QueTwo's Blog

thouoghts on telecommunications, programming, education and technology

Monthly Archives: November 2010

AIR for TV — The Virtual Keyboard

As I’ve been porting some of my AIR for TV applications over from Flex, one thing I quickly realized was that I was missing a way to get user input.  While AIR exposes all the remote buttons as Keyboard events, there is a real disconnect if you want to accept alpha based input (most remotes simply have numbers and special keys like the MENU or EXIT keys).  Since many of the apps I’ve been working on were orgionally designed with the desktop or mobile in mind, completely redoing them just to avoid a keyboard seemed impractal.

I’ve been working the past few weekends on a virtual keyboard component that will allow me to accept alpha user input on a “Virtual” keyboard.  This keyboard is rendered on the screen, and allows the user to pick their keys via the directional buttons on their remote (or pointing device, if one is available).  I modeled the keyboard after the Microsoft On-Screen keyboard that is available for tablets.

This is one of the first components I’ve created that is being released publically.  I know from talking to Jeffry Houser that there are probably 5,000 more things I should be doing for a component that is to be used in the public, but lets just call this my first crack at releasing a reusable component. 

Check out the project’s page for more information.  I have posted the source code, and the downloadable SWC there if you want to check it out.  If you would like to contribute, or help me make it better for everybody else, please let me know — I would love some feedback on it!


Creating Mobile Applications from a Photoshop Prototype

Thanks to Dr. Coursaris for this photo.

At the WUD Conference, East Lansing, MI

This past Thursday, I was given the opportunity to present on a really cool, but obscure topic — creating mobile applications from Photoshop prototypes, for the World Usability Day Conference.  Essentially, my job was to show people a workflow that is possible when using Adobe Device Central to create a Photoshop file, that is then turned into a working prototype using Adobe Catalyst, and then programmed using Adobe Flash Builder. 

All in all, the conference was excellent, and I was honored to be on stage after notable presenters from the State of Michigan, Motorola, Nokia and well, even the University of Michigan.  The focus of this year’s conference was on usability, and how it relates with mobile applications and devices, which was a perfect match for the presentation I was doing.

After my quick introduction to the subject, I demoed making a complete application from scratch and deployed it to a series of working phones.  I was able to accomplish this workflow in under a half hour, which was completely amazing for not only myself, but the audience too.  It is really cool to realize that the technologies that I’ve been using as betas for so long have actually matured to the point where I can use them to make real applications.

The session was recorded and hopefully will be posted online soon.  You can view my powerpoint here (I did have to disable the live voting, but I did keep the results for historical purposes), and download ALL the source code that and asset files that we used during the presentation here.  Please keep in mind, that the logos in the demo code are subject to the use standards found here

Thanks to the WUD East Lansing team for inviting me!

Creating your first Application for TV

One of the major announcements that came out of Adobe MAX was the availability of AIR 2.5, which is the first SDK to support televisions as an output.  While most of you may be scratching your heads as to why this is a big deal, the few of you who have ever attempted to write an application for a STB (set-top-box) or directly for a television know that they are one hard nut to crack.

Generally, up to now if you needed to push an application to a television-connected device, (including DVD players, Blueray players, STBs, or TVs themselves), you either had to learn the vendor’s propriety language, go with the vendor’s interpretation of Java, or just pay them to make the app for you.  Additionally, it has only been a very short while that the manufactures have even given the developers the ability to push apps to these devices (with Samsung really paving the way in the past few months). 

In comes Adobe with their OpenScreen Project, where they are allowing common RIA developers to simply create applications that can be deployed to these television connected devices.  The dream of write-once-publish-anywhere just got extended to another class of devices.  Mind you, these will be high-end devices at first (for example, take a look at Samsung’s TV lineup (filter by Samsung Apps in the features section) to get an idea of what you will be targeting. Read more of this post