Thursday, May 15th, 2008

Flash 10 “Astro” prerelease

Category: Adobe

With Silverlight 2 aimed square at Flash, many of us were interested to see what Flash 10 would have in store for us. We get our first glimpse with the Flash 10 prerelease, code named “Astro”.

I installed the prerelease and recorded the demos so you can take a quick peak:

The biggest feature in my mind, is true 3D:

3D Effects – Easily transform and animate any display object through 3D space while retaining full interactivity. Fast, lightweight, and native 3D effects make motion that was previously reserved for expert users available to everyone. Complex effects are simple with APIs that extend what you already know.

There are other new features too. At a high level:

Custom Filters and Effects – Create your own portable filters, blend modes, and fills using Adobe Pixel Bender, the same technology used for many After Effects CS3 filters. Shaders in Flash Player are about 1KB and can be scripted and animated at runtime.

Advanced Text Layout – A new, highly flexible text layout engine, co-existing with TextField, enables innovation in creating new text controls by providing low-level access to text offering right-to-left and vertical text layout, plus support for typographic elements like ligatures.

Enhanced Drawing API – Runtime drawing is easier and more powerful with re-styleable properties, 3D APIs, and a new way of drawing sophisticated shapes without having to code them line by line.

Visual Performance Improvements – Applications and videos will run smoother and faster with expanded use of hardware acceleration.  By moving several visual processing tasks to the video card, the CPU is free to do more.

If you delve into the release notes you see features such as:

  • Context Menu — Developers now have more control over what can be displayed in the context menu through the use of ActionScript APIs for common text field context menu items, supporting plain and rich text. The clipboard menu provides access to the clipboard in a safe and controlled way, and you can write handlers to paste text.
  • File Reference runtime access — Bring users into the experience by letting them load files into your RIA. You can work with the content at runtime and even save it back when you are done through the browse dialog box. Files can be accessed as a byteArray or text using a convenient API in ActionScript without round-tripping to the server. You no longer have to know a server language or have access to a server to load or save files at runtime.
  • Dynamic Streaming — Always show the best video possible with streams that can automatically adjust to changing network conditions. By changing bitrates, you can keep your user engaged and avoid start-and-stop video. Dynamic streaming provides the best possible experience to the video consumer based on their bandwidth environment. Video streams over RTMP from intended future releases of Flash Media Server can dynamically change bitrate as network conditions change. Quality of Service metrics, exposed via ActionScript and providing real-time network or CPU information, allow developers to take control of the video playback and adjust the streaming experience accordingly. This feature is part of Flash Player 10 but will only be available with intended future releases of Flash Media Server.
  • Text Layout Components — An extensible library of ActionScript 3.0 text components, coming in future to Adobe Labs, provides advanced, easy-to-integrate layout functionality that enables typographic creative expression. Layout and style text with tables, inline images, and column flow through components that are compatible with both Flash and Flex, all while getting the benefits of the new text engine. Rich text components allow designers and developers to flow text and complex scripts, such as Arabic, Hebrew, and Thai, across multiple columns like a newspaper, around tables and inline images, from right-to-left, left-to-right, bi-directionally, or vertically. Selection, editing, and wrapping of text are handled as would be expected for the different layouts.

It is also interesting to put this into context with JavaFX, which was hyped last week at JavaOne (without a release yet). There were some nice demos, such as 3D video globes, and a few people said “Flash couldn’t do that. No decent 3D or hardware acceleration.” The bar keeps rising for all.

Posted by Dion Almaer at 12:18 am
14 Comments

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4.5 rating from 37 votes

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True 3D? Take that JavaFX.

File stream access? Take that Silverlight.

Now if only the Flex framework was included with the Flash Player…

Comment by mgalpin — May 15, 2008

so exciting!

When will AIR adapt FlashPlayer10?

Comment by JGeeks — May 15, 2008

@mgalpin: Silverlight 2 has also local file stream access.
Very exiting release. I wounder if Flash will manage to remain the dominant plugin here when M$ is in the game.

Comment by Spocke — May 15, 2008

Sweet, local file access! That could be huge.

Comment by Huring — May 15, 2008

@mgalpin:
JavaFX has both hardware accelerated 3D and local file stream access, so leave the fanboy-isms at the door please

Comment by sialivi — May 15, 2008

@Spocke…Macrodobe has over 10 years head start with the Flash player. I’ve not talked to anyone (other than industry peeps) who’ve even heard of Silverlight, or have the plugin installed.

I suppose it might end up like the XBOX. Sony had years head start but MS beat them with the 360.

Comment by commadelimited — May 15, 2008

Whatever happened to flash containing embedded version of Gecko or Webkit for developers to only use 1 rendering engine on their site (as long as Flash v__ was installed?)

Comment by Liquidrums — May 15, 2008

@mgalpin you can have the flex framework cached accross (even accross domains). Since I’m playing it up already, don’t forget the 98% penetration and that portions have been open sourced.

Comment by GarthDB — May 15, 2008

>When will AIR adapt FlashPlayer10?

Later this year (once FP 10 is completed).

mike chambers

mesh@adobe.com

Comment by mikechambers — May 15, 2008

What?, to install you have to uninstall first, and to uninstall you have to download a 39 mb uninstaller on mac? that sucks.

Comment by reaktivo — May 15, 2008

Has anyone tried the Linux version of this yet? I want to test it out, but Flash 9 on my Ubuntu Hardy system has enough issues already.

Comment by tj111 — May 15, 2008

What I’m excited about is that the 3D effects get offloaded onto the GPU, unlike in any of the existing Silverlight 3D engine projects

Comment by darkoz — May 15, 2008

@tj111: Yeah, installed it this morning after reading an article linked from reddit about p2p in flash. I’m running Hardy and have had no problems. Some cool stuff in this one.

Comment by rXc3NtR1c — May 15, 2008

yeah I know where ActiveX is right now..MX is such a pain sometime that they can’t take google dominance. No problem of domination but have something better like Apple UI or iPod (oh Zuno sucks for good)

anyways Adobe is no SUN and Flash is no Applet platform (i.e. JRE to install) so Flash is here to stay because people take ages to accept something new..

Comment by nn — May 20, 2008

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