MadComponents to date
While most of the MadComponents discussion happens on the FaceBook group nowadays – I don’t blog about it here as often.
But I thought it would be appropriate to write about where this popular AS3 mobile framework stands right now – and where it is going in the future.
I’ve just uploaded version 0.7.5 of MadComponents, and version 0.1.7 of ExtendedMadness. This update fixes minor performance and UI anomalies. It is recommended that everyone downloads the latest version.
If you like MadComponents, don’t forget to log-in to your Google account to “Star” the home page – and also click the “g +1” to recommend it to Google.
MadComponents is a popular and free open-source UI framework for ActionScript. Primarily for Adobe AIR mobile applications.
Since its inception, 15 months ago, the MadComponents blog has been visited over 83,000 times. The MadComponents library has been downloaded over 4000 times.
Google Code Site: http://code.google.com/p/mad-components/
Facebook Group: http://www.facebook.com/groups/336764056350846/
Why MadComponents Matters ?
The popularity of MadComponents seems to be founded on the advantages it offers over using mobile Flex in terms of file size, performance, ease of development, and IDE agnosticism (you can use FlashBuilder, Flash, FDT, FlashDevelop – whatever you like).
Mobile devices possess limited memory, and processing capabilities. Hence, a lightweight and efficient framework is vital. Mobile Flex was neither lightweight, nor efficient. Also, smartphone users often run out of application space, and habitually delete applications that don’t offer good value in exchange for the space they occupy.
According to the Vision Mobile report on Cross Platform Tools, an estimated 42% of developers are migrating away from mobile Flex. The highest developer exodus from any framework in their survey.
There are many players in the cross-platform arena, including Adobe, Ancsa, Appcelerator, Sencha, and Xamarin. Currently, developer tool preferences are ambivalent and volatile. There are no clear winners or losers at present, with most developers experimenting with a multitude of solutions. With perceptions still being formed – it is still anyone’s game.
Both Ancsa, and Sencha have campaigned to attract disenfranchised Flex Developers. However, the switch from mobile Flex to MadComponents is far less disorientating. There are similarities in the approach, with an XML layout language, and familiar ActionScript 3 code. And the developer can stick to their familiar IDE, such as Adobe Flash Builder.
Hence many developers have happily migrated from Flex to MadComponents. And so remaining within the Adobe Flash Platform universe (rather than switching allegiance to Adobe’s competitors).
Despite limitations with the Flex framework, and some confusing developer communication – the Adobe AIR feature roadmap, and pace of innovation is very encouraging right now. Those of us who have remained loyal to Adobe AIR on mobile are very enthusiastic and excited about the future.
How is MadComponents funded ?
Currently, it isn’t. Imagine what could be accomplished if it were.
Enterprise Applications are the primary use-case of MadComponents. Developers have reported that MadComponents enables them to prototype and build enterprise applications faster, and hence cheaper than native SDK development. The MadComponents learning-curve is certainly less arduous than for native SDK development in Objective-C / Coacoa, or Android Java.
These are some of the consumer applications that have incorporated MadComponents.
MadComponents In Education
Due to the ease of development with MadComponents, it is the ideal framework to introduce application development programming. It has been successfully applied it to enterprise application training at beginners or intermediate level.
The Mobile Games and Media Apps course at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York State, USA is partially based on Daniel Freeman’s tutorials, and use of the MadComponents framework.
A Drag-And-Drop MadComponents Builder
A drag-and-drop design-view UI builder for MadComponents would be a worthwhile development. A simple proof of concept was developed, but this initiative went no further. There are currently more important milestones for MadComponents. Given that development on MadComponents is unfunded and voluntary – it may be some time before a UI builder is available to developers.
What’s next for MadComponents ?
The next phase in the evolution of MadComponents is hardware accelerated graphics and Stage 3D. Currently MadComponents is based on conventional display-list graphics.
MadComponents-Stage3D will still render the components initially on the display list. So much of the existing code of MadComponents will remain intact for this next phase of development. Then we extract bitmap textures, and map these onto animated quads in Stage3D.
Stage3D quads are not mouse enabled in the way that display lists sprites are. But the way in which MadComponents currently intercepts and handles touch interaction conveniently allows us to solve the problem of user interaction under this new scheme.