Building Android apps with Adobe AIR

Last week I created my first ever mobile application. It is an AIR app for Android. The app is called aTabSplitter because ahh, it just helps you to split a restaurant bill between many people. Here are some screenshots with the two screens of the app:

Developing this small application was quite entertaining. But it teach me a few lessons too:

  • You know the old saying “premature optimization is the root of all evil”. This is true for mobile apps too. You never know if some framework or workflow will do the job until you actually try. In my case, the common sense was telling me that Flex 4 framework being a desktop framework is to heavy for the mobile world. After trying it, I think actually it works quite good for me. Your mileage can vary.
  • Developing for mobile is not easy at all. I spent almost my entire professional life building web applications for desktops. Doing mobile apps after this is like trying to create jewels miniatures with the skills of a mine worker. You need a different mind set; you need to acquire new skills.
  • It is highly educational watching people using your app. Because of the touch-input nature of the mobile apps and the personal experience each user carries forward from previous devices/apps, you will certainly notice some interesting behaviors. With my app, a friend tried to remove a person (on the first screen) by throwing him outside of the screen. Needless to say that I didn’t think of this workflow, but it gave me an idea on how to improve the app.

Finally, this week I had the time to clean up the UI and code a little bit, and put together a video (the making-of type of video). Here is the video (you can watch the video in higher resolution here):

If you want to have a look at the code (although I warn you it is not production ready) you can download this project file. If you want to run this on a computer without a touch screen you need to make couple of changes (work with MouseEvents instead of TouchEvents, change root node in main.mxml from Application to WindowedApplication).

I can’t wait to have AIR for Android out and see what people will build!

Update: if you fancy the Belorussian version of this post, check this out.

11 thoughts on “Building Android apps with Adobe AIR

  1. Very nice. Thank you. Can you share more information about the compilation process to Android? Did you use tools like Package Builder?

    Also, was Catalyst necessary here? Or just a time saver? Could you have exported FXG from Illustrator and made the components using the FXG?

    Thank you for sharing

  2. Hey Lionel,

    I used the command line tools from the Android SDK and AIR SDK to compile the app into an APK and then install tha APK file to the phone. And I wrap this in a script for convenience.

    I used Flash Catalyst because it was easier for me. Being able to design a new button in Illustrator and just copy-paste it on Flash Catalyst and then make a button and grab the code moving to FB was easy.

  3. hey there – I imported your app into Flash Builder but it’s telling me I lack the “Flex 4.1 Android” SDK – where do I get it?
    cheers,
    bennett

  4. @bennett

    You got this error because on my computer this project uses a Flex SDK named Flex 4.1 Android.

    All you have to do is to download Flex 4.1 SDK (http://opensource.adobe.com/wiki/display/flexsdk/Download+Flex+4) and then grab the AIR 2.5 SDK from the pre-release site (http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/air2/android/). Copy the content of the AIR SDK on top of the Flex 4.1 SDK, and then use Flash Builder’s Properties Panel to add this SDK to your list of Flex SDKs.

    Finally edit the properties for the project and select the SDK you’ve just added as the one used for compiling the project

  5. Pingback: aTabSplitter pentru Android - Android Romania

  6. The Air 2.5 for Android SDK pre-release is out now, but the spark controls are not compatible. I cannot get the simple HelloWorld example below to work:

    I can get an Action Script only HelloWorld to work.

  7. Pingback: Great Wall of HOW » All about Android Apps

  8. Hey, your design is good. Can’t find anywhere on the web about how to get an app from FB to the phone. Command-line? 4.1, 4.1 Android? Not sure about all that. Is there another vid that shows step-by-step how to get it there because you’re good at making video tutorials.

  9. @Jeff Spicer

    Have a look at Flash Builder Burrito (http://labs.adobe.com). It has support for creating APK files and deploy them to the connected devices (through the USB cable).

    You’ll find articles about this on Adobe.com

  10. Great post,very enjoyable read,and I agree with most of what you say,and by the way,here is a great info about DVD Catalyst 4

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