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Published October 2010
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The Android operating system works on phones that combine a camera, Web browser, e-mail, GPS, and mapping tool into a single accessible pocket-sized unit, and can function on computers, as well. Aimed at visual learners and packed with hundreds of screen shots, this guide brings Flash developers up to speed on the necessary factors to take into account when developing for this touch-based, mobile platform. Experienced Flash developer Julian Dolce escorts you through the process of creating applications for the Android OS using the Flash CS5 development platform and informs you of best practices to try as well as common pitfalls to avoid.
GDNet Staff Review:
From version 2.2 (Froyo) on, Android devices support both Flash, both as web content and as standalone apps using the AIR runtime. Android Development with Flash is a guide to the latter, specifically building Android apps with Flash that look and act like they've been built with native tools. While the AIR packager for Android is a fairly simple affair that can be done with command-line tools or with a "wizard" interface entirely within Flash, that's not the sum-total of standalone Android-AIR development. It's quite simple to convert a web-based Flash game into a standalone Android game, but you'll need to do a bit more work if you want your game to be more than a web game running outside a browser. For example, you might want to store progress in a local database on the phone. You might want to add location awareness. You certainly might want to respond to "user just turned the phone sideways" or "the phone just rung, so pause yourself" events.
Android Development with Flash is formatted as a series of dozens of 2-4 page mini-tutorials. And these range from the thoroughly elementary "how to install the Android SDK" to the more advanced stuff like "How to access location services". Apart from the first couple of chapters, nothing is a prerequisite of anything else, so if you're a rank amateur who's building a database-centric app, you can skip right to the database tutorials immediately following getting your first app compiled and running.
There's no book-spanning take home game project. There's no class library. This isn't that kind of book. While it has some good introductory material for beginners, if you're expecting to start at page 1 and be an Android AIR development expert by page 300, this book won't do it. This book is intended for people who already have a project in mind, are somewhat experienced, and who just need something to speed through the difficult parts.
And of course, that leads to the question "why do I need this book?" After all, there are innumerable documents and web forums out there that'll tell you the events you need to listen to in order to gracefully shut down when the user presses the Home button. And while those resources do exist, they're pretty-much all over the place. Thus-far, I haven't found anything that lumps all of the "how to be a first class application" into a single place.
As for the cons, the book is pretty screenshot-happy. Every mini-tutorial is accompanied by at least four screenshots. Even stuff as simple as "How to stop a playing sound" is accompanied with screenshots. While I understand that they're trying to make things obvious, I don't think I need four pictures of Flash's ActionScript text-editor to explain that SoundChannel.stop() is the function that stops a playing sound. While such a model is perfect for something like Photoshop that's nothing but user-interface, with a code-centric tool, I'd prefer more tips and fewer pictures.
The last 50 pages of the book consist of an AS3 class reference. While a similar reference is no further away than my F1 key while in Flash, sometimes it is handy to have it printed out.
1 GETTING STARTED WITH ANDROID DEVELOPMENT.
Introducing Android Devices.
Introducing the Development Tools.
Introducing the Available APIs.
Check What APIs Are Not Available.
Become an Android Developer.
Get the Android SDK.
Get the Android Eclipse Plug-in.
Enable USB Debugging.
Create an Android Virtual Device.
Start the Emulator.
2 GETTING STARTED WITH FLASH CS5.
Using the Actions Panel.
Create a Skeleton Custom Class.
Set the Source Path.
Edit Properties in Flash.
Add Objects to the Stage with Code.
Remove Objects from the Stage with Code.
Work with Events.
Using the Drawing API.
Using Flash CS5 Help.
3 DEVELOPING YOUR FIRST APPLICATION.
Create a New Project.
Configure Publish Settings.
Set Your Application Output.
Create a P12 Certificate.
Compile from Flash Professional CS5.
Compile from the Command Line.
Install Your Application on Your Device.
Update Your Version Number.
Set Application Permissions.
Set a Custom Application URI.
4 DESIGNING YOUR APPLICATION.
Mobile User Interface Guidelines.
Understanding Screen Resolutions.
Create Full-Screen Applications.
Understanding Screen Orientation.
Create Usable Hit States.
5 HANDLING INTERACTION.
Create Button States.
Respond to Touch Events.
Track Multiple Touches.
Respond to Zoom Events.
Respond to Rotate Events.
Respond to Pan Events.
Respond to Swipe Events.
Listen for Accelerometer Events.
Determine If the Accelerometer Is Available.
Determine Device Orientation.
Detect Which Way Is Up.
Filter Accelerometer Data.
6 WORKING WITH IMAGES.
Prepare Your Images.
Bundle Images with Your Application.
Load Images at Runtime.
Create Images Dynamically.
Save Images to the Camera Roll.
Select Images from the Camera Roll.
Display the Camera.
7 WORKING WITH SOUND.
Import Audio into Your Project.
Choose an Audio Codec.
Bundle Sounds with Your Application.
Load Sounds at Runtime.
Set the Volume of a Sound.
Visualize the Sound Spectrum.
Access the Microphone.
8 WORKING WITH VIDEO.
Explore Available Video Formats and Encode a Video File.
Embed a Video.
Bundle a Video with Your Application.
Load a Video.
Buffer a Video.
Control a Video.
Set the Volume of a Video.
9 WORKING WITH TEXT.
Embed Fonts in Your Application.
Create an Input TextField.
Create a Password TextField.
Using TLF TextFields.
Create a Scrollable TextField.
10 SAVING STATE.
Create a Local SharedObject.
Write to a SharedObject.
Load Data from a SharedObject.
Connect to a SQLite Database.
Create a SQLite Table.
Insert Data into a SQLite Table.
Select Data from a SQLite Table.
Update Data in a SQLite Table.
Delete Data from a SQLite Table.
Handle Application Exits.
Save Application States.
Handle Back and Menu Button Presses.
Handle Application Deactivation.
11 WORKING WITH FILES.
Reference Files and Directories.
Handle Files Synchronously.
Load SWF files.
12 USING THE LOCATION AND WIFI FEATURES.
Retrieve Your Current Location.
Map Your Location with Yahoo!
Map Your Location with Google.
Determine Your Speed.
Check for an Internet Connection.
Set the System Idle Mode.
Display Web Pages.
13 USING SPECIAL URL PROTOCOLS.
Make Phone Calls.
Open the Mail Application.
Open the Maps Application.
Open the Messaging Application.
Play a YouTube Video.
14 INTEGRATING WITH THIRD-PARTY SERVICES.
Submit Updates to Twitter.
Display Ads with Smaato.
Track with Google Analytics.
Display Ads with AdMob.
15 OPTIMIZING PERFORMANCE.
Optimize Your Display List.
Manage Mouse Events.
16 DEBUGGING YOUR APPLICATION.
Show Your Trace Statements.
Using the Flash CS5 Debugger.
Understanding the Debug Console.
Understanding the Variables Panel.
Debug with the Android Eclipse Plug-in.
17 DEPLOYING YOUR APPLICATION.
Take Screenshots of Your Application on Your Device.
Create an Application Icon.
Publish Your Application for the Android Market.
Upload Your Application to the Android Market.
APPENDIX A ACTIONSCRIPT CLASS REFERENCE.
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