Flash Player Debugger on Ubuntu

After having spent a good part of an hour on trying to install the Flash Player Debugger for FireFox on Ubuntu 11 64-bit, I found the following steps worked:

  1. sudo apt-get install nspluginwrapper
  2. copy libflashplayer.so (from debugger download) to /usr/lib/flashplugin-installer/
  3. sudo nspluginwrapper -i /usr/lib/flashplugin-installer/libflashplayer.so
  4. restart FireFox

Thanks to: AskUbuntu.com.

Don’t forget to set up mm.cfg.

When all is done, run:

tail -f ~/.macromedia/Flash_Player/Logs/flashlog.txt

Sound from ByteArray

While writing a quick test application to record microphone input and playing that same recording, I found out that playing back a ByteArray directly using the Sound class wasn’t possible. Luckily a solution is never far away when doing a Google search and it turns out that FlexibleFactory has a good solution: the MP3FileReferenceLoader lib. With a bit of tweaking you can pass in a ByteArray directly and don’t need to rely on a FileReference.

Good news though! As per Flash Player 11, the following 2 methods have been added to the (native) Sound class that can be used to achieve the same behaviour:

  • Sound.loadCompressedDataFromByteArray(bytes:ByteArray, bytesLength:uint)
  • Sound.loadPCMFromByteArray(bytes:ByteArray, samples:uint, format:String = “float”, stereo:Boolean = true, sampleRate:Number = 44100.0)

“java -fullversion” triggers ProgressEvent.STANDARD_ERROR_DATA in AIR

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I’m building an AIR app and am using Java to offload some heavy duty work to keep Flash responsive. I want to make sure the end user has a version of Java installed the is compatible with the Jar I ship with my AIR app. To do so I use the following (pseudo) code below:

  1. var args:Vector.<String> = new Vector.<String>();
  2. args.push("-fullversion");
  4. var info:NativeProcessStartupInfo = new NativeProcessStartupInfo();
  5. info.executable = javaLocation;
  6. info.arguments = args;
  8. javaProcess = new NativeProcess();
  9. javaProcess.addEventListener(ProgressEvent.STANDARD_OUTPUT_DATA, versionOutputHandler);
  10. // Fun fact: -fullversion output is considered error data! :s
  11. javaProcess.addEventListener(ProgressEvent.STANDARD_ERROR_DATA, versionOutputHandler);
  12. javaProcess.addEventListener(NativeProcessExitEvent.EXIT, versionExitHandler);
  13. javaProcess.addEventListener(IOErrorEvent.STANDARD_OUTPUT_IO_ERROR, versionErrorHandler);
  14. javaProcess.addEventListener(IOErrorEvent.STANDARD_ERROR_IO_ERROR, versionErrorHandler);
  15. javaProcess.start(info);

To my surprise the result of the call to “java -fullversion” is send to the standard error stream and thus triggering the ProgressEvent.STANDARD_ERROR_DATA to be fired.

Flex + Java = Frankenstein?

Lately I’ve been working on a small upload tool in Flex/AIR.
To verify that an upload has succeeded, I created a hash (md5) of the entire file and sent that to the backend for verification. The AS3CoreLib contains a nice MD5 class, MD5Stream, but it’s much too slow for creating a checksum of files.

Actually, it’s so slow that when I was uploading a 5+ MB file the application would slow down so much that the upload speed dropped to a third of the speed without feeding the MD5Stream data during uploading.
Luckily, with AIR 2.0 NativeProcess has been introduced, it made it much easier to “outsource” complicated calculation to a process that can deal with that much better, i.e. Java.

The nice thing about Java is that it’s cross-platform just as AIR, and these days many people will have the JRE installed.  So first of all, I wrote a small Java class that would print out an MD5 hash of a file based on the path that I passed. I jarred the class and added it to my AIR project.
The second step was to call my Java class instead of the AS3 MD5Stream class. This is surprisingly easy. The NativeProcess documentation comes with a pretty clear example and Piotr Walczyszyn has created a small framework, Flerry, to let Flex talk to Java and vice versa.

Looking at how Flerry is built will give you some more insight on how to deal with NativeProcess.
For my application, I only use the BaseStartupInfoProvider class from Flerry to find where Java is installed on the user’s machine. After that I set up all event listeners as per the NativeProcess documentation and call NativeProcess.start() with a NativeProcessStartupInfo as passed in parameter.
Now my uploads are fast again and I can generate a checksum in a fraction of the time I could before.

There are unfortunately some downsides to this approach. You have to deploy your AIR application as native installer to be able to use the NativeProcess class. So instead of having one AIR file, you’ll end up with four native installers (.exe, .dmg, .deb, .rpm). On the plus side, you can create the native installers from an AIR file without needing to resign the application.
Another downside is that now I’m relying on two runtimes being installed on the end user’s machine, AIR and Java.
My final thought is that now that I am outsourcing some calculations to Java, why not built the whole thing in Java? Then again, building a decent UI can take ages using Java. To me, my application feels like I’m creating a bit of a Frankenstein.

All in all I’m glad I now have a fast way to generate a checksum and my uploads aren’t slowed down by it any more.


Flex FTP Make Directory

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I’m messing around with Flex FTP at the moment and found that there is no way yet to create a directory on the FTP server. I had a quick look through the code on how the other FTP actions were implemented. Being surprised with the nice setup of the code I had quite easily added the “make directory” action and got it working properly. You can download my MakeDirInv class here: http://ansuz.nl/toys/randomcode/MakeDirInv.as
All you need to do after that is patch the FTPClient class by adding the following method.

  1. /**
  2. * Creates a directory on the remote host.
  3. *
  4. * @param newDirName The name of the new directory to create.
  5. * @param parentDir (Optional) The directory to create the new directory in.
  6. */
  7. public function makeDir(newDirName:String, parentDir:String = "/"):void {
  8. trace("FTPClient.makeDir(newDirName, parentDir)");
  9. invoke(new MakeDirInv(this, newDirName, parentDir));
  10. }

Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to create directories on the FTP server you’re connected to, see the example below.

  1. ftpClient.addEventListener(FTPEvent.CREATE_DIR, dirCreatedHandler);
  2. ftpClient.makeDir("myNewDir", "/someSubDir/");

PS: This isn’t fully tested yet, so do let me know if you find some bugs.


De MonsterDebugger

I’m always looking for a nice debugger to use on the fly, the “De MonsterDebugger” looks really nice.

De MonsterDebugger is an open source debugger for Adobe Flash, Flex and AIR. De MonsterDebugger is made in Flex and AIR by design studio De Monsters.

One of the nicest features in my opinion is the live editing of properties, very handy when fiddling to position elements correctly.