Category Archives: Flash

Forum Nokia PRO: Flash Zone

For Flash Lite developers: New zone at Forum Nokia PRO is formed. Check out the benefits. Notice the word ‘pro’ is all caps; I guess that means for real professionals only – with a membership fee of 4000 Euros (just a little over US$5000), per year.

Don’t worry though, because “Forum Nokia PRO program and its services are targeted for the most visionary mobile developers, not all (membership) applications can be approved.”

Okay.

According to Adobe, there are now over one million Flash developers around the world. How many are Flash Lite developers? How many companies would pay 4000 Euros a year to join this zone when there are various other sources of information, and Adobe labs.

The Flash developer community is rather unique, compared to other developer communities I’ve been in. I believe this is because it is a mix of creative and technical people, achieving innovation on web design, application design, and now mobile design. The openness and sharing of open source material helps this community grow.

Personally, I’d love to be part of this forum, except I can’t see how to justify the entry fee.

Flash Lite 2.0 Nokia S60 Template

Here is a Flash Lite 2.0 template for the Nokia S60 series. Yesterday‘s release doesn’t seem to include this template.

Place it in the “ConfigurationTemplatesGlobal Phones” directory.

For Windows, the default English location is:
C:Program FilesMacromediaFlash 8enConfigurationTemplatesGlobal Phones

For Mac OS X, put the file here:
/Applications/Macromedia Flash 8/Configuration/Templates/Global Phones/

Download it here: http://quantumwave.com/pub/FL2_S60_Template.zip

When this is installed, you can choose it from Global Phones in the Start Page.

I’m in – Flash Lite 2.0 & Flash Player SDK 7

Not your regular Flash Lite. No more Flash 4 syntax. These are totally new versions of Flash for mobile devices that is going to change the way developers work. In fact, what’s more important is they are changing the whole mobile experience for end-users.

Flash Lite 2.0 is a completely new platform for non-PC devices, including mobile phones and consumer electronics. For example, the latest Nokia S60 platform is well supported.

According to this Adobe press release, the number of mobile devices running Flash now reaches 45 million units – a huge jump from twelve months ago. Some of the largest manufacturers such as Nokia, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, and Kodak are now shipping Flash-enabled devices. Flash Lite 2.0 devices are expected to be available later this year.

This is the moment to start developing in Flash Lite 2.0 ready for the upcoming market. Of course, there is still a large number of devices with Flash Lite 1.1, such as the iRiver U10 and many Nokia S60 phones. However, developing for Flash Lite 1.1 is really not very pleasant, because it uses the obsolete Flash 4 syntax and is quite limiting compared to this new release.

For those who came to my presentation on Flash Lite and mobile development, I showed a Nokia 6680 smartphone and a O2 XDA IIs Windows Mobile PDA phone. Today’s announcements provide new players for these devices and more, and let developers use ActionScript 2.0 (or 1.0). Many device manufacturers are bundling the new Flash Lite player in upcoming devices. However, until there is a wide distribution of the new Flash Lite 2.0 player, some developers may have to find a balance between ease of development and market penetration. For me, there is no going back to Flash 4 syntax!

The other announcement today is the Flash Player SDK 7. It is targeted for device manufacturers such as Pocket PCs, consumer electronics, system integrators, and browser companies. As the name implies, this is a software development kit based on Flash Player 7; so ActionScript 2.0 is fully supported. Imagine a Linux-based device running a custom browser that supports Flash content, or a game console that has native Flash support (without hacking). These are just some of the scenarios where the SDK can be useful.

What does all this mean for developers? Well, I guess that depends on what kind of developers we’re talking about. For J2ME developers, there is now another choice to rapidly development rich-UI content (that has the added benefit of looking much better than standard Java-based software). For Flash developers, this is another market where their skills can be applied, without learning something totally new.

To get started, get the Flash Lite 2.0 update for Flash Professional 8, and download the free (for a limited time only) Flash Lite 2.0 player for a supported mobile phone.

Don’t forget to check out the datasheet for Flash Lite 2.0 and Flash Player SDK 7 on the Flash Lite page, I’m in it (page 2, top right)! Macromedia quoted what I said from a developer’s perspective.

Developing for Adobe vs. Macromedia

I’m looking into embedding Flash inside PDF. Simple, right?

First, I searched my Acrobat 7 Help files, no mention of embedding Flash. Google brought me to various people asking the same question, with common answers that lead to Adobe’s developer site:

http://store.adobe.com/store/products/master.jhtml?id=catAcrobatSDK

There are SDKs that include Acrobat JavaScript, but they require registration as a paid Adobe developer, and I’m not even sure if that information is what I need if I paid for the membership & subscription.

Why is this information so difficult to get to? Does Adobe not want more developers working on their products? Macromedia, Apple, Microsoft, Sun and many other companies provide free access to SDKs, sample files, tutorials…etc. Is this the Adobe we should start getting used to?

Hopefully Apollo & the new Adobe will make things easier for developers…

Update (Dec 11):

After more digging, I found some public SDKs. Yet some are locked, including Release Notes & Overviews. Even stranger is, on this page, Linux & Solaris SDKs are free, but Windows & Mac versions are locked. Huh?

Flash 8 Local Content Updater

Tired of seeing those warnings when playing Flash movies locally from your hard drive? Download the Local Content Updater (C++ source available) and set the SWFs so they won’t show the warning anymore.

Here’s the info from Macromedia:

“The Local Content Updater (LCU) is a free command-line utility that can add, remove, or check for local-with-networking privileges, operating on one or many SWFs. This tool allows you to change the security sandbox that the SWF file operates in when it is played as a local file.”

Flash Player 8 vs. 7 benchmark tests

There is a new article on Performance Improvements in Flash Player 8 at the Macromedia Developer Center. Along with it is an interesting look at some benchmark tests between Flash Player 8 and 7, and between Windows and Mac.

The new incremental garbage collector in Flash Player 8 (vs. reference-counting in Flash Player 7) is the main reason for reduces memory usage and overall improved performance.

To take advantage of the new player features, it is important to point out that this new player should be adopted much quicker than previous versions, because of an auto-update feature (already in Flash Player 7) with express install (without leaving the playing SWF file). It’ll be easier to convince clients and end-users because of the many new improvements and abilities to do something that was never possible before.

It’s also interesting to see the specs of the test reference machines, which are not your latest/fastest boxes, but more realistic real-world end-user systems:

  • Mac OS 10.3 – 800 MHz – 256 MB RAM (1 CPU disabled on dual processor machine)
  • Windows XP SP2 – P3 1 GHz – 384 MB RAM

Flash 8 (the making of) video

Flash 8 is a truly amazing release, thanks to the hard work from the Flash teams at Macromedia. Here is the “making of” video with the engineers and teams before the product was shipped.

P.S. Someone asked me what my top 5 favorite new features are… Here they are:

  • BitmapData / pixel-level manipulation
  • Filters & Matrix
  • New video codec (with alpha channel support in amazing quality)
  • Improved performance (IDE & runtime)
  • Mobile Emulator and Flash Lite support

Again, thank you Macromedia!

Flash 8 tips and tricks

  • In the Actions panel or external code editor, press Ctrl-‘ to select the text between braces.
  • With the Actions panel in focus, choose Find & Replace from the Edit menu to open the extended dialog box with more options (Ctrl-F only opens the minimal Find & Replace).
  • If code hinting doesn’t seem to work, check the dropdown menu in the left pane of the Actions panel, and make sure “ActionScript 1.0 & 2.0” is selected (and not one of the Flash Lite options).
  • After choosing a mobile device from the Device Settings dialog box, click OK and test movie will show the default device in the mobile emulator, until the device is selected again in the mobile emulator. Saving the movie will keep that preference with the FLA.
  • The CheckBox component interferes with the FLVPlayback.seekBar and FLVPlayback.volumeBar (when they are not part of the FLVPlayback component on stage), dragging one of the handles won’t work. Solution, wrap the seekBar or volumeBar inside a movieclip (thanks to Jeff Kamerer at Macromedia).
  • Change the Help panel search hilite color in this file (Windows): C:Documents and SettingsAll UsersApplication DataMacromediaFlash 8enConfigurationHelpPanel_sharedassetshelp_pc.css – change background-color under .searchhilite.

Any tips to offer? Please add them below…

SWF Studio 3 released (finally!)

The long awaited release of SWF Studio 3.0 from Northcode is finally released!

This is an impressive product that let Flash developers create Windows applications easily (including screensavers, system tray tools…etc.) What is significant for ActionScript 2.0 developers is the new V3 ActionScript API – there is no need for the old and cumbersome FSCommand(); it’s all object-based events and callbacks.

The other cool new feature is JScript support. Instead of coding in ActionScript, developers can also code in JScript and access ActionScript API to do a lot more than what’s possible previously.

To create Flash-based standalone executables, I used to use Macromedia Director for most projects, but SWF Studio 3.0 is going to change that. Instead of embedding Flash files in Director, and using round-about ways to get things done (including using many 3rd-party Xtras), everything can be coded in ActionScript (or JScript) with this single tool. Of course, there are some powerful 3rd-party Xtras for Director that are not available in SWF Studio, but their included plug-ins should provide most developers with what they need.

With this release, NorthCode also developed a new Code Builder (which is built in SWF Studio). It is a GUI tool for building code using the new V3 API. There are also many examples that showcase this new tool. Be sure to check out the list of new features.