Flex 4.5 is a unique opportunity for application developers to develop one code base and compile it for iOS, Android and the BlackBerry PlayBook. I’ve already posted some tutorials to explain how to dynamically adapt the layout of your app depending on the screen resolutions, how to adapt your app to some UI patterns, or how to manage custom gestures. Jason’s blog is also a fantastic set of resources. I was also waiting for some amazing stuff from the community… and here is Eskimo. People in Action is a famous Flex Consulting company in France. They’ve already developed several Financial applications with Flex and they are now naturally focusing a large part of their activity on mobile applications. To help Flex developers who want to target iOS and Android at the same time, they’ve developed internally the Eskimo library. Luckily, this library is now open source. That’s why they need you to review, test and provide feedback to improve this great project.
Eskimo provides native control patterns for your Flex mobile apps. Just import two libraries (a component SWC and a theme) into your Flex projects, and let the magic begin. You’ll also find within the project a sample project named ‘tourDEskimo.fxp’. Based on the famous Tour de Flex navigation, Tour d’Eskimo lists all the components and all the specific control patterns of the project. Here are some samples:
And that’s just a small preview of Eskimo. You can work with the Back button, the Confirm button, the Contextable List, the Deletable List, the List Wheel (yeah), the Mobile Context menu, the Page indicator, the Pop Over, the Slide Data Group, the Skinable Alert, the Date field, the Form skin… Big stuff.
So what are you waiting for ? The link to the project I guess… Okay, I’m in a good mood so I’ll share with you this little treasure: http://e-skimo.com/ and kudos to People In Action. Special kudos to Fred de Matos who works on this project and who was my student a few years ago… nostalgia… And the others great developers and designers of PIA: @fennecos, @PIA_Elsa, @jbdoumenjou (another student!!!) and @PIA_Rich, @thibautsailly and Thanh Pham.
Interview of People In Action, the authors of Eskimo
Michaël: “Hi guys, could you present your team and your activity in few words ?”
People in action (PIA) is an IT consulting firm. We’ve been building Flex apps since 2005, and we are passionate by ergonomics and design. We love working through agile methodologies (Scrum, Kanban) to help our customers increase their productivity and deliver great user experiences to their customers.
Michaël: “Eskimo is a great library for mobile application developers. Can you tell us what motivated the creation of Eskimo and how long did it take to develop this first release?”
We started playing with the Flex Builder Burrito Pre-Release program last year. We were really exciting about the capacities offered by Flex for developing great cross-platform mobile apps. We began by developing mobile applications for our own needs and realized that something was missing. If we wanted to fully satisfy users, we should have a solution to provide them with the same experience that they have with native apps. Adobe provided us the right technical solution, we had to use it the right way.
We started to develop adaptive components for our Timesheet mobile application. The application had to be used on an iPad and an Android tablet. Thereafter we were continuing building mobile apps keeping our philosophy of adaptive components. We developed components following our needs. That’s why it is a little hard to say how long it took. From the time we said we wanted to provide our library to the community and this first release, maybe 3 months.
Michaël: “On behalf of the Flex community, I’d like to thank you for opening it. What do you expect from the community regarding Eskimo?”
First to use it, then to provide us feedback ! Tell us what you love, what you hate, what kind of components you are waiting for, those you don’t need… We want to improve it and provide a great library. We hope Eskimo will help coders to develop mobile applications even more enjoyable for users, and will participate in the growth of Adobe Flex cross-platform solution.
Michaël: “PIA is a very active Flex Consulting company on the field. How would you promote the new Flex mobile offering in front of Enterprise Customers?”
Enterprise customers are interested in two types of apps. Apps for their customers and apps for their work forces. In this last case, they are focused today on two areas: business intelligence and sales/marketing tools. They are also very sensible to the IT side of mobile technologies, mainly: development environment, integrability, ease of deployment and maintenance facilities.
On all of that aspect, the Flex mobile offering provides great answers. Moreover, for our current customers, we are able to demonstrate how simple it is to create a mobile version of their flex applications.