Today Adobe announced that the next version of our runtimes, Flash Player 11 and AIR 3, will be released in early October. This is great news for all developers who rely on the Flash Platform for building desktop and mobile applications.
Just a reminder about some of the coolest new features coming with these releases:
- Stage 3D – a new architecture for hardware accelerated graphics rendering that delivers 1000x faster rendering performance over Flash Player 10. This will enable developers to create immersive experiences whether is about a first person 3D game or some 3D or 2D scenes.
- Full native 64-bit support for Flash Player on Linux, Windows, and Mac OS.
- Captive runtime for AIR. Developers will be able to package their AIR applications together with a specific version of the AIR runtime. This means that users won’t have to install the AIR runtime when installing your AIR application or you can protect “freeze” your application to a specific version of the runtime so you don’t have to worry about testing your app when a new runtime is out.
- Native extensions for AIR on Android, iOS, and desktop. This feature enables developers to take advantage of existing native code libraries as well as deep native hardware and OS capabilities. Using this feature you can create extensions that give access to notifications or the contact address book for example.
If you’ve ever played games like Machinarium or Tanki Online you know that Flash Player is one of the best options out there for developers and companies who want to build online games. To help you getting the most out of the Flash Platform we created a gaming center: Adobe Gaming Solutions.
We are also announcing the Starling framework: a lightweight framework for 2D graphics and animation that combines the simplicity of Flash with the power of the Stage 3D API. It is an open source ActionScript library. Watch this particle effect with Starling and Flash Player 11:
Adobe will also soon make a 3D framework technology preview called Proscenium. This will allow developers using Flash Builder to rapidly prototype apps focused on simple content interaction and display, whether for simple games, visualization, or high-quality rendering of small object collections.
Mobile Apps Support
The Native Extensions feature is aimed at mobile developers. I believe that this feature was the “missing link” that stopped some people who otherwise would have chosen the Flash Platform.
Indeed being able to write native code to expose native hardware and OS features and APIs means that you can basically extend the AIR runtime from now on. So, instead of asking Adobe for support for notifications or the contact list API you can create or buy/reuse a native extension that does this.
I know many people are already working on a number of native extensions many of them taking care of some of the most popular developer requests. I hope we will have some kind of a market so people who want to build native extensions and those who want to consume them will be able to meet.
Finally, the Stage 3D API will come to mobile devices too. So this means it will be possible run even more incredible content on these devices.
What about Flex and Flash Builder
With the new version of the runtimes almost out it is only natural to ask this question: what about Flex and Flash Builder? Well, don’t worry because Flex 4.6 and Flash Builder 4.6 are coming this year too (and if you are a Flash Builder 4.5 customer you’ll get this version for free).
Flex 4.6 extends the mobile support introduced by Flex 4.5 by adding new components and better performance. Here are some of them:
The other big news is the improved support for text input across devices. Flex will be using the native text input control on every platform. What does this mean for developers? It means you can customize the keyboard (having access to all supported keyboards; e.g. numeric keyboard or email keboard) and you have access to features like spell checking or cut/copy/paste.
In terms of performance, simply repackaging with Flash Builder and Flex 4.6 can boost your application performance up to 50%.
These releases will provide support for the latest operating systems like iOS 5 and the upcoming Android OS.
Also Flash Builder 4.6 will have support for monitoring network traffic and unit testing for mobile projects.
You can download the release candidates from Adobe Labs.
If you do the math, you’ll see that it has been almost three months from the previous updates of the runtimes, Flex, and Flash Builder. This is not much time, and yet the teams were able to add lots of new features. So I think they deserve a big round of applause! Well done guys!