Archive for September, 2008

Cappuccino has been in fact available since September, 4 ! The new site is very well done, and the documentation made during this summer is huge and great : tutorials and new demosdiscussions and newsclasses reference.

The framework can be downloaded here. Developing is made in the browser code editor, and debugging is available through FIrefox Firebug plugin for example.

The development staff may be working about integrating Cappuccino with Interface Builder, but we can still find a recent project, nib2cib, that allows to convert an IB Nib archive into a Cib archive (that can be loaded by Cappuccino). During the conversion process, the class names prefix have to be modified (from NS to CP), as the Nic archive format is different from the Nib one (it has to be optimized for web download), and the coordinate system is flipped (Y origin at top) compared with classic Cocoa AppKit. The supported classes to create interfaces under IB are those for now : NSButton, NSControl, NSFont, NSObject (and NSCustomObject), NSResponder, NSSlider, NSSplitView, NSView (and NSCustomView) and NSWindow.

On the famous Theocacao site, the author and most readers agree that Cappuccino has been conceived with desktop applications programming in mind (that includes enterprise/B2B applications), in fact it is not intended to develop B2C sites (SproutCore is far more appropriate for these cases : for example Cappuccino doesn’t directly manage hyperlinks, we have to use classic Cocoa AttributedString to call an url from a text control). Moreover it has to be confirmed if Cappuccino handles KVC/KVO like proutCore, but the developers may be working on it.

Access to server-side services seem to have to be managed through JSON (we can call javascript code from Objective-J code, the same as for C or C++ from Objective-C).

Finally the Cappuccino developers can’t do anything about accessibility features for now, they have to wait for the future versions of browsers (provide entry points to system features).

Cappuccino consists of 15000 lines of javascript code for the implementation of AppKit classes, and 5000 lines of code for the FoundationKit port (there is also some CoreAnimation implementation). The whole frameworks are said to weight only 100Kb if compressed (have to be downloaded before application execution, the same as for GWT).
It is possible to extend (subclass) the Cappuccino Objective-J classes, as we can read in this example at lethain.com (extends CPTextField class to handle hyperlinks/url calls).

Beside the very useful comments on the Theocacao article (that have been resumed in the previous paragraphs), we can read some reactions at Ajaxian.

HTC G1 Android : very deceiving

Posted: September 24, 2008 in IT/Dev
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Critizisms arise from everywhere about the new Android mobile prototype from HTC, the G1 : uninspired design, navigation interface that reminds the Nintendo DS one or Windows 3.1, horrible user interface that lacks consistency (widgets shapes and colors, fonts, etc.), lack of attention to details, no video player (only a Youtube application), no storage space for music (only available through SD card), no multitouch management (only single touch), mini-USB format for the headphones output ! Navigating in web pages (zooming, scrolling) is a pain compared with using an iPhone, due to the lack of multitouch support on the G1… so there is still the keyboard… very unuseful and unusable (the right part of the phone makes typing very difficult), and it doubles the thickness of the device (yet not that thin).

Finally it appears more like a Google services promoting platform than a really usefull micro computer for users.

Gizmodo : Android and T-Mobile G1’s Five Most Obnoxious Flaws

Following the Chrome (beta) release, Google fails again delivering (presenting) an elegant creation.

From the new page about X-plane 9 on iPhone (see a review here), we learn that a 9.0.1 update is due soon (was indeed developed in 3 days and is in approval stage). It brings 25% frame-rate improvement (what is huge), and some enhancements : higher-contrasted interface, calibration screen to set vertical or horizontal  neutral angles (allows to play more easily while on bed), reorganized interface screens, and automatic power and flaps triggering when in final approach.

In the FAQ the author states he plans to add two additional airplanes (and without needing more  ram) in a free update, but there isn’t any mention about new textures or landscape. The game is said to use close to the whole iPhone RAM, the cause of crashes when the memory is fragmented (so the device has to be rebooted and no other application should be launched before) – the other reason being some corrupted download (fixed by re-synch the iPhone through iTunes).

There is still to explain how a 6Mb size game can eat all the iPhone memory… in fact the iPhone RAM (rumored to be 128Mb) is used mainly by OSX and the phone call functions, so there is only 20-30Mb memory left for applications and games. The iPhone GPU is said to use 11Mb from the main memory for video, so there couldn’t be more than 10Mb used for textures… then X-Plane would have to unload textures for loading new ones when entering new areas.

The site fingergaming.com reports that iPhone version of X-Plane took 14 days of development (conversion) initially, and then additional 7 days for optimizing and bug fixes (after a reject from Apple). It was then submitted September, 8, and Apple validated it and added it online just three days later.

We could find this weekend (in an mac office instead of the Apple Expo) the MacAlly mCase-2P for iPhone 3G at a special price (19,90 euros). It is finally bundled with a thin protection film, that is surrounded by two supporting plastic parts that have to be removed for application : remove the part stated before application, align the inner thin film side with the upper border of the iPhone glass, then apply it with pressing with the iPhone cleaning (on the side titled after application) from top to down, in order to avoid remaining air bubbles. There are however some remaining bubbles in above the upper mic, and around the Home button. A new try can be made by removing the thin film in these corners but it isn’t perfect.

The inner case in synthetic leather is hard in fact, far more than expected. The two parts are stuck together with visible glue, so it isn’t smooth and could lead to think it can damage the iPhone borders. The lower parts aren’t stuck, in order to insert the iPhone, but we have to put it hard the first times (ok later), what isn’t very confident. Moreover the iPhone has to be turned off because it triggers the controls (volume, etc.). Hopefully the hard inner case doesn’t seem to damage the iPhone (contrary to the the Griffin Elan Form as reported here, there, on that forum and at the US Apple Store).

The opening for headphones isn’t that wide, so the AKG 240 plug cannot be inserted fully (ok with the Apple bundled headphones and most of non pro ones). Furthermore the opening for Home button is a bit too small, as the case covers some of its lower part. However the iPhone feels great in hand with that case. Finally the screen bright doesn’t seem to suffer from the invisible shield, and it is easily cleaned.

iPhone X-Plane 9 review

Posted: September 23, 2008 in Games
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X-Plane 9 graphics on iPhone didn’t look that great at first, especially when flying close (reminds in someway Playstation 1 coarse texturing – some large squares), but it is ok for farther landscapes (use mipmapping). Finally from some height it looks convincing (far more better than a Playstation 1 game, but less good than mac games like FA/18 Korea, Fly or X-Plane). The sky looks great from below, but it isn’t volumetric (only one or two pixels wide, and few details from above, so the transition is somewhat abrupt), and there isn’t really clouds (were really outstanding in Fly 1 & II games).

Camera views are stunning, they remind those found in mac X-Plane or Fly versions. We can even change the camera angle through touch, and zoom in/out using two fingers ! The control through accelerometer is perfect, the best experience on the iPhone, and there isn’t any slowdown in framerate. Sometimes when changing the day of time while on fly the controls stop responding, and the game has to be exited and relaunched (switch the time at start then). The interface and settings are well designed, all are intuitive.

We expect more maps and landscape textures to load (and perhaps higher res ones) from future updates, along with other airports and some “missions” to follow. The additional maps and textures could be downloaded from Wifi into main memory to reduce the size used on the iPhone (only 6Mb however for now, so there is space left). There is still to see if Laminar Research will sell aditionnal scenery (should then be priced one or two $ max to remain acceptable) besides required updates. For now this looks more a demo, but still amazing.

A new bench at WebKit.org presents performances of SquirrelFish Extreme, that is said to be at least two times faster than the previously announced SquirrelFish javascript engine some months ago (brougth a high performance bytecode interpreter), the later still being two times faster than Safari 3.1 javascript engine (WebKit 3.1). These enhancements come from 4 new technics : bytecode optimizations, polymorphic inline caching, a lightweight “context threaded” JIT compiler, and a new regular expression engine that uses our JIT infrastructure.
Considering the javascript engine speed will be a bit lower when integrated into the browser, Safari 4 should be at least 3 times faster than actual Safari 3.1 for javascript (still 3 times faster than Safari 3.0’s WebKit 3.0 engine for this task).