Adobe Maps Future of Flash, Flex, AIR

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2007-09-20

Adobe Maps Future of Flash, Flex, AIR


Adobe Maps Future of

Flash, Flex, AIR"> BOSTON—Adobes chief software architect, Kevin Lynch, mapped out the direction of some of the companys core technologies for developers and designers in a speech to Adobe designers and developers here Sept. 19.

Speaking at the Flashforward 2007 Conference, Lynch discussed the ongoing developments occurring with Adobe technologies, including Flash, Flex and the Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR, formerly code-named Apollo), in a keynote presentation that was essentially a preview of the Adobe Max conference slated to run Sept. 30 through Oct. 3 in Chicago.

Lynch said Adobe has been making "incredible progress" with AIR, and a beta of the technology will be available "in the next couple of weeks" to coincide with the Max event.

In a separate talk, Mike Chambers, principal product manager for developer relations at Adobe, described AIR as "a cross-platform run-time that allows Web developers to leverage existing development skills to build and deploy Web applications to the desktop." AIR applications can be built in Flash, Flex, HTML and AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML), he said.

"Its not just about Flash. You dont need to know any Flash" to use AIR, Chambers said.

Adobe has been working on AIR for nearly five years in various forms, yet "its still early" in the process of shaping the technology into a product, Lynch said. "Were focused on enabling these apps to run well on the desktop—taking advantage of Flash, as well as HTML and PDF," he said.

Adobe and BEA Systems are teaming up on Web applications. Read why.

AIR is designed to be usable in both online and offline modes and detects when the user has a network connection, Lynch said.

The second beta of AIR will also support access to local file system archives, user notification, applications updates, drag-and-drop capability and local storage, among other features, Lynch said.

Lynch demonstrated applications based on Adobes AIR, some of which he said had never been shown before. Among those demonstrated was one from the Adobe AIR sample applications Web site called Pixel Perfect, a utility for measuring the size of objects on a users desktop. Other AIR-based applications included Art Musheen, the Digimix Project, Finetune and the Buzzword word-processing application.

Hitting on Adobes most famous technology, Lynch mentioned that the next version of the companys Flash Player is code-named Astro and will be discussed in greater detail at the Max conference.

He did, however, demonstrate many of the capabilities of an upgrade to the current version of the product, Flash Player 9. The upgrade, known as "Moviestar," enhances the video capabilities of the player, he said.

"Were really focused on video technology and helping you create experiences," Lynch said. Indeed, Adobe is intent on helping developers and designers plan, acquire, produce, manage, publish, deliver and play back video content, he said.

Page 2: Adobe Maps Future of Flash, Flex, AIR

Advancing Flash Video


One way the company is doing that is through support for the H.264 standard for video compression, which is gaining adoption across devices such as video cameras, MP3 players, cell phones, game consoles and more.

"Were building H.264 into the Flash Player," Lynch said. "You can go to the Moviestar Lab [on Adobes Labs site[ and get it now," he said. "Were also supporting HD-quality video inside the Flash Player."

Lynch said Flash video accounts for at least 70 percent of the video content on the Internet. "We will keep advancing Flash video," he said.

In addition to H.264 support, Lynch said the Moviestar update to Flash Player 9 includes new features, enhancements and bug fixes for Windows, Macintosh and Linux versions of Flash Player 9, including multicore support for vector rendering; full-screen mode with hardware scaling; Flash Player cache for common platform components, such as the Flex framework; and support for MSAA (Microsoft Active Accessibility) in the Windows plug-in.

Lynch demonstrated how the Flash Player could run a complex animation 70 percent faster by taking advantage of the multicore processor.

Adoption of the Flash Player has been "unprecedented," Lynch said. Although it took Flash Player 7 up to 18 months to gain 90 percent adoption, it took Flash Player 8 about a year to achieve the same level of adoption, and it has taken Flash Player 9 less than a year to achieve the same thing.

Read here why Apollo Software got the name Adobe Air.

"That is unprecedented," Lynch said. "No technology has been adopted so quickly or so ubiquitously."

Lynch said Adobe will keep pushing the technology forward, even through the core language behind Flash is ActionScript, a scripting language for Flash developers that is based on ECMAScript. The latest version of the language, ActionScript 3.0, features E4X, or ECMAScript for XML, support.

"E4X lets you work with XML more effectively," Lynch said. "You can access XML as if it were a data structure inside ActionScript."

Adobe has open-sourced the virtual machine inside the Flash Player, known as Tamarin, and donated it to Mozilla, which will be putting the virtual machine technology inside the Firefox browser, he said.

Lynch also discussed Adobes Flex tool set for building rich Internet applications and called on Adrian Ludwig, an Adobe product manager, to give an update on the upcoming version of Flex—Flex 3, also known by the code name "Moxie."

Adobe is in the process of open-sourcing the Flex framework.

Moxie enhancements will feature language intelligence, support for AIR, code refactoring, memory and performance profilers, SWF (Shockwave Flash) file size reduction through persistent framework caching, a visualization component and designer workflow, Ludwig said.

"With the Framework Cache, applications that used to be hundreds of kilobytes or thousands of kilobytes can now be in the tens of K," Ludwig said.

Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis in programming environments and developer tools.

Rocket Fuel