Adobe Flash Lite 2.1: First Impressions

I was very excited when I read some time ago that FL2.1 will be available for free in early December 2006, and Adobe just did what they said. Thank you Adobe :)

Today I downloaded FL2.1 for my Nokia 6681 cell phone from Adobe’s website.

Here are my first impressions / mini review of Adobe FL2.1 Player

The install was nice and clean. I noticed that FL2.1 installer silently removed previous version of FL which was FL2.0 from my phone. I used the term “removed” as the Symbian installer didn’t displayed its official “Replace” dialogue, but it simply deleted the old files from my cell.

On the first time launch, FL2.1 displayed a Privacy Notice, which tells user that FL apps can use network, display media or dial telephone number etc.

Now when you start FL2.1, it shows an animated splash screen, which looks pretty nice. look image below.

I started with some Adobe sample SWFs I have on my cell. They opened like flash (I mean speed :D) in fullscreen. When I played these SWFs in old FL1.1/2.0, they did not switch to fullscreen automatically because they don’t have fullscreen command in their code, so FL2.1 automatically switches to fullscreen when any SWF is launched, cool.

I also noticed some fast performance with FL2.1, so headed to more complex FL apps. I opened “the TUBE” by Alen Alebic, which is the slowest FL app I’ve so far in terms of visual performance. I checked all its menus, and the map as well, it was running at pretty high framerate, and I was really enjoying this app for the first time :D

Later I tested many other apps as well, including our own Tango Minisite which uses XML & media objects. It also showed the performance upgrade in FL2.1.

I’ve tested many FL apps with it, the overall visual performance is about 80% faster than FL1.1/FL2.0, that is quite big performance upgrade I believe.

This performance upgrade will let more exciting and smooth UEs (User Experiences) in future FL apps.

I found BUGS, FL2.1 features a new inline text input feature, which is quite good thing. but this feature has a bugs. 1) when you click editable textfield, it shows a small A icon that shows that you are in typing mode, when I press the pencil button the case is changed, but there’s no representation in which mode I’m typing in, the A icon should display small “a” for small input mode. it changes to “#” when I switch to number input mode. 2) when in typing inline in textfield, if you press right-softkey accidentally or by will, FL2.1 unload/exit the SWF even if developer have set key handler to right-softkey. definitely a bug.

Now the bad news, FL2.1 is missing SWF recognizer. Yes, that’s true, I’ve just checked that using SIS Unpacking tool, and also in cell phone by browsing to systemrecogs folder.

So, you cannot launch SWF from any other file manager, even from Inbox. You can only launch SWFs from FL2.1 Player UI. Also almost all the SWF launcher implementations I’ve tested & seen so far failed to launch the SWF from menu, another challenge to FL developers!

I can’t find any info on Adobe’s website nor Bill’s blog about missing SWF recognizer. Is it a defect / bug, mistake or a new feature?

Best,

// chall3ng3r //

17 thoughts on “Adobe Flash Lite 2.1: First Impressions”

  1. Leonardo: thanks for tip, i’m trying to contact anyone from Adobe to ask about this.

    Alessandro: i’e checked the recognizer in the SIS by unpacking it, its not there. so how phone will recognize SWF when it don’t have recognizer?

    also, did the SWF are recognized & opened by FL2.1 on your 3rd Ed device? i don’t thing so, i guess your pre-installed FL1.1/2.0 maybe opening the SWFs. check and let us know.

    // chall3ng3r //

  2. Hi,

    “also, did the SWF are recognized & opened by FL2.1 on your 3rd Ed device? i don’t thing so, i guess your pre-installed FL1.1/2.0 maybe opening the SWFs. check and let us know.”

    As usual, Adobe managed to make a simple thing complex, how juvenile is their approach when they have to deal with mobile and they pretend to revolutionize it!

    On 2nd Edition, if you have Flash installed (likewise version 1.1) all the files are installed in a certain directory with proper recognizer installed as well. With FL2.1 they presume you already have a version of Flash installed in ROM (even if no 2nd Editon devices has it, but all 3rd edition yes), they had to use a different UID (as FL2.1 cannot replace ROM content) and they could not ship a recognizer as this would conflict with the one in ROM (recognizers work on file extensions and mime types which are the same no matter the version of FL you use). On 2nd Edition devices the installer will overwrite the files in the directory without any warning (an extreme bad thing to do in the Symbian ecosystem) since they install in the same directory they mess up both installations. In fact your recognizer of version 1.1 is still there but won’t work anymore because it tries to launch 1.1 and not 2.1 (which has a different UID). On 3rd Ediiton there is no way of overriding the situation, if you launch files from File Explorer, Messagging etc, FL 1.1 will be launched, for 2.x files you need to open them from the FL2.1 menu itself. We notified Adobe of this problem months ago, but they just don’t get it. Since they plan to update FL frequently (this is how they make money, as it is unlikely any user will buy the player by him/herself) they should have preinstalled FlashLite on the memory card as this would have prevented conflicts with upgrades.

    BR,
    Stephan

  3. thanks Stephan nice explanation. but i’m looking for some official words from Adobe side.

    btw, anyone noticed the inline text input BUGs i’ve found? specially the 2nd one which will be quite annoying for application user. anyone tried them? do let me know.

    // chall3ng3r //

  4. unfortunately no,

    but you can avoid it by pressing the center key again to end text input mode, then pressing the softkey is like normal.

    ideally when in text input mode on any textfield, pressing the left softkey should end/cancel the text input mode only, which would look more generic approach.

    // chall3ng3r //

  5. Hi

    The input textfield softkey issues are not actually bugs they are a ‘feature’ of having to support T9 text input mode on Symbian. As such its impossible to get around. The softkeys must be set to default to allow the ‘spell’ function of T9 to be mapped to the left softkey when the need arises. Its a really bad one, I think most users would have preferred no T9 input method, especially when they quit accidentally from an application having spent several minutes inputting data!

    However the good news is this – you can at least get around that whole problem if you don’t care for T9 support. You just need to write a whole input class to wrap around a dynamic textfield, this is possible now because we have access to the edit key and c key (not a feature of

  6. thanks Nick,

    i have just check this with T9 input mode, the right softkey works to get previous word.

    yea, i found it quite annoying, as most of my FL apps (ie ChatMX, DirectCricket, etc) and some others as well, uses right softkey as Login/Next button, and i’m used to press the right softkey after typing the data without ending input mode, so FL2.1 quits the app. I’ll have to get used to this new behaviour :|

    thats very nice that we now have access to these additinal keys, i’m sure that soon there’ll be a FL2.1 component for this. or maybe i’ll make one in my idle time ;)

    regarding recognizer, last night when testing a new app, i uninstalled FL2.1 for some testing. then i installed FL1.1, done further testing. lastly i installed FL2.1 on top of FL1.1. to my surprise, FL2.1 did not uninstalled FL1.1, and i get both FL player icons. the recognizer of FL1.1 is still there, and when i open and SWF from filemaneger or messaging, it is opened by FL1.1. to open my SWFs with FL2.1, i’ve to open FL2.1 first, then open my SWF from the list.

    // chall3ng3r //

  7. Very interested in the responses regarding the FL2.1 recogniser.

    It gets worse. For many apps, you may not need the extras that FL2.1 gives you. But if you’ve upgraded you FLASH 8 to include FL2.1 publishing, your screwed. Let me explain:

    If you target Flash Lite 2.0 in the Publish Settings. Publish. Transfer to the phone. In my case I have N93 with FL2.0 pre installed in ROM and FL2.1 installed also. You would think that because you have targetted FL2.0 it would be recognised on the phone. But it doesn’t. It still thinks it’s 2.1!

    I thought tghis would be a nice work around so that I could get an icon on the menu to launch my SWF.
    My clinet demands it. I can’t deliver. I hope Adobe adress this soon.

  8. i have to open flashlite 2.1 player to open my swf files. i can’t able to open my files directly from file list. why adobe still, not providing any solution for this. And more over there is no clear explanations in adobe site regarding device specific development information, everything we have to do research to findout solutions. example.. still i can’t able to findout making applications or m-learning contents that complies device independent, sony ericsson 910i has it touch screen features and it doesn’t have softkeys, how we can make a flashlite content compatible with morethan one model device (nokia, sony ericsson, motrolo etc.). plz reply if anybody can give solutions..

    Thanks
    Hussain

  9. “You just need to write a whole input class to wrap around a dynamic textfield”

    Any suggestions for resources or methodology on that? should I do the translation of letters by myself? like capturing if the number 2 pressed for 3 times I add a “c” to the text? should I go that low level or there is any other suggestion?

  10. Bilal, i think it’d be cool to have full control over the input… i mean capture numerical keys… then implement a low-level thing yourself.

    and i’d suggest that if anyone implements it, try to make component, so no need to copy paste code.

    i’m a bit busy now, but i’ve plan if no component comes in some time, i’ll make one. :D

    // chall3ng3r //

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