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Flash Lite: Graphics for Mobile Devices

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Hartti is a Senior Technology Expert at Forum Nokia. He can be contacted at [email protected]

Flash Lite is a technology specifically developed for mobile phones and other consumer electronic devices. It is based on Adobe's Flash technology, which makes websites livelier.

Contrary to traditional mobile programming languages such as Java ME and C++, Flash Lite application development starts with the content, rather than coding. Although Flash Lite developers do write code to get applications to behave correctly, the graphical approach broadens the potential mobile developer population to include graphical designers and visually oriented people.

Flash applications are interactive movies or animations based on keyframes placed on a timeline. The difference between movies and Flash animations is that Flash apps can jump from one keyframe to another that isn't necessarily adjacent in the timeline. Another difference is that the Flash Lite animations can contain objects, which are animations themselves. Additionally, you can control animation objects from within your program, such as creating new animation objects using object templates.

With Flash Lite, you can create games, connected applications, and utilize mobile phone functions to send SMS or place phone calls. Flash Lite applications can also access device properties, such as battery-level and network connection-level information, which can sometimes be hard to get from, say, Java MIDlets.

A great feature is that the Flash Lite player automatically scales the application to fit the screen size of the device, so you don't need to code a lot of logic to handle that. So, even though an application might have been developed and tested for a screen size of, say, 176×208, the same application can run on phones with screen resolutions of 128×160 or 240×320.

The scaling works surprisingly well. Problems do arise when the screen proportions are completely different from the target screen size, which can cause graphics to not fit the full screen.

In this article, I present a network-connected Flash Lite 1.1 application that receives data from a server using name-value pairs. The sample data I use are baseball statistics, but it could be weather information, news stories, or timetable information. This application requires access to a web server running MySQL and PHP, a mobile phone that supports Flash Lite 1.1 or better (for example, a Nokia S60 3rd Edition device or some of the Series 40 3rd Edition Feature Pack 1 devices), and a Flash development tool (Flash 8 Professional).

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