Home Adobe Releases Flash 10 Beta

Adobe Releases Flash 10 Beta

Adobe announced today the release of the Flash Player 10 beta, previously code named “Astro,” on the Adobe Labs site. The beta is available for download immediately at the Astro web page and adds a number of compelling features to the Flash player. Adobe, which claims that the Flash player is on 98% of Internet connected PCs, says it has seen an acceleration in the penetration rate for new versions of the player which each new release. It took just 3 months to reach 62% of Flash users for the last version of the player (verion 9), according to the company.

Last October at the Adobe Max event in Chicago, Adobe showed off early demos of “Hydra,” a new image processing programming language. At the time, Hydra was being used to power many of the special effects and filters in After Effects CS3 — a market leading motion graphics software package for film and video — but Adobe planned to integrate it into future products, including Astro.

Hydra is now known as Pixel Blender and it is indeed in Flash Player 10. Pixel Blender can be used by developers to create small functions that can be applied to vector images, video, and bitmaps in real time — think things like morphing transformations or transitions. One thing that struck me about Hydra when I saw the demos at Max was its speed, and the same can be said of Pixel Blender, in part because Flash Player 10 is taking more advantage of the GPU.

Adobe has set up a Pixel Blender Exchange where developers can swap Pixel Blender effects the way Photoshop users swap plugins and filters.

Also new in Flash 10 is a new text rendering engine that will allow developers to create their own text controls. The new engine “provides interactive designers and developers creative control over device font attributes, such as anti-alias, rotation, and style as well as support for ligatures,” according to an Adobe press release, as well as “more text layout options, such as vertical, bi-directional and right-to-left.” The latter is important because it will make supporting non-Latin alphabets, such as Japanese, more easy.

One of the most immediately accessible and compelling new features in Flash Player 10 is the native support for 3D. Developers will now have the option of performing 3D effects on 2D objects with just a few lines of code. The screenshot below, for example, is made up of 2D images of cell phones that were laid out in a circle, then tilted up into 3D space and told to rotate.

Adobe expects to ship a final version of Flash Player 10 later this year, and also plans for the new features to find their way into AIR in a future release.

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