Tom Krcha's FlashRealtime

Hey amigo!
I am Tom Krcha, Gaming Evangelist at Adobe. These are my notes

Tune your AIR for iOS development skills: compile, install and profile like a pro

May 31st, 2012

The purpose of this article is to share with you some tips that might help you to speed up and improve the process of building AIR for iOS apps. These are the practices that I use every day and hopefully some of you will find them useful.

Installing an app (*.IPA) on your iOS device

As a developer you want to save time, be able to install apps on your device quickly and see the results. Using iTunes for app install has some drawbacks: you will have to synchronize it and it takes lot of time and you cannot install apps on devices that are not synchronized with your iTunes (like a friend’s iPad).

There are three ways I find quicker + one useful when you have more testers involved:

iPhone Configuration Utility
Available for Windows and Mac from Apple, this smart piece of software helps you to manage apps installed on your devices. Drag and drop an IPA file to Applications and then choose a device and install or uninstall specific apps. This works for iPad as well. You can also manage configuration and provisioning profiles.

Download for Windows | Download for Mac

iPhone Configuration Utility

Xcode Organizer
Once you run Xcode, go to Window -> Organizer. There you can see the list of devices you use. Pick the connected one and click the button labeled “Use for development”. Then you can just drag and drop IPA files on the device name on the left side and the app will install.

Command-line install to iOS device
The absolutely fastest method for copying your apps to a device is to use the command-line ( on Mac, Command Prompt cmd on Windows). When used together with the command-line compilation, you can greatly automate the overall test deployment of your apps.

Have a look at this article (currently for MacOS only), it works:
How to deploy iOS apps to the iPhone via the command-line

Try combining the above with the compilation process below in a single command and you get ultimate and very fast solution for your development process.

You can also deploy IPA files to devices over internet. This method is however cumbersome for quick testing by a single developer as you have to always upload an IPA to the TestFlightApp website, but it’s great if you have several or many remote testers, so you don’t have to send the file to each one of them - TestFlightApp covers the testing distribution for you. Check

Compile with command-line

There are many way to compile your apps. You can go via Flash Builder, that’s probably the easiest way and I use it very often. There are four modes Fast (ipa-test interpreter), Standard (ipa-debug) and Release (ipa-app-store, ipa-ad-hoc).

But sometimes you want to automate things or just compile a SWF file without having the source code, that’s where command-line comes into play and it’s actually very easy to use.

On Mac you can use the on Windows the Command Prompt.

For packaging AIR apps there is ADT package command (see docs)

You can compile your app simply this way:

path/to/sdk/bin/adt -package -target ipa-app-store -provisioning-profile Profile.mobileprovision -storetype pkcs12 -keystore YOUR_IOS_CERTIFICATE.p12 -storepass YOUR_CERTIFICATE_PASSWORD FINAL_APP.ipa APP_DESCRIPTOR.xml TO_BE_COMPILED.swf ADDITIONAL_FOLDERS_OR_ASSETS

For instance if you have an AIR app named Tetris.swf with a descriptor Tetris.xml, just run this (assuming you are using the SDK from Flash Builder).

/Applications/Adobe\ Flash\ Builder\ 4.6/sdks/4.6.0/bin/adt -package -target ipa-app-store -provisioning-profile Profile.mobileprovision -storetype pkcs12 -keystore cerfiticate.p12 -storepass mypass Tetris.ipa Tetris.xml Tetris.swf

If you will have some assets for the tetris game that you want to load at runtime, just pass the folder name after the *.swf file.

/Applications/Adobe\ Flash\ Builder\ 4.6/sdks/4.6.0/bin/adt -package -target ipa-app-store -provisioning-profile Profile.mobileprovision -storetype pkcs12 -keystore cerfiticate.p12 -storepass mypass Tetris.ipa Tetris.xml Tetris.swf assets1 assets2

[Command in]

You can put the command above in files (*.sh, *.bat). So the above line you put for instance in run-able file. You can have commands like,,, or even like, which makes things even faster and single command does all the job. You can also automate certain things, change version in txt/xml file that you load into your app and so on, these scripts can be also deployed on a server and build automated daily builds from SVN, so many things to play with here.

Profile your app

Profiling is very useful as it allows you to find memory leaks, lower your memory usage and improve the performance for your app. You should do this periodically, not just when you are done with the app.

There are three useful tools for that.

Apple Instruments
Instruments are part of Xcode development tool from Apple. You can launch it from menu Xcode -> Open Developer Tool -> Instruments. With instruments you can see real FPS, real memory usage, real CPU usage the on device reported by iOS and much more.

Flash Builder Profiler
Run your app in profiler (via menu Run->Profile or Profile button) from Flash Builder. You will be able to see what objects are allocated in the memory, how many instances you have and memory leaks (if something grows and it shouldn’t). In side-scroller games you should avoid creating instances during the game play and removing them as the garbage collector will try picking them up, otherwise you might get a choppy experience. For that you have to implement pools and recycle instances.
You can also find loitering objects by comparing two memory snapshots. This will help you to find the objects you forgot to release from the memory.

Tip: Force garbage collection
Sometimes you need to clean-up memory immediately and not wait for GC to collect it automatically, especially when profiling.
With AIR you can actually force GC with the following call:

Tip: Postpone garbage collection
This is very useful trick if you want to delay GC. Every garbage collection could lock your UI and glitch overall game experience for a second (or less). You may need to avoid this especially in the kind of games where you need smooth game play.
Check out the following:

Monocle profiler
Codename: Monocle is an upcoming profiler by Adobe, which basically allows you to find bottlenecks in your app frame-by-frame and help you resolve performance problems in your apps. Find out what is consuming the most processing time in your app, watch Stage3D rendering step by step and much more. You will hear more about it soon.

[Image source]

iOS Simulator
As of AIR 3.3, you can now run your applications in iOS Simulator on MacOS X. iOS Simulator is part of Xcode. It allows you to test your IPA files directly on your Mac. This is very useful for testing native extensions (just don’t forget to compile them for iPhone-x86, not iPhone-ARM).

Check out the new targets ipa-test-interpreter-simulator and ipa-debug-interpreter-simulator, together with -installApp, -launchApp, -uinstallApp switches in the adt command, which is located in AIR 3.3 SDK bin folder.

GPUImage: GPU-based image processing for Flash Stage3D

May 21st, 2012

Eugene Zatepyakin just made his library GPUImage available at github. Definitely check it out.

How does it work: you have a bitmap, send it to GPUImage, apply filters, it will process it on GPU and render on GPU, all via Stage3D + AGAL shaders.

Download the package, and run gpuimage_showcase.swf in the bin folder, it’s a showcase of GPUImage filters, you can also combine them. Switch between the filters with mouse double click.

Sneak peek: RAVE AI - artificial intelligence for Flash/AS3

May 10th, 2012

RAVE AI is an upcoming artificial intelligence framework for Flash/AS3 by Tomas Vymazal from Brno, Czech Republic. The main purpose of this framework are 2D/3D first person shooter games and other sort of games that require agent simulation. It supports JSON finite state machine definition, so you can predefine the behavior of agents. Next to that it supports 2D/3D terrain, bridges, very optimized pathfinding, sight/raycasting/shooting and there is a very impressive yet internal roadmap as well.

You can look forward to it later this year, the performance is amazing and Tomas is also planning to add support for ActionScript Workers for background processing later when available.

See it in action / rendering via Minko engine:

Get in touch with Tomas at twitter @myownclone.

Stay tuned for more.