Glimpse of Flash on iPhone

At MAX 2009 in Los Angeles, Adobe announced release of #3 most wanted iPhone feature - Flash on iPhone. Well, not full, FULL support of course. They will not be adding Flash support in Safari mobile browser if that's what you were hoping. Instead they will add support to announced Flash CS5 beta for conversion of Flash 10 AS3 to standalone iPhone apps.

Flash grew up to be a real monster in last few years and that's probably the only real reason why Apple did not put it in iPhone so far. Flash Lite just doesn't fit into profile of multimedia web experience and full blown desktop Flash version was just too much to fit into iPhone poor underclocked 412 MHz CPU. Latest 3GS iPhone has 833 MHz CPU underclocked to 600 MHz, and I can't help to wonder, is this 188 Mhz change in performance really enough for Flash to run remotely smooth?

Adobe said Flash CS5 public beta should by out by the end of 2009, so we all just have to wait and see.

Meanwhile, check out this crazy Flash on iPhone Myth Busters inspired video from MAX:

Loading…. loading… PRETTYLOADED!

Prettyloaded is new crazy project from Big Spaceship crew. Their tribute to the vanishing art of Flash preloaders.

In times before fiber optics and broadband connections in our homes, advanced Flash sites took ages to load. While site was loading, the fancier loader you had, the more chances you got to keep visitors on site. Once site was loaded, you wouldn't see preloader in it's full glory ever again. Not until now!


ps. can and will mesmerize you. You have been warned. :)

Flash Player 10 released

It’s only been a little more than a year since the release of CS3, but Adobe is at it again. Newest version of Creative Suite is here. Our main man Daemon is going to be speaker tomorrow at CS4 launch party here in Zagreb, but more on that after the event.

Meanwhile, we all can glory on the fact that Flash Player 10 release is finally out. If you somehow managed to miss all those banners Adobe placed around the web, and Flash 9 auto update failed big time (like me) go get it now (official release v10.0.12.36). New features list looks really interesting, but not for such high release number. I would name it v9.5. not v10.

Download debug and standalone players, read release rotes and let's get started.
Ok, new features are always welcomed, but Adobe isn't very good at announcing the changes to old functionality. What you probably found out the hard way is that Sound API (Adobe, MAKE SOME NOISE) and FileReference class are changed. Security changes to FileReference class for example broke every single existing Flash content upload on the web (so popular those days).

Can't wait to test new text engine, font embeding and encoding. Hope it works otherwise, I'll have to skip yet another Flash version. Keep you posted! :)

Orientation, Navigation, Geolocation!

I was not so good at geography at school, but I always liked maps. Especially the old vintage antique ones, and sea maps. Also, I like to travel and I think of my self as one of those people who can easily orientate in space (although I could never imagine my self navigating a sea ship at stormy night using nothing but sextant). Going to place you have never been before - be it a new continent, a street in foreign city or a dirt road leading to an gourmet restaurant in Istria is always a challenge.

The challenge which by little help of modern marvel becomes a walk in the park. Originally developed by US Dept. of Defense, GPS and can now be found in cameras, phones even arm watches. My trusty Garmin nüvi 760 packed with maps of Europe and best set of maps for our region - AdriaRoute and SCG ROUTE never let me down so far. Even my last phone Noka E71 is A-GPS enabled device. Nokia Maps (or Yahoo Maps and Google Maps for that matter) have really bad coverage of streets in Croatia so are basically useless for navigation. But Garmin Mobile XT runs on Symbian very well and you can use the same maps as mentioned above. Since my mobile phone is internet enabled too, with the help of GPS device the possibilities for navigation and orientation are practically limitless. Right? Right?

Wrong. Why? Because browser (Opera Mini) and Flash Lite 3 can't communicate with GPS device. Actually Flash Lite can communicate with GPS trough KunerLite S60 RAD, and Opera Mobile (because it supports javascript) can communicate with GPS trough similar expensive middle-ware called GPSGate, but all that is far far away from becoming a standard.

Good news is that couple of days ago Mozilla Labs released experimental geolocating plug-in for Firefox called Geode which would help websites locate you. All that conforming to the W3C Geolocation specification. Beta plugin uses single hard-coded location provider (utilizing proprietary Skyhook’s Loki technology) to map your local Wifi hotspot or cell towers GPS location in your area to your location. If this started to freak you out, fear not - users can decide what level of location information they want to reveal to a website, 'exact location', 'neighborhood', 'city' or 'nothing'. None of this obviously doesn't work in Croatia so it's NOTHING by default for us. If you are reading this from other part of the universe - check the demo here.

Mozilla says that in final version location will be provided by one or more user selectable service providers and methods, e.g. GPS-based, WiFi-based, ip2location, manual entry, etc. What is even more interesting is that this plugin will be in core of the upcoming beta releases of Firefox 3.1, as well as alpha releases of Fennec (Mobile Firefox).

This is pretty good damn news from Mozilla because proprietary solutions like Skyhook's XPS or Garmin Communicator (plugin which enables your browser to talk to Garmin GPS) don't provide enough user coverage for worldwide usage.

When I touched standards, it have to mention a new standard proposed to IETF this year called HTTP Enabled Location Delivery (HELD) which proposes a standardized way to ask the network (Location Information Server (LIS)) for the location of the device. This is still a proposal, and years away from worldwide implementation, but if nothing, I at least expect Jack Bauer to catch criminals by "hacking the HELD" in new season of 24. :)

Garmin Mobile XT

Nokia Maps

Pixels are classic (filmed in Papervision3D)

When I saw Radiohead's "House of Cards" video I was truly amazed how pixels can look good in 2008. What does that video have in common with Papervision3D? Press play on player and read on...

In production of this video they haven't used any cameras, but data from 3D laser-enhanced scanners. The Making-of "House of Cards" video is pretty crazy, check it. If you wanna get freaky with pixels - Google Code is hosting the Data Visualization application and accompanying iGoogle gadget. Interactive Flash piece was made by Aaron Meyers (Torrent Raiders, Digg Swarm) and Aaron Koblin using Papervision 3D. It's pretty slick.

But all this is nothing compared to this baby. Benoit Beausejour from Turbulent built crazy demo using Papervision3D effects branch which transforms video stream to something similar and very very cool. Be sure to check it in full screen playing Kraftwerk’s "Little Computer People"! WOOHOO GO PV3D! :)

First Flash Lite Project ported to the iPhone/iPod Touch

Off course, not thanks to Apple, but thanks to couple of very creative guys.

Thomas Joos did the porting of his Flash Lite app using the b.Tween framework which sits on top of barefootsoft’s EyeGT technology. eyeGT is multi platform highly efficient graphic renderer, capable of handling vector graphics and bitmaps. Think about eyeGT as a Windows GDI+ or Mac OSX Quartz2D on steroids, heavily optimized and designed from the ground up for mobile. This is NOT a iPhone Flash Player (Lite or otherwise), but rather a sets of tools, a graphical engine (eyeGT) and a framework (b.Tween) that extract, rework, and optimize the Flash application, turning it into a fully native and compilable Objective-C/C++ application that doesn’t require any runtime, thus complying with the iPhone SDK requirements. Crazy stuff! :)

Google improved Flash crawling… but why?

Google has been developing a new algorithm for indexing textual content in Flash files. They teamed up with Adobe and improved the performance of Flash indexing algorithm. Stop cheering, calm down and continue reading. :)

This was a great news for Flash beginners but real problem lies a bit deeper inside complex Flash architecture which can't be that easily indexed. No, this won't magically bring SEO to your Flash website. No, this won't lift your pagerank to a new heights. The algorithm it self has few rather nasty caveats which actually can, in my opinion, bring more confusion than good search results.

Even with new improvements, Google spider:

  • is not able to index text in additional flash content you may be loading (trough bootstrap loader with XML or something) and even if, by some miracle it does get indexed it won't be connected anyhow to other crawled text content in Flash files you may be using on your website.
  • can't really cope with different crazy javascript flash embedding techniques (eg swfobject and such)
  • doesn't understand graphics and FLV's

Knowing that and being hardcore Flash fanatic as I am, I contemplated a bit around Flash crawling concept. I can only speculate how Google crawls Flash these days, but I remember tool from couple of years ago called swf2html.exe shipped with Flash Search Engine SDK.I suppose search engines used that, for retrieving text from Flash files. The tool was not updated since Macromedia wrote it in 2002 but you can check it here.

Indexing Flash content by extracting strings of text from Flash files completely invalidates the purpose of Flash as a complex and feature rich presentation technology. Many parts of website are basically graphics with static text, or are dynamically loaded or generated. If you ignore that graphical-textual content (and you have to since crawler doesn't have OCR), and index just a text content, the search engine user will get confusing, or even very dangerous results. Partially indexed misleading information is more dangerous than no information at all. Flash RIA applications in 99% cases use dynamically populated lists so I am not sure that Google will be able to crawl those sites either.

This is like having a tour guide, to guide you trough city in which he has never been before, and in country which language he doesn't speak fluent. Thank you but, I think I'll pass.

Correct my if I am wrong, but solution is pretty simple and it works great - If you are building Flash website, build an XHTML fallback version of the website. Google knows and loves valid markup structure and there are still many corporate users which can't install (or upgrade) Flash because their system administrator is a noob. By having XHTML version you can even better control the content you want to get indexed and non Flash users will thank you too.

Gas! Gas!

Cartography and satellite images never stop to impress me. Ingenious usage of it to be more precise. I freaked out first time I saw Goggles, and today I found this - Gamequakes Driving Simulator. It's a really nice and fast implementation of Google Maps API for Flash. But I think Goggles got it better with an airplane.

btw, click here and put this in background while you are playing to understand the full potential of this post title. :) Not!

Freaky fscommand issues in Flash Player 9 and as2 project

I spent couple of hours trying to figure this one out, so at the end of my thorny journey I decided to share this with all of you.

I have a lot of old standalone projector AS2 Flash 8 projects. Each one begins with fscommands that switch player to fullscreen and setup rest of the stuff.

fscommand("fullscreen", "true");
fscommand("trapallkeys", "true"); 
fscommand ("showmenu", "false");

escKey = {};
escKey.onKeyDown = function(){
    if(Key.getCode() == Key.ESCAPE){
        fscommand("quit", "");
fscommand("trapallkeys", "true");

Well, that worked just fine before Flash 9. But today I had to build a simple AS2 game and wanted to do the same - upon starting, goto fullscreen, send all key events... Upon publishing, my game didn't want to go to fullscreen. To make things even more stranger - not even pressing CTRL+F didn't switch to fullscreen! As it turned out,
fscommand("trapallkeys", "true");

was causing problems. After commenting that line out everything worked fine... except capturing of key events - a major factor to my game.

But, BEHOLD! Few hours later, a magical combination of TRUE, true, and false, FALSEs, finally worked out:

fscommand("fullscreen", "TRUE");
fscommand ("showmenu", "false");
fscommand("trapallkeys", "true"); 

Why is this happening, I don't, but I am glad I made it work. More people reported similar problems with fscommand in Flash 9:

Office buzzz!


I remember BuzzWord back some time ago when it was in early beta. It was shiny and you could write text and make it bold. But, when Adobe acquired Virtual Ubiquity last October, the project gained significant momentum. Behold the Adobe’s Online Office Suite - To make a full circle around the web and back, Adobe released Acrobat 9 which is now more than just internet aware with full support for Flash! (Good God.. we all need new hardware now!).

I don't use online office apps and I never will but I do not underestimate the great potential in them. Google, Microsoft, Adobe... All high rollers have a suite of their own and each has a benefit of their own. Google did brilliant job with their own xhtml/css/javascript tools, and now Adobe with their Flash RIA counterpart. But if I would have to choose, I would definitely choose Google, if not for speed, then for their abnormal server network.