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AdvancED Flash On Devices 34

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
chuckbatfuturewaredc writes "Flash's ubiquity is in its presence on the vast majority of PC desktops, laptops and netbooks. It is also in a surprising, and growing, percentage of mobile devices. Software developers who want to tap this rapidly expanding market face many challenges that have not existed in the PC world for quite some time. This book is virtually encyclopedic in its review of the pitfalls and dangers for mobile development and how they can be avoided, even for the iPhone. It provides rich information detail on how to address mobile software development now, along with a preview of how it can be done more easily when what is in the oven finishes baking." Keep reading for the rest of chuckbatfuturewaredc's review.
AdvancED Flash on Devices: Mobile Development with Flash Lite and Flash 10
author Scott Janousek, Thomas Joos, Elad Elrom
pages 744pp
publisher Apress
rating 8/10
reviewer chuckbatfuturewaredc
ISBN 1430219041
summary covers both mobile and device development with Flash Lite, as well as upcoming Flash 10 for smartphones and other non-PC devices.
AdvancED Flash On Devices is really four books in one, each dealing with various aspects and ways of applying Flash to mobile devices, which not surprisingly consists of more than just cell phones. The authors provide a good introduction by reviewing the mobile system landscape, which has one noticeable characteristic: It is highly fractured, with several unusual bottlenecks that constrain software development and wider adoption, as well as innovation.

There are two major reasons for this fracturing: The mobile device manufacturers themselves working to protect product differentiation, and the communications providers, primarily the telephone companies. The authors use the euphemism of 'walled gardens' to describe these limitations, but the reality is that they have been around for some time for all sorts of reasons, and are not likely to disappear soon.

Software developers for PCs benefit from a very large set of standards based practices and technical methodologies to develop products for markets that in aggregate make for a reasonably frictionless ecosystem. These do not (yet) exist or cannot be applied to the mobile marketplaces. Flash's ubiquity can be exploited to help establish and expand a common design approach for specific mobile markets, and this book outlines specifically how this can be done. It is also perhaps the best integrating review of the mobile systems market from a software perspective generally, and exploiting Flash particularly.

As the authors clearly demonstrate, a unified code base cannot exist in this arena. Instead, Flash has to be adapted in various ways to accommodate the many device manufacturers. This book shows how that is done, either with overviews, sample code, or using third party tools that, in many cases, are described in some detail. This has resulted in several Flash 'flavors', collectively given the covering name of Flash Lite. All of these use varying subsets of ActionScript2; ActionScript3 is not yet available for mobile devices.

Developing a mobile software product is best done initially with an emulator, of which there are several. All of the major ones are reviewed with details that are most welcome, including screen shots and step by step procedures. Products are then moved to the actual target mobile devices after they work on the emulator, which is the only practical way to validate the design and code. Testing on a device is usually a demonstration of the Heisenberg Uncertainty principal, and the authors provide tips and techniques on how to prepare for and handle problems when in the device's closed environment.

PC developers seldom have to concern themselves with performance or power issues: Memory is plentiful and cheap, disks are cheaper, processors have more than one core, and power is plentiful. None of these are the case in a mobile device, and careful attention has to be paid to resource management and processor demands. The authors outline ways to reduce draining batteries and exhausting memory, as well as tools to help profile performance to optimize resource utilization.

Testing mobile software is addressed in some detail. Mobile devices, particularly cell phones, can't have their hoods opened as readily as can be done with regular PCs, resulting in some unusual testing constraints. Test driven development may be a catch phrase for some, but it is a necessity for mobile software development, and the authors outline specific methods to make sure this is done right.

One interesting aspect of mobile device usage is that they typically are upgraded (i.e., replaced), particularly cell phones, at a much smaller rate than PCs are. Thus, creating better user experiences and richer mobile applications will be applicable for small initial market segments, mainly the high end smart phones and their like. Still, increased horsepower for all mobile devices is inexorable. The authors move the Adobe curtain a bit to show what is being developed for Flash 10, particularly as these improvements relate to mobile devices of all kinds. There is a learning curve in learning how to develop mobile software, and some of this experience cannot be carried forward directly, such as trying to use ActionScript2 conventions in an ActionScript3 environment. Knowing about these will help the prepared to be ready when the parade catches up to them.

One last item is using Flash in the iPhone. Apple's high "Not Invented Here" mentality officially bans Flash from the iPhone. But there is a way to project Flash content in the iPhone, and the book outlines how it is done. That alone is worth the price of this four in one book.

This book is highly recommended for anyone who wants to be successful in exploiting Flash in a mobile environment. It has specific and detailed here and now information that can be used and applied immediately, outlines development, testing, packaging and deployment processes and procedures, and points to a future, based on the proven Flash ecosystem, that will very likely happen sooner than later.

Example code, including complete projects that can be used as design templates, and additional reference material is available on the book's website for download, organized in chapters. Additionally, the publisher maintains a forums section on their website for this and other related books.

This is a large technical book with many topics that are covered in varying levels of detail. It is not light reading, and in some places the writing is a bit rough.

You can purchase AdvancED Flash on Devices: Mobile Development with Flash Lite and Flash 10 from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews — to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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AdvancED Flash On Devices

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  • Advanc ED (Score:2, Funny)

    by bugeaterr (836984)

    I thought they had drugs for that?
    I seem to remember a subtle commercial with a gray haired man throwing a ball through a hole.

    • by Locke2005 (849178)
      What? No skyscrapers being erected, high-speed trains plunging into tunnels, oil pumps, rockets taking off, or volcanoes exploding? How terribly unimaginative of them!
  • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @02:40PM (#31848020) Journal

    See, its a book for Flash Programmers.

    Slashdot is full of programmers.
    Slashdot hates Flash.

    So while I'm sure this book might apply to a few people here on this site, I'm sure most of us will just come around shouting the same old anti-adobe stuff until we get the next "Here's a vulnerability!" adobe-news posting.

    • by Servaas (1050156)
      It has the name iPhone in it, you are forgetting the haters / lovers that will draw in.
    • Slashdot hates Flash.

      We hate Flash until we can use it against Apple.

    • by Weezul (52464)

      Donald Knuth once complained about how quickly computer science was advancing, saying we need more bad ideas like java. ActionScript and JavaScript are quite evidently even worse than Java. C, C++, and Perl code ain't exactly elegant, but sanity prevails. Python and Ruby are actually usable, effective and elegant.

  • Tautology (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Flash's ubiquity is in its presence on the vast majority of PC desktops, laptops and netbooks.

    Well, duh! That's what the word "ubiquity" means. I really hate this is the kind of BS'y opening sentence.

  • by DdJ (10790) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @03:33PM (#31848644) Homepage Journal

    Three devices I have with Flash runtimes on them are my MacBook Pro, my Wii, and my Chumby. And there is very little content that will work completely properly on any two of those devices, let alone all three.

  • I didn't think that Flash was a problem because of Apple's high "Not Invented Here" mentality. I thought it was because they want to to keep applications that are programmable off of the iPhone to prevent device hijacking and other not so fun things from happening to customers' iPhones. Anyone have some concrete information on this?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jo_ham (604554)

      No, I think it is about the fact that Flash is dog slow on OS X (and devices based on OS X), as Apple has mentioned before, resulting in a crappy user experience and very poor battery life.

      Slashdot will tell you it's all about preventing competition with the app store, despite alternate ways to deploy apps and games on the iPhone that still exist and predate the store, and Apple's promotion of HTML5 as a replacement for flash which would also provide competition (but they'll then say that 'they don;t see it

    • I regard the fact that Flash won't run on my iPhone as a feature. I'm rather dubious about banning it from the iPad, though.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by c4t3y3 (1571639)

      I didn't think that Flash was a problem because of Apple's high "Not Invented Here" mentality. I thought it was because they want to to keep applications that are programmable off of the iPhone to prevent device hijacking and other not so fun things from happening to customers' iPhones. Anyone have some concrete information on this?

      Adobe wasn't able to produce a decent player for OS X in terms of security and performance. Do you think they are going to keep up with iPhone updates? They won't, but they don't

      • by Threni (635302)

        > So foreseeing that, Adobe used the cry baby Lee Brimelow to create public opinion against Apple

        Is that what they did to get Apple to not allow the recent Flash conversion tool? Adobe deliberately spent ages developing something and then sought to get it banned, for...what reason, exactly?

        • by c4t3y3 (1571639)

          > So foreseeing that, Adobe used the cry baby Lee Brimelow to create public opinion against Apple

          Is that what they did to get Apple to not allow the recent Flash conversion tool? Adobe deliberately spent ages developing something and then sought to get it banned, for...what reason, exactly?

          http://www.devwhy.com/ [devwhy.com]

  • Convert it to HTML5

    (you can mod me troll)

  • by mnmn (145599) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @04:57PM (#31849832) Homepage
    I was so happy about a detailed book (700+ pages) on a 'flash on devices' book. I've been wanting to know more about the intricacies of flash chips before I put them on my dev boards. Embedded development gets far less attention regarding literature than web programming. ... and then I was let down. :) A book on flash chips (NAND, NOR, XIP, various voltages and tricks) will have to wait for a better day.

    I hate flash.
  • It is also in a surprising, and growing, percentage of mobile devices.

    A phone-like device attempting real vector graphics (not the Flash lite subset) requires hardware acceleration. At most you get marketing stuns, like the HTC Hero running Flash... at 1-2 FPS. Either someone creates a dedicated chip (not going to happen), or you bruteforce the problem (eg: HP Slate & his 1GHz chip), which is also a bad idea. But nvm because here they talk about Flash lite and yet they title their book "Advanced Flash

    • A phone-like device attempting real vector graphics (not the Flash lite subset) requires hardware acceleration.

      And? Doesn't your phone have hardware acceleration? Why not?

      • by c4t3y3 (1571639)
        Because Flash is not important enough to deserve a chip providing hardware support like h264 has.
  • I started doing Flash development in 1997, and at that time we expected HTML5 to include everything that was in Flash. Instead, we got completely useless XHTML. But now, in HTML5 and ISO audio video we have a vendor neutral alternative to Flash and FLV. There's no excuse for not supporting it.

    HTML5 is almost universal on smartphones, while Flash is almost non-existant. Theses devices have hardware ISO video players and too little CPU to avoid the GPU. They're simply not made for Flash.

    This bullshit of knock

  • I read half of the review thinking this is about flash memory.
  • Slashdot hates Fake Film [solarcontrolfilmsinc.com]

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