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Prior to 2012 I had never considered one of the types of projects a programmer could contribute to is the creation of interactive exhibition stand software. As is turns out if you do not have a digital element to your stand in many exhibitions these days you won't be standing out in a space where everyone is competing for delegates' attention.

Early this year I ended up being asked to program two such real life interaction experiences. Both were rich media experiences comprising of video, audio, animation and user interaction. This is exactly the type of project that Adobe Air was created for although while progamming the second I pushed up against some of its limitations and a combination of Javascript and HTML 5 stepped in to save the day.

Interactive Exhibition Stand

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University of Kent logo
Earlier this month I enjoyed one of the perks of being a member of the universities' Digital Media Industrial Panel and delivered a lecture to the students studying digital media. There was obviously only one thing for me to talk about ... Native vs Cross Platform Mobile Development.

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Recently I have been looking into the popular choices, platforms and frameworks, currently used to develop mobile phone apps and I have collated my findings here. This post has a day to day production considerations, is reasonably technical and is aimed at decision makers, team leaders and senior developers. If you are a freelance mobile developer you may find this article a primer when deciding which mobile phone technology you feel is worth pursuing.

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Adobe Air Runtime
We've all been in this situation. You have developed a mobile app, or desktop application. It has been accepted to the Android Marketplace / Apple's App Store, or you have uploaded it onto your website or intranet for distribution. People have installed it and are using it.

It's time for version 2 and you make the inevitable changes to the database. You have to write code, in the model of your MVC pattern usually, that copes both with a upgrading the database from version 1 and creating a database from scratch for a user who is using your application for the first time at version 2.

And so the pattern continues, and the problem grows, for each version. In version 3 you have to write code that handles people upgrading from version 2 to version 3, version 1 to version 3 and people installing the app for the first time.

What a pain! Not anymore.

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Ubuntu Logo
Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, one of the world's most popular Linux distributions, has teamed up with Dell to make roads in to the Chinese personal computer market, which has recently become the largest market in this sector in the world.

Ubuntu's latest version 11.10 will be available pre installed on a range of Dell machines and Canonical has planned a number of strategies to convince consumers that Ubuntu is as good as any operating system they can choose from.

In addition to the operating system a number of applications are preinstalled on the machines to immediately meet the needs of people taking them home. Two of these applications I am proud to say were developed by myself using Adobe Air.

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Flex Framework
Recently I needed to make changes to two desktop Air applications I have been working on for a major Operating System (more details when I am allowed). The task was to change the TextField datatypes (flash.text.Textfield) to Spark Label (spark.components.Label) and a couple of Spark RichText (spark.components.RichText) components and I thought I would record what I learned to help other developers. I have also included some information about the handy RichEditableText (spark.components.RichEditableText) component.

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ActionScript 3 Frame Buffer03 February 2011

Flash Platform
All AS3 programmers have had to cope with situations where what they can see on the screen is different to what their code is telling them. Within Air, Flex and Flash applications the two main contributors to this are; the Flash Player is single threaded, apart from a few exceptions in Air, and internally is based around a frame rate.

Have you ever tried to measure something you have just added to the Display List and even though you can see it on the screen your measurement, something like width or height, is coming back as 0? How about when you are preloading, does your preloader get stuck at 10% and then jump to 100% at the end?

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Nokia Company Logo
Nokia is the worlds largest manufacturer of mobile phones, selling about a third of the world's handsets in 2010.

Like other mobile phone companies they appreciate the benefit of a store for customers to visit and this is especially true of the markets in Russia and Asia. Upon arriving at a Nokia store customers experience funky and cool interior design and of course access to all of the latest Nokia devices. To help enhance the experience through digital technology Nokia turned to the London branch of R/GA, Digital Agency of the Decade.

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