Adobe Announces Starling Framework

 As you should know, the new Stage3D feature of Flash Player 11 and AIR 3 provides powerful low level APIs to create high performance 3D graphics in Flash, the issue with this API is that it is of an extremely low level nature that makes it extremely difficult for average developers to pick it up and use it in their projects, and the expectation is that frameworks will be built on top of the Stage3D APIs that will be easy to use and are tailored for specific project needs.

Starling is the first framework built on top of Stage3D and is ready for use right now, this framework aims to help Flash developers create GPU powered 2D graphics that run at the high performance provided by Stage3D. The main highlight of this framework is that is uses convention display list architecture which means that you can pick it up and use it without having to spend a lot of time learning how things work.

Starling Framework projects will run on AIR 3 and Flash Player 11, unfortunately you will not be able to create high performance 2D games for mobile using Starling when AIR 3 comes out because the mobile version of AIR 3 does not yet support Stage3D, but Adobe announced that Stage3D will be introduced to mobile AIR in an upcoming update.

You can watch a video tutorial by Lee Brimelaw that showcases how easy it is to use this frame here, and you can also download a PDF handbook on the basics of Starling written by Thibault Imbert at this link. You can learn more about Starling Framework, look at the samples, and download the framework for your own use by visiting its official website.

New Features in Flash Builder 4.6 and Flex 4.6

 Adobe has announced a few details about the upcoming versions of Flash Builder 4.6 and Flex 4.6 framework, both of which are expected to be released before the end of this year. In addition to incremental improvements in performance, Flash Builder 4.6 will introduce a number of badly needed components that are optimized for mobile projects such as SpinnerList, DateSpinner, ToggleSwitch, CallOutButton, and SplitViewNavigator, along with the introduction of the ability to use native text to support system wide text features such as text selection, spellcheck, and copy & paste. The update from Flash Builder 4.5 to Flash Builder 4.6 will be free of charge.

I’m personally very excited about this update to Flash Builder and Flex. You can learn more about the new features of Flash Builder 4.6 and Flex 4.6 from Adobe’s website.

AIR 3 and Flash Player 11 to be Released Early October

 Adobe has announced that AIR 3 and Flash Player 11 will finally come out in early October, the main highlights of this new release is the formal introduction of Stage3D – a feature that will bring game console quality 3D performance to Flash Player 11 and AIR 3. Unfortunately, even though Adobe has been talking again and again about this feature and its use in mobile devices, the the release of this upcoming first version of AIR 3 will not support Stage3D in AIR 3 for iOS or Android and therefore you will only be able to use the new 3D features of Flash on the desktop. This means that we will have to wait for another update to the SDK to be able to create more powerful games for mobile.

That is not to say that the initial release of AIR 3 is totally pointless for mobile developers as it still includes improvements to video rendering on mobile devices, background audio playback for iOS, captive runtime support for Android, along with the extremely powerful Native Extensions feature that will enable Flash AIR iOS application to take advantage of any natively available capability in iOS by implementing native code in the AIR application.

You can learn more about the upcoming release of AIR 3 and Flash Player 11 on Adobe’s website here.

Adobe AIR 3.0 Native Extensions Demo on iOS

Mark Doherty of Adobe has posted a video on Vimeo that demos the use of the native mapping component in an iOS AIR application by taking advantage of the native extensions feature available in the upcoming Adobe AIR 3.0 for desktop and mobile. According to Mark, native extensions will enable developers of AIR applications on iOS and Android to connect to native API hooks that are not currently supported out of the box by Adobe AIR to take advantage of native capabilities of a mobile platform. This will enable developers to use native features of the OS in their application such as push notifications, in-app purchasing, or any other feature supported natively by the OS.

In the demo below Mark showcases how the native mapping component in iOS can be used in an iOS app:

The release candidate of Adobe AIR 3.0 runtime and SDK are both available from Adobe Labs, the actual release date of the final version of the SDK has not been announced.

[via FlashMobileBlog]

Flash CS5.5.1 Update Released

 Adobe has just released a minor update to Flash Professional CS5.5 that fixes bugs relating to opening and saving some FLA files. Adobe highly recommends installing this update. You can do that by launching Flash CS5.5 then going through the Help file menu to to update it from there. You can learn more about this update from the Flash Downloads page.

Google Deprecates Maps API for Flash

 Google has recently announced on its Geo Development Blog that it will deprecated the Google Maps API for Flash, this means that Google will no longer invest in the development of this API, but will keep it accessible and will try to respond to any problems with the API for up to three years in accordance with its terms and conditions.

While this is a sad announcement to Flash developers, it should be mentioned that it is still possible to use the Google JavaScripts Maps API within Flash projects by loading it as an HTML page, which may just work for some projects even though it cannot be controlled as easy using ActionScript.

There are other alternatives to the Google Maps API for Flash such as the excellent MapQuest AS3 API which is optimized for both the web and Mobile (something not currently provided by any other AS3 Maps API). Make sure you check out MapQuest if you are interested in building a mobile map application using Flash or Flex for iOS or Android.

Flash Player 11 and Adobe AIR 3 Beta 2 now available

Adobe has just released the second Beta for Flash Player 11 and Adobe AIR 3, the new Flash Player beta provides stage 3d APIs, native JSON support, and enhanced compression features among other things. The new AIR 3 beta provides video hardware acceleration for mobile devices, iOS background audio playback support, Android front-camera support, and captive runtime support that allows you to bundle the runtime along with your application to enable the use of your application without the separate installation of Adobe AIR.

You can download Beta 2 of the Flash Player 11 and the Beta 2 of the AIR 3 Runtime and SDK from Adobe Labs.

Adobe Introduces Web Standards Animation Tool

Adobe released today a preview version of Adobe Edge (confusingly the same name as Adobe’s newsletter “Edge“), a brand new animation tool that uses HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript to create timeline based animations that can play directly in any modern browser without a plugin. The preview of Adobe Edge is still very basic, but allows you at this point to create simple square graphics, add images and texts, and then animate them using a timeline in a very Flash Professional like manner, the only difference is that the outcome of the project is a HTML with JS and CSS files.

Adobe states that Edge would be a standalone project besides Dreamweaver, Flash Professional, and Flash Builder. As the web standards become more powerful and efficient, it makes sense for Adobe to take provide tools to make it easy to designers to express themselves using these standards.

You can learn more about Edge and download the preview version of it on Adobe Labs.

Flash Player 11 and AIR 3 beta available on Adobe Labs

Adobe has just released the new beta versions of Flash Player 11 and Adobe AIR 3 on Adobe Labs. The new runtimes will provide improved performance, support for stage 3D capabilities, native JSON support, high efficiency compression and many other features. You can read a summary of all new features here.

The purpose of this beta release of runtimes is for developers to check that their existing products made using current SDKs work properly on the new runtimes. The SDKs for creating new content is only available for private beta testing at this stage.

Flash Builder and Flex for iOS Update Available

Adobe has just released its promised update to Flash Builder 4.5 and Flex 4.5 that enables Flex developers to create iOS applications. The new update also includes the AIR 2.7 update that significantly improves the performance on iOS advices. Using the new update it will be seriously easy to create cross-platform data intensive applications for Android and iOS using Flex and AS3, especially now that Flash Builder comes with mobile specific templates.

You can download the new update by launching Flash Builder 4.5 on your computer and going through “Help>Search for Flash Builder Updates”.

You can read more about this update on the official Flash blog.