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Mike Riley

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Professional Flash Mobile Development Book Review

February 08, 2011

Adobe's Flash on mobile devices has had a long and interesting history, dating back to the days of when the first Flash player appeared on the Windows Mobile OS. It's a new world, and the Android and iOS platforms have captured most of the mindshare and, consequently, Adobe's attention. Consequently, their commitment to bringing ActionScript-based apps to these platforms have been manifested in Packager for iPhone and the AIR foundation for Android. This book by Richard Wagner attempts to teach Flash developers how to compile, deploy and debug Flash apps on these hot mobile platforms. Does the book succeed in its intention? Read on to find out.Given the long history and the various twists and turns the ActionScript-based Flash platform has taken over the years, Adobe is intent on migrating the technology into the mobile space. Apple's stance on runtimes other than its own prevents Adobe from deploying its own managed runtime to the iPhone; as such, Adobe's strategy has shifted to compiling the ActionScript source code into native iPhone executables. Since Android does not share this same closed environment view of its world, Adobe has migrated its Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR) technology to Android, thereby allowing Android-compiled Flash apps to be considerably smaller and more lightweight compared to its iPhone counterparts. So while Flash developers can theoretically take code from a single project to target both Android and iPhone, getting there is a very different path for each. Fortunately, author Richard Wagner has distilled the critical aspects of these pathways into a relatively short book on the subject.

Sectioned into four parts, Professional Flash Mobile Development begins with the setup and initial configuration and orientation for turning Flash code into native Android and iPhone executables. Part 2 delves into helping Flash developers understand and account for the reduced memory and processor capabilities of a Flash application running on a mobile platform compared to desktop PC, as well as and master the differences between mouse-based and multi-touch UI interaction. This section also examines accelerometer-captured motion detection, geolocation, URL protocol service integration and, for Android-only, camera, camera roll and microphone access. Part 3 covers file management and local databases via the SQLite data stores. The final part of the book walks through the remote debugging process as well as submitting the finished product to either Apple's App Store or the Android Market.

Remember, this book was not written to teach non-Flash developers how to develop Flash mobile applications. Rather, the author expects his reading audience to be experienced Flash desktop app developers already quite familiar with AIR and, to a lesser extent, Flex. Those without this background should first pick up a book on Learning ActionScript and then take knowledge to the mobile environment with Richard Wagner acting as tour guide.

In summary, Professional Flash Mobile Development helps Flash developers clarify the steps needed to take their skills and code ideas to these hot mobile platforms without a lot of headaches. The book also does a good job of showing how to leverage the specific hardware capabilities of each device, as well as the limitations (particularly on the iPhone) that ActionScript and AIR are currently limited to accessing. Eventually this information will be folded into larger books about Flash in general, but for now, progressive Flash programmers will appreciate the effort that the author has compiled.

Title: Professional Flash Mobile Development: Creating Android and iPhone Applications Author: Richard Wagner Publisher: Wrox ISBN: 978-0-470-62007-6 Pages: 336 Price: $39.99

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