Ben Walker is no stranger to programming. His portfolio boasts an impressive array of creations built with languages like JavaScript, Python, and ActionScript, among others.

When he decided to get into mobile development, Ben could have chosen any of those scripts that he already knew very well. So, what made him go with Lua and Corona to create Tumble Bee for iPhone?


Ben Walker, creator of Tumble Bee

Do you have any prior programming experience on platforms other than mobile? What types of scripts and platforms have you worked with before?

First and foremost, I am a self-confessed ActionScript 3 madman! I love the language, develop with it everyday for the web, and wish that I had found it sooner than I did. I also currently work very heavily in PHP/SQL, JavaScript, and dabble in a bit of Perl, Python, and Java every now and then.

I love programming and Lua has quickly become one of my favorite languages while working with the Corona SDK due to its ease of use, compact size, and amazing flexibility. I think what Ansca is doing with Lua and the Corona SDK is simply wonderful.

With that, how’d you first get into mobile development?

I have always been a big fan of mobile applications and living in Japan has allowed me to stay up-to-date with the latest in mobile technology. However, being a web developer, I hadn’t really given programming for mobile devices a try until smartphones came about.

I think that smartphones and devices such as the Android tablets and the iPad have presented developers all over the world with the chance to do new and exciting things. As an ActionScript developer, I began to really look forward to having my own application out there for the iPhone. Corona has been my “springboard” for getting on mobile devices and has allowed me to do it very quickly.

Did you use any other mobile toolkits before discovering Corona?

I think there are a lot of good, free solutions out there and I did try a few. There were a couple that used JavaScript, a few that used Java but — at the time — none that used ActionScript.

So, what made you stick with Corona?

Out of all of the available SDKs, I think the Corona SDK provides the best accessibility for Flash and ActionScript developers, and it’s probably the most familiar for ActionScripters to work in. Granted there is a learning curve — as there is with almost anything new — but as soon as you start programming in Corona, you feel right at home.

When making Tumble Bee, did you run into any sort of significant challenges?

For the most part, the Corona SDK made it easy for me to get up and running without any real problems. The biggest challenge was probably learning the differences between Lua and other languages I had used in the past. I like to use object-oriented programming techniques when coding because I think it makes adding new features much easier.

Although Lua is a very simple language, getting used to the use of tables in Lua took a little thought and was probably the most difficult aspect of coding applications for mobile devices. On the other hand, Ansca has provided a lot of great support and very detailed documentation which has really made the transition from other languages a cinch.

What has been the most handy and useful feature of Corona for you so far?

Where should I start? Corona is full of easy-to-use goodness! (that may sound like a ‘plug’ — and I suppose it is)  Feeling comfortable was really important for me, and Corona gives you so much freedom it’s unbelievable.

First off, Corona allows you to use your favorite text editor and tools, and doesn’t interfere with the development cycle whatsoever. The API is already pretty impressive and is growing exponentially with constant updates from staff and user-contributed code. Lua is an interpreted language, meaning that changes to projects can be viewed almost instantly. It just feels fast and it’s very light — none of that messy compiling!

In addition, I think the final Tumble Bee .ipa file totaled around 1.5MB including all its graphics… That’s really light and gives me lots of room for future improvements!

What’s coming next from you, and is it safe to say that Corona will help bring that to life as well?

I will certainly use Corona for another project, and I’m hoping to release Tumble Bee for Android devices too.

I should also mention that Tumble Bee isn’t actually the first application I’ve developed for the iPhone using the Corona SDK. I made an application for spontaneous music creation called ‘Tones,’ but the project has been halted as I await more support for sound mixing from the Corona SDK.

Nevertheless, my urge to make applications is still growing and I have many ideas and new projects in the mix for the time being!

Sounds great. Thanks for talking to us, Ben!

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