SWF2JAR – Project Capuchin from Sony Ericsson

I’m just watching the seminar (recording here) about Sony Ericssons project Capuchin. It looks incredible. Ask anyone that’s developed with Flash Lite and they’ll tell you that distribution is one of the biggest problems they face.The problem is that…

I’m just watching the seminar (recording here) about Sony Ericssons project Capuchin. It looks incredible. Ask anyone that’s developed with Flash Lite and they’ll tell you that distribution is one of the biggest problems they face.

The problem is that traditionally SWF files have been treated by some as nothing more than animated gifs (this is particularly the case with a lot of the older Sony Ericsson phones), and treated by others (for example Nokia) as applications that run standalone (and more recently as a web plugin). This makes it tricky to classify how to treat a SWF when it comes to getting it on a phone, particularly when you haven’t been able update your software anywhere near as easily on mobile as on the desktop. Do you run it from a browser link? do you bluetooth it from a PC or to a friend like an image? or do you go ahead and “install” it somehow, to get an application icon? Of course until now every manufacturer has dealt with the problem differently.

Trying to give guarantees regarding how many and which phones it will work on to the people holding purse strings is heart-wrenching, particularly when they try to transfer a SWF to their own phone that doesn’t support Flash Lite and get nothing, no message telling the user what they need to do. When money is involved this is usually only circumvented by sniffing the handset on a server or asking the user to select the exact handset. Handset support is still something of a weakpoint with Flash Lite. It has been a little bit like the pre-PC home computer scene, with you producing products for specific machines only.

Enter project Capuchin. In a nutshell you can turn a Flash app/game into a JAR file that installs as would any Java midlet, but it also provides lots of extra functionality that up until now people have typically achieved by running a separate local socket server written in Java or Symbian native… alternatives have included SWF2SIS applications for certain flavours of Symbian smartphones (S60)… ugly and problematic.

I’m still waiting on whether this will be Sony Ericsson only, they’ve announced so far that one supported handset is coming out in October and that all future handsets should support it. So we may need to take another step back in terms of penetration, but let’s hope that the trend holds out, tackling the problem once and for all. Of course Sony Ericsson is a big market, but in marketing you’re insane to cut out any audience voluntarily, so fingers are crossed more handset manufacturers jump on board as collaboration and sharing of technology has been mentioned previously.

Meanwhile I’ve just received my Nokia E71… hands down the best phone I’ve ever owned, it’s truly marvelous. The Wifi, HSDPA, GPS maps and location based services are extremely useful. Best of all it syncs with Macs and acts as a bluetooth modem, on an unlimited data plan that’s a cheap alternative to a USB dongle. I’ve had to wait this long for Nokia to finally slim down their smartphones (after putting up with an N70 for a year and later abandoning the brick for something more stylish). So this phone comes pre-installed with Flash Lite 3 and I’m keen to try out some of the new content the community has been producing.

Read more about Capuchin here (PDF).

6 thoughts on “SWF2JAR – Project Capuchin from Sony Ericsson”

  1. Nice commentary Richard – I agree with your points. I’m testing out the Capuchin solution on a future SEMC device and will share my thoughts about it soon. So far so good ;o)

    .bp

  2. Richard,

    1. Nice commentary.

    2. They did not say directly in the preso that the solution would be open source (at least not initially), but it sounded that way to me.

    3. Just an FYI. SWF2SIS is legacy, and frankly, for all intensive purposes, dead. I think you meant SWF2Go. 🙂 Also, both Kuneri Lite and Janus offer packaging support (in addition to FL extension).

    4. BP. I really want the “8 MP device prototype” you may/may not have. 🙂

    5. E71 does look nice. I think they finally nailed the form factor to functionality ratio for e-series.

    6. See you at FOTB (maybe).

  3. Bill – Thank you, I look forward to read about your findings regarding the SE devices on FlashDevices.

    Scott – Very true, I should have put SWF2SIS “type” apps given there’s been a few now. I’ve looked at Janus, it was interesting that the other products were commercial and I wondered if it would eventually go the same way. Hope to see you at FOTB.

    One other thing I missed from this post was that several companies have come and gone selling products that convert SWF to some other format for playing on a mobile, for example Mobiclip had a product which I believe was acquired by Adobe. Either way, they never seemed to have the quality of an official Flash Player, and did not contain all of the functionality, so this is a nice move, at least as a stepping stone until the runtime evolves to a fairly standard and ubiquitous form across devices.

  4. Howay now, less of the jipes against SWF2SIS, it was a revolutionary tool at the time! 🙂

    Regarding Capuchin, Im looking forward to more info on the Command plugins for Flash, they seemed to skip over them very swiftly in the presentation. I didnt quite get if we can use Flash to publish the JAR, or Eclipse, or both?

  5. Hi ya just passing by…. Its really an interesting subject…. apperently my phone SE G705 supports flash lite 2.0, but when i view a web page which uses flash, it wouldn’t work~

    ps just like to ask if there’s anyway I can view flash stuff in the inbuilt web browser of the phone?

    thanks

  6. Hi Daniel,

    I’m afraid I’m not sure on that one, the Nokia series 60 phones tend to attempt to display Flash depending on how it was embedded, but it varies greatly from handset to handset I’m sorry to say.

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