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So after using the Playbook for nearly one month, I thought I shall list down some interesting apps and games built in AIR that caught my eye.

GeeReader and Pipeline

Both these RSS readers have Google Reader synch options which is very important to me. Similarly I know most of you would also be using Google Reader for managing the several blogs you would follow everyday. Both these apps are free. GeeReader comes with the conventional blog reader UI, but Pipeline has little more electrifying UI though the Google Reader synch option is only valid for 14 days in the Free version. Pipeline also offers offline reading of feeds which is very important.

Scorekeeper

Easily the best UI of any party / family boardgame scorekeeping application. The app focuses on tiny-mini aspects that scorekeeping becomes such a pleasure. You should watch this video ..

Conqu

This is a task management software built on Adobe AIR. This same app is also available on Android marketplace and I saw it being demo’ed by one of the Adobe Evangelists. It comes with a very smooth and sleek UI. Having a task manager with a great UI is very important, when you admire the UI you tend to open the app more frequently and you hence get to check your To-Dos.

Await for another post on my fav games very soon..

Around last month, Blackberry introduced debug tokens that can be used to test/debug applications for developers in the Playbook. My good friend Mitch, wrote a blogpost on how to use the debug token.  He describes the entire process in four steps

  • Initial Requirements, which involves checking whether you have all the files necessary.
  • Command Line and Terminal, instructions to create and install your debug token onto your playbook.
  • Preparing your App for Debug Mode, which requires some small changes to your blackberry-tablet.xml file.
  • Publish to Blackberry Playbook, which involves creating your .BAR file and sending it to your device.
Read the entire post here.

As I had mentioned in my previous post, I wrote an AIR application for the Blackberry Playbook, the newest of the tablets that run Flash. I got a Blackberry Playbook device yesterday and these are my early impressions –

1. Great hardware build and finish. When you have it in your hands, you get a good feeling. It’s not heavy and it feels right.

2. Though launching one year after the launch of iPad, it equals the hardware of the second iPad or iPad2. It has dual cameras, Bluetooth, HDMI connection ports. So the device on the whole is very sophisticated.

3. What the Playbook lacks is the services around it. It does not have a preinstalled E-mail client or a native facebook or twitter application. There are still many categories in the store that are malnutritioned- without apps or content.

However I think the third point will be tackled soon as..

— Android and Java application players will soon be coming to Playbook in a software update, due in summer. This means Android and Java apps just need to be packaged for the Playbook and they will run smoothly on the Playbook. This is an excellent initiative by RIM as it brings a large community of developers with tons of games, apps into the Playbook ecosystem.

— When I was working with Blackberry toolkit in December / January it was primitive versions of the SDK that lacked signing and other features. It was not all that developer friendly.  I remember in late February, SDK 0.9.3 was released which had tools to sign the apps and RIM have been regularly improving the SDKs (which had both good and bad effects). Around last week, RIM released SDK 1.0.1 and image, which is the firmware currently running on the device. Before this it was hard for developers to gauge platform specific features like contextual menu ( Playbook’s menu appears on a swipe from top of the screen), accelerometer or GPS. Hence, developers couldn’t experiment much. Today, with a mature set of tools and simulators and some devices in the market, I expect the apps to grow.

I have also started working on a game for the Blackberry Playbook using Flash, of course.

Developing for Playbook

Paul Trani, an Adobe Evangelist here describes the different contextual gestures that are possible on the Blackberry tablet – Playbook. He describes how to design and plan layouts that would best suit for the portrait and landscape orientations of the Playbook.

Additionally, the tablet has specific gestures like the Xoom. The bezels of the Playbook are sensitive to touch and act as an important interaction in the tablet’s portfolio.

The complete article is worth a read…

AIR 2.6 Launched

Repost from the Adobe Blog,

Adobe is pleased to announce the availability of the Adobe® AIR® 2.6 SDK and AIR® 2.6 desktop runtimes for Windows, Mac and Linux. With AIR 2.6, AIR achieves feature parity for Android and iOS platforms. This new release provides significant improvements for iOS app development as well as updates for Android and desktop app development.”

Here are the updates:

iOS:

  • Updated AIR for iOS support with improved performance. Developers can take advantage of new features in iOS 4 like multitasking, Retina display for higher screen resolutions, and front and back camera support. Developers can now build application that capture audio with the microphone and take advantage of the same graphics hardware method used in AIR for Android using OpenGL ES2 for fast graphics.
  • Packager for iPhone (PFI) is now replaced with and the functionality integrated with AIR Developer Tool (ADT) a comand line tool for compiling application in the AIR SDK. ADT can now be used to package AIR files, native desktop installers, AIR applications for Android and iOS.

Android:

  • Submit apps to be included in the Amazon Appstore for Android when the store launches.  Companies now have an additional distribution option with one of the largest online shopping destinations on the web.
  • USB debugging was added as an additional debugging option to WiFi.

Happy Sun on Nokia E7

Most of you would be knowing about the latest vocabulary game on the Ovi store – Happy Sun. I last week got my hands on the brand new Nokia E7, the business phone. Here is a photo of Happy Sun running on both Nokia N8 and E7.

 

 

 

I have been quite busy over the last 1 month that I couldn’t spare sometime on blogging. The reason can be attributed to a lot of things

1. Rapid innovations and new toolkits in the Flash platform.

2. The new Nokia Microsoft deal

3. Cricket World Cup  😉

There are a lot of good reasons to develop for the Playbook. One is that, all SWFs that run on the computer / web can be wrapped into an application seamlessly. And Playbook’s hardware and initial showcases have been impressive. The device seems solid. Blackberry has been encouraging developers to code for their platform and have been offering a free playbook upon a successful submission. Blackberry understands that apps in the marketplace are essential for the success of a platform. And to overtake Apple’s iPad, they need to have a launch with a marketplace ready with diversified content. One also has to remember that Playbook is equivalent to iPad 2’s hardware (has dual cameras) and is hence not behind in the race.

Anyways, so I created an app for the Playbook that can be used to watch TED videos. I used the TED RSS and it’s published for free. In future, I will be adding newer features to it. Previously, there were loose ends in the process of testing and signing the content for the Playbook. The toolchain has been improving and we are now seeing more blogs writing about it (one is this by Hemanth). Adobe will shortly be releasing a more streamlined process for development. Additionally, Blackberry was taking quite some time to give any response on the submission of apps. It took me 30+ days for the TED app to get approved. Now the approval times have been drastically reduced to nearly 1 week only. Since, my content has been approved I will be receiving a Playbook after its launch. I shall later attach screenshots of my app.

I must also say about 2 things that has not been highlighted adequately

1. There is a package of UI, media and other components that have been designed and developed by Adobe + Blackberry to suit the Playbook and  the QNX platform. It is better to use these components when targeting the playbook.

2. The community at Blackberry developer site is hyper brisk. I think there are people answering queries with sleepless nights ! You generally get answers in less than 20 mins time. I used these, when I had initial difficulty with signing and packaging and found them to be really useful.

With Nokia going into deals with Micrsoft, it means that Flash Lite’s future in diminishing. Symbian had good support for Flash Lite. But I do believe that Flash Lite is a good platform to target the millions of devices that are today in the market and more that will continue to ship over the next few years. My latest game on the Ovi store, HAPPY SUN has been doing very well. It is also being featured by the Ovi store. Being a Forum Nokia Champion and an avid Flash enthusiast, I hope that Flash soon makes its way into WP7.

I am also attending the Adobe Refresh Singapore event tomorrow. Really hoping to catch up with dev friends.

While my primary involvement at Adobe happens to be around the ActionScript language, I also have some background in security, and recently I have been thinking about channeling some of that into designing and implementing tools for secure programming in ActionScript. ActionScript programs are compiled to run as Flash applications (on the web) or as AIR applications (on the personal computer / mobile device); as such, they are run on platforms with security models, and their security on those platforms is controlled by various security mechanisms, both at the language-level as well as at the platform-level. (More here.(Adobe blogs)….>)

My latest Flash Lite game HAPPY SUN is out on the Ovi store. Its available for all touch phones including the S60 5th edition and Nokia S^3 phones. You can download it for free from the Ovi store. Here are some screenshots of the game … Its a very exciting word game and created after working closely with Mellisdesigns.

Facebook Graph API Development with Flash: Beginner’s Guides by Michael James Williams, his twitter ID:@MichaelJW (Published by Packt Publishing Ltd. ISBN 978-1-849690-74-4, with TOC and Index) is a surprisingly comprehensive how-to book that should be on the book shelf of all levels of flash Developers, especially those who starting to work on Facebook API Development with Flash.

This work includes some of the topics that are covered in “Accessing the Graph API through a Browser,” traversing the Graph and other instances. But it goes well beyond that. Although I’ve been in writing my tutes in several flash websites for long time, I was delightfully surprised to read about some interesting topics that are rarely talked about in books of this kind.  In Chapter 5: Search Me; in Chapter 6: Adding to the Graph; quite interestingly in Chapter 7: FQL Matters (Yes, it is FQL, Facebook’s version of the database language SQL) and a lot more.

The scope and quality of this book is no doubt directly related to the excellent credentials of its author. Michael James Williams is a technical concept writer and freelance Flash developer. He is the technical editor for the tutorial website “Activetuts+” and also runs his own blog about Flash game development. He currently lives in England, in a nice little town that has both a river and a canal. As per his say, he has been using Facebook since it was just some site that his American housemate wouldn’t stop talking about.

His method of delivery is to introduce the main idea, the concept of a writing category, and then take the structural components of the document in question and explain each action component in detail. We can feel the patient hand of a well-seasoned developer leading the reader chapter by chapter towards knowing in detail.

For example, before explaining the individual components of this book (Abstract, Introduction, Body, Conclusion, pop quiz), the author first explain the major steps involved in approaching and researching. Much forethought and planning went into the preparation of this 324 pp. Beginner’s Guide, obviously.

Those who’d like to do some developing Facebook apps in Flash will be delighted by the chapter 6 devoted to “Adding to the Graph.” I found the list of topics of “Putting it online” on p. 265 very useful too.

Every chapter is capped by “Topics” section, which presents many visual elements that the reader/student is asked to cope with by coming up with the correct solution, as explained within the chapter.

The book is so thorough that even topics such as how to use Facebook features, what’s that got to do with the Graph API, and the basic rules of Facebook’s security restrictions and its access are also covered. Oh, let’s also not forget the delightful support of Packt Publication and others that adds a welcome light touch to this serious volume.

Highly recommended e-book for anyone who works or intends to work on Facebook applications as well as those learning in a classroom settings.

 

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