Archive for January, 2010

Zoodles: A Browser Designed To Make Learning Fun for Kids

One application that recently caught my eye is Zoodles. Built using Adobe AIR, Zoodles is designed to provide a free, child-safe browser and promote learning through interactive games and videos. The browser works off a whitelist so children stay on sites that are pre-approved by the team at Zoodles. The application runs in full screen mode, and the user interface was designed to make it difficult for young children to switch out to other applications.

The browser comes loaded with age and skill-level appropriate games for children. The Zoodles browser interface adapts to a child based on age. As kids grow older, the interface grows with them. For example, younger children have a very simple navigation using a pictures model while older children can browse by category, topic and characters.

Zoodles provides a number of premium features for parents (each account comes with a free trial of these premium features):

  • Promote Educational Subjects. Parents can promote specific subject areas such as reading and math so their children can engage with the topics that parents think they would benefit from the most
  • Parental Controls. Parents can control what sites, branded characters, and types of content their child can engage with online.  Additionally parents can set time limits so their child only plays the amount of time in a day that they think is appropriate.
  • Ad Blocker.  The Zoodles ad blocker removes ads from a child’s interface which protects children from inappropriate ads while also making it easier for children to focus on the task at hand.
  • Parental Monitoring. Parents are provided detailed reports on what their child has been doing online and what academic skills they have been developing

Congratulations to the teams at Zoodles for building an innovative, engaging application for parents and children!

ASDocr Simplifies Documenting Your Flex-based Applications

Grant Skinner released a new, free tool called ASDocr built using the Adobe AIR 2 beta. The application is a graphical front-end to ASDoc, a command-line tool available in the Flex SDK. ASDoc allows you to create API language reference documentation as HTML pages from the classes in your Adobe Flex application.

From Grant’s blog post announcing ASDocr:

Building on the new nativeProcess APIs in AIR 2.0, it provides a simple graphical interface to ASDoc. It walks you through all of the common params ASDoc supports, with help for each of them. You can save configurations for multiple projects, and clone configurations to act as a starting point for new projects.

If you are interested in checking out this application, you can find links to download the Mac and Windows builds on his blog (according to a comment on the blog, a Linux version is in the works). Be sure to grab the Adobe AIR 2 beta before installing the application as it will not run on AIR 1.5.3. If you have feedback on the application, Grant has requsted that feedback it be posted as a comment on his blog.

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Tour de Flex Updated With Additional Adobe AIR 2 Samples

Greg Wilson tweeted that Tour de Flex, a desktop application for exploring Flex and Adobe AIR capabilities and resources, was recently updated to include additional Adobe AIR 2 samples for mass storage device detection, DNS, and network information.

If you are not familiar with Tour de Flex, it is a fantastic resource for discovering code samples. The application is free, powered by Adobe AIR and used by Flex developers all over the world (check out this amazing data visualization that displays global usage of the application).

tourdeflexair2samples2.png

Preparing for Adobe AIR 2

Back in November of last year, we released the AIR 2 public beta runtime and SDK on Adobe Labs. Since then, our team has been keeping very by responding to customer feedback, resolving bugs, improving overall quality and finishing off a few remaining features. In addition, we also released a minor update (Adobe AIR 1.5.3) in December. In the coming weeks, we are planning on releasing a second AIR 2 beta on Adobe Labs. In the meantime, please be sure to download the current beta build and let us know any feedback you have on the AIR 2 forums or send a note to us directly by using our feedback form.

Below are a few tips and reminders that I encourage developers to review including a few points that are specific to AIR 2.

  • One question that I have heard from developers is the following: "When AIR 2 becomes publicly available, will AIR 1.5 remain installed alongside AIR 2 on my system or will AIR 2 replace AIR 1.5?" The answer is that AIR 2 will replace earlier versions of the AIR runtime installed on your system. Once AIR 2 is installed, AIR 1.5 applications that were already on the system will begin to run against the AIR 2 version of the runtime. Due to this, it is strongly recommended that you download the AIR 2 and test out any of your AIR 1.5 applications or earlier to ensure that they run as expected. For enterprise deployments of Adobe AIR where end users are unable to install or update software on their local machines, IT managers typically are responsible for updating the runtime.
  • As was described in our AIR 2 release notes, beginning with AIR 2, Mac PowerPC and Windows 2000 systems will no longer be supported. If you are a PowerPC user, existing applications installed on your system will continue to run, but it will not be possible to install the AIR 2 runtime or run AIR applications that require AIR 2.
  • Adobe AIR team member Oliver Goldman has written several valuable articles that I strongly encourage developers to read including API Tip: Don’t Abuse File.applicationStorageDirectory, Update Your Application Regularly and Update Strategies for Changing Certificate.

Quickly Build Native Installers for Adobe AIR 2

Adobe platform evangelist Serge Jespers released on his blog a valuable AIR 2 "alpha" application that allows you to quickly build native application installers for your AIR 2 applications. Native installers are required if you are building an AIR 2 application that takes advantage of the new extensibility options available from the native process API. This tool simplifies the process of creating a native installer since you do not need to construct a command line statement and can, instead, use a graphical, wizard-like interface.

Serge shared instructions on how to setup the application on his blog as well. The application is currently considered in an "alpha" and, if you have feedback on bugs or feature requests, please be sure to leave Serge a comment.

National Geographic Releases Engaging App Built By EffectiveUI and Powered by Adobe AIR

Congratulations to the teams at National Geographic and EffectiveUI for releasing The Complete National Geographic! The complete collection contains every issue of National Geographic magazine, digitally reproduced in stunning high resolution. Users of the application can explore a topic, search for photographs, browse the globe, or create their own own expedition. Adobe AIR was used as core technology in helping to bring this application to life. The team at EffectiveUI developed a success story that highlights key capabilities of the application.

In addition, the official website from National Geographic provides additional details on the features of the application.

Explore 120 years of amazing discoveries, fascinating maps, and the world’s best photography with The Complete National Geographic. This definitive collection of every issue of National Geographic magazine, digitally reproduced in stunning high resolution, brings you the world and all that is in it. Use the advanced interface to explore a topic, search for photographs, browse the globe, or wander on your own expedition. Order The Complete National Geographic now!

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