1 (edited by hlclark78 2007-05-29 06:15:01)

Topic: Some questions?

I have some questions:

1. Is there a Chumby UI spec?  Something like that  Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines.. but for Chumby?  Any art direction   to get a certain professional look and feel, or are they pretty open ended?
2. Where is the Author, website information stored?
3. Who wrote the Google Calandar widget?  I was curious if they would be willing to open their source code to me. big_smile
4. Is there any Developer pre-order pages?  Has the ETA been updated?
5. Any documentation about the control panel?

2 (edited by hlclark78 2007-05-29 07:44:04)

Re: Some questions?

BTW... I am a Professional Flash dev... are there any Dev kits that can be currently purchased?  I really curious about the velocity functionality and a wired device.  We kinds of functionality are you currently thinking about supporting?  I also didn't see any sample code for the light sensor for Flash on the Wiki... did I over look this?


Re: Some questions?

We have not published any particular "UI Specifications", because we don't feel it's our business to tell you what your widget should ook like, especialy if you alrady have a particular look and feel and branding in which you already have some investment.

For instance, our Digg widget looks like Digg's site, our Surfline widget looks like Surfline's site.

However, there are some pretty basic rules that are dictated by the form factor - for instance, it's pointless to make really small buttons since people will be using their finger to navigate, hence buttons should be around 1/2" square or thereabouts.

We have published some sample widgets, and are in the process of preparing more that will be the basis for new widgets and replacing some of our older widgets - they'll show how *we* think things like RSS readers should respond to use actions, including the accelerometer, and can be used as the basis for similar third-party widgets.

There is no "dev kit" for chumby - all you need is Flash and the documentation and examples on the wiki.

The light sensor has been removed for the production units, so there's no real point in coding for it going forward.  We found the sensor to be too imprecise at low light levels to be useful, and decided to replace it with a microphone.

Similiarly, the bend sensor has been replaced by a switch.  The bend sensor was too imprecise, tended to be damaged by overethusiatic squeezing, and was available from only a single source.

The author information is stored on the server - the production chumbys will allow the user to view the author's username, and the site will be modified to give better attribution and access to more information about individual authors and their widgets. We're also adding a ratings system.

The Google Calendar widget is simply an RSS widget using a feed published by Google - it's a close cousin to the example widget posted on the wiki.

The Control Panel is begin completely rewritten and is a moving target at the moment, so no documentation for now.

4 (edited by hlclark78 2007-05-30 01:09:19)

Re: Some questions?

Duane, thanks for all the info.  It's too bad the light sensor was removed, but I can understand the issue.  I think the Mic might be a better feature over all.  Having done some console system development i understand the whole phase of $ per unit. smile  Has the release date been updated at all?  Summer 2007 is really close and it sounds like there is still some work that still needs to be done.  If the hardware is available but some software updates are needed will the Chumby team consider releasing production models before the now control panel is finished?  Or is the control panel not a dependency of the product launch?  I am mostly interested in playing around with the velocity sensor which is easier done holding the unit. smile  The rest of the work can obviously be done on the emulator, or locally tested.

Have the Flash specs changed at all?  The fact that GIF and PNG support isn't available is disappointing.  I have been a Nintendo DS and Wii developer it's hard imagining developing for a small device without some sort of raster image support.  Ideally a palletized format like GIF or TGA is crucial to keep file size small.  I appreciate that JPEG is not supported due to how tricky the code is; however, limited palette artwork seems crucial for the Chumby to get some of the more interesting mini-game or more complex apps running on it, yet keep file size very small.  I imagine that any artwork with a higher level of detail done solely in vector will peg the processor load.  Could you eleaborate more on the custom Flash player?  Are you converting an open source Flash player or changing some code to support fixed point math?  Has any of the specs on the wiki been changed?

How bright will the screens be on the production model.

Over all I am excited for the upcoming release.  Flash developers don't often get easy hardware to mess around with. smile I think that Chumby will be enjoyed by many individual like myself for creating a nice interface for Smart-homes, whole house audio, etc.  As well as for people wanting to making virtual pets for small children that also integrate with homes, not to mention your core audience of net junkies. smile  My daughter is too young to be trusted with a laptop, but could have a "White list" device like the Chumby would be ideal.  I can't wait until they get released, I'll take 5.  smile Seriously.


Re: Some questions?

We've added PNG and GIF support to the player for production, and JPEG has been there all along, however, we don't currently support *progressive* JPEG, which is similar to all desktop Flash Players prior to Flash 9.  We've also added support for external MP3, Ogg Vorbis, and AAC.

The Flash we're using is Adobe's Flash Lite, which is a version they created specifically for embedded devices such as this one - it's also commonly used on mobile phones, and addresses the limitations of such devices including the lack of floating point hardware.  The prototypes use Flash Lite 2.1, which is Adobe's current release and is roughly equivalent to desktop Flash 7 without video.  We're hoping to go to production with Flash Lite 3, which Adobe announced a couple of months ago, but is not officially released.  It's closer to Flash 8, and supports video codecs.

The screen in the production model is that same one we're using in the prototypes (Data Image FG030530).  There's a small unavoidable loss of intensity due to the presence of the touchscreen.

Re: Some questions?

Excellent information.  Thanks!

Re: Some questions?

Will the prototypes be able to download a software update that upgrades the Flash player?

Re: Some questions?

It's not clear yet what we're going to do with the prototypes - the new Flash Player, Control Panel, etc are being built around the capabilities of the production hardware.

Re: Some questions?


Any idea when beta customers will be able to test running Adobe FlashLite 3 on their chumby? Even a simple FlashLite 3 binary that we could run manually from a USB dongle (until a full Chumby build containing it) would be great. Really looking forward to FlashLite 3!


Re: Some questions?

This is a very old thread - the production chumbys (what everyone that *bought* a chumby has) are running Flash Lite 3 now.

We never sold any units running FL 2 - those were only the preproduction prototypes that we gave away to partners and developers.

Re: Some questions?

Oh, duh... well that's good news, even if it makes me look stupid :-) Thanks!

12 (edited by scout172 2008-02-23 14:26:46)

Re: Some questions?

OK, now I'm a little clearer on what my real question is... What I really meant to ask was:

Any idea when Adobe will ship a version of Flash Lite that supports AVM2 / ActionScript 3.0 (aka version 9)? Flash Lite 3.0 does not appear to support ActionScript 3.0, correct?

I thought perhaps since Chumby is shipping with Flash Lite you might have some inside knowledge.

The reason I ask is that I'd like to use the Flex SDK (on Linux) to create SWF files. But it only compiles ActionScript 3.0. For ActionScript 2.0 the Linux development picture is much murkier.


Re: Some questions?

Even if we knew, we couldn't say - that's a question that needs to be addressed to Adobe.

One thing to keep in mind is that Flash Lite is targeted primarily at mobile devices - things with typically much less memory and performance than the chumby.  Flex tends to create very large binaries even for trivial things - a reasonably interesting Flex application probably wouldn't even fit in the memory of most of them, let alone run.

Re: Some questions?

I'm inferring from your remarks that it's safe to say that ActionScript 3.0/Flash 9 SWF files won't be running on the Chumby anytime soon... correct? Oh well, too bad.

Have you run the "heavy" version of the flash 9 player on the Chumby (e.g. from a USB drive)? I guess it would require some device-specific hacks equivalent to what the on-board "lite" version has, so maybe you haven't gone to the trouble.

I'm curious if it would be faster. The new JIT stuff should make it faster, which would be an advantage when used in constrained systems (weighed against higher memory use though). Makes me wonder whether a "lite" version of Flash 9 is something Adobe is even bothering to work on or not.

Re: Some questions?

scout172 wrote:

Have you run the "heavy" version of the flash 9 player on the Chumby (e.g. from a USB drive)? I guess it would require some device-specific hacks equivalent to what the on-board "lite" version has, so maybe you haven't gone to the trouble.

If you're referring to the desktop Flash 9 Player, then the problem is that it's built for x86, and the chumby uses an ARM9, which is a completely different processor.

Re: Some questions?

Well, I mean an ARM version of course ... but I suppose you would have to get that from Adobe. Maybe I'm envisioning their partner program as being more elaborate than it really is.