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Adobe Flash Player 10 beta: hardware-accelerated eye-candy


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Santa Jose (CA) - With Flash Player 10, Adobe is taking Flash-powered web applications to the next level, with eye-candy visual effects, 3D graphics, After Effects-like custom filters and advanced text layout capabilities. The player offloads most rendering tasks to the graphics card so eye-candy should come with little performance penalty.

Adobe has released the second beta of Flash Player 10, code-named "Astro". Developers are encouraged to update and test their existing Flash applications so that they work with Flash Player 10. End-users can also install the player and see the new features in action. Before installing Flash Player 10 beta, you have to uninstall any Flash player you have on your system as described in this article.

Flash Player 10 introduces new features that Adobe bets will significantly enhance the experience in Flash-powered web applications. According to Adobe, the technology now enables content creators and web developers to use 3D effects, create custom graphic filters and effect, take advantage of advanced text layout engine, enhanced drawing and sound APIs, all at little performance penalty since the company has significantly improved run-time performance across platforms.

"Adobe Flash Player 10 introduces new expressive features and visual performance improvements that allow interactive designers and developers to build the richest and most immersive Web experiences. These new capabilities also empower the community to extend Flash Player and to take creativity and interactivity to a new level," says Adobe.

Graphics, sound and 3D as the killer features

Custom filters and effects are built using Adobe Pixel Blender, the same technology that powers After Effects CS3 filters. Using Pixel Blender developers can create, share and use custom-made, portable graphics filters, blend modes and fills. Shaders in Flash Player are about 1KB in size and can be scripted and animated at runtime. Sound can now be accessed at low-level through the new sound APIs, with audio mixing now possible through ActionScript. Audio can even be filtered with Adobe Pixel Blender.

Although many third-party 3D add-ons are available for Flash, Adobe is now including 3D as the default Flash feature. Developers can easily transform and animate any Flash object in 3D space, while retaining full interactivity. Effects are going to be hardware-accelerated for fast, fluid motion without performance penalty. Text layout engine builds on the co-existing TextField features and now provides much deeper, low-access control of text elements, supporting typographic elements like ligatures. Right-to-left and vertical text layouts are now possible, with multiple columns and inline images. New text features are meant to provide better-looking document layouts in Flash that more closely resemble word processing.

Eye candy without performance penalty?

New run-time drawing APIs now support 3D and re-stylable properties. Adobe is also introducing new way of creating complex drawing shapes that eliminates the need to code them line by line. Flash content is now color managed to achieve precise colors as developers mean them to be. The player offloads all raster content rendering (graphics effects, filters, 3D objects, video etc) to the video card so the eye-candy should come at little performance penalty. In order to use hardware-accelerated graphics, you need to have Open GL 2.0 video card with GLSL capabilities.

The player now supports the latest video encoding formats for HD video, decodes and playbacks video content using hardware-acceleration and dynamically streams video to adapt the quality to the user's connection speed. ActionScript 3.0., Flash's scripting language, has received dramatic performance improvements that directly translate to run-time speed performance.

Player's run-time performance is now more even across different platforms, unlike previous versions that ran Flash content significantly slower on non-Windows platforms. This has been particularly true for the Mac OS X version of Flash Player. Adobe developers claim that Flash Player 10 runs three times faster in benchmarks due to hardware acceleration of graphics and video that was absent from the previous OS X Flash player versions so far. Adobe didn't set the timeline for the final version, but the company hints that the development is wrapping up.



Edited by shahed26
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