Adobe AIR, Flash Player and SWF versions

List of all versions:

AIR Flash Player SWF
1.5 | 2.0 10.0 | 10.1 10
2.6 10.2 11
2.7 10.3 12
3.0 11.0 13
3.1 11.1 14
3.2 11.2 15
3.3 11.3 16
3.4 11.4 17
3.5 11.5 18
3.6 11.6 19
3.7 11.7 20
3.8 11.8 21
3.9 11.9 22
4.0 12 23
13 13 24
14 14 25
15 15 26

Compiler Arguments:

  • Flash Player: –target-player=11.7
  • SWF: -swf-version=20

Release Notes:

This post will get updates! 🙂

Supersized Apps with AIR on iOS

One of our latest customer projects was mainly intended as an offline iPad app but should also ship on USB-sticks and run in browsers for all desktops. A perfect fit for Adobe AIR. Read here what we’ve learned.

Adobe AIR is really a powerful tool when it comes to projects for multiple target devices. We’ve already done a couple of projects based on our data driven ActionScript framework which runs nicely in any browser supporting the latest versions of Flash player, as standalone player for DVDs and USB-sticks and within the desktop version of AIR.

We spent a lot of time improving the iPad version to ensure good render performance and a really low memory footprint.

The project I’m talking about uses loads of assets, currently almost 2 GB of bitmap and video files (will grow) and 6000+ unique “slide” XML files with the actual content. Everything loads fast and smoothly with the browser and even faster on desktops and of course iOS.

Development

Development was pretty straight forward since we did most of the debugging with the local AIR application which is fast and easy to profile. After big milestones we also packaged the iPad version and tested directly on the device. This post is not about how you do this step effectively but keep in mind that thousands of files means long packaging time with ADT and takes XCode a long time pushing the app onto the iPad. Upgrading to a new SSD dropped packaging time significantly so using a really fast drive definitely pays of!

2 GB maximum size

With our apple development certificate it was no problem to install the app on all iPads, but it simply wasn’t possible with the customers release certificates. We figured out that there’s a size restriction for iPad apps which allows only 2 GB but we already had 2.2 GB. Boom. Luckily we where able to encode all the videos again and save almost 500 MB so we could ship for now.

Delivery

The customer uses an enterprise solution for delivering iPad apps to all it’s employees and it turned out that the technical provider restricts the maximum app size to less then 200 MB. Boom again.

AIR on iOS FileStream bug

So we implemented a rock solid update process which initially loads almost 1.5 GB of files but never completed on the iPad. The app crashed hard but was still open, crashed again hard after restart but completed the download process after another restart. We had a hard time tracking this issue down to it’s real roots and finally catched this error: 3005 - Insufficient system resources. Google found this Adobe forum thread about it which contained at least a workaround found by Jason Moore:

We did find a workaround , but using open() instead of openAsync().. everything then seems to function correctly.

Please vote for this AIR on iOS bug, it’s from 2011 but still open:
https://bugbase.adobe.com/index.cfm?event=bug&id=3077653

So if you struggle deciding whether AIR is a good fit for your big app I definitely say yes, but hopefully this post helps a little to ask the right questions and avoids running into the same issues.

ActionScript performance test for Array, Object, Vector literals and Array.push, Vector.push methods

Yesterday a “tweet” pointed me to a nice article about ActionScript 3.0 optimization. Most of these techniques are quite common within the ActionScript developer scene but one thing caught my attention: A link to Jackson Dunstans blog post about runtime performance and the const and final keywords. Since I always tried to use at least final classes I was a little disappointed that my extra work time doesn’t have any performance benefit at runtime.

Due to that circumstance I was curious about some other common techniques like “Use Object and Array Literals Whenever Possible” or “Add Elements to the End of an Array Without Pushing”. I wanted to check performance benefits for myself just to make sure it’s worth the effort. So I wrote a little test script:

var result : String = "Test playerType: " + Capabilities.playerType + " version: " + Capabilities.version + "\n",
	i : int = 0,
	c : int = 1000000,
	array : Array,
	object : Object,
	vectorInt : Vector.<int>,
	startTime : int;
 
startTime = getTimer();
for ( i = 0; i < c; i++ ) { object = new Object(); }
result += c + " times: object = new Object()             -> duration: " + String( getTimer() - startTime ) + "\n";
 
startTime = getTimer();
for ( i = 0; i < c; i++ ) { object = {}; }
result += c + " times: object = {}                       -> duration: " + String( getTimer() - startTime ) + "\n";
 
startTime = getTimer();
for ( i = 0; i < c; i++ ) { array = new Array(); }
result += c + " times: array = new Array()               -> duration: " + String( getTimer() - startTime ) + "\n";
 
startTime = getTimer();
for ( i = 0; i < c; i++ ) { array = []; }
result += c + " times: array = []                        -> duration: " + String( getTimer() - startTime ) + "\n";
 
startTime = getTimer();
for ( i = 0; i < c; i++ ) { vectorInt = new Vector.<int>(); }
result += c + " times: vectorInt = new Vector.<int>()    -> duration: " + String( getTimer() - startTime ) + "\n";
 
startTime = getTimer();
for ( i = 0; i < c; i++ ) { vectorInt = new <int>[]; }
result += c + " times: vectorInt = new <int>[]           -> duration: " + String( getTimer() - startTime ) + "\n";
 
startTime = getTimer();
for ( i = 0; i < c; i++ ) { array.push( i ); }
result += c + " times: array.push( i )                   -> duration: " + String( getTimer() - startTime ) + "\n";
 
startTime = getTimer();
for ( i = 0; i < c; i++ ) { array[ array.length ] = i; }
result += c + " times: array[ array.length ] = i         -> duration: " + String( getTimer() - startTime ) + "\n";
 
startTime = getTimer();
for ( i = 0; i < c; i++ ) { vectorInt.push( i ); }
result += c + " times: vectorInt.push( i )               -> duration: " + String( getTimer() - startTime ) + "\n";
 
startTime = getTimer();
for ( i = 0; i < c; i++ ) { vectorInt[ vectorInt.length ] = i; }
result += c + " times: vectorInt[ vectorInt.length ] = i -> duration: " + String( getTimer() - startTime ) + "\n";
 
var textFormat : TextFormat = new TextFormat();
	textFormat.font = "Courier";
	textFormat.size = 14;
 
var textField : TextField = new TextField();
	textField.autoSize = TextFieldAutoSize.LEFT;
	textField.background = true;
	textField.backgroundColor = 0xFFFFFF;
	textField.defaultTextFormat = textFormat;
	textField.multiline = true;
	textField.text = result;
 
addChild( textField );

It turns out that the benefits differ greatly on platform and player type but basically it’s always a good idea to avoid using the .push methods and new keyword. While there’s almost no speed difference in Flash Players and Plug-ins, the debug versions are really slow. And check out the blazing fast object creation with AIR on iOS! Or is this a compiler optimization? Here my results:


Flash CS 5 publish
Test playerType: External version: MAC 10,1,52,14

1000000 times: object = new Object() -> duration: 246
1000000 times: object = {} -> duration: 427
1000000 times: array = new Array() -> duration: 1288
1000000 times: array = [] -> duration: 339
1000000 times: vectorInt = new Vector.() -> duration: 586
1000000 times: vectorInt = new [] -> duration: 596
1000000 times: array.push( i ) -> duration: 134
1000000 times: array[ array.length ] = i -> duration: 137
1000000 times: vectorInt.push( i ) -> duration: 113
1000000 times: vectorInt[ vectorInt.length ] = i -> duration: 114


Flash Player Debugger.app
Test playerType: StandAlone version: MAC 11,1,102,62

1000000 times: object = new Object() -> duration: 179
1000000 times: object = {} -> duration: 311
1000000 times: array = new Array() -> duration: 1072
1000000 times: array = [] -> duration: 313
1000000 times: vectorInt = new Vector.() -> duration: 397
1000000 times: vectorInt = new [] -> duration: 402
1000000 times: array.push( i ) -> duration: 118
1000000 times: array[ array.length ] = i -> duration: 108
1000000 times: vectorInt.push( i ) -> duration: 111
1000000 times: vectorInt[ vectorInt.length ] = i -> duration: 89


Flash Player.app
Test playerType: StandAlone version: MAC 11,1,102,62

1000000 times: object = new Object() -> duration: 127
1000000 times: object = {} -> duration: 183
1000000 times: array = new Array() -> duration: 227
1000000 times: array = [] -> duration: 189
1000000 times: vectorInt = new Vector.() -> duration: 215
1000000 times: vectorInt = new [] -> duration: 218
1000000 times: array.push( i ) -> duration: 72
1000000 times: array[ array.length ] = i -> duration: 62
1000000 times: vectorInt.push( i ) -> duration: 61
1000000 times: vectorInt[ vectorInt.length ] = i -> duration: 42


Browser Debug Plug-in (Safari)
Test playerType: PlugIn version: MAC 11,1,102,62

1000000 times: object = new Object() -> duration: 157
1000000 times: object = {} -> duration: 249
1000000 times: array = new Array() -> duration: 1015
1000000 times: array = [] -> duration: 293
1000000 times: vectorInt = new Vector.() -> duration: 281
1000000 times: vectorInt = new [] -> duration: 282
1000000 times: array.push( i ) -> duration: 124
1000000 times: array[ array.length ] = i -> duration: 117
1000000 times: vectorInt.push( i ) -> duration: 124
1000000 times: vectorInt[ vectorInt.length ] = i -> duration: 94


Browser Plug-in (Google Chrome)
Test playerType: PlugIn version: MAC 11,2,202,235

1000000 times: object = new Object() -> duration: 147
1000000 times: object = {} -> duration: 146
1000000 times: array = new Array() -> duration: 237
1000000 times: array = [] -> duration: 224
1000000 times: vectorInt = new Vector.() -> duration: 257
1000000 times: vectorInt = new [] -> duration: 266
1000000 times: array.push( i ) -> duration: 54
1000000 times: array[ array.length ] = i -> duration: 61
1000000 times: vectorInt.push( i ) -> duration: 70
1000000 times: vectorInt[ vectorInt.length ] = i -> duration: 51


AIR SDK 3.2
Test playerType: Desktop version: MAC 11,2,202,223

1000000 times: object = new Object() -> duration: 274
1000000 times: object = {} -> duration: 243
1000000 times: array = new Array() -> duration: 1344
1000000 times: array = [] -> duration: 379
1000000 times: vectorInt = new Vector.() -> duration: 431
1000000 times: vectorInt = new [] -> duration: 426
1000000 times: array.push( i ) -> duration: 135
1000000 times: array[ array.length ] = i -> duration: 136
1000000 times: vectorInt.push( i ) -> duration: 153
1000000 times: vectorInt[ vectorInt.length ] = i -> duration: 74


iOS (iPad 3) debug interpreter
Test playerType: StandAlone version: MAC 11,1,102,62

1000000 times: object = new Object() -> duration: 4707
1000000 times: object = {} -> duration: 2033
1000000 times: array = new Array() -> duration: 22191
1000000 times: array = [] -> duration: 2993
1000000 times: vectorInt = new Vector.() -> duration: 10235
1000000 times: vectorInt = new [] -> duration: 10156
1000000 times: array.push( i ) -> duration: 1728
1000000 times: array[ array.length ] = i -> duration: 1670
1000000 times: vectorInt.push( i ) -> duration: 2056
1000000 times: vectorInt[ vectorInt.length ] = i -> duration: 1951


iOS (iPad 3) ad-hoc
Test playerType: Desktop version: IOS 11,2,202,223

1000000 times: object = new Object() -> duration: 1224
1000000 times: object = {} -> duration: 0 !!!
1000000 times: array = new Array() -> duration: 5886
1000000 times: array = [] -> duration: 1048
1000000 times: vectorInt = new Vector.() -> duration: 2737
1000000 times: vectorInt = new [] -> duration: 2784
1000000 times: array.push( i ) -> duration: 2043
1000000 times: array[ array.length ] = i -> duration: 234
1000000 times: vectorInt.push( i ) -> duration: 1524
1000000 times: vectorInt[ vectorInt.length ] = i -> duration: 643

Always worth reading: http://gskinner.com/talks/quick/

Adobe AIR 2.7: Faster App Performance on iOS

Get a big performance boost on iOS using Adobe AIR 2.7 SDK!

Adobe’s current release version includes a number of feature enhancements:

  • Install AIR Runtime to SD (Android)
  • Improved performance on iOS
  • Media Measurement
  • Acoustic Echo Cancellation (Desktop only)
  • Enhanced HTMLLoader API
  • Interpreter Mode for iOS

Read full details here: http://blogs.adobe.com/flashruntimereleases/2011/06/14/air-2-7-runtimes-and-sdk-are-now-available/

See the performance:

Don’t know where to start? This guide is still valid: iOS development with AIR 2.6 using FDT and my new friend ANT

Flex compiler – application descriptor: invalid application identifier

Whenever your Flex compiler prompts
application descriptor: invalid application identifier“,
you might check your application description XML file. Your application ID might contain underscores (in my case) or other invalid characters. Since I found a hint to the solution only at koali.com.au, I think it’s a good idea to reblog it.

Quote from Adobe livedocs:

id – An identifier string unique to the application, known as the application ID. The attribute value is restricted to the following characters:

  • 0-9
  • a-z
  • A-Z
  • . (dot)
  • – (hyphen)

The value must contain between 1 to 212 characters. This element is required.

The id string typically uses a dot-separated hierarchy, in alignment with a reversed DNS domain address, a Java package or class name, or an OS X Universal Type Identifier. The DNS-like form is not enforced, and AIR does not create any association between the name and actual DNS domains.

More informations about the descriptor file:
http://livedocs.adobe.com/flex/3/html/help.html?content=dg_part_4_1.html

FFK11 – beyond tellerrand notes

I’m still not sure if “beyond tellerrand” is a subtitle or will become the new brand for the one and only Flashforum conference here in germany. Sascha Wolter and Marc Thiele did a great job as always and even I never went to another conference, FFK seems still to be a special one. Again I was lucky listening to some really cool stuff.

Interestingly most of my last year notes are still up to date, which doesn’t help if you don’t keep them in mind. So I think it’s a good idea to read my own notes from time to time. 😉

That’s what I became aware of this time:

AIR 2.6

  • Lee Brimelow mentioned AIR 2.6 on iOS is faster than on Android! Yeah.
  • Adobe is working hard on increasing performance near to native code.
  • Installing a runtime seems to be annoying for Android users, so Adobe is thinking about compiling for Android like for iOS. Which might bring some extra performance as well.
  • I asked Lee Brimelow about AIR on Windows Phone 7 and he said something like “Adobe is currently not working on that and it would be a lot of work”. Well, of course Microsoft is not interested having AIR on their system, but it would be a really important platform for all of us. So in my opinion Adobe at least has a small team checking out what’s possible. What do you think about Windows Phone 7 and AIR support?

Flex Builder 4.5

  • You can get Flex SDK 4.5 already, but there’s also a way to join the private pre-release program to get early access to Flex Builder 4.5. Just visit http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/flexprerelease. They are working on some useful stuff and it might be a good idea to test some of the new features.
  • Deepa Supramaniam mentioned spark MXML skins have performance issues on mobile devices. That’s why they created pure ActionScript spark skins for mobile applications. Hopefully, within the private beta Flex SDKs, we’ll find some great improvements: http://www.riagora.com/2011/03/preview-of-flex-on-ios/.

NUI

  • Wolfgang Henseler (Talk I missed at FFK10) opened my mind according NUI.
  • Don’t think of apps on mobile devices but of services allowing you reaching your goal faster than a website.
  • Think about providing services, combining them, rethinking them.
  • Use less design and let objects provide their functionalities (e.g. tap on image to get some options).
  • My brain is very busy with that NUI thing. E. g. he mentioned the Siri iPhone app. It’s not about how it looks like (not so cool) but how it works! Combining lots of possibilities with a really easy interface (speech) . He was also talking about “in body technology” (sensors and stuff like that.) and http://www.tedmed.com/
  • After Dennis Ippels Kinect (OpenKinect / http://www.primesense.com/) introduction I finally know something about the magic behind this device as well.

Molehill

Additional useful links:

iOS development with AIR 2.6 using FDT and my new friend ANT

Adobe recently released AIR 2.6 with improved iOS support, so I finally had to get into using ADT with ANT. My editor of choice is FDT so I wanted to do as less extra work as possible. Mainly because I’m no terminal-guy. I need a clean GUI holding my hand while setting up workspaces, linking libraries and stuff like that. In other words, command line and compiler arguments are freaking me out. 😉

I read a lot of blogposts and articles (see link list on the bottom of this post) but most of them compile SWFs using ANT, which means setting source path and stuff like that as command line arguments. But hey, FDT does this already during my daily workflow, so to me it seems natural reusing this within the iOS packaging process.

So I won’t comment a lot what I came up with because all of this can be read on one of the sites below, but show you simply a screenshot of my “IOSAIRTest” workspace structure and of course the ANT files. Notice that I’m not into having different directories for debug, publish, testing and so. I like to have all source files clean and separated by file type (would have an mxml folder too):

You will find the most interesting files in src/ant. Let’s start with local.properties which just defines the SDK path:

FLEX_HOME=/Users/{USERNAME}/Path/To/FlexSDKs/4.5.0.17689_AIR_2.6
MXMLC=${FLEX_HOME}/bin/mxmlc
ADT=${FLEX_HOME}/bin/adt

Within build.properties you setup all params regarding your project:

app.rootdir=./../..
app.descriptor=${app.rootdir}/bin/IOSAIRTest-app.xml
app.rootfile=IOSAIRTest.swf
app.sourcedir=${app.rootdir}/src/as
app.bindir=${app.rootdir}/bin
app.source=${app.sourcedir}/de/superclass/IOSAIRTest.as
app.includes=assets icons Default.png Default-Portrait.png
 
build.storetype=pkcs12
build.keystore=${app.rootdir}/resources/ios/iPhoneDevCert.p12
build.storepass={PASSWORD;)}
build.mobileprofile=${app.rootdir}/resources/ios/AIR_TEST.mobileprovision
build.name=IOSAIRTest.ipa
 
fdt.projectname=AIRTest
fdt.mainclass=${app.source}
fdt.target=${app.bindir}/${app.rootfile}

And build.xml contains four ways to create the IPA package and the according FDT tasks:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<project name="AIR export" basedir=".">
 
	<property file="local.properties" />
	<property file="build.properties" />
 
	<!-- FDT tasks
 
		see http://fdt.powerflasher.com/docs/FDT_Ant_Tasks#fdt.launch.application - for documentation
		see http://fdt.powerflasher.com/docs/FDT_and_Ant_Tutorial#Your_First_Task:_Compiling_.26_JRE_Error - if you run into errors!
	-->
 
	<target name="FDT create SWF">
		<fdt.launch.resetFlexCompiler/>
		<fdt.launch.application
			projectname="${fdt.projectname}"
			mainclass="${fdt.mainclass}"
			profile="false"
			debug="false"
			target="${fdt.target}"
	    	startswf="false"/>
	  </target>
 
	<target name="FDT create SWF debug">
		<fdt.launch.resetFlexCompiler/>
		<fdt.launch.application
			projectname="${fdt.projectname}"
			mainclass="${fdt.mainclass}"
			profile="false"
			debug="true"
			target="${fdt.target}"
	    	startswf="false"/>
	  </target>
 
	<!-- ADT tasks -->
 
	<target name="iOS create IPA debug" depends="FDT create SWF debug">
		<exec executable="${ADT}">
			<arg line="-package
						-target ipa-debug
						-storetype ${build.storetype}
						-keystore ${build.keystore}
						-storepass ${build.storepass}
						-provisioning-profile ${build.mobileprofile}
						${app.bindir}/${build.name}
						${app.descriptor}
						-C ${app.bindir} ${app.rootfile} ${app.includes}
			"/>
		</exec>
	</target>
 
	<target name="iOS create IPA test" depends="FDT create SWF">
		<exec executable="${ADT}">
			<arg line="-package
						-target ipa-test
						-storetype ${build.storetype}
						-keystore ${build.keystore}
						-storepass ${build.storepass}
						-provisioning-profile ${build.mobileprofile}
						${app.bindir}/${build.name}
						${app.descriptor}
						-C ${app.bindir} ${app.rootfile} ${app.includes}
			"/>
		</exec>
	</target>
 
	<target name="iOS create IPA ad-hoc" depends="FDT create SWF">
		<exec executable="${ADT}">
			<arg line="-package
						-target ipa-ad-hoc
						-storetype ${build.storetype}
						-keystore ${build.keystore}
						-storepass ${build.storepass}
						-provisioning-profile ${build.mobileprofile}
						${app.bindir}/${build.name}
						${app.descriptor}
						-C ${app.bindir} ${app.rootfile} ${app.includes}
			"/>
		</exec>
	</target>
 
	<target name="iOS create IPA app-store" depends="FDT create SWF">
		<exec executable="${ADT}">
			<arg line="-package
						-target ipa-app-store
						-storetype ${build.storetype}
						-keystore ${build.keystore}
						-storepass ${build.storepass}
						-provisioning-profile ${build.mobileprofile}
						${app.bindir}/${build.name}
						${app.descriptor}
						-C ${app.bindir} ${app.rootfile} ${app.includes}
			"/>
		</exec>
	</target>
 
</project>

If you’re not sure how to get started with all this AIR 2.6 stuff because it’s currently not integrated in the Flex SDKs – follow this steps:

Loads of linked informations:

http://blogs.adobe.com/cantrell/archives/2011/03/how-to-use-air-2-6-with-flash-builder-4.html
http://www.mobilerevamp.org/2010/07/30/how-to-build-your-first-air4android-application-using-fdt-and-eclipse/
https://code.google.com/p/air-on-android-with-fdt/
http://www.beautifycode.com/flex-hero-mobile-project-template-for-fdt-4-2
http://www.beautifycode.com/publish-package-an-air-file-with-fdt4
http://labs.almerblank.com/2011/03/using-ant-to-compile-a-flex-mobile-project-for-ios/
http://va.lent.in/blog/2011/03/25/air2-6-app-for-ios/ (Thanks for ANT files!)
http://developerartofwar.com/2011/03/24/air-2-6-on-ipad-2-in-15-mins/
http://karoshiethos.com/2010/04/06/use-fdt-folder-path-variables-in-ant/
http://fdt.powerflasher.com/docs/FDT_Ant_Tasks#fdt.launch.application
http://labs.almerblank.com/2011/03/using-ant-to-compile-a-flex-mobile-project-for-ios/

Update:
http://www.blackcj.com/blog/2011/04/04/ios-android-and-blackberry-in-a-single-click-with-ant/