Posts in Category "Flash Builder"

Q&A with SparkChess’ Armand Niculescu

We recently caught up with Media Division’s lead developer and co-owner Armand Niculescu about SparkChess. Check out the Q&A below to learn about SparkChess, Armand’s process and why he relies on Adobe to deliver games across platforms and the globe. Enjoy!

Why did you use Flash/AIR to develop this app?

I’ve been using Flash since 1998 and over the years I’ve learned its strengths and weaknesses. Things that won me over were its availability across platforms, the rich toolset from Adobe and third parties and the ease in combining great graphics and animation with programming.

When I started working on it there was no HTML5, and even today I would not be able to deliver the same experience with Canvas & Javascript without worrying about compatibility or making compromises.

How easy was it to deliver your app across multiple platforms/channels?

SparkChess is built with Flash Professional  for interface elements, and I’m using FDT5 and Flash Builder to manage the code base – about 25,000 lines of code spread in 80 classes. The code is the same but I have slightly different graphics and layout for each platform. The biggest challenge was that the game had to be tested on each device, not as much for functionality but for the user experience, especially on tablet devices. A 7” tablet needs bigger buttons than a 10” one, the aspect ratios are different, you need to take the onscreen keyboard into consideration and so on.

The packaging and signing process is different for each platform, and can be confusing at first, but once I had it worked out, I created some batch files to automate packaging and signing for all platforms. Submitting to the various stores requires some preparation and organization, but it’s nothing daunting.

The multiplayer functionality is built with Union Platform, providing a consistent experience across platforms.

Are you monetizing this app currently? If not, do you have plans to do so in the future?

Yes. There are some significant maintenance costs associated with the game – CDN, multiplayer servers and so on.

SparkChess is available for free with ads and as a paid version with no ads and some very nice additional features.

How many people are currently using the app?

In total, across platforms, there are about 420,000 weekly users (single player and multiplayer). 8,000 chess games are played in multiplayer every day.

What drives you to create these apps/games?

I wrote my first game when I was 11 on a Sinclair ZX Spectrum. It’s what got me started with graphics and programming. Games are some of the most challenging types of applications: they have to look great, run smoothly and above all, entertain. They are an excellent way for any programmer to push the envelope and learn new skills.

As part programmer – part designer (though I absolutely despise the term ‘devigner’), I was always interested in creating visually appealing apps. With SparkChess, my goal is to have a chess game that’s actually fun to play by casual players and that also helps them improve their skills. I’m also told by parents that kids love it, that it is a game for all ages.

Do you have anything else up your sleeve?

Yes! I’m listening to user feedback and I’m constantly tweaking SparkChess to make it an even more enjoyable experience and to take advantage of the upcoming features in Flash Player and AIR.

Based on this experience, I’m in the planning stage of a new multiplayer strategy game.

What do you want developers to know about creating apps with AIR/Flash?

Since the beginning, the beauty of Flash was its ability to deliver a consistent experience (graphics, fonts, animation and later program logic) across browsers and platforms. With AIR and native extensions, I can now deliver a native-like experience on all major operating systems and platforms. In a way, Flash is Java done right. Recent advancements in Javascript, CSS, the Canvas element and other HTML-related technologies can make HTML5 an alternative in some cases, especially for features that need to look integrated in a website. On the other hand, the browser quirks and lack of solid development environments make development of complex apps much harder, resulting in higher costs. An objective assessment should be done on a a per-project basis.

What I love about Flash, compared to any other platform, framework or environment, is the ease in combining programming with animation, graphics, sound and video in a seamless way, and with the new 3D support, the possibilities keep expanding.

 

 

Building Rich Apps For Smart Phones and Tablet Devices Using Adobe AIR

Adobe evangelist Christophe Coenraets recently made available an extremely helpful tutorial called Flex for Android in 90 minutes (.pdf). In around 90 minutes, you will learn how to build an Android application using Adobe AIR, Flex Mobile and the Flash Builder "Burrito" preview release.

The tutorial covers a number of important topics including how to create a basic mobile application, using mobile item renderers, navigating and passing information between views, creating an action bar, integrating with the device capabilities (dialer, SMS, email), using a RemoteObject, and using a local SQLite database. To get started, you will need to first download the Flash Builder Burrito release from Adobe Labs.

Below is a summary of the material covered directly from the document:

In this tutorial, you use Flash Builder "Burrito" and Flex "Hero" to build a simple, yet fully functional employee directory application for Android devices. "Burrito" is the code name for the next version of Flash Builder, and "Hero" is the code name for the next version of the Flex SDK. You don’t need an Android device to complete this tutorial: you can use the simple emulator available in Flash Builder Burrito to run and debug the application. The Employee Directory application allows you to: search for employees, view employee details, navigate up and down the org chart, and call, text, and email employees.

Of course, Christophe is known for pushing the limits. With the recent beta 2 release of the BlackBerry Tablet OS SDK for Adobe AIR, Christophe decided to see just how difficult it would be to port his Android application to the BlackBerry Playbook. How difficult was it?

"It turned out to be amazingly simple: I was able to run the application without changing a line of code, with a great and consistent deployment experience: You select the target platform, hit the run button, and the app is packaged, deployed, and started on the device you selected."

Below is a video demonstration by Christophe showing the application running on a Google Nexus One, Samsung Galaxy Tab and the BlackBerry Playbook Emulator.

Our team is fully focused on making it as easy as possible for developers to target applications that can run across different devices from desktop computers to smart phones to tablet devices and televisions. If you are building an application and would like to let us know about it, please leave us a comment!

Related Links:

Adobe AIR Launchpad accelerates app development

Several weeks back, Adobe evangelist Greg Wilson and Flex guru Holly Schinsky demonstrated an early prototype of an application called Adobe AIR Launchpad that they were planning to release publicly. Launchpad, built using Adobe AIR, was designed to significantly reduce the time to development new AIR apps by generating useful code snippets common to many AIR applications.

For example, Launchpad allows you to set whether:

  • the default application window is centered
  • the default application window can be resized, minimized or maximized
  • the application supports automatic updating
  • the application detects network status changes
  • the application uses a default preferences file
  • the application uses native menus

In addition, you can add optional code snippets to your project to help get you started including sample code for:

  • Drag and drop
  • Local database
  • Displaying PDFs
  • Sockets
  • Clipboard access
  • Native process
  • Detecting mass storage devices

Just a few weeks later, Greg announced on his blog that the application was available for download. Once you complete the application wizard and generate your code, a project file will be created that includes all the necessary files to build your customized AIR app. This project can then be imported into Flash Builder.

Note that LaunchPad currently does not support HTML/JavaScript. If you would like to see this application enhanced to support HTML/JavaScript, AIR for Android or anything else, please leave a note on Greg’s blog post.

In addition, James Ward, enterprise evangelist at Adobe, recorded an excellent overview of Launchpad:

Related posts:

This is a very exciting concept and I look forward to seeing your feedback and seeing how Launchpad evolves over time. Hopefully it will help make many of you more efficient when you are starting the development of a new AIR application. Congratulations to Greg and Holly for building this out in record time!

Adobe – Intel Application Lab

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Distributing and Monetizing Adobe AIR Apps

On July 21, learn what Adobe and Intel are doing to help you distribute and monetize your AIR applications by understanding the business opportunities and discovering how you can take advantage of the service immediately. Learn more and register today.

Better SDK Overlay Instructions

We noticed that some developers were having trouble overlaying the AIR 2 beta SDK on top of the Flex SDK in Flex Builder and Flash Builder. Looking into the reports a bit further, we discovered that our instructions were not quite accurate. I just updated the AIR 2 release notes with more detailed instructions, so hopefully that will clear things up.

If they’re still not clear, let us know via the comments and I’ll clarify further. Also, we are looking at ways of making this process much easier in the future. Thanks for bearing with us in the meantime.