Archive for January, 2012

Air for Android experiences

I’ve just launched my first Air for android app on the android marketplace here, a mobile app for quizmash, and I thought it would be a good time to share my experiences developing it.

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The whole app was developed in the mighty Flashdevelop, the current release of which has off the shelf project templates for air mobile development. You simply create a new project, run the CreateCertificate.bat file once, and then uncomment the android-debug call in the run.bat file and you’re good to go. From there on in it’s just like developing any other Air app except this one is running on your little mobile screen. I honestly don’t think they could have made it any easier.

One thing that can be a gotcha if you’re trying to get started is if you want to debug on your phone and not just run the app you need to set the DEBUG_IP address in SetupApplication.bat to the ip address of your PC, and you must have your phone on the local wi-fi network, as air can’t debug over USB like you can when building a native app.

One of the thing’s you’ll miss when developing in Air vs native is built in touch scroller behavior. Building one of these from scratch was a bit of a challenge, and although I think i got pretty close, it doesn’t quite have the smoothness that you get with native. Hopefully over the coming months I can make some adjustments to further increase performance, and release the source for it once it’s up to scratch.

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Dealing with intermittent internet connections is a much bigger deal when developing for mobile, so it’s been important to catch data errors, and handle them gracefully. For now the app passes the user to a re-connection screen, which pings the server and carries on from there. Over time I want to have a more elegant solution to this problem.

One thing that has been a source of frustration is the soft keyboard which has caused all sorts of issues. Some of which i tracked down to the fact that my test phone has Swype installed, which while an awesome text entry app, doesn’t play nicely with Air textfields. Swype is still beta so hopefully they’ll sort out some of there issues. Also with the stock keyboard I’ve run into occasions where the keyboard opening causes the selected textfield to lose focus, which then closes the keyboard. I’ve had to put in a few hacky workarounds for now but this is definitely something i want to improve on.

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You can get the app for free on the marketplace here. Please let me know what you think of it, and give it a review on the marketplace. If all goes well with it I’ll look at compiling a version for iOS so iPhone and iPad users can join in.

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