Thursday, December 23, 2010

It's the small things...

This statement is true with most it raising a family or working on mobile apps.  This week while readying the launch of our first app (during x-mas vacation no less) I was surprised at all the small pieces of information I learned that helped the process run smoother and those that went unlearned until much trial and error.  I thought a "top 5" list of sorts was in order.  Hopefully a fellow developer finds this helpful...

5. Flash & AS3 really do work on mobile devices
After the dust up that was the summer of the now infamous Apple/Adobe fight over Flash on iOS devices, I was very happy to find out in September that Steve Jobs had reversed course a bit and was now going to allow Flash to work in some fashion on iOS.  Then in October I found out about the fairly tight Adobe Air integration with Android.

Being an AS guy in my regular life, this opened some exciting doors and meant I could put some apps on mobile platforms without having to first go pure native development.  A few resources that helped out quite a bit early on that I want to share were Lee Brimlow's great tutorials on as well as really great book from Wiley Android Development with Flash.  In both cases I found great code samples as well as Lee's great video series on setting up the development environment.  If you are thinking about starting on Flash based mobile apps you really ought to start here.

4.  Holy cow they want a lot of "extra" images
I was surprised when submitting the first apps recently how many additional images the application form requests and all of the different dimensions and purposes.  Images ranged in size from 180w x 120h, 512 x 512, 1024w x 500h, etc, etc. 

I recommend that before you get to far into your workflow you first visit your chosen markets developer console and research what image sizes they need and plan to build all of your images in a larger dimensions then needed so you can scale down as needed when submitting your work.  Had I known this I would have saved several hours.

3.  i0S and the camera roll
Flash/AS3 can access the camera roll just fine (as you'll see in one of our apps) however I was surprised to find this functionality lacking on the iOS setup.  You can write bitmaps to the iOS devices but at this point in time we are unable to pull an image from the camera roll.  If you have an app that requires this functionality then your stuck like me for the time being on iOS devices.

2.  AS3 sound lags
An early app plays short sound clips (about 1sec) after the user interacts with the app.  I started noticing a sound delay once published to my HTC Droid Incredible.  After some research I've come to the conclusion there is not much I can do about given the nature of this application, but will use this knowledge in future app designs.  Here is a post that sums up the issue on the topic.

1. No, you do NOT need to work on a Mac
I actually own both a Mac and a PC and find things to like/dislike in both...however the story about how I came to own a Mac is most applicable here.  Deciding I was going to venture into developing mobile apps I felt I had done my research and come to the conclusion that Apple would only allow apps on the app store that were built native on an Intel based Mac.  I actually sent my wife out late one Friday while I packed for a business trip to purchase me a new Mac Powerbook.  Much to my chagrin 2 weeks later Lee Brimlow released a wonderful tutorial on building iOS apps on a Windows PC using Flash CS5.

Not an endorsement for PC's, however if you are like me and a bit trigger happy with purchases you may save a few thousand and work with the tools already at your disposal.

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