Thoughts On Flash - Revisited

Thanks to @bryngfors for pointing out what we all suspected all along: Apple is all talk and little action when it comes to supporting open standards. Prime example: visit trailers.apple.com without the QuickTime plugin installed and you see... not much in form of video. A plugin. On Apple's website? Good grief.

Now I'm not particularly bothered about browser plugins - I am after all of Flash heritage - but what bothers me is dishonesty. I mean come on, it's almost 2012 and even I as a seasoned Flash developer can tell you that it is possible to serve up web video these days without plugins. Isn't that what Steve Jobs told us? Remember the 'Thoughts on Flash'?

"We strongly believe that all standards pertaining to the web should be open."

Hmm, either QuickTime is open (hint: it isn't), or it's not a standard (that's my guess) or it's not pertaining to the web.

Here's another gem: "When websites re-encode their videos using H.264, they can offer them without using Flash at all. They play perfectly in browsers like Apple's Safari and Google's Chrome without any plugins whatsoever [...]."

Let's put the fact that most Flash video is already encoded in H.264 aside - what's changed since April 2010 when Steve Jobs wrote those words? Adobe seems to have moved with the times quite substantially and are re-focusing efforts on open standards - but is Apple doing the same? If so, then why are they trying to prevent progress by teaming up with patent trolls? How come the W3C has an axe to grind with Apple?

Come on Apple, you can do better. I really want to like you more, but you don't make it easy.


The End for Adobe's Multi-Screen Strategy?

The End for Adobe's Multi-Screen Strategy? - This is a question that Tim Siglin asks in his recent article on the sudden death of the HP TouchPad and WebOS.

My initial reaction to reading that header was one of suspected link-baiting; but since I know Tim well enough I knew that his style of writing goes substantially deeper than that of an attention-grabbing headline (but hey, this didn't stop me from re-using it. You see my standards are far far lower and since you are now reading my post it clearly has paid off ;-).

So does Tim have a point? Does the demise of WebOS and the sluggish uptake of other (non-iOS) mobile operating systems outside of Android really spell bad news for Adobe and its multi-screen dream?

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My Answers To Gruber's Questions

Argh, Tim Anderson tricked me into reading a post on daringfireball... As expected, what I saw wound me up. In the post John Gruber has some 'questions', and since I highly doubt that Google feels that they owe him a personal explanation I'll take a stab at the answers here (Gruber's blog does not allow comments).

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Using 'Air Display' iPad App To Aid Flash iOS Development

A few days ago my mini-display to DVI adapter that connects my external display to my iMac stopped working. Whilst waiting for a replacement I wondered if my iPad could act as a secondary display in the meantime. If you are like me then you will feel as if one of your arms has been cut off when you have to work on a single display - it feels totally inadequate despite a size of 27" :-)

A few minutes after posting a question about such a setup on Twitter I had received several recommendations for an app called Air Display (not to be confused with Adobe AIR, it has nothing to do with that at all). I bought the app and tried it - it turns out that it works very well indeed and is also great to test some basic touch screen interactions, especially if you develop Flash applications for mobile. I also recorded the following short video to quickly demo the setup. If you have any questions please post them below in the comments.


Having Fun With Flash and iPad

I know I should be doing 'proper' work but right now I am having way too much fun playing with the Flash CS5 iOS packager. Two days ago I started porting my Just Letters game (yes, that old chestnut) to iPad and I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was, even after deciding to rewrite the game in plain AS3 (plus a few graphical assets which I packaged into a .swc file). In total it must have taken me only 4 - 6 hours before the game was running on the iPad, and this included the logic for the NetConnection and ShareObject syncs.

But the point of this post isn't about the game, it's about how much fun Flash suddenly is again. The combination of AS3, RTMP and a tablet form factor is magical just great, and I've already got a few ideas for some further, more useful applications.

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Downgrading Apple iPhone OS 4.0 to 3.1.3

I've had major performance issues on my iPhone 3G (which is over 2 years old) after upgrading to the new iOS 4.0. Apps took much longer to launch, password entry forms did not respond quickly enough and the whole experience was just much much worse than using the 3.1.3 firmware version. Unfortunately I quickly found out that Apple does not like you to downgrade the OS and firmware for reasons that are only known to them, regardless of the fact that the new OS clearly does not perform well on a 3G model.
I tried the 'normal' downgrade process using iTunes 9.2, a 3.1.3 firmware file which I downloaded from this site and entering the phone into DFU mode as described in various guides. However at the end of the restore process I always got Error 1015 which basically translates to 'Nice try my boy'.

Fortunately after unsuccessfully trying a few different approaches I came across this guide which uses the iRecovery tool after Error 1015 has manifested itself and this worked a treat. I managed to downgrade to 3.1.3 without issues following the steps described. So if you too are stuck at Error 1015 then give that guide a try - but you do so at your own risk of course.

Hope this helps someone.


My First iPhone Game - Built with Flash!

The time has finally come to lift the lid on this. As you've probably all heard by now, Adobe today announced a brand new feature for the upcoming Flash Professional CS5: Export as iPhone app. Insane! Essentially what this feature will allow you to do is a cross-compilation from SWF to Objective-C - the resulting app is a totally legit iPhone/iPod Touch app which can be submitted to the Apple app Store. In my case that process has already happened, and the app has been approved!

I will post more details about the development process when things have calmed down a little, but for now I'm super exited to announce the immediate availability of my first application for iPhone and iPod Touch: my good old Just Letters game.
I figured this Flash game of mine which stems back from around 2005 would make an ideal candidate for a touch screen device, and I think I haven't been completely wrong with that assumption. Not only is Just Letters one of the first games built in Flash to ever hit the App Store but I have a feeling it is the very first game that use Flash Media Server to provide the real-time features.

In celebration of the launch I am distributing 10 free voucher codes for the US App Store (sorry, the vouchers do not work on App Stores outside the US). The game normally retails for $0.99. Just leave a comment below and I will pick a random 10 later today (leave your email too!).

Please help me spread the word about this game by blogging about it, tweeting or getting your grandma to buy a copy. Don't forget to review and rate it on the App Store too. please point people to the following age when you link to the game: http://www.muchosmedia.com/justletters (muchosmedia is my company, the 'official' developer behind the game).
Last but not least, if you need the game's icon or some screenshots then you can grab a small zip (1MB) from here. It also contains the game description in text format.

Thanks for your support!