Development Time

Russ posted about a pretty cool Flash Lite application that was developed: a way to look at the NYC traffic cameras using your phone. It’s an extremely cool app - if I lived in New York, I’d buy Flash Lite just to be able to use that application. One thing that Russ mentioned was the development time for the project: 20 hours of development time, when something in Java would have been way larger.

Well, I’m a Python man, not a Flash man, so I can’t get much out of this yet. However, I do think it’s a cool use case: so I did a little research, found out where the data that the Flash app uses was coming from, and did a little hacking. The result? TrafficCam version 0.1, in Python. This little app took me 45 minutes to develop a fully functional prototype: this included taking the HTML from the NY Transportation site, building it into a Python file, creating a user interface, and downloading and displaying the image in the built in phone image viewer.

Not only did I do all this in 45 minutes, I did it without even having a phone to test with. Passing it off to the owner of a 6600 and a 6630, both say it works just fine, as is.

(Note that I think it probably doesn’t, but in ways that aren’t visible: There has been no testing done yet.)

So, although Flash is great for pretty apps - the Python app is *nothing* like the Flash app, which is a great user interface and something that’s really fun to use, even in a browser - but Python can be really great for *quick* apps, especially on the phone.

Update: With another 35 minutes of work, I now have fully functioning tabbed lists, one for each borough. So, with a total of less than an hour and a half of development, I have an application which allows you to download any of the traffic cam images and view them on your phone. It’s no flash, but I call that pretty damn impressive.

4 Responses to “Development Time”

  1. Justin Says:

    that’s really cool! I’m certainly a flash person, but rapid is rapid. I look forward to trying out your version. In defense of Flash (at my own expense), a fair amount of my time was spent changing designs over and over again :) I tend more towards programming than design, so doing the visual design is a bit like pulling teeth. (The reason why I didn’t do the other boroughs was actually due to the fact that I didn’t want to spend the time to draw the map. darn that design!)

    Now for the unfortunate wee bit of intellectual honesty. Part of the time was setting up the PHP page to convert the jpg to a swf which you obviously don’t have to do here :D

  2. Christopher Schmidt Says:

    Justin: Yeah, I had a feeling that was the case. I’m totally not a design oriented person: this is why I have a designer and a flash person at work to take care of that kind of work for me: It’s way too much for me to take care of otherwise.

    That said, I am absolutely amazed at your work on that app. It’s just… it’s beautiful, really. Python is good for some things, but if you want something people can *enjoy*, rather than just use, you’re going to be screwed by Python compared to Flash.

    Let me put it this way: For the most part, my app and yours get the same eventual results. However, your app will probably get 10 times as much press, and be used by 10 times as many people, and it deserves it.

    Really, great work. I’m glad to see something *good* being done with flash every now and then :)

    (I think your homepage, with the little car, is killer too, by the way, although it’s a bit overdone for a navigation element, it’s definitely fun.)

  3. Says:

    Flash o Python?

    Non sono mai stato un entusiasta di Flash (anche se ci sono delle eccezioni) e così l’altro gioeno non ho fatto un salto sulla sedia quando l’antipaticuccio Russell ha annunciato con toni trionfalistici una delle prime applicazioni Flash Lite per ce…

  4. JD on MX Says:

    Python AND SWF

    Python AND SWF: Christopher Schmidt and Justin Everett-Church have a nice conversation about how both Python and SWF share areas of overlap in tasks they can accomplish, while they compare their mobile traffic-cam viewers….