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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Multicast Chat Across Devices and Platforms

In preparation for my session at Streaming Media Europe in a couple of weeks I had a play with the IP multicast feature in Flash today. Tom Krcha posted an excellent example on his blog a few months ago which demos this feature very well.
It's worth pointing out that this code works in a LAN setup, not over the public internet. This also means that Cirrus (aka Stratus) is not required for the P2P introduction - Flash Player can handle this itself on a multicast enabled LAN. Therefore you can try this using the devices on your local network, but not with your friends elsewhere on the net.

I wanted to try Tom's example on my iPad and Nexus One. The phone was easy since it can run Flash Player 10.1 and Tom's example app worked fine there. But what about the iPad?
Since I have got an Apple iOS developer account I am able to use the iPhone packaging feature in Flash CS5 to build iPhone and iPad applications. All I needed to do was to port Tom's Flex example to Flash as using the Flex framework on a device is not the best thing to do - at least not until themobile-optimised Hero SDK ships.

This blog post is therefore just a record to say: it worked and it worked well. Porting took only half an hour, and I then spent another half hour fine tuning a few bits and pieces, nothing major. The photo shows the app running on my Windows 7 netbook, the Nexus One and the iPad. I also had it running on my iMac and in the Flash IDE.

Say what you want about Flash on devices, there's something very cool about getting your code to run so easily in so many places. And remember this app now not only spans devices but also platforms and even runtimes since the iPad app is practically AIR based.

You can download my Flash app including sources here, but note that you need an iOS developer account to compile and install it on an iDevice.


My Email To An iPad User

As some of you know, I offer a hosted collaboration tool called Scribblar which I built using some of my favourite technologies, namely Flex and FMS. Today I sent out a newsletter announcing a new feature and I received the following email from one of my users:
"Greetings. I was hoping to use Scribblar to serve as a communication tool between two ipads. However, scribblar uses flash and ipads only use java. Is there a way around this?"

I replied as follows:

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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 Letter To Apple: Objection To Section 3.3.1, Request For Exclusion

I've just sent the following to the EU Dev Support at Apple.

==============================

Dear Apple,
As a developer who has successfully used Adobe Flash CS5 to build, submit and publish iPhone applications via the App Store I am unable to agree to the new Updated Program License Agreement you wish to impose on me.

Section 3.3.1 of the agreement states:
"Applications may only use Documented APIs in the manner prescribed by Apple and must not use or call any private APIs. Applications must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++, or JavaScript as executed by the iPhone OS WebKit engine, and only code written in C, C++, and Objective-C may compile and directly link against the Documented APIs (e.g., Applications that link to Documented APIs through an intermediary translation or compatibility layer or tool are prohibited)."

Since my application has originally been written in ActionScript it is now in violation of these terms. This brings up two questions:

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Steve Jobs Lies About Speaks Up On Flash

I got to be honest, I was gearing up for a massive rant on the latest PR effort by Apple in which Steve Jobs is trying to defend the company's ridiculous anti-Flash stance. But as it turns out I'm far too slow and some of my friends and colleagues have already said what needs to be said and I therefore would like to simply point you to a few of my favourite posts on the subject.

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Apple Is Acting Like A Dick Spoiled Kid

Excuse my French, but that's the most fitting way of describing Apple's latest move of deciding to 'ban' any cross-compiled applications from its App Store. If enforced this could mean an effective block of Adobe Flash CS5's flagship feature which is the ability to export native iPhone apps written in ActionScript.

I'm annoyed by this for many reasons. The primary one is that this directly sends a message to me personally as a developer who has already launched a Flash based iPhone app onto the App Store. That message reads: "We do not value your work. Whilst technically there's nothing wrong with your application and you have complied with all the rules we have given you already we've decided to move the goal posts now and deemed that your work adds no value to our platform."

Well guess what Apple, your platform does not add any value to me either. Not that I had any plans to develop more iPhone apps anyway anytime soon, but the fact that the effort I put in already is effectively discredited does cheese me off. Who does Apple think they are? Do they really believe that this is going to drive adoption of their own tools? I predict the opposite will be the case.

I don't think even Apple is that stupid. Instead this latest development is nothing more than a cheap shot at Adobe, but with a lot of collateral damage. They seem to forget that most developers are skilled in several languages, and many Flash devs also code in Objective-C. Will they reconsider their investment in Apple now? I certainly will.
Having already sold my Apple TV and replaced it with an Acer Revo, replaced my MacBook Pro with a netbook I'll most certainly not be renewing my Apple Developer agreement, nor agree to their updated terms. MobileMe can also go f**k itself. And my decision about upgrading to the next iPhone has just been made for me too: the HTC Desire is what I desire.

Granted, when it comes to desktop hardware I'll have to consider my options as I do like OSX and my iMac. But the bottom line is that I'll vote with my wallet and feel mighty good about it.

PS: I have updated the description of my game on the App Store - will let you know if/when they publish it. But I feel they may not :-)


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!