1 November 2011
Last month, Adobe MAX was held in Los Angeles, and I hope many readers were able to attend. In case you missed it, eWeek’s comprehensive overview of MAX announcements is a great way to catch up on all the news from the keynotes. One of the big announcements, of course, was the official release of Adobe Flash Player 11 and Adobe AIR 3 that includes highly buzzed about new features like 3D in Flash Player and AIR native extensions.
If you want to hear the story behind the concept and development of 3D and key performance enhancements for 2D, Adobe's Thibault Imbert recently shared a video called Stage3D (Molehill), The Story, which features engineers and other members of the Flash Player team telling the story of the 3D APIs (codenamed Molehill). Marco Scabia posted an impressive demo of Stage3D from his Flash Camp Italy presentation that is a 3D rendering of the famous Duomo of Florence, Santa Maria del Fiore.
Flash Player 11 and 3D also set up one of the most jaw-dropping announcements and demos from the MAX day-two keynote: Epic is bringing Unreal Engine 3 support to Flash Player. Not only does this look amazing, but I believe that supporting console-quality games in the browser can continue to push the capabilities as well as the adoption of Flash Player going forward. In fact, Crytek already announced that it is investigating Flash technologies for its CryEngine, the foundation of games such as Crysis.
One more note on the 3D front: Adobe also released the “Proscenium” ActionScript 3 code library that uses Stage3D to help you create interactive 3D content. “Proscenium” (codename) is now available on Adobe Labs.
Of course, Flash Player 11 isn’t only about 3D — a point made obvious by the MAX announcement of a new version of Angry Birds that Rovio is bringing to Flash Player. This is made possible in large part by the new Starling framework that uses Stage3D for GPU-accelerated 2D games. The Starling framework was developed by Gamua — the company behind the iOS framework Sparrow — and Adobe, and it is a direct port of the Sparrow framework. If you're interested in getting started with game development using Starling, Adobe consultant David Deraedt’s first post in his series of Starling tutorials covers project setup. Also, Devon Wolfgang released a free, web-based particle editor for the Starling framework built in Flash using MinimalComps and SimpleGUI.
It seems that Flash and Flex developers are excited about the possibilities that the new AIR native extensions bring, and several people have already released their extensions publicly. AIR native extensions enable you to extend the capabilities of the AIR runtime using native code on any platform AIR supports, including Android, iOS, Windows, and Mac OS. Adobe Developer Connection already hosts a list of native extensions for AIR, including extensions from both Adobe and the community.
If you’d like to get started developing a native extension, Milkman Games posted an extremely detailed beginner's guide to developing Android extensions for AIR 3 that is an excellent reference. Also, Adobe evangelist Lee Brimelow posted a two-part video tutorial series on Android native extensions. In part one, you learn how to tap into the native notification system on Android from your AIR application. Part two explains how to create a Flex mobile project that uses the native extension and covers how to build everything.
Lastly, Flex 4.6 and Adobe Flash Builder 4.6 were announced during the MAX day-two keynote. If you are interested in learning more about them, the specs have been posted here, and you can also sign up for the prerelease. However, if you want to peek into the future of Flex and the Flash Platform — even beyond the 4.6 release — Adobe evangelist Andrew Trice features the Flash/Flex/AIR Platform Roadmap 2011 from Scott Castle, Adam Lehman, and Raghu Thricovil, product managers for the Flash Platform, on his blog as well as a great Flex focused Monocle sneak peek from Deepa Subramaniam, which appears in the same post.
Web Community Manager, Flash Platform
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