Facebook IS building the social web! It has more than 800 million active users and connects more than 500 million users monthly on its Facebook Platform through devices, apps and websites (source Facebook Statistics).
With such a huge demand for content on the Facebook Platform, the requirement for developers has also grown, thus leading to more learning material being available; material especially related to tips, best practices and simple guides to help one progress with the platform.
One of the newest resources for Facebook Developers is – the Flash Facebook Cookbook by James Ford. I received a copy of this book and decided to write a short review for it while reading it.
The Flash Facebook Cookbook contains around 60+ recipes for integrating Flash applications with the Graph API and Facebook. The recipes are simple and start with the basic explanation of Facebook and Flash integration. It graduates to moderate and complex examples such as News Feeds, working with the photo albums, uploading pictures, working with events and integrating HTML5 geolocation capabilities etc.
The book does not expect the developer to know the Facebook platform, but does expect some knowledge of working with Flash Builder and the Flex framework. It uses the Facebook Actionscript 3 SDK available from Github. Apparently this version is supposed to be more community driven than the official Facebook Actionscript SDK supported by Adobe and Facebook on the Google Code repository. I’ve always worked with the official version of the SDK, so I didn’t try using the Github version with the receipes.
I think it is fair to say that the book is a good resource for Facebook development on the Flash platform for the web and desktop. It does not cover the mobile platform, although a refined developer will be able to adapt the knowledge gained from this book to multiple Flash supported platforms.
It’s just one day before the Adobe Flash Platform Summit takes off in Bangalore, and the next 3 days (27th July 2011-29th July 2011) will be a carnival of learning and networking for all those attending.
There are different sessions covering multi-platform development, user experience and development tools suiting the skills of all attending. The ones I look forward to participating in are the ones which will be discussing HTML5, UI Design and LifeCycle. The Demo Jam on the second day of the event will also be an interesting one hour of app presentation by different developers.
I’ll probably be hanging around in the Community Lounge when not attending sessions so looking forward to meeting a lot of people.
Set-top boxes are very similar to mobile devices when it comes to developing and testing Flash content; speed, performance, memory issues, choosing between vectors and raster images; they all exists.
I had some hands on experience with an older version of Flash for set-top boxes, also known as Flash Lite for Digital Home, and also managed some testing with AIR on TVs.
Had a couple of takeaways while working with FLDH on set-top boxes and televisions –
- Flash content is universal. You could have a game or application that has been developed for a non-TV platform, and you could manage to run it successfully on a television set.
- You should not have complex code written in Flash, for instance complex 3D renderings, or extensive use of vectors can cause lag in performance.
- Content can be published as Flash Lite 2.1+ or Flash 8, but fscommands will not work. For instance, a command such as “Fullscreen” will be overlooked by the runtime.
- Most television content have something known as a “safe viewing area”. This refers to the visual with a 5-7% margin cut around the content edges during display. Most newer televisions may not have this overscan area, but it is always best to design content keeping the overscan area in mind i.e avoid placing any art or media in the corners.
- Mapping keys to the remote can be a challenge from the UI perspective. A good design is one where a user uses less keys and still manages to navigate without any help. In case of a TV, we have limited keys which a user may be familiar with for interactive content, i.e the left/right/top/bottom and enter keys; ( no soft keys like mobiles). So if an application or game has a UI with several buttons, it should be visually displayed to the user.
- Managing memory and maintaining quality. This is a big challenge, especially when dealing with sounds, images and videos. With TV resolutions of 720p and 1080p, the quality of display can’t be compromised. Media of high quality should go through a good process of loading and unloading at frequent intervals for the platform to remain stable.
- While a well architectured code with OOP is a good programming practice, it can sometimes take a toll on performance and design.
- There is no community support for Flash Lite for digital homes. Most of it is trial based if you are developing content. Having a device connected to the television set is the best way to move forward.
I’m glad to be part of the Adobe Community Champions Program starting 2011. The Champions program was launched this year in addition to the Adobe Community Professional (Expert) Program which has been around for many years. This is a great initiative by Adobe, to engage and involve the developer community and recognize their work. I am happy to be a part of it.
“Adobe Community Champions are the “megaphone” of the Adobe community, whose objective is to evangelize Adobe products beyond the existing circle of our Adobe ecosystem and helping connect people to the Adobe community.”