Flash Platform Rundown – Week of December 1st, 2013

The big news this week is an update to Flash Professional CC and a couple neat extensions which go along with it!


Flash Professional CC (13.1) Released
On the tooling side of things, Flash Professional CC (13.1) was finally released! The focus of this release is native support for HTML5 Canvas as a document type and publish target. HTML5 Canvas is a new document type added to Flash Professional CC that generates an .FLA file for authoring, and targets the canvas tag of HTML. This option enables the authoring of animation and interactivity for targeting web browsers without the need for Adobe Flash Player if those extended capabilities are not needed. The generated HTML file bundle is driven by the CreateJS JavaScript library, which was previously available as an extension for both CS6 and the previous version of CC. This functionality is now included as a prime target format within the application and is no longer provided through the Toolkit for CreateJS as a separate extension.

For a full overview of everything new, have a look at the new article I wrote for Peachpit.

Flash Professional CC Extension: Projector Export
Projectors were deprecated from Flash Professional CC, however, using this extension you can now publish your Flash content from Flash Professional CC as a standalone application. The exported Projector from Flash CC will be an .EXE file on Windows and an .APP file on Mac, that can be played on any Windows and Mac machines respectively even without an installed Flash Player or plug-in.

Flash Professional CC Extension: JS-Linter
The JS-Linter extension is a static JavaScript analysis extension for HTML5 Canvas documents in Flash Professional CC. JS-Linter does analysis of JavaScript written on main timeline and within symbols of a HTML5 Canvas doc and reports warnings and errors if any exist. These warnings/errors are displayed in the JS-Linter panel along with the error location and description of the error.

What’s new with Apache Flex (Dec 2013)
Apache Flex writes: Another year has raced by and as most of us are getting ready to spend some time with our families we thought we would give you a quick update on what has been happening with the Apache Flex project over the last quarter. For the full post – check out the Apache Software Foundation blog post.

Adobe Primetime 1.2 With Native HLS Support in Flash Player
Jens Loeffler writes about the native (although premium) feature available in Flash Player 11.9 onward which allows HLS streams within Flash Player for Project Primetime. What does native HLS support mean? HLS playback in Adobe Flash Player provides best-in-class performance, with robust, Hollywood studio-mandated DRM support (Adobe Primetime DRM + PHLS), and AES-128 clear key protection for content protection compatibility. The HLS playback functionality is now included in the core of Flash Player, with all relevant features processed with high performant native code. Too bad this isn’t available to everyone…

…but we do still have HDS inside Flash Player.

Flox SDK now Open Source
Flox is a server backend especially for game developers, providing all the basics you need for a game: analytics, leaderboards, custom entities, and much more. The focus of Flox lies on its scalability (guaranteed by running in the Google App Engine) and ease of use.
Check it out on GitHub.

Full HDR rendering pipeline for AGAL
Jason Huang has posted some information (and a video) about his HDR rendering pipeline with AGAL1. For log luminance, I used 2 channels for packing luminance value and 1 channel for storing the sign. Finaly, compiled the whole scene with human eye adaption and Uncharted 2 tone mapping operator. Pretty sick!!!

Flash Platform Rundown – End of November, 2013

Updates to Flash Player 12 and AIR 4 betas
Adobe has updated the beta runtimes to include some really cool new features on top of the ones which have already been announced. These include an improved packager for iOS, ANE resource improvements in Android, textfield enhancements for desktop, and a new Context3D convenience array. More details on each of these features is included below. Flash is alive and well!
Flash Runtimes Update

iOS – Improved Packaging Engine
We’re very excited about this new feature. The new packaging engine we’re working on can improve iOS packaging time up to 10 times over the current packager! However this feature is still early in development and we’d like to get your feedback. To enable this feature, please use “-useLegacyAOT no” in the ADT command, before the signing options.

Android – Support for native resources access by R* mechanism in native extension
Currently, to use the native Android resources in the Android Native Extension one has to use getResourceID() API while typically to access the resource IDs developers use the R.* mechanism. AIR 4.0 onwards, apps developers will be able to access the resources by R.* mechanism. All the dependencies need to be specified in platform.xml as following and all the dependencies and resources to be packaged in the ANE.

Supplementary Characters Enhancement Support for TextField – EXTENDED BETA
This is a desktop enhancement for supporting surrogate pairs in the TextField control. Now, characters out of the Basic Multilingual Plane(BMP) with Unicode code points between U+10000 and U+10FFFF will work correctly in the TextField control. It greatly enlarges the code point range we support and includes characters like emotion symbols (emoticons) and complex CCJK characters. This feature is being introduced in the AIR 4 beta but will go live in a subsequent release. Due to the sensitive nature of text display, we would like an extended test period to ensure no bugs are introduced.

Stage3D Creation of Context3D with Profile Array
We’ve added a new interface to Stage3D.requestContext3DMatchingProfiles(profiles:Vector. ) which will create a Context3D with highest level suitable profile that is in profile array, based on the current hardware. A developer can check the newly added property ‘profile’ to obtain the current profile that was chosen by the Flash Runtime.

Ben Forta comments about the runtimes
Adobe’s Ben Forta has been posting updates to his blog whenever a new version of the runtimes is released. This has been seen by many as a good sign in terms of how Adobe views the platform (as opposed to the more prevalent “Adobe wants to kill Flash” nonsense). He recently posted about the AIR 4 betas and I thought it couldn’t hurt to ask about Adobe’s support of the runtimes and how the community might help convince Adobe to provide greater support. I feel kind of bad pestering him – as he must get tired of questions like this… so I really appreciate that he took the time to do so in response to my inquiry. I’m happy to see his comments on the subject are fairly calming (for those of us on the white-knuckled-edge of such things). It’s all about balance:

Now that attitudes are shifting back into balance, we’ll be better able to tell the story we want to tell, and that’s exactly why you’ve seen these recent announcements.

Thanks, Ben!

Feathers 1.2.0
A brand-new release of Feathers is out! Josh Tynjala writes: This release includes a few new components, including Alert, Drawers, and LayoutGroup. It also includes new base classes for item renderers that extend LayoutGroup. In my opinion, this is the best and most stable release of Feathers to date with performance enhancements and more, and I encourage everyone to upgrade. I made mention of LayoutGroup specifically in my Lynda.com course, Building a Mobile App with Feathers and Starling, and how it would be better suited to automatic layout that ScrollContainer (assuming one does not need scrolling!)

Feathers Cookbook
Alongside the new Feathers release is a neat Feathers Cookbook site. It includes simple and targeted tutorials about Feathers designed to demonstrate how to use or extend the components to implement specific common behaviors. This is a great format for sharing. Nice work!

Adobe’s Secure Real-Time Media Flow Protocol
As pointed out by Stefan Richter:

Adobe has published a memo detailing the Secure Real-Time Media Flow Protocol (RTMFP) specification to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). an endpoint-to-endpoint communication protocol designed to securely transport parallel flows of real-time video, audio, and data messages, as well as bulk data, over IP networks. RTMFP has features that make it effective for peer-to-peer (P2P) as well as client-server communications, even when Network Address Translators (NATs) are used. Long time users of this technology may remember it in relation to project Cirrus.

Flixel Community 2.56 is out!
Fernando Bevilacqua writes about Flixel Community edition (Community fork of the popular Flixel game engine): Our main goal with this release was to maintain Flixel Community 2.56 as reverse-compatible as possible with the current version of AdamAtomic/Flixel (which is 2.55). We performed several tests to ensure a smooth transition and we hope you won’t need more than a few (or none at all!) tweaks to start using Flixel Community. Flixel is a great game engine for Flash and AIR and to see new life arise from the community like this is welcoming.

Flash Platform Rundown – Week of November 10th, 2013

A ton of things happened in the Flash Platform world over the past week. There is a lot to take in – so let’s get started!

Flash Player 12

Flash Player 12 and AIR 4 betas
This week saw the initial beta releases for both Flash Player 12 and Adobe AIR 4. The Adobe Flash Platform runtimes, Flash Player and AIR, together enable businesses to efficiently deliver rich customer experiences across multiple digital touch points. With Flash Player and AIR, content can easily and consistently move between the browser, standalone applications and native operating systems to reach users on the devices of their choice. This beta release provides access to the AIR 4 runtime and SDK for Windows, Mac OS, iOS, and Android.

Here’s some of the new stuff!

  • Mac .pkg Installation Support
  • Internet Explorer 11 on Windows 7 Support
  • Safe Mode in Safari 6.1 and higher
  • 64-Bit PPAPI Flash Player for Chrome
  • Graphics: Buffer Usage flag for Stage3D
  • Android Workers

New Version Numbering
With this new iteration of the Flash Runtimes comes a new way of numbering versions which more closely matches that of browser vendors. So we’ll still be seeing a new version of the runtimes release every quarter – but they will now be numbered in whole numbers. Happily, beginning with Flash Player 13 – AIR will align it’s version to 13 as well, keeping each runtime at the same version number for the future (which makes so much sense – should have been done years ago).

Killer Flash Platform Stats!
These stats are pretty amazing. 120,000+ distict AIR apps and 225,000,000+ new app installs? AIR is a performer with true reach! If only the marketing efforts at Adobe would embrace this – truly the most creative cross platform set of runtimes in existence. Give the runtimes team more resources, Adobe! AIR is for creatives of all types… EMBRACE IT!

PPAPI Debug Player!
The community has been clamoring for a Chrome PPAPI version of the debug Flash Player for some time now. Looks as though we may actually get it.

Great case for AIR
“Why the value proposition continues to tilt further towards Adobe AIR over native languages” lists a number of reasons why you should give AIR a chance if targeting Android and iOS. Some very compelling arguments are presented.

Chris Campbell Named Additional Runtimes PM
Hope to see more community activity from Chris in the coming days!

Citrus Engine 3.1.8
The awesome Citrus Engine 3.1.8 includes a number of new features such as a new multi-resolution solution, gamepads improvements, sound manager improvements, and updates the internal libraries to their latest versions.

Building a Mobile App with Feathers and Starling
Lynda.com continues to provide great content in support of the Flash Platform with Building a Mobile App with Feathers and Starling. In this course, author Joseph Labrecque shows you how to use the Feathers and Starling user interface frameworks along with Stage3D to build out mobile applications with Adobe AIR. After setting up the project (a fully functional drawing app), you’ll learn how to build application views, skin interface components with Feathers themes, and create the classes that will add functionality to the app, such as rendering, saving, and browsing sketches. The closing chapter demonstrates how to publish the project in a format suitable for Android devices, and concludes with installing and running the app.

Starling FullScreen No Stretch Extension Tutorial
This tutorial explains how to use the FullScreen No Stretch Extension for the Starling Framework. Starling is a great framework for building multi-platform software, especially games. Written in ActionScript 3, it mimics the traditional Flash display hierarchy, but is built on Stage 3D. This means that developers can write cross-platform software in the simple and familiar ActionScript language without worrying about serious hits to performance.

Reddit Thread on Flash Player
“Why is Shockwave Flash so slow, Why is Adobe unable to optimize it, and Why do websites continue to use it instead of moving to an alternative?” In this Reddit thread – both sides have at it and a lot of good information is the result.

Flash Platform Rundown – Week of November 3rd, 2013

As the end of the year approaches, I imagine news will thin out a bit as people go about celebrating holidays and wrapping up the current year. This may go bi-weekly during this time depending upon how much news there is. This week also includes a pretty significant milestone: the 2 year anniversary of the announcement by Adobe that they would no longer develop the Android browser plugin version of the Flash Player. The effects of that decision can be felt even today – but the most disastrous consequence is the gutting of what was an absolutely unique community of professionals enthusiastically sharing their knowledge and passion for the platform.

Adobe Gaming SDK 1.3 Released!
gsdk_toolboxWe are pleased to announce the immediate availability of Adobe Gaming SDK version 1.3, part of the Adobe Creative Cloud. The 1.3 release includes new features and updates for all framework components, including:
Mobile Workers (concurrency) BETA – Android
AIR Mobile support for background execution in “Direct” render mode
AIR Support for iOS7 and Mac OS 10.9
Starling – Updated to 1.4.1
Feathers – Updated to 1.1.1
Away3D – Updated to 4.1.5
Away Builder – Updated to 1.0
Dragon Bones – Updated to 2.4
AIR SDK and Compiler – Updated to 3.9

Away Games Maker
Away Games Maker (AwayGamesMaker) is a program for the creation of video games and / or applications that require the use of 2D/3D graphics. Taking advantage of technology Adobe Flash Player , Graphics Library Away3D version 4.1.1 Beta and physical library AwayPhysics version 1.0 (Bullet Physiscs) . You can use the software to create, animate, and color (materials and textures) your three-dimensional models, manage materials, lights, “videocamare” handle complex / multiple 3D scenes and effects, schedule and manage systems of particles, plan and manage physics, create new shader programs, manage video and menus (HUD – head-up display) to be inserted in the scenes, et cetera.

Here is a video demonstration.

Interview with Robert Bateman, founder of Away3d, an open-source 3D engine for the Flash Platform
In this interview we speak with Robert Bateman, the Director of the Away Foundation, about their key projects, their cooperation with JetBrains which is an Associate Partner of the Foundation, and their developers’ experience with open source software provided by JetBrains.

Pixel Mask Starling Extension
A Starling Extension to provide pixel based masking for Starling display objects. Check out the demos!

Flash Platform Rundown – Week of October 27th, 2013

Apache Flex 4.11 Released!
The Apache Flex 4.11.0 release contains many improvements that professional software development teams will appreciate. This advances the framework forward. It is truly one of the best cross-platform programming languages used to write applications that are testable and can be compiled to run on multiple technology platforms from a single set of code.

Apache Flex 4.11
Read the full announcement over at Apache.

Apache Flex Installer 2.7
The most convenient way for most to get the new SDK is the use the Apache Flex Installer. With the release of Apache Flex 4.11, it has been updated as well.

Thoopid, a Garden Snail, and Adobe AIR
Bill Howard has published an interesting interview with RW Liebenberg, Managing Director and Lead Developer at Thoopid. There is a lot of positivity in the article for AIR:
there is really no other platform out there that can match the time to market capabilities of Flash/Air when it comes to multi device/platform development. The frameworks that are available for us to utilize as Flash developers are amazing. Starling, Citrus, Feathers, Nape, Signals… the list goes on. These tools allow us to build pretty much anything imaginable.

Bullet ANE vs AwayPhysics
Head-to-head comparison of Bullet.ane vs. AwayPhysics on an iPhone 4S.
Bullet.ane is an AIR Native Extension that wraps the Bullet physics simulation library. It outperforms AwayPhysics — a FLASCC-based AS3 project that does the same — by an order of magnitude on iOS and Android.

Playstation 4 Controller in Adobe AIR and Flash
Zeh Fernando writes: As expected, the new PS4 controller works out-of-the-box once connected to a Windows PC (using a USB cable) with no need for any special drivers. As such, it works seamlessly when using the GameInput API in Flash or Adobe AIR applications.

AIR Mobile Games Showcase
Christopher Caleb over at YEAH, BUT IS IT FLASH? provides a comprehensive rundown of some recent games using AIR: Over the past few weeks I’ve been playing quite a few really great mobile games written in Adobe AIR, so I thought I’d list them here for you guys to check out. All of them are definitely worth a look.