1. mikeo007's Avatar
    Congrats on the new forum folks. I was going to post this idea in the plain developer subforum, but I thought it might make a great project for the OpenSourceBB community.

    Several of us participated in this thread from a little while back: http://forums.crackberry.com/bb-10-d...d-mine-796763/

    The gist of the OP's idea was to bring more functionality to BB10's (heavily) under-utilized active frames. The suggestion was to have an app that allowed users to pick from any number of possible active frame displays, and choose to cycle through them. Think weather, RSS feed, stocks, pictures, etc all cycling through on a single frame.
    I personally spoke out saying that it would be a hard sell to get a developer to build this application. Too many people would want too many different possible active frame combinations. You would basically have to build an app for every active frame that you wanted to display, and at that point, why not just release individual apps instead of piling them all into one where they may go mostly unused. Add to that, I may be able to make a good RSS reader app, but there are much better weather and sports score apps out there than I could ever whip together. Same goes for every developer I know. Nobody is the best at everything.

    Despite my doubts, I always thought the idea had merit, I just couldn't come up with a way to make it work with a single developer or even a small team. The app framework itself is extremely simple in concept, but adding content would be extremely time consuming. Then it hit me: why reinvent the wheel? There are already tons of great apps out there with a plethora of great content, so why bother re-creating them.

    So here's the idea: build the framework for this app, and build in plugin support. Depending on how you want to go about it, a plugin could be something as simple as an XML file that defines some parameters such as an RSS feed address, or as complicated as an entire HTML package that contains images, and possibly even a small amount of logic. The plugin design would be key, and would have to be extremely easy for developers to bring content over from their existing apps.

    I can think of a couple of possible scenarios for the plugins:

    1. Standalone packages that could be loaded from a warehouse or "store" of sorts that's built into the active frame app itself. The packages would have to contain all the data necessary to build the frame. This would be slightly limited since all dynamic content would have to be fetched from the cloud, meaning the user would have limited customization options.

    2. Invocation hooks into the content creator's app itself which would leave the logic in their app, allowing the app to customize content being sent to the frame. Also allows apps to offer this extended functionality as a "value add" (think dropbox integration).

    3. A reverse invocation of sorts...a content creator's app could invoke the active frame app and pass plugin information similar to #1, except eliminating the need for a "store".

    4. Webserver approach: have the processing and fetching done on an external webserver, and have content pushed to users' devices. Plugin system would likely turn into an online content management system. Would allow for more user customization, and not require individual apps to be installed. Downside: servers are expensive.

    5. A combination of 1 and 2. Simple plugins could be developed and added to the store. Something like a "word of the day" frame probably wouldn't benefit from invocation with an app since the content doesn't really change. Same thing with an RSS feed reader. This would also allow people who are unfamiliar with app development to still contribute by writing a simple plugin. Anything that requires user input, or more control could be handled via data passed through invocation.

    TLDR:
    - App that cycles through different active frames.
    - Too much work to write all the "apps" necessary to display a wide variety of content
    - Provide plugin functionality to developers of other apps so they can provide the content

    Obviously the idea is still only conceptual, and may have some issues that need to be worked around, but I think the fundamental concept is sound. I'm interested to hear people's views on this.
    06-26-13 11:10 AM
  2. pantlesspenguin's Avatar
    I really hope you get support for this, Mike! I've been looking forward to more active frame utilization!
    mikeo007 likes this.
    06-26-13 11:28 AM
  3. abass's Avatar
    Hey man, great idea. One difficulty is that Active Frame utilization is very heavy on C++ (a language that I personally know next to nothing about - luckily, you can build a cascades app using next to no C++ aside from BBM integration and things of that sort). I could see this app as being very successful though, good idea! Other members of the group are probably much more savvy in the active frame area and getting something like that to work though.
    mikeo007 likes this.
    06-26-13 01:52 PM
  4. KermEd's Avatar
    This is a good idea . I can help for air developers easily enough.

    Posted via CB from my LE
    mikeo007 likes this.
    06-26-13 02:14 PM
  5. Martin Green's Avatar
    OSBB sounds like an interesting project. What are the criteria for joining?

    Posted via CB10
    06-27-13 01:12 AM
  6. JDukeOSBB's Avatar
    OSBB sounds like an interesting project. What are the criteria for joining?

    Posted via CB10
    While we have a core leadership team, anyone can be part of OSBB. Our new site launches Sunday. So if you have BBM channels and wanna know some more info our channel PIN is C00013E89

    #TeamOSBB - Posted via CB10
    06-27-13 01:57 AM
  7. KermEd's Avatar
    OSBB sounds like an interesting project. What are the criteria for joining?

    Posted via CB10
    We also have a set of BBM sessions. Most of us chat on there from all coding platforms.

    The OSBB channel we mostly talk about open source apps we are working on or OSBB specific stuff.

    The other misc dev chats are fully open. We have about 5 or 6 OSBB folk in each of those channels to help with questions and coding fixes.

    We have 3 of those just because BBM caps at 30 people.

    Edit: if either interests u, PM me your PIN and I'll send an invite.

    Posted via CB from my LE
    06-27-13 02:03 AM
  8. Martin Green's Avatar
    We also have a set of BBM sessions. Most of us chat on there from all coding platforms.

    The OSBB channel we mostly talk about open source apps we are working on or OSBB specific stuff.

    The other misc dev chats are fully open. We have about 5 or 6 OSBB folk in each of those channels to help with questions and coding fixes.

    We have 3 of those just because BBM caps at 30 people.

    Edit: if either interests u, PM me your PIN and I'll send an invite.

    Posted via CB from my LE
    Finally! A reason to use BBM now that most of the people on my contact list have defected to iOS or Android. LOL
    06-27-13 09:53 AM
  9. KermEd's Avatar
    Finally! A reason to use BBM now that most of the people on my contact list have defected to iOS or Android. LOL
    Lol! Cowards!!

    Posted via CB from my LE
    06-27-13 01:41 PM
  10. SCrid2000's Avatar
    I think you pretty much nailed the core problem (for WebWorks anyway) on the head here Mike

    I believe that webworks freezes the DOM when you minimize the app. So even if you update the DOM, the changes won't take effect until the app has focus again, hence the white screen.

    I believe label and PNG file are the only ways to update the active frame using webworks at this point. That being said, since you can use a PNG, your possibilities are pretty much limitless. Just draw your active frame content to a canvas, convert it to PNG data and push that to your active frame.
    So, as you pointed out, anything dynamic would have to create the pngs before/when the app is minimized, which pretty much eliminates dynamically updating content such as weather and RSS. Battery and other statically updating content (as much of an oxymoron as a static update is) would be doable, but as you stated further in that thread, would necessitate a lot of image bloat (although that could be reduced by using jpgs).
    mikeo007 likes this.
    06-27-13 02:08 PM
  11. mikeo007's Avatar
    I think you pretty much nailed the core problem (for WebWorks anyway) on the head here Mike



    So, as you pointed out, anything dynamic would have to create the pngs before/when the app is minimized, which pretty much eliminates dynamically updating content such as weather and RSS. Battery and other statically updating content (as much of an oxymoron as a static update is) would be doable, but as you stated further in that thread, would necessitate a lot of image bloat (although that could be reduced by using jpgs).
    Yup, I think the core app would have to be native, which is unfortunately not my forte. But I think that using pre-rendered images would still be a good solution. Since there would have to be a reasonable update interval for the plugins to fetch new data (minimum of 5 minutes imo), the images would only have to be rendered once per interval.

    I still think canvas would be a super easy and flexible way to render the active frames, and is fairly cheap in terms of CPU cycles. But how would you work with canvas in Cascades? Moreover, if you were using some sort of webview within a Cascades app, is the DOM still frozen upon entering the background state, or would you be able to manipulate the canvas and thus push new content to the active frame?

    Still in a conceptual stage here, so everyone keep tossing out ideas!
    06-27-13 06:58 PM
  12. SCrid2000's Avatar
    Yup, I think the core app would have to be native, which is unfortunately not my forte. But I think that using pre-rendered images would still be a good solution. Since there would have to be a reasonable update interval for the plugins to fetch new data (minimum of 5 minutes imo), the images would only have to be rendered once per interval.

    I still think canvas would be a super easy and flexible way to render the active frames, and is fairly cheap in terms of CPU cycles. But how would you work with canvas in Cascades? Moreover, if you were using some sort of webview within a Cascades app, is the DOM still frozen upon entering the background state, or would you be able to manipulate the canvas and thus push new content to the active frame?

    Still in a conceptual stage here, so everyone keep tossing out ideas!
    Canvas would be fairly straightforward; just update the canvas, use canvasToBlob to save it to the filesystem, and set it as the active frame (would need to be active in the background).
    Hardest part there is, IMO, interacting with the file system. But I may have just finished a framework for that
    06-27-13 07:10 PM
  13. KermEd's Avatar
    On flash,

    I can specify how many cycles I want it to "check in" when an active frame. During the check in I have full control over the active frame. Then it checks back out for xyz cycles.

    Usually I set them to a few times a second.

    Posted via CB from my LE
    06-27-13 07:10 PM
  14. mikeo007's Avatar
    Canvas would be fairly straightforward; just update the canvas, use canvasToBlob to save it to the filesystem, and set it as the active frame (would need to be active in the background).
    Hardest part there is, IMO, interacting with the file system. But I may have just finished a framework for that
    Please tell me this framework will allow read/write access to the application root folder! So sick of using shared storage...it's so sloppy to dump stuff in the user folders.
    06-27-13 07:12 PM
  15. SCrid2000's Avatar
    Yes, but you can't use the built in file picker to do it. You have to manually input the location (usually just use blackberry.io.home).
    06-27-13 09:40 PM
  16. bizdudePB's Avatar
    Wondering if this idea went anywhere ?

    Posted via CB10
    09-02-13 08:49 PM
  17. SCrid2000's Avatar
    I don't think it did...
    I made an image slideshow active frame app but I think that's that closest anyone has done.
    09-02-13 09:09 PM
  18. RodgerLeblanc's Avatar
    I've decided to build the app, it's called UpFront and it's ready for prime time. But before publishing, I'm looking for other developers support, as this app will be pointless without other apps pushing content to UpFront Active Frame.

    I've made a really dead simple API, it's all free (UpFront app and API) and it will be open source. If you're a developer and would like to add UpFront support to your existing app, please contact me for details. Another dev just included UpFront support to his app and he told me it was a 10 minutes process. I've made a tutorial on how to include UpFront support and I can help you if you're not too sure what you're doing.

    Here's a quick demo showing UpFront cycling through 4 Active Frames updated by connected apps Alarm2Watch, Weather2Watch and battXL :


    How to reach me :
    - Send a private message in Crackberry
    or
    - BBM pin:2B1F7E7B
    or
    - roger (at) rogerleblanc (dot) net

    Posted via CB10
    05-18-14 12:37 PM
  19. RodgerLeblanc's Avatar
    UpFront is now available in BlackBerry World.

    If you don't know what is UpFront, you can see the full description in BlackBerry World.

    UpFront also provides a bridge between third party apps and Talk2Watch, making it extremely easy for other apps to send messages to Pebble Smartwatch through Talk2Watch AND update UpFront' Active Frame at the same time.

    I've also published Connect2UpFront, a demo app targeted at developers that shows how other apps can update UpFront' Active Frame. Give it a try if you want.

    As of now, Connect2UpFront, Alarm2Watch and Weather2Watch are the only apps in BB World connected to UpFront, there are already other apps that have integrated UpFront support to their apps but their new version are not published yet.

    Here are the download links.

    UpFront :
    http://appworld.blackberry.com/webst...ntent/55423610

    Connect2UpFront :
    http://appworld.blackberry.com/webst...ntent/55505889

    Posted via CB10
    kbz1960 likes this.
    05-28-14 07:24 AM

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