Build Mobile Apps for Android Devices, BlackBerry PlayBook, iPhone and iPad Today!

Since our April news announcing Adobe Flash Builder 4.5 and Flex 4.5, we began with support for building mobile apps across multi-device platforms, first with Android. Today we’re happy to announce updates to Flash Builder and the Flex framework that now offer support for iPhone, iPad and BlackBerry PlayBook. As a result, developers can quickly build and distribute apps through the Android Market, BlackBerry App World and Apple App Store using one tool chain, programming language and code base—a first for developers!

Our own Flash Platform evangelist Serge Jespers shows us what “one tool, one framework, one codebase” means, and demonstrates an app developed for different devices using Flash Builder and Flex:

Developers from different industries such as government, entertainment and gaming have been using Flash Builder 4.5 and Flex 4.5 to help them reduce development time and the cost of delivery to build some pretty amazing apps across the major platforms:

- Politifact.com: A project of the St. Petersburg Times and a 2009 Pulitzer Prize winner, the PolitiFact.com team extended its website content into a mobile app available across leading app stores. The PolitiFact.com app helps readers find truth in politics by investigating statements by members of Congress, the President, lobbyists and other Washington D.C. personalities. 

- Netflix Queue Manager: Using Adobe AIR 2.5, Flash Builder 4.5.1 and the Flex framework, RIA design and development group UnitedMindset created the Netflix Queue Manager, which allows users to connect with and manage their Netflix queue across devices and features intuitive search capabilities. With success in the Android Market—over 340,000 downloads since October 2010—the app is coming soon to BlackBerry AppWorld and the Apple App Store.

- Mr. Mixit and Pyramix: Web design and development agency HD Interactive first released Pyramix, a word game combining the strategy of Cryptoquote and the simplicity of Boggle, and Mr. Mixit, a spin-based matching game where you mix record labels against the clock, to Apple’s App Store. The new updates allowed HD Interactive to use the same code to deliver the apps to Android Market and BlackBerry AppWorld in record time. 

- Muni Tracker: Are you from the San Francisco Bay Area or maybe planning to visit? This app helps you track locations, arrival times and bookmark your favorite stops and lines for Muni (San Francisco Municipal Railway), San Francisco’s public transit system. The developer was able to quickly and easily port this original Android app to iOS.

- Conqu is an easy to use yet powerful task management tool designed to help conquer an e-mail inbox and get things done. Using Flash Builder 4.5, the developer, AsFusion, was able deploy the app on multiple platforms with minimal effort. They were also able to reduce the time to develop the app since there was no need to debug different code for each individual platform.

Android and iOS users can also check out these apps from the Adobe Mobile Showcase at m.adobeshowcase.com. As always, we’d love to see and hear what you’re creating with our technology – whether it’s mobile, web or desktop apps. In fact, we encourage you to upload videos about what you’re building to the Flash Builder 4.5 Widget to share and even vote on projects from around the community!

Don’t Miss Adobe Developer Week (June 20-24)

Calling all developers! Interested in building apps that run seamlessly across the Web, desktops and mobile devices for Android, BlackBerry Tablet OS and iOS with one tool, a common framework and a single codebase? Then look no further than Adobe Developer Week! Taking place June 20-24, this weeklong event will feature a series of free, live webinars via Adobe Connect hosted by Adobe technology experts. 

Learn how to take advantage of the newly released features and capabilities in Adobe Flash Builder 4.5, Flex 4.5, and Adobe’s enterprise software solutions to develop and deploy rich applications across multiple device platforms. Whether you’re new to Flash Builder/Flex development or a seasoned pro, there are 17 sessions for all skill levels and interests (e.g. ColdFusion, Java, PHP, migrating from earlier versions of Flex, enterprise development and more). Register now to see live demos and chat with the experts during interactive Q&A sessions. For all the details and to sign up for webinars, visit the Adobe Developer Week site.

Hope to see you there and don’t forget to Tweet during Adobe Developer Week with the hashtag #AdobeDW2011!

Now Available—One Mobile Development Platform with Flash Builder 4.5 and Flex 4.5

It’s here—Adobe Flash Builder 4.5 and Flex 4.5, along with Adobe Creative Suite 5.5, are shipping and ready for you to create expressive applications across leading device platforms!

We’ve really focused on mobile development for this release, offering developers one tool, one development framework and one codebase to build mobile applications on Android, BlackBerry Tablet OS and iOS. Flash Builder 4.5 also helps developers make these applications ready to deploy for an app store/market. You can immediately develop applications for Android, and support for BlackBerry Tablet OS and iOS will be available through free Flex and Flash Builder updates in June.

For you PHP developers out there creating RIAs across mobile, web and the desktop, Flash Builder 4.5 for PHP software is also now available from Adobe and Zend Technologies. The software features an integrated development environment (IDE) to create Flex and PHP applications, where developers can deliver Android, BlackBerry Tablet OS and iOS applications while sharing code from web apps. This helps reduce time and cost for development and maintenance.

But “seeing is believing!” If you happen to be at BlackBerry World this week, be sure to stop by Adobe’s booth to see some cool demos for Flash Builder 4.5-created applications. To get a sense of what you can do with Flash Builder 4.5 and Flex 4.5, check out what one of our evangelists, Greg Wilson, put together to track locations and arrival time predictions for San Francisco’s MUNI transit system.

We’re pretty excited about the response from developers so far. Here’s what a few of them had to say about these new releases:

Adobe vice president of developer tooling Ed Rowe also has a great example of how to build an online shopping cart, showing us how Flex 4.5 and Flash Builder 4.5 help developers use the same codebase across Android, BlackBerry Tablet OS and iOS devices:

Flash Builder 4.5 and Flex 4.5 stand out as one of the great, new capabilities and features in Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 Web Premium and Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 Master Collection—also available today. Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 offers one suite for building expressive applications for mobile, web and the desktop.

Want more? Here are a few resources to get you going:

Build your First Mobile Application in Flash Builder 4.5

Build your First Flex 4.5 Application

Flex Developer Center

Mobile development using Adobe Flex 4.5 SDK and Flash Builder 4.5

As you get started with CS5.5, Flex Builder 4.5 and Flex 4.5, be sure to keep us posted about some of the cool projects you’re working on to create great digital experiences across major smartphones and tablets!

Flash Builder 4.5 and Flex 4.5 Accelerate Mobile App Development, Adding Performance and Productivity

Today is a great day for developers who are building applications for mobile devices. We are extremely excited to announce the upcoming release of Adobe Flash Builder 4.5 and Flex 4.5 along with Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 (CS5.5), offering unprecedented new capabilities for building mobile applications and content. These new products offer a new mobile development paradigm – allowing you to use one tool, one development framework, and one codebase to build mobile applications on Android, BlackBerry Tablet OS and iOS platforms.

What this means is that you can use Flash Builder 4.5 to build great looking, high performing mobile applications, and then package them as ready-to-deploy mobile apps that you can submit to an app store/market. No more need to learn different languages and tools for different mobile platforms. In May, you will be able to package apps for Android, and shortly thereafter, you will be able to compile apps for BlackBerry Tablet OS and iOS using free updates that we plan to ship for Flex and Flash Builder in June.

Check out this video with Platform Evangelist Serge Jespers to see this new development flow in action:

Also new with this release is the addition of Flash Builder 4.5 Premium to Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 Web Premium and Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 Master Collection. Now you can get all of the tools that you need to build the most expressive applications for mobile, web, and desktop platforms all in a single suite.

To learn what’s new in Flash Builder 4.5, read this article and watch this video for more details on mobile development using Flash Builder 4.5 and Flex SDK 4.5:

Additionally, updates in Adobe Flash Catalyst CS5.5 feature a new round-trip workflow with Flash Builder 4.5 allowing designers and developers to work in parallel. Now designers can open, make changes and save Flex projects that were created or previously edited in Flash Builder, leading to faster delivery of applications. Designers can rapidly prototype user interfaces for resizable Flex-based websites and applications with new components, craft more precise and expressive transitions and effects, and efficiently design developer-built custom components.

Take a peek at this video, Introduction to Flash Catalyst CS5.5:

Lastly, Adobe and Zend Technologies, the PHP company, today introduced Flash Builder 4.5 for PHP software, a brand new integrated product helping PHP developers create rich Internet applications (RIAs) for mobile, Web and desktop leveraging the Flash Platform. For the first time, developers now have the benefit of an integrated development environment (IDE), combining the capabilities of Flash Builder and Zend Studio for rapidly creating Flex and PHP applications. Now, with a single code base developers can deliver applications for Android, Blackberry Tablet OS and iOS while sharing code from Web applications, noticeably reducing the time and cost of application creation and maintenance. 

Check out these articles for the latest product features and capabilities:

- Introducing Adobe Flex 4.5 SDK

- Understanding the new workflows in Flash Builder 4.5 and Flash Catalyst CS5.5

- Introducing Flash Builder 4.5 for PHP

We hope you’ll explore all that CS5.5 has to offer to create new digital experiences for major smartphones and tablets. Let us know what you think of the latest enhancements to Flash Builder 4.5, Flex 4.5 and Flash Catalyst CS5.5!

Working with Doctrine 2, Flex, Zend AMF, and Flash Builder

I finally got some time to play with Doctrine 2 and Flex. Back in May I wrote an article about working with Doctrine 1.x and Flex (you can read the article here) and my feelings were mixed. I chatted with Jonathan Wage of Doctrine about some of the shortcomings I found in Doctrine 1.x and [...]

Charting with Flex and PHP

One of the things that I’ve found to be a bit of a pain is structuring data correctly so it’s easy to chart. Luckily there are some things you can do within the charting framework in Flex to make that a bit easier as well as some things you can do with the Zend Framework to send data in a way that’s easier to chart. I cover the basics in a new post on the Adobe Developer Center.

Now Available: Effortless Flex 4 Development – Great for Flex and PHP Developers

The official Flex team blog reminded me that Effortless Flex 4 Development is now available. It’s the perfect book for Flex and PHP developers and I got an inside look at it as I did the tech-reviewing for it. Larry is an awesome author who usually does a lot with PHP but recently started getting into Flex and in talking to him it sounds like he really enjoys it. So definitely go out and grab a copy. I think we’re going to try and buy some to give away as I go out and talk to PHP and Flex developers alike.

Charting data with Flex and PHP

This is a fairly straightforward topic but I did a quick DZone article on charting with Flex and PHP using the data-centric design wizards in Flash Builder. The wizards make it very easy to at least get the basics down and start using data in charts, and I covered some basic ways to add animations and interactivity.

I’m working on a more in-depth article with Zend that will cover grouping/sorting/etc on both the client and server side. It will provide some info on how to structure your data and make it more flexible for manipulating when it’s in the chart.

WebSocket Charting Demo with HTML5 and JavaScript

One of the PHP demos that goes over pretty well is my Flex socket demo. It used to be that Flex/Flash was really the only way to take advantage of WebSockets but with browser vendors implementing bleeding edge support for HTML5, developers can now use the WebSocket API in JavaScript. I wanted to combine that with the Canvas API and try to recreate a basic example of my Flex socket demo in HTML5/JavaScript. It mostly works (demo embedded at the bottom).

Code

  • socket.html – HTML/JS file for connecting to the socket server
  • socket.php – PHP file that creates the socket server

Who Can Run This

It’s been kind of cool to see the browser vendors really move forward to implement support for various bits of HTML5 and CSS3 without a defined spec. That can be problematic because the spec is still changing, causing code to break in new versions of browsers, but in general it means that web developers can live on the cutting edge for most browser. Currently, the WebSocket API (and this example) should work in the latest version of Chrome and the Firefox 4 beta.

Differences in WebSockets with Flash and HTML5

Overall the WebSocket API is pretty easy to use. I took my existing PHP socket server code that works in Flash and tried to use it for the HTML5 version but all I was getting was the “close” event. The problem was that I wasn’t thinking about the handshake. Flash uses a policy file to determine whether or not it can connect, but the WebSocket API uses a handshake. I was able to grab some example code, change my PHP server to add the handshake then everything basically worked. The only other small change I had to make was to add a character (chr 0 and chr 255) to either end of the message I was sending through the socket_write method. I’m still not entirely sure why this is, but my onmessage event wouldn’t fire until I added those.

Charting with Canvas

I’m very excited about the Canvas API in HTML5. If you’re a Flash developer who has been working with the Flash drawing API, you’re going to be able to do some very cool stuff. The APIs are fairly similar with some syntax changes that you have to be aware of. The biggest pain I found was that once something is on the canvas, it’s on the canvas. You can’t reference specific drawn elements like you can in ActionScript. That makes doing things like the hover effect on specific charting points basically impossible.

Partly because of that, and because I’m still getting used to JavaScript I went with a very scaled down version of the chart. All this chart does is draw some grid lines and then plots the points as it gets them from the socket server. When you get to the end, the points are drawn off the page. I also couldn’t really figure out how to add to a path in a function call so I just went with the points instead of making it an actual line graph. I’m fairly sure that most of these are due to my JavaScript incompetence and not a limitation of Canvas.

Conclusion

It was both a lot of fun and very painful to go back to JavaScript. It’s an incredibly powerful language but if you come from Flash, you’ll find yourself banging your head against the wall because of subtle differences. The one thing that keeps tripping me up is figuring out how the DOM works compared to Flash. Another sticking point is the tooling. We have very good tooling on the Flash side compared to JavaScript. Chrome’s developer tools and Firebug both help a lot, but there’s no tool out there that provides code completion for the Canvas drawing API. When you don’t know the API that well, it means a lot of Googling, and a lot of the examples are pretty basic. I think a tool basic code completion for Canvas would make it a lot easier to start creating complex content in.

It’s definitely rough to go from Flash to JavaScript but hopefully I’ll be playing around with the new stuff in HTML5 more especially as Dreamweaver gets more support baked in.

Slides and Demos from my Flex-PHP Talk at the Front Range PHP User Group

Last week I presented at the Front Range PHP User Group on getting started with Flex and PHP. It was a really awesome group and I had a great time presenting. Thanks guys for having me and for sticking around for drinks afterwards. If you were at the meeting (or just want to take a look) I just posted my slides as well as my demos from the event. The slides are embedded below and you can grab the demos from my DropBox account. There isn’t much documentation on the demos, but hopefully they’re semi-helpful.