skills, beat to the post. 😀

    Adobe CEO: We’re bringing Flash to the iPhone!

    This just popped into my news reader from ZDNet.

    Well, you really believe that Flash is synonymous with the internet and frankly, anybody who wants to browse the web and experience the web’s glory really needs Flash support. We were very excited about the announcement from Windows Mobile, adoption of Flash on their devices and the fact that we’ve shipped 0.5 billion devices now, non-PC devices. So we are also committed to bringing the Flash experience to the iPhone and we will work with Apple. We’ve evaluated the SDK, we can now start to develop the Flash player ourselves and we think it benefits our joint customers. So we want to work with Apple to bring that capability to the device.

    If the mountain wont move to you..

    Go Adobe!

    Read the full ZDnet article here
    Read the SeekingAlpha transcript here

    New Fring Version 3.3, Now with Flash Presence Widget.

    This evening I received an email from the mobile change service Fring announcing the new version is availible. As well as great new file swapping, Yahoo and AIM support and a host of other improvements, there was news of a new Flash based widget for websites that would allow people to contact you from your website while you are on the move with the Fring Mobile Client.

    Get more from your handset with fring’s new flash fringME! widget and stay connected with your internet communities while on the go! With the fringME! widget placed on your website or blog (i.e. myspace page), your web visitors can fring you at anytime, enabling you to stay connected even when you’re away from your PC.

    With fringME!, your online buddies will now be able to:

    • chat with you from fringME! on the web direct to fring on your mobile – even if they don’t have fring
    • see where you are. You can choose for fringME! to show your location via Google Maps using your GPS-enabled phone
    • view your online presence status – and see if you’re online, offline or in a call

    Download the new Fring version 3.3 for mobile chat

    Nokia N830 WiMAX Tablet Leaked

    Another week and another Nokia device makes its way onto the information super highway, this time courtesy of a BestBuy sales flyer. The rumor mill has begun speculating whether the black internet tablet pictured is the new Nokia N830 the WiMax equipped version of the N810 internet tablet. The N810 you will recall is the Linux based internet tablet that comes pre-installed with the Adobe® Flash® 9 player to support video and audio streaming, among other things :D, you can see the specs of the N810 here.

    Credit where its due:
    Into Mobile
    Internet Tablet Talk
    Tablet Blog

    FlashLite Helper Classes for Download. Pt 2. NetworkBroadcaster

    Following on from the simple BatteryBroadcaster class posted last week I have put together a second helper class for FlashLite, again built in ActionScript 2, so it should work for any FlashLite 2 or FlashLite 3 project. The NetworkBroadcaster class centralises all network and signal related events, and broadcasts any changes to listeners on 2 separate intervals. One for general signal levels, the other for “other” network status events, for example changes in network generation support.
    Continue reading FlashLite Helper Classes for Download. Pt 2. NetworkBroadcaster

    Adobe Provide FlashLite Side by Side Comparisons

    Along with the news of updates for CS3 and Device Central to support FlashLite 3 Authoring from within the CS 3 suite of products. The FlashLite product website has a side by side comparison of various Flash player specifications that are currently being used in Mobiles and other devices.

    see the Flash Version Comparison Chart

    Some Points of interest for me were the following:

    • The FlashLite 3 player is actually smaller than the FlashLite 2.1 player
    • The minimum memory requirements for the FlashLite 3 player is un-altered
    • The recommended memory is un-altered for for the FlashLite 3 Player
    • There is no improvement in the worst case memory usage of FlashLite 3 content over FlashLite 2.1
    • Added support for meta data in FlashLite 3 Content

    Also I see that the FlashLite 3 player has “External API for browser scripting”, assuming there is a mechanism to update the players within device web browsers this may well offer a clean interface for the detection of screen orientation I have been experimenting with lately.

    Another interesting point FlashLite 2.1 and FlashLite 3 seem to both offer support for “Complex languages (Thai, Arabic, Hebrew, etc.)”. Yet this is still not supported by the desktop player? Yet.

    Google introduces Worldwide Caching Proxy. Sort Of.

    Last week Google launched the new Gadget Ad, these seem to be some pretty 2.0 ad deliveries. Allowing a kind of cross between RIA/Widget that users can have installed on their iGoogle page. Google are offering an caching proxy, presumably this will allow more geographically relevant delivery of the ads that are produced. Speeding up the delivery time. The interesting thing is that is seems to be completely open at the moment.

    I ran a quick check to see what I was able to access, bearing in mind I have provided no other personal information, and it all and sure enough no problems with my header image.

    image_bg.jpg

    I would assume this proxy could be put to use for any of the media that is supported by the Gadget Ad Format. Which of course includes Flash Files.

    More information can be found over at the google gadget ads help pages

    So there you go Google Content Delivery Network, ideal for speeding up your RIA, semi connected AIR applications or how about your mobile application? It seems like a workable CDN solution, for now at least.