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.

5 thoughts on “My first Chumby widget

  1. Actually it works the same in IE7 as Firefox 2 with the current embed. Yes, I really should use SWFObject (which I normally do), but I was in a hurry to post and just copied the code generated from Chumby.com. The specified size is not observed – even if I specify a small size to fit inside the content area, the SWF still expands to full size. Any idea? CSS maybe?

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