Losing my religion

So I ordered an iPad because I want to build things for it. My first project was going to be a port of the Rubricator concept — the larger screen and interest of the education community made this seem like a good fit for an iPad application.

Unfortunately, I made a crazy choice in February and started down the path of the Flash CS5 Packager for iPhone rather than commit to the straight-up Apple toolchain I’d been dabbling with for the last year and a half. Why Flash? I was hoping I’d be able to use at least some of my Flex expertise – full-blown Flex components weren’t supported, but ActionScript techniques translate readily back to plain old Flash. This would also give me a chance to experiment with a lightweight AS-only component set (minimalcomps) and an interesting Dependency Injection framework I’d been hearing a lot about (Robotlegs).

Not only was this process awkward, my first crack at the app itself was painfully slow. It was obvious that the techniques I’d developed for Web and desktop application development were not going to be enough to make a reasonable iPhone app, even with a good UI concept. I was beginning to see the dark at the end of the tunnel for this pet project of mine.

But then disaster – Apple pulled the rug out from under the entire Packager for iPhone concept, taking their ball and going home. Boy howdy, I loved middle school. It took a few weeks, but yesterday Adobe finally cried uncle and the proprietary software apologist in me died a little. The two companies that saw me through Microsoft’s bungled hegemony over the Web are now taking shots at each other. Can’t mommy and daddy just get along?

So where do I go now? Do I succumb to Apple’s strong arm tactics and commit to the platform in the way they so desperately want? Do I ditch Apple and run careening for Google and Android?  Or do I run to something like PhoneGap, which promises a more open way to develop apps with JavaScript and Web standards.

Anybody wanna buy an iPad, slightly smudged?

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Hey iPad – Twitter called and it wants its haters back

I’ve spent the last few days playing with my new iPad. I don’t really think of myself as an Apple fanboy, but evidence might be starting to mount. I originally wanted an iPad for application testing – I’m working on a few projects that would benefit from ultra-mobility and reasonable screen size.

To me this is a whole new category of device, and I wanted to get a real feel for what this thing was all about. I already have or use the devices around the niche the iPad appears to be destined for – the MacBook, the iPhone, netbook – but I really did see this as Something Completely Different. I desperately wanted to like the Windows Tablet; I’d been an early Palm user (III/V/m105) and I tried two early generations (a Compaq TC1000 and a Toshiba M205). I  carried them from meeting to class to meeting, but it never clicked. I saw the potential, but the experience was truly lacking for me.

Yes, I am still ticked off that there’s no Flash – I enjoy building apps in Flex and AIR. I’m even more disappointed that Apple appears to have removed the blue brick icon when a missing plugin is needed for page content. I have yet to see one in Safari when browsing Web sites. This was serving as an ensign for the Flash community.  If Apple has indeed removed this emblem, perhaps Flash developers should put that icon in the alternate content area of the embed/object tag. [Update 4/13/10: Someone has done precisely that]

But the real amazing thing to me has been all the vitriol about the iPad – it’s like the usual unsocialized nonsense of Slashdot has exploded all over the Web. It frankly reminds me of the early days of Twitter – “Why would anyone want to know what I had for breakfast?” was the usual slant. And that showed that they didn’t *get it*

I also feel the same sort of guarded optimism as I did with Twitter – something’s different here. Now that folks with an inclination to develop have the actual devices, There Will Be Code. And from that code will come new kinds of applications and uses that we have only begun to consider.

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Appleiphany

Appleiphany (noun): The feeling experienced when using or viewing an Apple device, questioning why the heck things haven’t worked like this all along. Example: When viewing the recent iPhone Guided Tour, I kept asking myself why mobile phones don’t already do all this stuff… seriously, it’s so dang obvious. See also hindsight.

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Can’t find my way Home

When I joined the IST Solutions Institute this fall, I found myself in a Macintosh-friendly environment for the first time in a decade.

I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart (or head) for the much-maligned platform — its elegance and consistency appeals to me. Since Macromedia was nice enough to recently begin seriously supporting ColdFusion development on OS X, I jumped at the chance to try working on a modern Macintosh.

My first shock after switching platforms was discovering my dependence on the Home and End keys in Windows. The fact that I couldn’t hit Shift-End to highlight from the current cursor location to the end of the line drove me nuts. Figuring that I could not be the only person to notice this, I did some digging and I finally found a solution.

On most Macintosh-native applications, the same effect can be achieved by holding down the Command (or Apple) key and using the right-arrow (for End) or left-arrow (for Home) keys. If you want to select the text instead of just moving the cursor, hold your Shift key down as usual.

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