Many months ago, I wrote a simple version of Hangman as a desktop Adobe AIR application. It was built using HTML and jQuery and supported a one thousand word database of word choices. This week I looked into porting the application to the Blackberry Playbook. This is what I came up with.

First - I had assumed the port would be simple. The game itself is trivial so I wasn't expecting much trouble. Then something occurred to me. My desktop application listened for key presses to handle letter guesses. As far as I know, that type of setup doesn't make sense on a mobile device. Sure you can get 'keyboard' input, but from what I know it can only be done by using a form field of some sort. To get around this I decided to simply use buttons. Here is an example:

As you can see, the buttons look rather nice. I don't have a physical Playbook yet (no one does outside of RIM I guess), but it looks like it would work well. I'm not happy with "Z" hanging there by itself and would love some suggestions on how it could be improved. I built out this "keyboard" by hand:

<s:TileGroup id="tileLayoutView" requestedColumnCount="5" click="letterButtonClicked(event)"> <s:Button id="btnA" label="A" /> <s:Button id="btnB" label="B" /> <s:Button id="btnC" label="C" /> (I deleted some lines here.) <s:Button id="btnX" label="X" /> <s:Button id="btnY" label="Y" /> <s:Button id="btnZ" label="Z" /> </s:TileGroup>

After a suggestion by Joe Rinehart I tried using a Datagroup, but ran into issues updating the UI controls on the inside. (I'll happily go into details about the issues i ran into if anyone wants to hear more.)

Outside of that the other big change was how the application was laid out. I don't have CSS, but frankly Flex's layout controls are a lot easier for me to work with. Not to offend anyone's delicate sensibilities but laying stuff out in a Flex application reminds me of tables. Using CSS reminds me more of visiting a sadistic dentist. Sorry. Anyway, let me share the code. Here is the initial view which simply sets up the database connection:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?> <s:MobileApplication xmlns:fx="" xmlns:s="library://" firstView="views.HangmanHome" initialize="init()"> <fx:Declarations> <!-- Place non-visual elements (e.g., services, value objects) here --> </fx:Declarations>

protected var dbConnection:SQLConnection = new SQLConnection;
private function init():void {
	var dbFile:File = File.applicationDirectory.resolvePath("install/words.db");;		
	navigator.firstViewData = {dbCon:dbConnection};


Here is the main view where of the logic occurs. Note that one feature I did not port was updating the game history. I figured that was pretty trivial and I'd add it later if I wanted.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?> <s:View xmlns:fx="" xmlns:s="library://" title="Hangman" xmlns:mx="library://" viewActivate="init(event)"> <fx:Declarations> <!-- Place non-visual elements (e.g., services, value objects) here --> </fx:Declarations>

@namespace s "library://";
@namespace mx "library://";
#blankWord {
	font-weight: bold;

#gameStatus {
	font-weight: bold;

import model.Game;
import mx.collections.ArrayCollection;
import mx.core.IVisualElement;

import spark.components.BorderContainer;

private var game:Game;
[Embed (source="images/Hangman-1.png" )]
public static const H1:Class;
[Embed (source="images/Hangman-2.png" )]
public static const H2:Class;
[Embed (source="images/Hangman-3.png" )]
public static const H3:Class;
[Embed (source="images/Hangman-4.png" )]
public static const H4:Class;
[Embed (source="images/Hangman-5.png" )]
public static const H5:Class;
[Embed (source="images/Hangman-6.png" )]
public static const H6:Class;
[Embed (source="images/Hangman-7.png" )]
public static const H7:Class;
[Embed (source="images/Hangman-8.png" )]
public static const H8:Class;
[Embed (source="images/Hangman-9.png" )]
public static const H9:Class;
[Embed (source="images/Hangman-10.png" )]
public static const H10:Class;
private function init(event:Event):void {
	trace('init in view called');

private function letterButtonClicked( event : Event ):void {
	if(!game.isGameOver()) {
		var button : Button = as Button;
		if(button) {
			trace("clicked: " + button.label);
			button.enabled = false;
			if(game.isGameOver()) {

private function initGame():void {

	gameStatus.text = "";
	newGameButton.visible = false;
	for(var i:int=65; i&lt;91; i++) {
		var s:String = String.fromCharCode(i);
	game = new Game();
	//begin by picking a word
	//draws the blank/letters
	//draws the hangman 

private function drawHangman():void {
	var misses:int = game.getMisses();
	if(misses == 0) hangmanImage.source = null;
	else {
		hangmanImage.source = HangmanHome["H"+(misses+1)];

private function drawWord():void {
	blankWord.text = game.drawWord();

private function handleGameOver():void {
	if(game.playerWon()) {
		gameStatus.text = "Congratulations, you won the game!";			
	} else {
		gameStatus.text = "Sorry, but you lost the game!";
	newGameButton.visible = true;

private function pickRandomWord():String {
	var sql:SQLStatement = new SQLStatement();
	sql.text = "select word from words order by random() limit 1";
	sql.sqlConnection = data.dbCon;
	var sqlResult:SQLResult = sql.getResult();
	trace('random word is '[0].word);
	&lt;s:Button height="100%" label="Exit" click="NativeApplication.nativeApplication.exit()" /&gt;

	&lt;s:HorizontalLayout paddingTop="10" paddingLeft="10" paddingRight="10" gap="10"/&gt;
&lt;s:TileGroup id="tileLayoutView" requestedColumnCount="5" click="letterButtonClicked(event)"&gt;
	&lt;s:Button id="btnA" label="A" /&gt;
	&lt;s:Button id="btnB" label="B" /&gt;
	&lt;s:Button id="btnC" label="C" /&gt;
	&lt;s:Button id="btnD" label="D" /&gt;
	&lt;s:Button id="btnE" label="E" /&gt;
	&lt;s:Button id="btnF" label="F" /&gt;
	&lt;s:Button id="btnG" label="G" /&gt;
	&lt;s:Button id="btnH" label="H" /&gt;
	&lt;s:Button id="btnI" label="I" /&gt;
	&lt;s:Button id="btnJ" label="J" /&gt;
	&lt;s:Button id="btnK" label="K" /&gt;
	&lt;s:Button id="btnL" label="L" /&gt;
	&lt;s:Button id="btnM" label="M" /&gt;
	&lt;s:Button id="btnN" label="N" /&gt;
	&lt;s:Button id="btnO" label="O" /&gt;
	&lt;s:Button id="btnP" label="P" /&gt;
	&lt;s:Button id="btnQ" label="Q" /&gt;
	&lt;s:Button id="btnR" label="R" /&gt;
	&lt;s:Button id="btnS" label="S" /&gt;
	&lt;s:Button id="btnT" label="T" /&gt;
	&lt;s:Button id="btnU" label="U" /&gt;
	&lt;s:Button id="btnV" label="V" /&gt;
	&lt;s:Button id="btnW" label="W" /&gt;
	&lt;s:Button id="btnX" label="X" /&gt;
	&lt;s:Button id="btnY" label="Y" /&gt;
	&lt;s:Button id="btnZ" label="Z" /&gt;

&lt;!-- block 2 is a v block, top row is pic + instruction block, row 2 is word --&gt;
&lt;s:VGroup width="67%" height="100%"&gt;
	&lt;s:HGroup width="100%" height="80%" horizontalAlign="center"&gt;

		&lt;!-- hangman goes here --&gt;
		&lt;s:Image id="hangmanImage"  width="50%" /&gt;
		&lt;!-- nstructions, status,e tc --&gt;
		&lt;s:VGroup id="rightGroup" width="50%" paddingLeft="5" paddingRight="5" gap="10"&gt;
			&lt;s:Label width="100%" text="To begin, simply type the letter you would like to guess. Right answers will help reveal the mystery word. Wrong answers will lead to your untimely demise!" /&gt;
			&lt;s:Label id="gameStatus" width="100%" /&gt;
			&lt;s:Button id="newGameButton" label="New Game" visible="false" click="initGame()" /&gt;


	&lt;s:Label id="blankWord" width="100%" /&gt;	



And finally - the simple Game object I created.

package model {

public class Game {

	private var _chosenWord:String;
	private var _usedLetters:Object = new Object();
	private var _misses:int = 0;
	public function Game() {

	public function drawWord():String {
		var s:String = "";
		for(var i:int=0; i&lt;_chosenWord.length; i++) {
			var thisLetter:String = _chosenWord.substr(i, 1);
			if(_usedLetters[thisLetter]) s+= thisLetter;
			else s+= "-";
		return s;
	public function getMisses():int {
		return _misses;
	public function isGameOver():Boolean {
		if(_misses == 9 || drawWord() == _chosenWord) return true;
		return false;

	public function pickLetter(s:String):void {
		_usedLetters[s] = 1;
		if(_chosenWord.indexOf(s) == -1) _misses++;

	public function playerWon():Boolean {
		return (isGameOver() && drawWord() == _chosenWord);

	public function setChosenWord(s:String):void {
		_chosenWord = s;



And a final screen shot so you can see the result you don't want to see:

I've attached a zip of the project to the blogentry.

Download attached file.