Options for running a Flash site as an Android App

Posted on April 29, 2011

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I recent went to see my friend Jamie who owns the language learning website for school children – languagenut.com . Languagenut have an existing website with the guts of it written in flash.  Jamie asked me to come over and discuss the options for getting his site into app form and these are the options I came up with. I’m coming at this from a slight lean towards Android over iOS due to iOS lack of Flash support.

Option 1 – Mobile Web App

Details

  • Site served as a mobile website
  • All HTML, .swf and content stored on languagenut server
  • App accessed through a standard browser
  • Login on server using existing form
  • Browser detection used to forward user to an mobile site.
  • Scaled version of existing site
  • Content cached in standard browser cache

Pros.

  • No install needed
  • Use existing payment setup
  • Can push out updates easily
  • Speed to market

Cons

  • Doesn’t work without an internet connection
  • Might be performance issues
  • Site needs to be loaded every time.
  • Wont work on iPhone
  • Might need change to layouts for small screens
  • Caching issues

Option 2 – Hybrid App – Native App with Embedded Website

Details

  • App downloaded from the Market
  • The basic swf files are included in the app
  • A local website is accessed using a embedded browser
  • Assets are loaded as needed and cached in local storage
  • Login using website

Pros

  • Installable app accessed through a phone menu
  • Faster loading than Web App.
  • Presence in the Market
  • Can save state easily.
  • Can take payment through Android market

Cons

  • Embeded browser may have performance issues
  • May require an internet connection.
  • Need to bridge to OS to access phone functions and local cache
  • Wont work on iPhone
  • Might need change to layouts for small screens

Option 3 – AIR App

 
Details
  • Compile flash into an Air app
  • App downloaded from the Market
  • All content included in the package

Pros

  • No internet connection required
  • Native app accessed through a phone menu
  • Faster loading than Web App.
  • Presence in the Market
  • Can save state easily.
  • Potentially work on iPhone in future
  • Can take payment through Android market

Cons

  • Requires the AIR runtime.
  • Might be considerable rewrite of existing flash codebase

Html 5 diagram the sames as Option 1 and Option 2, loading HTML5/Javascript instead of the swf files.

Option 4 – HTML 5 App

Details

  •  Re-write flash site using HTML5
  • Optimise the site for mobile devices from the outset
  • Will integrate as Option 1 or Option 2
  • Loading a HTML site / game instead of a SWF

Pros

  • Optimised and designed for mobile devices
  • Completely cross platform(works on iOS)
  • No plugin required
  • Can be used in desktop browser or on phone
  • HTML 5 could be the future flash

Cons

  • Involves a complete rewrite of the flash code
  • The existing HTML 5 tools are not as mature as Flash editor
  • Might be performance issues on some phones




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Posted in: Android, flash, mobile