Icon Maker for BlackBerry PlayBook is now live!

If you are following my recent tweets, you might have noticed that I am working on some applications for upcoming BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. So far, I am having fun developing for PlayBook using AIR SDK.

I noticed that the icon requirement for BlackBerry PlayBook AIR SDK are a little complicated. Developer have to make an icon of 86×86 pixels PNG, but he must not fill the entire area with graphics. Developer have to keep his graphical contents inside 77×77 rectangle so it could look similar in size to other application icons on PlayBook.

BTW, 77×77 is an odd size for 86×86 icon. As on the two sides (top-left) the transparent buffer is 5 pixels, and on remaining two sides (right-bottom) it becomes 4 pixels. Out of center by one pixel.

So, I thought we tweak our SVG Icon Maker tool for Symbian applications, to make icons for BlackBerry PlayBook as well. And of course, we did take care of that odd 77×77 size by using 76×76 selection rectangle.

Now you can create great looking icons for your BlackBerry PlayBook tablet games and applications right from your web browser!

Start using Icon Maker at: http://www.orison.biz/apps/playbook-icon-maker/

And as usual, below are couple of screenshots of the Icon Maker in action.

icon-maker-screenshot

icon-maker-screenshot2

Do let us know you feedback or suggestions so we can keep improving it in future.

// chall3ng3r //

Quick Workaround: AS3 gotoAndStop Nasty Bug

Okay, I admit it. I am old-school. I use Flash Pro CS5 as my only Flash development tool. I do all my coding on timelines and I like it that way.

I have been working with AS3 for few months now, and I have to say, I have to write twice the code to actually do what I was able to do using AS2. I miss those good old days.

Anyway, I’ve been developing an AIR Mobile application and hit by this nasty gotoAndStop bug. If you are feeling lazy to click the link and see detailed explanation, here’s a excerpt from the post:

myMC.gotoAndStop('FINISHED_SCREEN');
myMC.result_txt.text = "You won!";


Leading to following error:

TypeError: Error #1009: Cannot access a property or method of a null object reference.

To clarify: in this context, result_txt is the name of a TextField that exists on the stage, and only exists on the frame with the label "FINISHED_SCREEN". If you haven’t previously displayed this frame, and you run the code above, then sometimes you will find that the result_txt TextField object hasn’t been properly instantiated by Flash yet when the second line is run – therefore myMC.result_txt will resolve to null, and you’ll get the error above.

I tried and found many kind of solutions, but they were more like adding a lot more code and changing the way my jumping from frame to frame works.

So, experimented a little, and ended up with my own solution. It’s kind of dirty one ;)

First you need to Export for ActionScript your problematic MovieClip from Library. Make sure you add text Class at the end of export ID/class name. i.e. my original Library item was named "mcCircle", so I Export it as "mcCircleClass".

Now, on the keyframe where you are getting that null reference error. Initialize your MovieClip as follows:

var mcCircle:mcCircleClass;
if(this.getChildByName("mcCircle") == null)
{
    mcCircle = new mcCircleClass();
addChild(mcCircle); }

After this you can access mcCircle as before. You might have to set it’s properties (x/y etc.) again, as we just created a new instance which doesn’t have values from previous instance. In my case, I just had to set it’s X and Y to position it back where it belonged.

It’s not as optimistic as other solutions, but it does the job when you need to quickly get through it.

I am quite disappointed by Adobe since Timelines are the basics of Flash from the very core. This bug is around since Flash 9 days, and Adobe still haven’t fixed it. Come on Adobe, you can do better!

Update: Some other references to the problem:

// chall3ng3r //

Thoughts on Nokia + Microsoft

I believe this is the biggest mobile technology news since announcement of Apple iPhone back in 2007. And to be honest, I am all excited as one Apple fanboy would have, on such big news!

nokia-microsoft-valentine

There are reasons why I am so much excited, but first let me start with the fact that many developers showing concern that Nokia made a mistake for selecting Microsoft Windows Phone 7 as it’s primary mobile OS.

I have been reading lots of news, reviews, analysis and comments around this partnership, positive and negative. I gone through official Forum Nokia’s blog post "Letter to Developers about Today’s News" and in comments I see many developers not so happy.

I would like share some of the facts and personal experience about Symbian OS.

Symbian for End-Users

This is the base fact that everyone, including Nokia also admits that Symbian’s UX is ugly. I have been using Nokia smartphones since 2004, and my first one was second-hand Nokia 7650, and I have witnessed that Symbian was doing great in terms of UI until iPhone. After that, I haven’t heard anyone praising Symbian’s UI.

Symbian for touch enabled devices, proved to be complete nightmare for Nokia. Since it’s introduction to date, they are still trying to tweak it to work better for touch input, sadly without any luck.

Honestly, tell me any 10 great looking native Symbian applications, which provide smooth, beautiful, and animated user experience. Oh, I know one, Gravity and my big applause to the guys who did it. Other than this, I have not seen any Symbian application which impressed me with such great UX compared to iPhone, Android or WP7 apps.

Other than this, I was quite disappointed from Nokia from the end-users’ perspective, as they’ve been selling Symbian devices by showing cool animated UI transitions, but in reality, the actual device, when rotated from portrait orientation, taking more than 7 seconds to show up the UI in landscape (personal experience). Yes, I’m talking about Nokia N97 and other Symbian 5th Edition devices. Lets take a look at this video.

Cool, isn’t it. But if anyone who have used one of these devices must know what I’m talking about.

All this Symbian ^3 hype is waste of money and resources. I have a Nokia N8, and I was not able to compose new or reply to an email until I upgraded to firmware PR1.1, which was released few days ago after months of delay, using my primary account of Mail for Exchange (I use Google Apps). And there were also many other users who were have same issue.

I was making jokes on this”¦ "Nokia – Connecting People NOT", and imagine Borat saying it, you’re gonna laugh "automagically" :D

Nokia N8 is really a fast device as compared to Nokia 5800XM I own. But the UI still lacks all the richness, smooth transitions, and usability I find on iPhone, somewhat on Android and now on WP7 devices. Even Nokia wasn’t able to deliver what they showed in an imaginative video demoed back in 2007. Lets take a look, and pay close attention to animations and transitions.

Symbian was the main reason of Nokia’s failing all this time. They have tried to tweak its UI to make it work on touch enabled devices, but unfortunately it didn’t worked out until now.

Last thing to add here is, Nokia’s official end-user support forums are filled with so many complaints, most of them are related to Symbian OS.

Symbian for Developers

I started learning Symbian back in 2006. My aim was to develop a compiler, which would allow Adobe Flash Lite developers to easily package and distribute their games and application on Symbian platform. I successfully delivered SWF2Go in March 2007 after 8 months of R’nD, and it’s been quite a success so far.

During my journey on Symbian OS, I learned how hard and time consuming it is to develop. Setting up it’s SDKs was quite big task for anyone new to Symbian, but who have worked on other mobile platforms. Other than my work on SWF2Go, I never developed any native Symbian C++ application.

Just in 2010, Nokia’s investments in Qt started to show up. Even though Qt it easy and fun to develop with and its been here for so long and already gone through embedded platforms, but still not ready for real mobile applications. When developer needs to do some real work, he ends up with same old dirty Symbian C++.

Qt Mobility 1.0 is released but it has some quirks. For example, there’s no native Qt APIs of dealing with device orientation. The new Qt Creator project wizard now adds that dirty Symbian C++ code for you.

Nokia could have at least replaced the UI shell of the Symbian ^3 using Qt with all it’s cool transitions and effects. Like HTC replaced Windows Mobile’s UI (almost same as Symbian) with HTC Sense UX. And they actually did a pretty good job on that.

So, Symbian is an outdated legacy OS, which have completed its life long ago. Its making Nokia, developers and the whole ecosystem around it completely slow.

Now stop being angry and join, celebrate with me ;)

Why I Am So Excited?

Microsoft really knows software. They also make mistakes, like everyone does, but they are pretty good. For example .Net, Xbox, Windows 7, Silverlight.

Microsoft Windows Phone 7 is developed from experiences of Windows Mobile. It is targeted specifically for next generation hardware and touch input. It is user friendly, stable and it works. Go checkout some cool reviews to find out for yourself.

Microsoft is the king of developer tools, specifically Visual Studio 2010. If you have never used it before, this tool will teach you, help you and make you expert within weeks. It’s code editing features are one of the best available today.

With tons of online resources already available, so you will never get stuck with any issue. There’s a vibrant developer community as well, from where we can learn more and share back expertise.

Microsoft offers a complete set of tools for development of Windows Phone 7 games and applications. And best thing about them is, all of these tools including VS2010, Expression Blend and XNA Game Studio are completely free. Installation experience is really smooth as well.

Once you are aboard, you’re gonna love it. You can take my word on that ;)

I also found some users and developers asking Nokia, why they didn’t selected Android? Well, other than what Mr. Elop already said about it, I would like to add, haven’t you guys already seen enough Android devices?

Everyone is making them, HTC, Samsung, Motorola, LG just to name a few. Now even those Chinese companies also started making them in masses. You will be getting a lot of them in coming days.

Don’t you guys want to see something new, something different, a competition, using new technology, developing for it, innovating with it, having a choice? I mean come on”¦ Guys!

Nokia + Microsoft = A Wining Combination

I believe that this partnership is a great opportunity for developers on Nokia platform to get back into fast lane, and rapidly develop and compete against other platforms. Provide best of the best games, applications and user experiences to the end-users. A winning combination for everyone.

/// chall3ng3r //

How to Prepare for Forum Nokia Developers’ Workshop 2011

This post will help you for preparing yourself for the first Forum Nokia Developers’ Workshop 2011 in Karachi “€œ Pakistan from 31 Jan to 3 Feb 2011.

qt_and_j2me

The workshop focuses on two mobile technologies, J2ME and Qt available on Nokia’s S40 feature-phones and Symbian S60 smartphones. With countless Nokia devices around the world and over 3.5 million downloads from Ovi Store every single day, these technologies are highly profitable for mobile developers.

Let’s get started. First things first. You are required to bring along your notebook, so you need a notebook with either Windows (XP SP2 / Vista / 7) or Mac OSX (Leopard / Snow Leopard).

If you are going for J2ME track, you need to install J2ME SDK and related developer tools. Below are the download links of recommended tools:

If you opted for Qt, then you only need Nokia Ovi Suite and Nokia Qt SDK 1.0 or better go with latest Nokia Qt SDK 1.1 Technology Preview which includes QML and Qt Mobility 1.1 support.

Install these tools and be sure to at least open the IDE of installed SDK (Qt Creator or NetBeans) and compile a sample project that came along with SDK to make sure the installation does not have any issues.

The most important part is what you’re going to do at the workshop?

Other than educating you about J2ME and Qt and what you can do with these technologies, Forum Nokia is recommending that you bring your own idea for a project you would like to do. The instructors at the workshop will help you while you work on your project.

It’s still one day to go before the workshop starts, start planning your mobile project using J2ME or Qt and get the most of out of this great opportunity offered by Forum Nokia.

I will be at the workshop as well with some cool projects and you are welcome to connect and discuss mobile development at the event.

See you guys on Monday!

// chall3ng3r //

SWF2Go Professional 2.6 – Now Available as Free Trial

We are proud to announce another update of our flagship product SWF2Go Professional. This new version now natively supports latest Symbian based devices, such as Nokia N8, C7 etc.

What are you waiting for? Go ahead, and download the trial and see how easy it is to publish Adobe Flash Lite based games and applications to Ovi Store.

Also, you might like to see what kind of games are already made with SWF2Go and are available on Ovi Store. Check out some great games by Breakdesign at http://store.ovi.com/search?q=breakdesign

The biggest advantage of SWF2Go is that it’s completely standalone product. You just install it, and click the Build Project button. It’s that simple!

Download now and let us know what you think, or you might like to showcase your new game or application on our website :)

// chall3ng3r //

Flash Lite Indian travel guide on “Mysore Dasara”, made with SWF2Go

Few days back Vivek released an Indian travel guide on “Mysore Dasara” cultural festival. The application is built on top of Adobe Flash Lite 1.1 technology.

It will work on almost all Flash Lite enabled mobile devices, but it will give better experience on 240×320 resolution screens. On my Nokia E50, it looks great.

Vivek has also posted a video tour of this application on his blog. check it out as well.

For Symbian S60 devices, SWF2Go is used to make SIS installer and menu icon for this interactive travel guide.

Nice work Vivek, and keep it up.

// chall3ng3r //