2008-10-10

Boston Flash Lite Technology Day

I attended the Boston Flash Lite Technology Day today at the Nokia Research Center in Cambridge.

Breakfast
Developing Flash Content with Adobe Creative Suite (aka Flash Lite Overview)
  • Presented by James Talbot of Adobe
  • Advantage of Flash Lite: you can build app's more quickly than with other technologies
  • Demos: YouTube search & play; a game. When the demo doesn't work, "blame it on the network." -Alessandro
  • 800 million Flash devices shipped to date; 1 billion Flash devices projected for 2009
  • Flash Lite is a Flash player optimized for non-PC devices; pre-installed; app's, wallpapers, screensavers; has access to device state info; has video, audio, bitmap support; enables dynamic content,access to XML data (including an XML socket that stays open between player and server for faster request/response), access RSS feeds; 4 versions of Flash Lite
  • Versions: 1.1, 2.0, 2.1, 3.0. Upward compatible from 1.1 to 3.0. Makes it easy to play video from Flash Media Server.
  • No OTA distribution of Flash Lite player on Nokia devices. User must proactively find and download updates. (On BREW, Flash Lite is delivered OTA.) ~0.5mbytes for OTA delivery. Ideal: when end user downloads an app, thep player would come with it.
  • (It seems like everyone in the room is reading stock market news and looking at graphs of the stock market plunge. And that everyone has an iPhone.)
  • Nokia device support: 94 total; 49 S60 phones , 45 S40 phones
  • Use Adobe Creative Suite to build app's: PhotoShop, Fireworks, Illustrator -> Flash tool to create .swf file -> test in the Flash player and on emulated devices in Device Central (the Flash Lite dev and test tool for Creative Sutie) -> deploy in the wild.
  • Device Central includes numerous device profiles, which are easy to update.
  • Discussion about need for better UI and a developer community focused on tools and UI widgets.
I chatted with Anthony Hand, mobile UI designer and a friend from MobileCampBoston.

Flash Lite Tips and Tricks
  • Presented by Alessandro Pace, a Forum Nokia Champion
  • Nokia & Flash Lite content types: S60 (standalone, screensaver, browser), S40 (all those + wallpaper)
  • Do most of the work in the Flash IDE + Device Central emulator
  • Remote Device Access (RDA): S60/S40 Nokia device testing for free via a service like Device Anywhere. I got excited about this and spent most of the rest of this presentation trying it.
  • Optimize graphics to save memory.
  • To save memory, create a master SWF file that load other SWFs.
  • Use WURFL .
  • Use Nokia's tool for OMA DRM.
  • Use Flash video instead of the device's native video player so you can add UI elements and rotate the video.
David Brown of AgencyNet gave a demo of his company's Bacardi mobile app, implemented in Flash Lite, running on an N95. It included themes, animation, and video.

Lunch
Introduction to Forum Nokia (aka Partership Opportunities)
  • Presented by Ganesh Sivaraman, Internet and Web 2.0 Business Development Manager
  • Over half of smartphone owners have used or purchased a download app.
Flash Lite Video on Nokia Devices
  • Presented by James Talbot
  • Two ways of delivering : device video player or Flash video files (FLVs, rendered directly by the video codec--Sorenson or On2).
  • Availabe in Flash Lite 2 or better.
  • System.Capabilites object has properties decribing the capabilities of the device: hasEmbeddedVideo, hasStreamingVideo, videoMIMETypes
  • ActionScript video class allows play, pause, stop, resume, close
  • video.play("file.3pg")
  • video.play("http://example.com/file.3pg")
  • Flash Media Server can detect network and device capabilities and stream the right video to the device. (True?)
  • Use Adobe Media encoder to produce videos in the codec you want.
  • You can host your video as an HTTP progressive download, but it won't scale well. For good performance, use streaming video and the Flash Media Server. Video starts playing faster. Streaming uses less device memory. Video can be secured. Better network usage. Automatically detect bandwidth. Track, log, and report on video use.
  • Flash Lite limitations: only one way communication from the server to the client; only supports RTMP; cannot record video;
  • Use lower frame rate for mobile devices due to bandwidth and CPU limitations.
I pulled an espresso from Nokia's Starbucks Barista. Yum!

Programming Advanced Nokia Features with Flash Lite
  • Presented by Scott Janousek, a Forum Nokia Champion
  • Founder/Tech Director at Hooken Mobile
  • Home brewer
  • Flash Lite strengths; media capabliites, cross platform/portability across devices, extensive toolset (Adobe CS4, adobe Device Central)
  • Weaknesses; performanc eon low end devices, fragmentation
  • On S60, Flash Lite offers advanced features without much developer experience required.
  • Flash Lite + 3rd party software extender: answer to native Symbian development challenges
  • 3rd party products: KuneryLite, SWF2go, Janus, Flyer
  • Extending Flash Lite pros: additional functionality, access to low level device APis, don't have to learn Symbian S60 programming, saves dev time. Cons: fragmentation outside of S60, etc.
  • KuneriLite: a rapid application development toolkit for Flash Lite
  • Flash Lite <--> Kuneri Lite <--> S60
  • Fast, powerful, transparent to end user, 12 plug ins, easy packaging as .sis file, good device emulator, nice dev wizard takes you step by step through building an app.
  • Plug-ins: accelerometer, camera, connect (text/binary via Bluetooth), DTMF, file, GPS, protect (SWF security protection), ringtone, rotate, system (launch app's from your app), timer (for expiring use free trials), upload/download (via HTTP)
  • 3 licenses; free dev version, pro (non commercial), commercial ($99 per app)
  • Nokia to add extensions: camera, messaging, landmarks, location, contacts, calendar, logging, application manager, system info, sensors, etc.
Flash Lite and Widget programming
  • Presented by Rob Toole , Fidelity Investments
  • Why widgets? Native web browser isn't usable enough. Make it easy to find most relevant content quickly. One click access--no scrolling or typing.
  • Package as .wgz file, a zip file, for distribution and installation.
  • Distribution: Upload your app to MOSH for instant distribution.

Between session chat: DeviceAtlas is a cleaned up WURFL.

Flash Lite for Real App's
  • Presented by Ira Hochman, CTO of Untravel Media
  • The Flash player recognizes device rotation. It automatically rotates the UI and scales UI elements to the proper aspect.
  • Porting is easy.
  • Flash might not be a good target platform in the US because there aren't enough US Nokia users.
  • He believes Flash Lite solves device fragmentation.
A Flash Lite success story (not the actual title)
  • Presented by Rob Toole, Fidelity
My thoughts
Flash Lite is like Java ME, with some of the same characteristics and problems. Its fragmentation is or will be similar to Java's, and looks like it may exactly mimic Java's fragmentation as Nokia introduces custom APIs. The Adobe developer suite looks like a better dev tool set than Java's tools (although NetBeans seems vey good). It is not supported on as many devices as Java.

1 comment:

Bill said...

Thanks for posting your impressions of the day - it's a good way to get an idea of what was discussed even though I wasn't able to attend.

.bp

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