I think many will agree that 2010 is going to be the year of mobile and devices. With Android becoming a serious contender and Apple reportedly coming out with some innovative new hardware its no surprise to me that there's a lot of buzz around the Flash Player and whether or not Adobe will be able to deliver a good experience on mobile platforms. Enter Flash Player 10.1 - a few years in the making, the engineers are specifically targeting this release for mobile consumption and added critical features like hardware video decoding, GPU graphic acceleration and serious CPU and memory optimizations.

Its fundamentally flawed to compare this Flash Player release with previous versions which were primarily built for use on personal computers with very different constraints in terms of CPU and memory usage. We're finally seeing the first results of the Open Screen Project -- call it a marketing effort if you must -- but partners like Google, HTC, Intel, Nokia, Palm, Sony Ericsson and many others have no incentive to support and invest in a sub par technology.

Will it be perfect? Probably not, but we're getting a hell of a lot closer to a full web experience on the majority of mobile devices.

Enter Flash CS5 - with Apple not playing nice with supporting a Flash Player initiative (or any other plugins for that matter) on the iPhone browser, we'll now get the next best thing. Exporting native applications from Flash CS5 is going to be an easy way to port Flash content (including accelerometer, geolocation and other new APIs introduced for mobile) to iPhone ARM binaries for distribution on the iTunes store.

My prediction is this will be good as a way to port typical Flash content to the iPhone, not necessarily an IDE you would want to use for developing iPhone application where you need fine grained access to the underlying code. Objective-C will still be a good choice for your iPhone development, though Flash CS5 will now open up a very approachable development environment for the iPhone to Windows users.

Moving beyond just mobile phones, the Flash Platform is reaching out and the Flash Player is being used on set top boxes, digital television, on board computers on cars and boats, even user interfaces for refrigerators and microwaves.

What bothers me is how all sense of pragmatism seems to be lost on some bloggers. Wanting the Flash Player to die because of the unfounded believe that its not supportive of an "open web", not SEO friendly or claiming that its been made obsolete by HTML5 (which will incidently take at least half a decade to come even close to being supported on the percentage of web users that the Flash Player can target now). A full decade of Flash content out on the web and 90% of video is not going to go away.

I am not an Adobe employee (though I am involved in their community programs), call me biased but I'm incredibly excited about what is in store for Flash support on mobile and what it promises for user experience. But more importantly I'm not ready to dismiss new technology before getting a chance to play around with it, a view I wish more people would share.

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This morning Adobe announced that the HTC Hero phone will be the first Android based phone to support Flash. Adrian Ludwig did a nice video showing off some of the features.


Its important to note that, while it is not explicitly said, this is in fact Flash Lite 3.1 running on the phone not a full version of Flash Player 10. Last week, Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen did announce there will be a developer release of Flash Player 10 for mobile made available at the MAX conference in October.

Initial platforms that they want to target is smartphones running Symbian, webOS, Android and Windows Mobile.

This is all part of the Open Screen Project, which HTC has now also signed up to. The Open Screen Project is a collaborative effort between different hardware, software and distribution partners to bring a single unified platform across mobile, devices and desktop.

I think its worth setting expectations, while we might be moving towards a unified cross-device runtime that does not mean you will necessarily be able to just run anything you have on the desktop on any mobile device. I'm sure there will still be a need in many cases to optimize for different platforms.

A "developer release" as is scheduled in October will likely still be very rough around the edges. More likely 2010 will be the year where we'll get the real breakthrough with Flash on mobile and devices.

CategoriesFlash Lite
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There's quite a bit of interesting info in this video recording on Adobe's Rich Internet Applications Roadmap. Particularly note the focus areas for 2009 with Flash Player "Argo" and "Stratos", the plans for mobile and devices and ideas for AIR extensibility.



Congratulations to Thomas Joos and Boulevart for winning in the develop category of the European Adobe MAX awards. There was some serious competition but they pulled it off with their "Rock Werchter Mobile Guide" Flash Lite mobile application, ported to the iPhone. In case you weren't there, here's a recording of the develop section of the award show.


The full MAX awards recording will soon be available on www.actionscripthero.org.

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Kuneri SWFPackI was happy to hear the Kuneri SWFPack beta has been released to the public today, a web-based tool that allows you to very easily package up Flash Lite content to a SIS (NFL, CAB and DRM support is planned). All basic Flash Lite packaging features are free of charge, they do plan on adding some extra commerical options later on. SWFPack allows you to generate signed or unsigned SIS files, you just upload a SWF or ZIP file (for projects that include multiple files and folders) and press Done.

I'll definitely be giving this tool at try really soon, packaging has always been one of the major obstacles holding me back from doing more Flash Lite authoring.


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Another year, another great Flash on the Beach keynote. This year Richard Galvan, Serge Jespers and Mark Doherty took the stage to talk about Flash CS4, AIR and Flash Lite.

At some point during the keynote Richard mistakenly says that Flash Player 10 beta has reached 60% adoption, I've been told by Adobe that there have been 6.5 million Flash Player 10 beta downloads at this time.

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I got an email from Thomas Joos tonight saying he had something I might be interested in, and you're not wrong there! Using the b.Tween framework (currently in beta) which in turn uses barefootsoft’s EyeGT technology they were able to port mobile content, in this case a Flash Lite app to the iPhone.

While that does not mean a Flash Player on the iPhone (yet, I told Steve I wouldn't buy one until they do support it) at least it opens things up for Flash Lite developers to move into the iPhone market and start deploying apps.

Now the bigger question, can I get that to run on my iPod Touch? ;)

You can read more about it here: http://www.thomasjoos.be/2008/06/30/porting-flash-lite-to-the-iphone-rock-werchter-mobile/

Great work Thomas and Boulevart as always!

CategoriesFlash Lite
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Thomas Joos has an interesting blog post highlighting some of the opportunities and hurdles of the mobile ecosystem and opens it up for discussion. I have to agree that one of the most pressing issues here in Belgium is affordable data rates, hope the introduction of the iPhone will make providers look at offering better packages. If with initiatives like the open screen project we're going to see a unified player across web, desktop and mobile these are some underlying problems that we need to see addressed.


CategoriesFlash Lite

I did a talk last night on "The Evolution of the Flash Platform" at Skills Matter as part of the London Web Week. Had a nice group of people turn up from various backgrounds and all seemed very interested in seeing the direction Flash is heading in.

Tried to cover as much ground as possible within limited time talking about Flash, Flex, AIR, Flash Lite, Flash Media Server, ECMAScript / ActionScript, Adobe and open source.

Also discussed a few common misconceptions related to Flash content and SEO, deep linking and browser button support. Then moved on to showing several of the sneak peeks from earlier conferences -- Flash "Next", Pacifica, Thermo, etc.

Slideshare.net is having some problems with the Flash Player 10 beta, if you can't see the slides above you'll find them at the following URL:



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Some exciting news today with Adobe partnering up with companies across the board like Nokia, Sony Ericsson, NTT DoCoMo, ARM, Intel, NBC, MTV, BBC, etc. for an initiative they call the Open Screen Project.

What the Open Screen Project attempts to address is getting a consistent runtime not just on the desktop but across to mobile and devices. Adobe has a clear solution for web with the ubiquitousness of the Flash Player, Flash Lite is getting traction with over 500 million copies shipped with mobile phones so far and AIR is bringing RIA's to the desktop.

When I initially heard about the project I was a bit skeptical thinking it was more of a marketing announcement than anything else, but there are a few important points to consider and I'll walk you through them.


Removing license restrictions on the use of SWF specifications

The SWF specifications have always been available for people to support exporting to the file format, with the big caveat in the license agreement that you could not build your own player for SWF content.

This has changed effective today, you are now free to write your own SWF Player if you so wish to do. The concern here has always been fragmentation of 'Flash Players', but Adobe now recognizes that it is in everyone's best interest to maintain compatibility and see this as less of an issue.

Note that, while this does further open up the Flash Player, this does not mean it is going open source. I personally think Adobe will be going there eventually, one of the major obstacles right is the use of certain audio/video codecs and the Saffron text rendering for FlashType that they licensed and can't open up.


Removing license fees for embedding on devices

If you are a device manufacturer and wanted to embed the Flash Player on your hardware there were always licensing fees involved.

Starting from the next release after this announcement (not the one currently in development) all license fees and restrictions will be removed for Flash Lite and Flash for devices.

Over the last few years I've worked on a couple of projects where we wanted to get the Flash Player on a specific device but licensing was a real show stopper. Soon this will be a thing of the past and I'm sure we'll see the Flash Player on more and more mobile and consumer devices.


Releasing device porting layer APIs

Related to removing the license fees for embedding the Flash Player, Adobe will also be publicly releasing the APIs for the porting layer which enables you to make the Flash Player run on your environment.

This means you no longer necessarily need to rely on Adobe making a Flash Player that is compatible on your specific device but can work on it yourself.

Working with the various partners the goal is also to make sure this consistent runtime can be updated over the air across all different devices, much like the Flash Player can be right now.


Publishing the Flash Cast protocol

Flash Cast is a rich offline portal solution for mobile phone operators and content providers and uses an optimized protocol for data transfer to mobile devices that will be made publicly available in the next few months as part of the Open Screen Project.

Again this is a tremendous benefit for Flash on mobile devices that are more concerned about bandwidth usage etc. Along with the AMF specification that was released as part of BlazeDS we've now got some great technologies for working with data across the Flash Platform.



The announcement covers both the Flash Player as the Adobe Integrated Runtime which makes it extra exciting. Just as AIR has helped bridge the gap between the web and the desktop, I believe this Open Screen Project will lay the foundation to do the same for Flash content across desktop, mobile and devices with a consistent runtime and toolset.

Adobe continues to surprise me in how far they are willing to go in opening up technologies and supporting the efforts of an 'open web' and I can only applaud them for doing so.

In hindsight there were some indications of a convergence between desktop and mobile Flash Platform efforts with the announcement of moving towards an integrated technology business unit under Kevin Lynch. The combined efforts of the different teams and increased openness of the Flash Player and SWF specification can only drive innovation. Exciting times ahead!

  Read the press release

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There's been a lot of interesting developments with regards to Flash and mobile recently and thought it deserved a post and my 'analysis'.

Flash Home Flash Home was officially announced on February 11th at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. We got to see a glimpse of what its about during the sneak peeks at the MAX conference last October (see video below) and it seems to be a very interesting approach to entice manufacturers to embed Flash on their devices.

Since Flash Home allows compelling, highly interactive and data driven interfaces to take over the mobile phone home screen and it plays nice with Adobe's Flash Cast portal solution this must also be a very interesting offering to both operators and content distributors. Presumably having Flash Home on a device will mean it has Flash Lite embedded making it capable of playing back SWF content outside of the home screen environment.

http://www.adobe.com/mobile/solutions/flashhome/ http://www.adobe.com/mobile/solutions/flashcast/

Flash Lite 3

Flash Lite 3 also seems to be taking off rather well, there's a developer edition available on labs.adobe.com and the Chumby already ships with it installed. I saw a Nokia presentation at MAX Barcelona where (I believe it was one of their executives) told us about plans to support Flash Lite embedded content in the Nokia S60 browser.

A week or so ago Opera announced pretty much the same thing -- Flash Lite 3 to run inside their Opera Mobile 9.5 browser, I think that's very exciting news. http://www.opera.com/pressreleases/en/2008/02/05/


Then there's Tamarin-Tracing, the new ECMAScript 4th edition virtual machine added to the Tamarin open source project. We're not hearing a lot about this just yet but its specifically aimed at working well on devices with a low memory footprint. For some reason there seems to be somewhat of a taboo to acknowledge that this is indeed something on the roadmap for Flash on mobile and we saw several Adobe evangelists rephrase initial posts that made this a bit too obvious.

Are they afraid it could hurt adoption for Flash Lite 3? I'm not sure -- I think you would have to be really out of touch not to see where this is heading with regards to the plans to eventually bring Flex to mobile.


Flash Player on the iPhone

Finally there appears to be a lot of hype around 'Flash Player on iPhone'. We've heard this rumour a couple of times before but I have to admit it seems to be more credible now and it would make sense to see it rolled out with the SDK end of this month.

Adobe has been pretty low key about the possibility of a Flash Player on the iPhone and has diverted to question to Apple every time it is raised (and its been asked continuously). Reading between the lines I've had the distinct impression that the team has been looking into it and the ball was in Apple's court.

Last summer had the opportunity to hear a very senior executive at Adobe respond to the inevitable Flash/iPhone question and it genuinely appeared to be out of Adobe's hands but something they would like to see happen. I think the decision on Apple's part isn't purely technical. I'd be surprised if they're not working on a RIA technology themselves and were trying to see if they could get away with shipping a device with a browser without Flash support.



I think Adobe has recognized it needs to do a real push to get Flash on devices and its trying to achieve this by attacking the problem from various angles. Flash Home is probably the most commercially interesting way to allow this to happen. Flash Lite 3, especially embedded on devices is also something manufacturers are especially interested in moving towards a better browsing experience beyond the high-end smartphones and handhelds.

My feeling is that Flex is the big thing within Adobe for the next few years and the Flash Platform strategy for all the products needs to facilitate that. What appears to be happening now is a move towards getting all mobile partners committed to Flash technology so it'll be easier to do a massive roll out of Tamarin-Tracing once that is up to speed. The last thing they want is for Flex on mobile to have adoption problems like Flash Lite has had for years and only just is beginning to overcome.

CategoriesFlash Lite
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Some more good news coming from Adobe with them contributing a new virtual machine to the open source Tamarin project. This new VM - internally called QVM - known to the outside world as Tamarin-Tracing essentially brings the power of AVM2 (ActionScript 3.0/ECMAScript 4) to mobile devices. It wouldn't be a stretch of the imagination to see this as a first step into bringing AS3 Flash content and eventually Flex/MXML to mobile and devices. Exciting times ahead, given the current restrictions of a technology like Flash Lite I hope for widespread adoption of this new engine.

Read more http://www.onflex.org/ted/2007/12/meet-qvm-new-tamarin-vm-contributed-to.php http://www.jamesward.org/wordpress/2007/12/18/qvm-mozillas-new-mobile-vm-for-ecmascript-4/ http://hg.mozilla.org/tamarin-tracing


I unfortunately didn't have the chance to do detailed reviews for each of the sessions I attended at MAX Barcelona (15 minute breaks between sessions just isn't enough) but here is a list of the sessions I attended and a mini-review for each.

The Google Analytics Reporting Suite - Nico Lierman, Wim Vanhenden Flash Lite 3 Development - Bill Perry A Guide to Tamarin - Lee Thomason Building AIR with AJAX and the Aptana IDE - Kevin Hoyt The mobile ecosystem with FL3 on Nokia Platforms - Christian Buchbauer Play with Pixels - Bitmap manipulation with Flash CS3 - Koen de Weggheleire Working with Persistent Data in Adobe Integrated Runtime - Danny Dura Creating new Flex Components - Marco Casario Design Patterns in ActionScript 3.0 - Leo Schuman Flash Player Internals - Lee Thomason

If you attended any of these sessions feel free to comment, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

  The Google Analytics Reporting Suite - Nico Lierman, Wim Vanhenden This session was added last minute and not announced anywhere so as such not a lot of people turned up. Regardless this was a really interesting session where Nico and Wim walked us through the features of their Google Analytics Reporting Suite AIR application.

It was interesting to hear how Google returns the data and it gets rendered out by the application. As announced there was a little surprise involving Mariah Carey which I have to say was hilarious.
  Flash Lite 3 Development - Bill Perry I'm finally sold on Flash Lite, the S60 platform opens so many opportunities and I wanted to take advantage of the MAX conference to get myself up to speed.

The one thing I was hoping for and haven't seen yet is actually deconstructing a Flash Lite 3 application, running through the code and explain the process from planning to packaging it up as a SIS and distributing. It all got talked about but not in great technical detail.

If anyone has any Flash Lite projects going on and would like to team up, feel free to get in touch!
  A Guide to Tamarin - Lee Thomason Lee Thomason is my hero -- he covered the real guts of the Flash Player, the future of ECMAScript 4 and the Tamarin VM -- information you don't see presented anywhere else. Finally one of those seriously technical topic where you need to pay attention or get lost in a sea of acronyms. I loved it!

Yield, let, like, wrap, typed arrays, parameterized types, the ECMAScript self-hosting compiler (ESC), ActionMonkey, IronMonkey, ScreamingMonkey, ...
  Building AIR with AJAX and the Aptana IDE - Kevin Hoyt Kevin Hoyt (despite apparently being sick) did the seemingly impossible and made me excited about AJAX again. The Aptana Eclipse plugin is an amazing piece of work and I'll definitely be using it for upcoming projects.

The reason why I largely moved away from the AJAX (or DHTML in those days) world was browser inconsistencies, I didn't want to spend more time tweaking code to make it behave semi-consistently across major browser than writing actual code.

Of course AIR solves this issue for us -- it has an excellent embedded HTML engine (WebKit, the same one used in Safari). If you're developing an AJAX app specifically for AIR that means you don't need to worry about all those workarounds, you've got a single browser engine to target. Script bridging where you can call the complete ActionScript stack directly from JavaScript is simply amazing.

One thing that I am a bit worried about is the convoluted security model where you need to work in different sandboxes and do some (to all intends and purposes) strange hacks to get it working properly. Hope the team can still fine tune that somewhat before the 1.0 release.
  The mobile ecosystem with Flash Lite 3 on Nokia Platforms - Christian Buchbauer I was hoping for some Nokia specific technical information on Flash Lite 3 but no such luck. It was more of a corporate presentation running through marketing slides. What I took away from it is that there is a real business opportunity to develop Flash Lite for the Nokia S60 devices but other than that this session was a little disappointing.

One piece of breaking news was that Nokia will be bringing Flash video to their embedded browser on S60 devices by next year. That is a very welcome announcement!
  Play with Pixels - Bitmap manipulation with Flash CS3 - Koen de Weggheleire Koen is incredibly passionate about what he does and its definitely contagious. He walked us through the basic maths of matrices and how it applies to transformations in the BitmapData API.

Once we got through the mathematics we started seeing some impressive demo's with color transformations and the displacement map filter. Finally integrating the webcam resulted in some entertaining Flash games, playing a virtual piano or swatting flies.

Looking forward to playing some more with the BitmapData API and hope to see more sessions by Koen in the future.
  Working with Persistent Data in Adobe Integrated Runtime - Danny Dura As always Danny does a fantastic job explaining technical topics -- he walked us through the various ways of working with persistent data in AIR and did benchmarks for how fast each of those perform.

I can't say there was a lot of completely new information in that session for me. The topic I was most interested in was the EncryptedLocalStore (uses AES-CBC 128-bit encryption) and works with Keychain on Mac and its equivalent on PC. It basically stores a key and a ByteArray as its value -- so you can easily persist actual ActionScript objects in there.

The API is very easy to use, basically just EncryptedLocalStore.setItem, EncryptedLocalStore.getItem, EncryptedLocalStore.deleteItem. Its not the fastest of the data persistence options for AIR but as Danny rightfully pointed out, its built for security not speed.

A few other things I learned where the app-storage:/ and app-resource:/ URI's that we have available. Also the embedded SQLite database theoretically support up to 2TB of data and you can use SQLConnection.attach to add a database to the active connection and query across all those (useful in some situations because of the way database locking works).
  Creating new Flex Components - Marco Casario I'm really glad to finally have had the chance to meet Marco Casario -- he's a true Flex genius and did an excellent job running through some approaches to creating Flex components.

Probably didn't learn a huge amount of new things but a really good refresher course for me. Can't wait to see his "Flex Solutions: Essential Techniques for Flex 2 and Flex 3 Developers" book come out!

  Design Patterns in ActionScript 3.0 - Leo Schuman I was looking forward to this session, design patterns are a fantastic thing to learn more about because you always pick up things that you recognize you can apply to your projects. Unfortunately this session was way too basic, he covered Observer and Singleton -- makes sense for absolute beginners (I did the same in my OOP for the Noob talk at Flashforward) but for a session marked as advanced this was a shame.

He did have an interesting presentation style that I quite liked. The Singleton implementation he talked about was a bit flawed though. I know the SingletonEnforcer workaround Joey Lott proposed is quite popular but it has its problems (like Leo also recognized) and is seriously 'hackalicious'.

I've personally long since switched to Grant Skinner's workaround (see here) that involves much less of a workaround and is a cleaner implementation. I guess whichever solution you use to implement the Singleton pattern is up for debate but when doing such a basic introduction to Design Patterns in AS3 I wouldn't have thought twice which method to show to my audience.

For future editions of MAX I think there's room for a beginner and advanced session on design patterns, but please make sure it really is advanced and more than two get covered in an hour.

  Flash Player Internals - Lee Thomason Another great session by Lee Thomason of the Flash Player team, I also saw this session at MAX Chicago but its just too good not to see again when you've got the opportunity. It talks about the technical details of retained versus immediate rendering, the JIT compiler, tips for optimizing your code, the GC and things to come in the Moviestar release.

Exciting times ahead for the Flash Player!


I heard via Marco Casario that a Flash Lite 1.1 guide for the Adobe MAX Barcelona conference has been released by Paul Lamonby and just gave it a test run on my Nokia N95.             

Its done really well -- you can easily browse through the different days and sessions are sorted by time. If you click on a particular session you get a map showing you what room it is in.

This is going to be so much handier than a little pocket guide like we got at MAX Chicago. If you've got a Flash Lite enabled phone and are attending MAX Barcelona, be sure to download this!

CategoriesFlash Lite

With Flashforward2007 Boston just over a week away I thought I'd post what sessions I'm planning to attend. The speaker lineup is just fantastic, can't wait for the conference to kick off! My own session will be "OOP for the Noob", an introduction to object-oriented programming in ActionScript 3.0.

I've got a great slot assigned, first day just after lunch, can't believe my luck. That translates to some serious party time for the remaining days rather than staying locked up in the hotel room making those last minute tweaks to my presentation.


Day 1

Adobe Keynote Kevin Lynch, Adobe

On the Road with Adobe AIR Mike Chambers, Adobe

Creating and Selling Your Mobile Flash Content Bill Perry, Adobe Systems

Designing with Sound Dave Schroeder, pilotvibe


Day 2

Tame Your Game with CS3 and ActionScript 3 Jay Laird, Metaversal Studios

Stylizing Flex Applications Joey Lott, The Morphic Group

AIR, Finetune Desktop, and the Circle of Engagement Tony MacDonell, Teknision

The Art and Zen of Mobile Games Using Flash Scott Janousek, Hooken Mobile

What’s This Button Do? Communicating Web 2.0 Through Design Robert Hoekman, Jr., www.rhjr.net


Day 3

Keynote: The Aesthetics of Computation John Maeda, MIT Media Lab

Integrating with Adobe Media Player Jennifer Taylor, Adobe Systems

Papervision3D Carlos Ulloa, Papervision3D

AIR Outside of the Box Keith Peters, BIT-101

Beyond the Knowledge; The Art of Playing Erik Natzke, Natzke Design


Read more: www.flashforwardconference.com


Finally got myself a new phone and am absolutely loving the Nokia N70 -- its quite a change from my old Sony Ericsson K300i, not in the least because it supports Flash Lite 2.1 of course ;) I'm generally more of a Sony Ericsson enthousiast but their walkman series wasn't exactly what I needed, next on my list was the Nokia N80 - which I had seen in action and is a very impressive indeed - in the end decided that WiFi functionality wasn't worth the premium for me. I usually travel with my laptop anyway and it turned out to be double the price of the deal I could get for an N70.

With Total Training having just released a new training title by Dale Rankine on Flash Lite 2.1 development I look forward to finally getting involved with that. To be honest it was Richard's session at Flash on the Beach last December that convinced me to get a S60 phone. Unlike some other people I've talked to who are a little less optimistic, I see a real market emerging for Flash based content on the phone -- especially if we can possible work towards mobile/desktop convergence with Apollo.


Does anyone have any further links for getting into Flash Lite 2.1 development?

CategoriesFlash Lite
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