Monday, February 28, 2005

Flash Lite: Redux



Well, a few weeks ago, I said I'd comment on Flash Lite. I haven't felt like commenting on this topic, simply because I'm rather ignorant of the whole technology outside of creating fancy little graphics for webpages (and I don't do that anymore myself -- having never been good at it (check out the www.jellingspot.com title header for a sample -- anyone out there wanna improve it? :P ). In the mobile world, I'm a rather big fan of Java (or was, until I started finding that companies like Nokia, for example, had utterly gutted out socket connections in most of its Java enabled phones ... had to move to C++ to get those features). This isn't for any other reason than my partner is a Java Guru and I work for a premium Java Tools provider, so I know something about Java (but I don't program IN Java -- see the difference?) However, I am aware Macromedia makes "Enterprise" web application type software such as Cold Fusion, so you know they're doing more than just aninmation type-software.

Anyway, a few weeks ago, it was spreading all over the net, that thank god, it was gonna displace dismal Java (mobile Java, generally based on J2ME/Personal Java) because Java is "too hard" (ie... it requires more brain power to be an OOP programmer than a basic "scripting" langauge writer -- it what the feeling was anyway) -- and Flash Lite was the savior of the mobile world, as things could be written much faster.

All of this may be true ... Blogger Bryan Rieger dropped some verbal bombs on the whole thing, and being a Flash developer himself, they're well worth listening to. However, I just can't see (with my limited insight into the technology of course) Flash doing much more than sending nifty greeting cards (as it does now on the net), or some simple games (keep in mind, my favorite Sumo Volleyball, which ICQ seems to have murdered, was in Flash). This is all fine and dandy, but Java (and more so C++ Symbian/PCC/Palm) have real meat and potatos inside ... as I asked the rhetorical questions previously: Can Flash Lite access the native system's features? Such as the phone book, or Bluetooth radio, or store information onto a memory card? If yes, then I think Flash Lite could have a bright future ... but, from what I know, this isnt' the case -- it's not meant to do that, so why all of the talk about "replacing" Java, when it doesn't even come close to doing what Java does (or can/could do, if phone makers didn't gut it out).

It's obvious, people got ahead of themselves -- many of the time, people with no programming experience do that (I won't mention them here, cough...the entire commerical technology media, cough...) ... while others, kinda just go along with the crowd, I'm more inclined to be critical (not negative -- as I hate them types) ... show me the money I guess.

Having said that, can all of the Flash Gurus out there somehow port mini Pac-Man (I got to levl 4) and mini Pong to my phone? Sure, my eyes are blown out playing these two all day, but on a phone, wouldn't they just be so cute?

Ooh, one more thing -- Bryan also mentioned that, if Flash Lite were on most mobile phones -- especially as it relates to Jellingspot, then Flash ads/games/etc. could be distributed over Jellingspot -- Maybe there is more to this Flash stuff just yet ... ;-}


[ Technorati Tags: Bluetooth wireless Jellingspot
Java Flash Lite ]

30 comments:

Bryan Rieger said...

I think one big problem here is the term 'application'. Of course you're going to get better performance or more access to the hardware using Java or C++. Flash Lite lives in an even smaller sandbox than J2ME does - but that's by-design. While Flash on the web arguably can be used for application development, Flash Lite is nowhere near as sophisticated as it's big brother - but then again, it's only at version 1.1 - and has yet to see wide release. Give it time.

Flash Lite is not going to replace J2ME or C++ - especially for application development. In fact, it's more than likely you'll eventually use Flash Lite for ui and display functionality while Java and C++ handle the real work.

However, for content developers (notice, I did not say 'application') Flash Lite is a welcome technology in the mobile space as projects can be created by much smaller teams with much shorter schedules. This is going to be really important soon when business begin looking to deploy simple content'esque applications with limited budgets. Hmm...

Would you rather create 20 animated advertisements with limited interactivity in J2ME, C++ or Flash? What if you had two weeks? What if the client only had $2,000?

David Stennett said...

Good ending point -- obviously, making dynamic content is best done in flash -- that's what people generally use on the web, so I don't think it'd be much different in the mobile world.

What is the main "underlaying" language for Flash applications (say on the PC) ... Flash script, or can you use C/C++/Java underneath for the business/application logic? I simply haven't kept up with Flash ...

Chris Ritke said...

I agree with you for the most part - FlashLite is not going to replace Java - and Java is just on soooo many phones because of the games - so building apps in Java makes sense (see www.49pm.com) But even with Java being as smart as it is, it can only do so much, so I think a back-end server will be really important for certain apps - and I suppose that would be the approach you could take with FlashLite... just have it do the pretty stuff, let the server do the thinking.

By the way - which Nokia phones don't do Networking? I haven't seen one anywhere that couldn't connect through Java, at least the ones being sold in stores here in the US and in Germany.

David Stennett said...

Thanks for the post Chris. Yeah, Java rocks, but I think Bryan made a good point that it's mainly "content" (not necessarily applications) that Flash Lite will excel. But, from that end, I just can't see a lot of revenue being generated this way (as opposed to a midlet) ... sure, I guess you can charge for a flash game (I'd buy Sumo Volleyball ;-), and maybe that's all that it'll do, but yes, it won't replace Java for a lot of reasons.

As for the Nokia phones -- I haven't tested any recently from the Java side, but I could only get HTTP access from a midlet, and not open any Sockets ... back in '01, we came out with Mercury Instant Messenger, worked fine on Java phones -- except on Nokias, which didn't support socket connections. I think that's pretty much the same, no? Or, have Java implementations on Nokia devices (minus the 6230, which rocks!) matured?

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