Having fun with Adobe AIR

Hi All,
this post will be in Italian, in particular is dedicated to the whole community of Italian mobile developers.
Having fun with Adobe AIR is a free event in 6 different Italian cities where people will learn how to create or improve own cross platform applications made with Adobe AIR for mobile devices.
For any question feel free to leave a comment to this post or drop me an email.

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Ciao a tutti,
mi chiamo Luca Mezzalira e sono l’organizzatore di “Having fun with Adobe AIR” un evento dedicato a tutti gli sviluppatori mobile che vogliono avvicinarsi ad una tecnologia cross-platform, come Adobe AIR, per la realizzazione delle proprie app o game su smartphone o tablet.
In collaborazione con alcuni importanti sponsor, come Adobe e BlackBerry per esempio, che ringrazio innanzitutto, sono riuscito ad organizzare 6 tappe in giro per l’Italia dove in una giornata andremo a scoprire le potenzialità di Adobe AIR, andremo a sviluppare degli esempi pratici che possano far vedere il workflow per la realizzazione di un’applicativo mobile.
Infatti l’evento è basato sulla formula BYOL (Bring Your Own Laptop) dove ogni participante dovrà portare il proprio computer con installato Flash Builder dove potrà creare i proprio applicativi e installarli poi nel proprio tablet o smartphone.

Se ti stai chiedendo se è una perdita di tempo perchè Flash è “morto”, beh credimi, non è così.

Infatti Adobe sta continuando a sviluppare questa tecnologia dando nuove potenzialità per la creazione di applicativi mobile e desktop, dall’accelerazione in GPU all’integrazione con Native Extension e molto altro ancora!

Durante l’evento avremo la fortuna di avere con noi degli speaker Adobe, in alcune tappe, che ci daranno la possibilità di scoprire su cosa si sta concentrando Adobe e quale sarà il futuro della piattaforma.
Un evento totalmente gratuito che credo possa far piacere in Italia a molti sviluppatori che vogliono iniziare a muovere i primi passi nel mondo mobile oppure quelli che già ci lavorano ma vogliono alternative valide con cui sviluppare.
L’evento avrà un massimo di 20 partecipanti circa per tappa e sarà di una giornata, le città in cui si svolgerà saranno Milano, Torino, Bolzano, Padova, Firenze e Bari.
La registrazione è obbligatoria e dev’essere fatta tramite il sito dell’eventohttp://www.havingfunwithadobeair.com/
Se invece preferisci seguirci direttamente sulla nostra pagina facebook ecco l’indirizzo: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Having-fun-with-Adobe-AIR/430003473713246

Per qualsiasi dubbio o domanda non esitare a contattarmi via email o lasciando un messaggio su questo post.
Spero di vederti ad una delle tappe del tour!
A presto

Luca

Playbook development with Flash Platform

First of all a big THANKS to Mihai Corlan, Adobe Evangelist, that is helping me during this “journey”.
Everything start last year during MAX when I saw for the first time the new BlackBerry tablet: the Playbook :D
It looked so nice, I thought that it was really amazing.
So after few months I decide to try… and now, I finally can announce that with Mihai we are working on a book on Playbook application development with Flash Platform!

It’ll be an hard job but I want to do it, I hope to receive useful suggestions and questions about this topic and believe me that I’ll be free to talk with you about that.
It will be a book made by developers for developers so I hope that you’ll enjoy it when will be released this september (more or less).
This book will cover following topics:

  • Build, port and optimize apps for the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet device
  • Work with the PlayBook OS APIs, ActionScript, Flex, AIR and other Flash tools/APIs for PlayBook
  • Build a simple app and consuming data
  • Create multimedia and gaming apps for the BlackBerry PlayBook
  • Debug and optimize your PlayBook app

For any news about this book and about Flash Platform development follow this blog and my twitter or facebook account.

Flex on mobile: first impressions…

Like you know I love work with mobile and embedded stuff, in particular I love working with Flash Platform on mobile devices.
In latest months I worked on Android and iOS with Flash Professional but in latest weeks I started to work with Flex HERO sdk.
I love so much work with Flex but on mobile I’ve never tried yet.
First impression is that work with Flex on mobile stuff is quite fast respect Flash because it adds a lots of usual features that a mobile application needs.

Splash page

Any mobile application that is called like that, needs a splash page to introduce the real application.
In Flex you can set it very easily directly in main MXML file.
The executable MXML file on mobile project is called ViewNavigatorApplication instead of WindowedApplication like every AIR application, this new class allow you to set splashScreenImage, splashScreenScaleMode and splashScreenMinimumDisplayTime.
Those properties allow you to choose an image file for the splash screen, set its minimum duration and finally how it works in each screen’s dimensions where application runs.

Views

I mention ViewNavigatorApplication, this is a new concept of Flex mobile applications, in fact each application is composed by different View components.
Views are so interesting because they have a lots of things pre-builted like ActionBar, activation and deactivation events, View title, caching data and so on.
Every view is managed by a navigator, with the navigator you can push or pop views (like an array) to change them.
You can also choose how they will be animated, by default you can see a simple slide left or right (depends if you are adding or removing a view).
ActionBar is a new interesting component composed by 3 elements:

  • navigationContent
  • titleContent
  • actionContent

Usually actionBar could be used like a context menu of the view, remember that on mobile development is necessary to go back in the previous mask and also remember that your user doesn’t work on an application like uses a desktop application so shortcuts are so important.

Mobile Components

The new Flex framework “Hero” added optimized components for mobile purpose.
Until now I worked with textinputs, labels and lists that works very well, I tried in 3 different Android phones and performance are quite good.
Another new component added is IconItemRenderer that is an optimized item renderer for list component for example.
This component could be customized with: title, message field, icon and a decorator class that allow you to add for example another image. This is an IconItemRenderer sample where I added also filters (a drop shadow in this case)

Device Interaction & Flex Performance

Another cool thing that allow you to save time is that back button on the smartphone is managed by the application and it automatically goes to the previous view when a user click on hit.
In my few samples I tried to work without using cacheAsBitmap and cacheAsBitmapMatrix to have better performance and believe me that you remain astonished by the performance.
In fact performance are so good, it is so optimized for mobile purpose and everything works well, I tried to add custom effects and filters but performance were amazing too.

Mobile project Architecture

This is my favorite topic, when I started to work on mobile stuff with Actionscript 3 I thought on how to have great performances but with a good architecture that allow me to maintain my application during own life.

So I investigated on how new mobile technologies work and I found that Nokia QT works on mobile with a MVVM architecture, usually instead of controllers you can use delegates but depends of the application.
Working with MVVM architecture and a good design pattern like observer you can solve any problem in a mobile project, performances are perfect and you can optimize your code in the best way you like.
There are other tests that I want to try, the first one will be using Signals instead of Observer, I’d like to know performances in a mobile project (stay tuned :P).

Final Conclusion

The new Flex framework is an interesting step to the future, with this framework I’m sure you can create cool application in few days focusing on details and not on the application skeleton.

I suggest to take a look at Adobe TV, Adobe labs and Adobe Opensource to start work with Flex HERO!

UPDATE

take a look here to the Flex mobile performance

Working with Adobe AIR FileSystem API on iPad

Recently I made some test on iPad to test how to update contents of my mobile applications.
I tried some new AIR 2 API like open default program with PDF or XLS files but I get error #3000 (privileges error).
My idea is to create a routine where I’ll be able to update all contents on my application without passing trough Apple store.
So I tried with URLStream and AIR filesystem API, everything works well.
Code is so easy, take a look here:

//RETRIEVING IMAGE FROM ANY WEBSERVER
var urlS:URLStream = new URLStream();
urlS.addEventListener(Event.COMPLETE, downloadComplete);
urlS.addEventListener(ProgressEvent.PROGRESS, showPerc);
urlS.load(new URLRequest("http://192.168.1.9:8888/oliviaWilde.jpg"))

//DOWNLOADED IMAGE BYTEARRAY AND LOADING IN LOADER
function downloadComplete(e:Event):void {

  perc_txt.text = "";
  fileData = new ByteArray();
  urlS.readBytes(fileData,0,urlS.bytesAvailable);
  bytes = urlS.bytesAvailable;
  l.loadBytes(fileData);
  l.addEventListener(MouseEvent.CLICK, saveIt);

}
//SAVE IMAGE INTO APPLICATIONSTORAGEDIRECTORY
function saveIt(e:MouseEvent):void{

  f = File.applicationStorageDirectory.resolvePath("a.jpg");
  var fs:FileStream = new FileStream();
  fs.open(f, FileMode.WRITE)
  fs.writeBytes(fileData);
  fs.close();

}

//LOAD IMAGE FROM APPLICATIONSTORAGEDIRECTORY 
function loadLocalImg(e:MouseEvent):void{

  var finalBA:ByteArray = new ByteArray();
  var fs:FileStream = new FileStream();
  fs.open(f, FileMode.READ);
  fs.readBytes(finalBA, 0, bytes);
  fs.close();
  l.loadBytes(finalBA);

}

Using applicationStorageDirectory, you can save data into your application and retrieve it with AIR API.
In the video below, you can see a little demo where I load an image from a server, I save it, I unload click on the black right button and finally I load again but from ApplicationStorageDirectory, with the black left one, instead of loading from webserver.

Silverlight on mobile vs (maybe) AIR mobile ?

I don’t write on Silverlight mobile version yet because I was waiting more news from MIX and I also talked with Italian Microsoft guys and others developers.

So, Silverlight will be out the second quarter of 2008 but with 1.0 version and if you take a look at desktop version you know that isn’t so powerful!
In the end of 2008 we could see 2.0 Beta version and finally in the second quarter of 2009 Silverlight 2 will install in mobile devices.
The last version in so interesting, they add a very good zoom functionality and they add .net framework built in the player.
Mobile version will be use in IE browser for PDA so probably the same way on Nokia, so the first question is:
Can I interact OS on Nokia and PDA to save and manipulate data like desktop version or I’ll have some security issues?

Another thing that I see is a good video look and feel, I’d like to know what kind of video files I could play on own mobile player.
It could be interesting how Microsoft decide to update own mobile player on devices…

I think that Adobe must start to take new way to deliver and help own developers to create mobile contents, we have a cool platform but with a lots limits and also there is a bad interaction with OS.

Sincerly I hope that Adobe could develop the AIR mobile version because with this technology we could take new market quotes and opportunities.
AIR is the new powerfull technology that helps developers and desginers to deliver own contents with a new interaction way, if you can create an online app with Flex and then porting it on desktop and finally porting it on own mobile device… that it could be COOOOOL!

My 2 cents

Feel free to comment and share your view!