Category Archives: Flash Lite

FITC Mobile – Sneak Peek

Today at FITC Mobile, Mark Doherty from Adobe gave a sneak peek of upcoming Flash mobile.

Cone of Characteristics

The most surprising bit was Flash Lite 4.0. Most developers I talked to thought Flash Lite 3.x is the last version of Flash Lite. As it turns out, FL4 is planned while Flash 10 for devices is also in the making.

According to Mark, Flash Lite 4.0 supports ActionScript 3, and it is a browser plugin (i.e. not standalone player). Same for Flash Player 10 for devices – a browser plugin (in his slide it was showing 10.1 in Device Central 3). AIR for mobile is the standalone player.

Flash Lite 4.0 is for slower, less powerful and memory-constraint devices, and Flash 10 is for more powerful devices, possibly with hardware graphics acceleration.

Mark also shown Device Central 3. It supports some hardware emulation such as accelerometer and geolocation. Custom device profiles can also be created easily in Device Central 3.

Another upcoming tool is SWFPack, a mobile packager (created in AIR) for S60 3rd edition and up, and Windows Mobile 5 & 6. It builds deployment bits (.sis and .cab) for the two platforms with just a few clicks.

Update: Mark clarified that “(Flash Lite 4 is) targeted as a browser plugin and standalone player for brew devices.”

At the Samsung booth, I had the chance to play with the Omnia II (to be released later this year). The 3.7″ AMOLED screen at 480×800 is simply the most beautiful device screen I’ve seen to-date. This phone’s OS is Windows Mobile 6.5, and Samsung has implemented a much nicer UI (TouchWiz 2.0) that reminds me a bit of the Android interface. Overall operation seems quite decent, although I’m not a big fan of the haptic touchscreen. Apparently the Omnia II has 2 CPUs, one for radio frequency, and one for UI and apps. And it has a dedicated graphics accelerator. There was also an Android phone, the Samsung Galaxy. Unfortunately, both phones don’t have the standalone Flash player, but there is supposed to be a “hidden” Flash Lite player without exposed public API for things like widgets.

Flash on the Beach

Brighton is a nice little town by the sea in southern England. This is my first Flash on the Beach conference, and it’s been great so far…except a few hiccups.

John Davey with speakers

Haven’t had time to sight-see yet, as I had to look for a doctor yesterday (woke up with painful red eye). Of course, if I were in Canada, it’d be much simpler. My first thought was to go to the local pharmacy and pick up some eye drop; unfortunately, they wouldn’t sell it without a prescription. They referred me to a nearby doctor (GP), but when I got there, I learned that the GPs don’t accept Canadians as patients. I was then referred to a local medical chamber, who told me they don’t have an eye doctor. After going to five different clinics, I finally found a private doctor who would take a look. He looked at my eye and gave me a prescription. I went to a pharmacy and was told the prescription is similar to an off-the-counter eye drop, and asked if I would choose the lower cost eye drop instead. Long story short, I wasted yesterday looking for eye drop.

Today was presentation day. I went to the Pavilion Theatre an hour early to set things up. When I got there, the theatre was almost full. It was time for my presentation! What happened? Turns out the clock on my computer was adjusted automatically when Toronto changed the time on the weekend, and I wasn’t looking at the time on the phone (which gets its time from the wireless carrier here). Panic. As I had a lot of devices, DV camera, computer, power transformer, power bar…etc. to set up, it took quite a while to get everything going. The other issue (which I didn’t encounter during tech check) was the technician couldn’t get the video out signal from my Nokia N95. This was a bit of a problem because many of my demos were to be projected to the big screen directly from the phone! Instead, I had to hold up the phone and asked the audience to look at it instead. Glad there were a few laughs or I’d have fainted with these two incidents.

Anyway, the presentation went along and ended at exactly 2:30pm. I managed to cover everything except a demo with a Wii Remote controlling the phone. But the software is free and source code is included; so it’s easy for anyone to go pick it up and perhaps adapt it for Flash Lite using something like KunerLite.

For those who asked for my presentation, you can download it here.

It’s time to eat dinner with the other speakers, and hopefully will enjoy Brighton in post-presentation mode…

P.S. Thanks to Bill Perry from Adobe for providing the Flash Media Server streaming service for my demo of live video streaming to the phone.

FITC presentation posted

After the presentation at FITC on Flash Lite and Mobile Development, a few people asked for my presentation file. I’ve converted it to PDF, grab it here. This is only my part of the presentation – i.e. not including Dongyub’s (his presentation was created using fancy 3D authoring tool; mine is plain basic).

We ran into some technical difficulties (what’s new?) at the conference: No Wi-Fi signal and no mobile phone signal (room was in the hotel basement level!) – both were needed for some demos (Chumby and apps on the phone). Luckily, I had some files on the laptop that were available.

Our own “Elmo”:

Another thing people might have noticed: We didn’t use the Elmo (device projector) provided by FITC. I tried it last year and found the quality was less than desirable. During this year’s technical rehearsal, we noticed it had issue projecting some device screens and produced moire patterns. So I decided to use my own method.

Instead of using the Elmo that outputs S-Video signal, I connected my Sony TRV900 3-CCD DV camcorder to the laptop with a firewire cable, and created a simple Flash Video Viewer (Flash Player 9) to display the video on screen (so everything is projected digitally with the rest of the presentation). Because of the way the camera was positioned, I added code to flip the image upside-down (which is projected right-side-up).

Here’s the (ActionScript 3.0) code:

Perhaps other presenters may find this useful as well.

FITC, IdN and newspaper interview

To those who are attending this year’s FITC festival, take a look at the IdN booth and the Two Faced exhibition. I wrote some articles for IdN many years ago (in 1993, when it was called MdN – Macintosh Designers Network), and interviewed the President & CEO of Macromedia (Bud Colligan) back then. IdN is very popular in Australia, U.S., Europe and Asia. It’s about time Canada finds out more about this designer magazine and their other publications.

For those who read (traditional) Chinese, here is the Sing Tao newspaper interview of me (楊光) at FITC (click to view full size at Flickr). They asked about my experience, work, this year’s presentation and the festival. I was a bit surprised they used almost 1/3 of the page on this article.

Newspaper article of me at FITC

My presentation is on tomorrow (Tuesday) at 2:45pm. It’s on Flash Lite and mobile development. I invited Dongyub Lee from Seoul to join me to talk about some of his projects on device UI and games development.

Thanks to Shawn Pucknell and the FITC team for another great festival.

Just arrived in Seoul

What? Again? Some of my friends are probably jealous that I’ve gone to Korea again since last November. The plane arrived at 2:40 am, my friend Dongyub picked me up and we went for latte at a 24-hour cafe.

Dongyub told me there’s good news and bad news. I wasn’t sure which to hear first. We were supposed to have a 3-day meeting with Adobe Korea and a phone company on Flash Lite UI design & development, but someone/something got postponed and I’m not sure if the meeting/workshop will go ahead as planned. Interesting news after 14-hour flight.

If that is the bad news, the good news is I probably have to return again!

Random notes:

  • Nice to see 3G working on my Nokia N73 with HSDPA
  • WiBro is interesting
  • iRiver Clix2 is fast

My first Chumby widget (update)

The BBC News Reader widget I uploaded earlier has been updated. Something I noticed in the Virtual Chumby display: the pixel font text is blurred. Compared with the same file displayed in the standalone Flash Player 9, the text is not blurred (see below).

Virtual Chumby blur

Looks like the Virtual Chumby control panel or its loader is not lined up at exact .0 pixel. Can anyone confirm this?

What’s new: I added left and right manual advance to view the next or previous news item without delay. When a news item is displayed, press either the lower left or right side of the screen to advance/rewind. To start auto-advance again, press the Menu area to bring up the panel, press Go to view the same feed, or choose a new feed and press Go. News items are looped around at either end (i.e. advance from the last news item goes to the first, and vice versa for the other direction).

You can view the news reader from the original post.

P.S. I should mention that the widget running in the real Chumby does not have this problem.

My first Chumby widget

Yesterday I received my Chumby! Thanks to the folks at Chumby Industries and FITC‘s Shawn Pucknell. I spent a few hours this evening creating my first Chumby widget – a BBC News reader.

A couple of notes on developing Flash Lite 2.1 for the Chumby:

– Chumby widgets are SWF files loaded by the Chumby control panel.

– Using setInterval() is not recommended because the control panel switches widgets and memory leak occurs if the interval ID is not cleared.

– The Chumby control panel is also a SWF, running at 12fps; so all loaded SWFs are running at the same fps. Therefore it is recommended to set the widget fps to 12.

– Widgets are loaded from chumby.com. Accessing external data requires the crossdomain.xml policy file be set up properly. Or use a server proxy script.

– The Chumby is supposed to be used as a desktop gadget, not something one would hold on to. Text size should (in most cases) be larger than normal mobile applications.

– This widget is designed to be used as a single application in the Chumby channel. Because of the nature of the news reader, having it run with other widgets wouldn’t be very useful as the Chumby control panel loads widgets in preset intervals from the selected channel. It would be difficult to use the menu when one doesn’t know when the widgets change. One can, however, create many channels.

I only spent a few hours on this as a first test, created the (really basic) UI from the same app I developed for mobile phones. Because there is no keyboard on the Chumby (it has a touch screen and some sensors), key events are unavailable. You can use the mouse to click and explore. The news feed is reloaded every 6 minutes once it starts. Each news item is displayed for 10 seconds. Please let me know if you find any bugs.

As a reminder, I’ll be speaking at FITC on Flash Lite and Mobile Development. Check out my previous post with a discount code if you’re interested.

P.S. Don’t worry about the bottom/right of the Chumby not visible. I don’t want to pop up another window or have it hanging over the sidebar.

Update: Added manual advance/rewind to the next and previous news item. Just press the lower left or right side of the screen while the news are auto-advancing. Press the left side of the screen to show the previous news item. Press the right side to view the next news item. News items loop at either end. To start auto-advance again, bring up the menu (top-right corner) and select Go (for the same news feed), or select another news feed and press Go.

Update 2: See issue regarding blurred text in this virutal chumby.

FITC 2007 guest speaker + discount code

I’m glad to announce that I’ve invited Dongyub Lee from Seoul as a guest speaker at my FITC presentation on Flash Lite and Mobile Development.

Dongyub is the CEO of DnL Productions, with offices in Seoul and Toronto. He created the Flash Lite User Interface for the iRiver U10 and Viliv P1. We’ll be talking about the state of Flash Lite development, new devices and technologies, development process and looking at some code.

Here is the description of our presentation:

One reason people come to events such as FITC is to be inspired. Whether it is the design, ideas or code. The number of devices running Flash Lite is at a record high. It is a great time to get into mobile and Flash Lite development.

In this session, we’ll look at mobile platforms, devices, tools, data access, trends and cool new technologies that may spark new ideas for your own development. We’ll de-construct a Flash Lite 2 application and see how the UI, navigation, event handling and external data access are implemented for a mobile device.

To register at 10% off the regular price, use this discount code: QW888798.

Flash Lite 2.1 now available for multiple platforms

Adobe released Flash Lite 2.1 (now free to download) for the following mobile platforms a few days ago:

Nokia Symbian S60 v3.0

Nokia Symbian S60 v2.0 FP2

Nokia Symbian S60 v2.0 FP3

Microsoft Windows Mobile 5.0

Did I mention these are free and do not require an IMEI number locked to the phone?

Old news but worth mentioning: Flash Lite 2.1 was released for BREW some time ago. Also, Flash Player 7 for Pocket PC is still available.

For developers: Make sure you download the Flash Lite 2.1 updater for Flash Professional 8, and get all new device profiles.

More info can be found at the Adobe Mobile & Devices Developer Center.