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Darkness washed over the dude. . .

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johnhattan

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. . .darker than a black steer's tookus on a moonless prairie night. . .there was no bottom.

Okay, maybe not that dark, but I am disappointed by MDM's long-awaited Flash-EXE builder for PocketPC's. Their Windows version distinguished itself by being a really nice solution for making first-class executables out of Flash movies, but this one's got the following problems. . .

1. It's $549. Even with the 15% discount they offered me, it's twice as expensive as most competition.

2. The executables it builds are enormous. Compiling Brain Bones created a 700k executable, which is huge for a pocketpc. When you're talking about machines with 5 meg of available storage, 700k is a big bite.

3. It still requires the Flash runtime to be installed. The Windows product gets around the problem of having Flash runtimes installed on the machine, and I guess I was being foolish by expecting the same of the PocketPC version. Given the size of the runtime executable, I certainly expected it.

4. It also requires the .NET framework to be installed. While all new PocketPC's have it built into ROM, handhelds more than a couple of years old probably don't, which means you've gotta install even more runtime or exclude some machines.

5. Starting your app is very slow. Probably due to the .NET stuff, it took close to 30 seconds to bring up Brain Bones on my (admittedly no speed demon) Samsung i700. Even though my machine's not the latest, it's the slowest-to-start app on the whole machine, and that's unacceptible for a game. Subsequent startups were better, presumably due to caching, but it was still slow.

I waited a while to see this product with the thinking that it'd solve the Flash-runtime problems inherent in stuff like FlashAssist. Instead it made things even worse by requiring both Flash and .NET.

And since I'm a pragmatic person, I made myself a little product-matrix to help me decide which PocketPC SWF->EXE tool is best. My notation is as follows.

Green = A clear advantage
Yellow = A serious, but not fatal, problem
Red = A disadvantage strong enough to be a deal-breaker

(and since gamedev's baby-HTML doesn't allow tables, here it is as a much larger GIF. Sorry the links don't work, but five seconds with Google will find any of 'em)



*Since "can make system calls" is a deal-breaker, I didn't look any further on this attribute.

Okay, Macromedia's tool and FlashPack have deal-breakers, so they're out. Zinc will make my life easier by not requiring many changes to code, but it's got serious problems elsewhere that outweigh this advantage.

We're now down to FlashAssist or Bryht. Bryht's built-in javascript interpreter makes system calls easy, but it bloats up the executable pretty badly. FlashAssist is implemented as a wizard for Microsoft's (free) PocketPC C++ compiler, so it's not very smooth to use and requires you to know C++ if you want to do anything deeper than its modest set of built-in commands.

So that's what I've got to weigh. One's a disadvantage for me the programmer (difficult system calls), and the other is a disadvantage for the user (very large executable).

And given a choice between the two, I'll give myself the disadvantage. Since I know C++ already, it's not that much of a problem.

So, being the pragmatist, I've gotta go with FlashAssist Pro.
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Hi John,

please use code snippets I've posted when replying on that thread:
http://www.mdmforum.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=7596&view=findpost&p=35023
to test Your app startup time and to make needed correction,
You should get something around 5-10 seconds when starting app on slow device,
(I've device with similiar processor and memory: Dell Axim 5),

regards,
Peter

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