September 21st 2009 | Jens C Brynildsen
Rumors had been flying around for a few days before the conference that we were going to see some sneak peaks at this year's Adobe keynote, and that's exactly what happened. Richard Galvan and Mark Anders, "Senior" Principle Scientist at Adobe, were back again this year with an update on the Flash platform and a sneak peek on Flash CS5 and the new Flash Mobile features.
Flash On The Beach 09 report: Marc Anders started off by going over the current platform situation and Flash Player 10 installs continue to impress. New figures due out shortly will put the coverage at over 90%. Mark used some community demos to run through features in the Flash Player 10 and AIR runtimes. (Click any of the images to see the high-rez version)
Richard Galvan gave us our first sneak peak of "Viper" Flash Professional CS5. The big news for developers is that Flash authoring finally gets integration with FlashBuilder. If you're using Flash CS5, a new FlashBuilder project can be created from Flash CS5 through a new export dialogue.
If you're working in FlashBuilder, you can do the opposite - you point it to a FLA and it'll build a FlashBuilder project around it. More importantly the Flash Projects can be tested and profiled from inside FlashBuilder. These things together creates a fairly efficient workflow since you can use FlashBuilder for coding and then export/test your files in the Flash IDE.
Editing in the Flash authoring environment has also been improved and the team has a focus on making Flash more approachable again. There is a new code samples panel for those learning AS3 that kind of reminds of the behaviors available in former versions. Clicking on any of these will add code to the timeline, making this part much easier for beginners, but since it's configurable it's really a Snippets panel inside of Flash so you can add anything to it.
Example code output
The editor also gets a solid brush-up in this version. Much requested features such as custom class completion and introspection inside the IDE. Import any class and you'll get code hints just as in FlashBuilder for both methods and properties, along with a description taken from the ASDoc code.
For designers, the new Flash Text Layout Framework is now supported in the Text Layout panels and The Deco-brush has been beefed up.
At this point, the session was already running a little late so that was it for the sneaks this time. In other words - anyone attending Adobe MAX will get to see it in it's full glory and if you can't make it to MAX, all sessions are promised to be online at Adobe TV within 3.5 hours after each presentation so you're not missing out on all that much by not attending either.
Finally Mark Doherty from the mobile team sprinted through some live demos of Flash on the HTC Android and Windows Mobile. The demos were done through hookups with the phone and simulators and we have to say they were quite underwhelming. Simple games running at 2-3 fps won't impress anyone and we think many just thought "another nail in the coffin for Flash on mobile". However, after his session we caught up with Mark and this was just an unlucky case of display hardware. We tested his phones and everything was playing really smoothly there, so we probably shouldn't worry. Adobe have learned their lesson but they should probably ensure the demos look as good on the big screen as they do on the phones themselves.
Mark showed off a little tooling around mobile as well. We've formerly reviewed the Swf2Go toolkit and there's several others that also deliver this. Back then we had to install several SDKS and loads of extra software. Adobe's new tool has no such requirements and it will let you take any Flash 10 swf and export it as custom installers for Nokia as well as Windows Mobile. The user clicks a link and the player is installed OTA (Over The Air) right there - just as simple as it should be.
The process of getting there had however not been that easy and he mentioned a couple points in this slide.
Especially this last one puzzled us a bit. Is Microsoft really that afraid of loosing developers or are they afraid that games made in Flash will prevent them from getting an AppStore competitor up and running? Interesting...
Mark also wanted to show off a brand new set-top box, but had to postpone that due to technical issues. There were also some interesting mentions of things coming at the Town Hall Meeting and we'll get back to that in our Community reports from Flash On The Beach later today.