Monday, April 09, 2007

Mobile RIAs with FlashLite - Evaluation

Flash Lite is a promising route to RIAs on mobile devices. Adobe has recently strengthened their commitment to reaching mobiles, including strong device support in CS3, and planning for 1 Billion Flash-Enabled Handsets. The chart in that post also suggests 2007 is the year when "Adobe addressable handsets" clearly cross the 50% mark. Commitment to move the mobile platform toward a Flex-capable and ActionScript-3-capable runtime has been announced as well.

Wow. That's great. So how well and how easily does it actually work? I set out to do a quick evaluation of getting an interactive network connected app up and running on Flash Lite.

For my target platform, I picked Flash Lite 2.1, 320x240, on Windows Mobile, for these reasons:

1. Since this spec lies toward the high end of the Flash Lite ecosystem, I knew that if major things failed on FL2.1 and a 200MHz+ processor, they would be very unlikely to work on downversion FL

2. Real HW-level emulators are freely available for Windows Mobile, something that's not true for many mobile phones

3. I own a compatible device, and when working with devices, at a certain point there's just no substitute for the real hardware

For my "application," I wanted to see if I could implement a couple of use cases for a mobile 2.0 site for ordering food. This seemed like a reasonable real-world use for a Flash Lite application outside of entertainment; the use cases involve retrieving an order list from the web site, letting the user choose one, and then retrieving relevant destination restaurants where the order could be sent.

First I sketched out a simple Flash app which used the MX components for the onscreen text boxes, lists, and buttons, as well as for the SOAP web service client. I targeted Flash 7 (FL 2.x is essentially Flash 7), and built. After debugging on the PC, I tried it in the
WM 5 Smartphone emulator
(best enjoyed splashed over this SDK).

No joy. The movie starts to play, but then seizes up and the standalone Flash Lite player gives this error message: "ActionScript stuck" in both the emulator and real device. The culprit seems to be the mx.controls.List class, which is either too complex for the runtime to handle, or else triggers some low-perf detection code meant to ensure movies stop running altogether before they run badly. My web service connection via mx.services.WebService and SOAP was causing a similar problem.

This wasn't looking good, since those components date back at least to Flash MX 2004, and the hope was that a FlashLite 2.x app could be authored more or less like an MX 2004 app. Googling around, I found that the MX UI components do not, in general, work on Flash Lite 2 (a few do, but the kit as a whole cannot be assumed to work). This leaves the old-school approach of custom writing the UI widgets as part of the movie (not a bad approach for something so small) or finding widgets that would work. Since I wanted to complete this evaluation quickly, I looked for a widget kit for FL, and found Jesse Warden's Shuriken Components (see also his presentation here). For my purposes, this was perfect. Easy to use, and ran without a hitch on FL 2.

Next I needed web service connectivity. By adding this
<webServices>
<protocols>
<add name="HttpGet"/>
</protocols>
</webServices>

to an ASP.net app's web.config, you can turn on (Lo)RESTful behavior in addition to SOAP. (This switch enables not just GET but a simplified XML response format.) Next I used XML.load in ActionScript and gave it the appropriate URL to GET. This worked great on the emulator and device.

Then I added a couple of lines of "business logic" in AS, to allow additional dynamic interactions, so that I could bang on it without worrying about caching in the Windows Mobile HTTP stack or in Cingular's WAP-gateway-proxied network.

So far, so good. These patterns (movie-based or Shuriken UI + XML.load for web services) should work well on the high end of FlashLite (Windows Mobile devices range from about 166 MHz to 520 MHz; I was using a 220MHz OMAP). The next step will be to find some more constrained implementations that still support a the FlashLite "application" content type (e.g. a Nokia S40 device with FL 2.0) and try it out.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

They will miss the ro zeny and they will try their best to play this game to get the joy. As long as they earn the ragnarok zeny they will be happy and they think the game is very interesting. Of course they have to have a lot of iro zeny by themselves. Sure, that process of achieving will have its unpleasant and disagreeable aspects.I am lonely so I play the game and go to earn ragnarok online zeny to give my friends. They also give me a lot of cheap zeny while playing the game.

I like to earn rappelz rupees, because it is very interesting. I think if you meet the rappelz gold, you will like it too. And when you play the game well you can get some cheap rappelz rupees as the rewards from the game. As long as you have a lot of rappelz money in the game you will be strong, and you can go to buy rupees with the other players.

Anonymous said...

aion chinaaion china gold,
aion cn goldaion chinese gold,
aion gold chinaaion gold chinese,
china aion goldchinese aion gold,
aion china kinaaion chinese kina,
aion kina chinachina aion kina,
aion china buybuy aion china,
aion chinese server goldaion cn server gold,
aion china server goldchina aion server gold,
chinese aion server goldaion chinese server gold,
aion cn server kinaaion china server kina,
china aion server kinachinese aion server kina

Anonymous said...

Your article is great. Thanks for information. I'ts very useful. You have very nice blog.

------------------------------------------
Free Poker Bonus No Deposit Required - Sign up Promotions.
Free Poker bankrolls - Regards

Anonymous said...

czyszczenie sławków dąbrowa katowice chorzów. na mokro nie na sucho meblową z karcher odkurzaczem, jaworzno tanio i śmiesznie cheap. czyszczenie dywanów tanio ale także online odbywa się szybko i dokładnie wow.
Promocje związane z czyszczenie wykładzin tapicerek jest na prawdę poker tanie pranie.
Czyszczenie odbywa się u klienta. czyszczenie pranie cennik zamówienie minimum sign 40zł.
Czyszczenie na mokro jest skuteczne cennik sosnowiec czyszczenie karcher zamówienie maks 70zł.

pedro velasquez said...

I noticed there’s a new Flash Lite book coming out soon. Congrats to the author, sportsbook JG Anderson! Professional Flash Lite Mobile Development Discover how to create Flash Lite mobile apps from the ground up Adobe Flash is an ideal choice for bet nfl developing rich interactive content for “Flash-enabled” mobile devices; and with this book, you’ll learn how to create.
http://www.enterbet.com

Super Bowl Commercials 2012 said...

Thanks for the post. It was very interesting and meaningful.
Super Bowl Commercials 2012| Money Talks|