Calling All Flash Developers

There has been a great deal of talk about quality of the Flash Player lately in relation to discussions on ‘the device that shall remain nameless’. In my opinion, considering the fact that the Flash Player is backwards compatible with 10 versions, has two complex virtual machines in it, and the fact that it has to run within browser environments on multiple operating systems and chipsets, it is amazing how stable the software really is.

That being said, software is software, and since the invention of modern computing bugs have been the one constant. While our quality control teams run tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of tests on every single build and release, the best test is to see how those pre-release builds run your content.

If you have not downloaded the new beta of AIR and Flash Player, I (along with other Adobe folks) are asking you a favor. Please go download the public betas now and test it on your content. If you find a bug, you can publish it in our public Flash Player bugbase. Not only will we thank you for taking the time to do this, but your users will thank you as well.

Here is how you can get involved:
Download and install Flash Player 10.1 Beta 2 and AIR 2.0 Beta 2.
Log bugs at

The Ribbit $100,000 Killer App Challenge

I know that all the talk of the weakening economy has you down, but guess what? There is a way to pocket a ton of cash by doing what you probably already do well: building an application using Flash, Flex, or AIR that uses the Ribbit platform. Ribbit has announced the $100,000 Killer App Challenge. This contest will award $100k in prize money to developers in five categories who submit applications that use Ribbit technology.

Ribbit allows you to very easily build voice enabled Flash applications, so even if you don’t sign up for the contest, this is some very cool technology to play with. But come on, if $100k in prize money doesn’t give you an incentive to try it out and build an app, I don’t know what will!

I am also happy to announce [in a slightly evil and sarcastic tone] that along with Lee Brimelow and Matt Chotin, I will be one of the three judges for the contest. There is a little less than three months left in the contest, so you better hurry and sign up, and get working on your app! And just as a note, this contest is open to US AND non-US residents.

Adobe AIR Does Not Compete With Silverlight

As I have been reading in many blog posts lately, I felt that I needed to make one point perfectly clear. Silverlight is not Microsoft’s answer to Adobe AIR, it is Microsoft’s competitor to the Flash Player. This means they now have a competitor to Flash in the browser. Sorry for the bold type, but I wanted to make sure my point was made. I know that many of the readers of my blog get this, but there still seems to be quite a bit of confusion.

Adobe AIR is a new technology that allows developers to take their web applications which were built using Ajax or Flash and move them outside of the browser where they can take advantage of desktop features such as file IO, system notifications, multiple windows, drag and drop, etc. I am not sure where the confusion is coming from, maybe just ignorance and the fact that Adobe AIR and Silverlight are getting a lot of press. But right now Microsoft does not have a cross platform runtime equivalent to AIR (not that I know of, I am willing to be proven wrong here if someone has that information.)

I am not trying to put down Silverlight here. Congrats to the Silverlight team, I am sure they are having some big parties this week after their launch. Silverlight is a good attempt at accomplishing some of the same functionality that we have provided in the Flash Player. But we do have a ten year head start and the Flash Player is installed on 98% of all PCs today (we just announced that Flash Player 9 is on over 90% of PCs.) But, we don’t take the competition or our current position in this market lightly.

As you can see by our recent announcements, such as the addition of H.264 to the Flash Player, we will continue to innovate and do everything we can to make Flash the best platform for building RIAs in the browser and now on the desktop within Adobe AIR. As Ted mentioned yesterday, we have a lot of things you will want to keep an eye on. Just wait until you see what we will be talking about at MAX!

Flash, Ajax, and Ruby on Rails Integration Screencast

As noted by many people last week, Adaptive Path (who coined the term Ajax) has released an amazing new Flash based slider component that can be controlled via JavaScript, much like the Yahoo! Maps API. The component is utilizing the Flash JavaScript Integration Kit that was released a few months ago which Christian, Mike and I have worked on.

Yesterday, while I was browsing some of the Ruby on Rails blogs, I came across this post. In it, Rick Olson (also known as Rails Weenie) demonstrates in a screencast how you can integrate this new slider component into a Ruby on Rails application using a Rails plugin.

It is great to see all of these technologies integrated seamlessly like this. This screencast also illustrates the fact that Flash and Ajax do not neccesarily have to be mortal enemies bent on destroying the other. Sometimes the debate has been positioned this way, which is a shame. There is no doubt that there is a place for each technology and sometimes they will intersect in interesting and wonderful ways that benefit the end user and thier interaction with your application.

Search for Your Sketch

Every once in a while you get a link to a site that you have to send around, or blog in my particular case. The application is called Retrievr and by its unique spelling it is obvious that it is related to Flickr. What is not so obvious is how addictive this application is once you get a handle on it.

In a nutshell, it provides a unique search interface for a subset of flickr photos. By sketching out a drawing using a Flash based widget embedded in the page, the application makes calls to an algorithm that matches your drawing, colors and all, to photos retrieved from the Flickr database. It makes use of AJAX to incrementally make calls to the service so that as you are drawing your sketch you can see your results updated in real time.

I love to see applications like this that take advantage of numerous ‘Web 2.0’ technologies and ideas to subtly combine them in this way (I could write an entire post on how many indiscriminate uses of tags I have seen in the past few months.) The site and interface is clean, and it just works how you would expect. No fluff, just a great application that is a lot of fun to play with.

Adding a View Source Menu to Flex Applications

There is one thing that has continually impressed me about the Flash community: its willingness and dedication to helping one another. This weekend at FlashForward San Francisco, Lawrence Lessig encouraged the community to further adopt this culture of sharing and expressed his belief on how innovation is dependent upon this culture.

Yesterday, at the keynote, Kevin Lynch further reiterated this idea and showed off a script that Mike Chambers put together while we were sitting in the balcony watching the presentation. Then, when we were at the airport, on our way out here to Flash in the Can, I decided to build a Flex version of this.

So, here it is! Although this is simple, it should allow you to quickly specify a ‘View Source’ and a ‘View License’ menu in your Flex applications. The functionality is pretty basic at the moment, but I hope to expand this in the future.

Here is the menu in action:

I have exposed the functionality as a custom Flex tag. To see how to use this, check out the Example.mxml file in the zip.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.