French GeoPortail/GoogleMap comparaison

Four days after his launch, French service “GeoPortail“, that should fight GoogleMap at least for France and oversea dependencies still not working, due his huge success… So for those who are curious, you still can have access to the same data through another service (working this one), french Yellow pages: “http://pagesjaunes.fr
In “Quoi” (“What”) put something like “Restaurant” in “Ou?” (where?) put a city name, and press the “Vue Aerienne” (satellite view) to open a new window with an high detailled satelitte view…. So service far from being perfect, but resolution and accuracy is perfect…Note that even if both services use same data (IGN one), they have been done by two different companies.

As an example, here is a small comparaison of the same area both in GoogleMap and using IGN data. The red square on GoogleMap is the area that you see on big picture…


GoogleMap data


IGN data

So what can we expect? I am not sure that the service will be really masheable, page jaunes use some more complex URL description that prevent them to be used more or less directly….My hope is to integrate these data into J2memap, seems that this one will be the hardest to do!
So let’s wait a few weeks and see what happens…

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FlashLite Digest #11


First, I apologize for being late for posting my Friday digest about Flash, especially for my first hosting – not mentioning the fact that our national team win finally a match! It’s a difficult task, as I am relatively new observer of the FlashLite community.

So, here are a few pick about the great post this week. An interesting announce of Mobilitee about the creation of a new company, AdHoc mobile, with an objective to bring revenue to developer through Mobile Advertising, in an non intrusive way. Application centric mobile advertising seems full of promise, for all type and all application size.

I use the opportunity of this digest to highlight another very interesting blog related to advertising: Adverblog, “Passion for advertising“, and that’s probably true! I think that there is plenty of idea for Flash designer here.

Justin Everett discusses the possibility to create plugins in flash to Yahoo! messenger. Even if it’s not mobile related, it is quite interesting as it show integration between a “traditional” UI and Flash outside the browser.

Marco, as always, has a plenty of useful information around FlashLite, and the big news from the past weeks was the FlashLite2 Brew extension, and provided a good summary of the interesting features.

Another post that I want to highlight, is BryanRieger post about Mobile Hypercard: developing for mobile is extremely difficult, and even, FlashLite is far from being useable by everybody, like HypercardWas.

Lastly, I want to mention the announce of “Ikivo Animator 2.0″ which support SVGTiny1.2. It will be interesting to see how these two competing technologies will evolve.

Nothing related to Flash, but takes a look at this cool resume Web2.0 oriented….

All the previous flashLite Friday posts can be found as usual here

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Another Flash from J2me developer perspective (Part1)

First, let me restate something: I am a strong promoter in Flash, but after some weeks of usage, I am still wondering why it does not match my expectations in terms of productivity. It seems that I am taking too much time for doing simple task. Why?

Here is a few of the points that I’ve identified:

  • Lack of UI toolbox
  • The biggest issue, especially for me, is that I spent too much time on things that are not my core competency: graphics! When trying to create user interface using Flash,there is no toolkit to create common UI element, like button, menus, etc…. I know, it must be easy to develop them using Flash, but mine really look crap, and then I have to spent a big amount of time with things that I do not deal usually; create nice looking button, put everything in place to do a scrollbar, etc…

    So what is really missing, for me, is a toolbox of usual UI component (menu, buttons, textbox, checkbox, etc…) that just can be drag-dropped on the screen, and easily manipulated, eventually customized, as well some common “effect” that could enhance the UI.

    The weakness here, it’s that its ‘too’ open, you have to create everything from scratch. You have to deal with concept that I usually do not care about, to understand the philosophy of Flash: all the tools, layer, etc…usefull for designer, totally not needed for me. I hope that market will mature, and some people (Adobe?) will provide such common toolkit, as well as some “skins” for these toolkits, still providing the ability to create everything from scratch. In fact, I’ve just realized that Flash is a low level graphic vector engine, and not an high level UI engine.

  • An application is not “linear”
  • Your application is presented through the “timeline”, on the editor. It shows, in a linear way, the various frame that correspond to your application. But an application is not linear like this: you go from one screen to the other, from main screen to parameters, back to main screen, then go to another one, etc… So, the ActionScript code is full of “goto”…The exact same goto that has been banned decades ago from high level programming is back in Flash.…


The stage view in Flash: all linear

The Flow design view in Netbeans: flow oriented

(I don’t think that NetBeans is better than Flash, but it’s just my understanding of what could be an higher level view of an application logic)

  • Where is the “developer’s view” in Flash?
  • The other weakness, it’s that it’s not a developer environment. It’s really a nightmare to figure out where is your code. The window is too small, very few feedback. ECMA script is not a so bad language, it’s not very fast, for sure, but it’s especially the lack of “developer orientation” which is a big problem in Flash8…

So, what is the solution? I would like to see a tool, may be using Flash as a low level technology that would allows me to focus on rapid prototyping, providing me predefined but customizable element. I would like to see a clear separation between code, and UI design and elements…And may be some higher level abstraction, like the one proposed by Netbeans…

I might be missing some important point, like the right tools, widget sets, etc…so please, if there are some developer who now some of them, I would be happy to test them….

In the meantime, I have to improve in Flash, learn a lot of things that I hope will let me be more productive once mastered….
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Yahoo Hack Day (MashupOrShutup!)

Techcrunch made a short description of “Yahoo Hack Day“, where Yahoo employee can show the result of their work on their “personal project”. 102 project were presented, and nobody spend more than 24 hours on this project.
Most of the companies try to promote internal innovation like this, allowing people to spend 10% of their time on other project. What is really fascinating, is that with Web2.0 tools and approach it’s quite fast and easy to develop a prototype version of a new service (mainly mashup based), and make this dream of internal innovation possible.
I would loved to be in such presentation!

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Geotagging and Pictures (and a world record!)

I’ve added a few nice features in the latest J2memap release (v0.9, not yet you): the ability to take some pictures, and to upload them directly to Flickr with some geotagged flags thanks to the mobup classe
The other day, I was in the french fast train, and make probably the record of the fastest geotaged and uploaded picture in real time, at 300 kmh! I forgot to switch on full size, so quality is quite bad, but it got the position on the map, as well as the snapshot of J2memap who include some nice icons once the picture has been geottaged: it’s quite easy, just take a picture, and it will be send to Flickr using your current GPS position.
Here are a few screenshots:

The picture in Flickr (ok, the resolution is really to small)

The screen of the mobile (yes, TGV was not at 300 km/h at that time, only 295…)

the result on the great tool yuan.cc:

I like this one, as it a real good example of mashing up different tools, googlemap, flickr, yuan.cc, j2memap, and a little bit of mobup… No real usage yet (who knows? ;-) ), but fun!

Geotagging with mobile is in the air, Martin is doing some experiment too, look at it…Technorati Tags:

Linux is getting serious on mobiles

Seems to be another attempt to create the perfect OS for mobile, but this time look serious. Motorola, NEC, NTT Docomo, Panasonic, Samsung and Vodafone announced their intent to create an open Linux-Based software platform for mobile devices...

It’s just started, so let’s wait and see, but might be a serious alternative to Nokia plan with Symbian and Microsoft one with Windows for mobile. And at least, might be a better technical alternative to these ones…

Through: Mobhappy

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Widsets review: just another RSS reader?

I’ve just played a little bit with the application, but on the emulator only, and here is my first feedback:
Basically, it’s a kind of RSS reader for mobile, where you select on the server side the feed you want to read. In that case, a feed is called a widget but does not provides any interactivity.

  • The first level of UI is really well polished, and gives great hopes about the app.
  • The web site is an high end Web2.0 site. From the Web, you can browse widgets, select one, configure it.
  • When you have selected your widget set, just press update to update it on your mobile..

But:

  • The application does not work on my mobile! (big problem for a mobile app). Still waiting from feedback from the Widset team, but it seems that it’s linked to the usage of TCP which is not open on all operators network, instead of plain old HTTP.
  • The first level just show you the icons, gives very few feedback about “whats new”. The onlylinformation that seems to be displayed – and not on all feeds – is the number of new articles in the feed. Once the first “waooow” effect is gone about the UI, you realize that it’s not so user friendly: the button are big but does not carry so much information.
  • The “preview” widget from the web is just a static one. In fact, it’s a picture provided with the widget set. It would have been interesting to have a “real” preview
  • When digging in, the second level of UI is not very useable too. For instance, on the weather widget, you see a list of days, and you have to select that specific day to see a two line information about the weather…
  • The widget can not be configured on the mobile. Needs to go on the web site! Even if I really l ike the Web site, I think that there is plenty of uses cases where you need to configure such app without any access to the web site, for instance, when you have changed your location and want another RSS feed.
  • No picture is displayed when reading the feed, except for the Flickr one.

There is an “SDK” available, where you can change the look and feel of the feed: color, icon, etc…

Widset haves a good Web2.0 site, but an average RSS reader: no picture display, lack of browsing methods….

So if I have to compare the three on this race up to now, Plusmo, Widsets and Bluepulse, Plusmo is still ahead of the others….

Upadate: Thanks to some information coming from widsets guys (see the comments), I was finally able to configure my handset. I had to change the default Orange access point to another one – which is strange, as all the other app worked well. Anyway, it works, and I must say that UI is great on mobile. Does not change most of my remarks, but this put another level in the  level of polished UI in J2ME….

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MobileWidget: Nokia is in the race too

Widset pictureAs usual, once an idea is in the air, big names try to surf on it. Mobile widget make no exception, and Nokia juste revelead today his “Widset” initiative…. It’s one of the several on-going attempt to create mobile widgets, but it will be probably higly visible. As it’s one of my favorite topic, I will post an in-depth review of the application, as soon as I will be able to make it run on my handset (nobody is perfect), but after a quick look, it seem similar to what I’ve presented yesterday (plusmo), except that they have got an incredible look and feel, and a cool web site…Stay tuned for more info!

Update: The mention to Nokia came from this post, but it seems that there is no clear statment on the widset about parent company….
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Plusmo: mobilize your channels….

Pulsmo is
another start-up in the area of “mobile channel” (I prefer to use
this word instead of Mobile Widget, as my definition of mobile widget is more
restrictive).
Anyway, despite some real weaknesses in user interface, it’s a really
interesting app. basically, you can subscribe to some channels from the
application. Channels are typically RSS feed, and you can subscribe directly to
any existing feeds, or you can subscribe to these so called
“widgets”. In fact, the widgets are typically some small app interacting
with the server. They look like xml based app.
The application contains a kind of small html/xml displayer, that allows you to
browse for newer widget (in fact, the widget discovery is another widget).
The web server allows you also to configure your application.
In fact, it remind me Bluepulse, but in a much better and more visually appealing
way. The interaction between client and server seems to appear less frequently
than on Bluepulse,.


The main screen…

Browsing Engadget RSS feed…

The starbuck locator

Browsing a Picture Flickr feed….
Found through Mobhappy

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Can I have a messy virtual desktop?

Cool pick from Mobiface: the BumpTop Prototype, a very realistic desktop metaphor, introducing mess in a well ordered desk…But really, look at the video, the result is really amazing…

And following the yesterday post about Gyros and UI, Small Surfaces noticed this article on 3G portal about “Mobile User Interfaces – Its Time for a new paradigm”. The article point several weaknesses of current UI, especially the second generation one which is too much desktop oriented (and that’s one of the reason I think that Symbian is going into the wrong direction in terms of UI), and prone the creation of a new generation of UI, using the features of the phone (location, movement, camera, etc..)instead of trying to recreate a desktop metaphor.

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Reality Checking the Web2.0 Architecture

Some great comments about Ajax in Steffen Meschkat talk at Web2.0 summit: “Reality Checking the AJAX web application architecture” . I especially like this slide:

The bad thing about doing something right the first time is
that nobody appreciates how difficult it was.

Web technologies give us plenty of opportunity to
appreciate how difficult it was.

But this confirm my view about the fact that even if Web2.0/AJAX architecture is a great improvment, the level of complexity and layer is increasing rapidely, and mobile should learn of this…

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J2me porting to brew

JavaGround announced today that they were providing a solution to port J2me to Brew…

“We founded Javaground on the concept of enabling developers to quickly
create and port high-quality games for the J2ME platform,” said Alexandre
Kral, chief executive officer of Javaground. “Now, our team has mastered
the technology to allow the mobile game industry to streamline the
development of video games for other types of mobile platforms. In essence,
programmers can develop their games in Java and port it to the BREW
solution.”

Challenging statment….

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