The last year has been quite a rough ride for Flash developers like ourselves.
Apple’s move to ban Flash from iOS devices, back when they had very little competition in the tablet market, and the ease with which Apple convinced the public that that decision was based on performance issues, and not their obvious commercial interest, was actually quite frightening. Flash now has a bad reputation among a portion of the internet audience – mostly Apple consumers, but still – based on misinformation spread by Apple.
Apple wanted to kill Flash, and they certainly gave it some scars.
Use your hardware
Adobe’s response to this has been great: point releases of Flash Player 10 all had fantastic new features, proving that Flash is still the best solution for developing rich “write once – deploy everywhere” applications. Highlight so far has been Flash Player 10.2, that has the new StageVideo feature, which dramatically reduces CPU- and battery use during video playback.
By making a direct connection to the user’s graphics hardware, Flash is now by far the most efficient video playback engine out there, blowing HTML5 video-performance out of the water by a large margin.
But we think that Adobe’s biggest surprise is yet to come, and it’s right around the corner. It’s called Molehill and it’s coming in Flash Player 11.
‘Molehill’ is the codename for a set of low-level graphics hardware APIs, that will allow the Flash Player to make a direct connection with the user’s graphics hardware on Windows, OSX and Android-devices. Until today, Flash graphics were always rendered in software on the user’s machine, completely powered by the CPU. With Molehill, Flash can leverage that task to the GPU, resulting in incredible graphic performance, and at the same time a much lower CPU-usage.
Adobe has released beta-versions of Flash Player 11 for developers – the so-called ‘incubator’-program, and RocketClowns coder 0L4F has had his hands on those for some months. Using the Away3D Broomstick-engine on top of the Molehill APIs seems the way to go, allowing for incredibly fast development of complex, hi-poly, interactive 3d-scenes.
Rocketclowns think you should get ready for a Flash-powered 3d-revolution on the web. It will happen any moment now.
Update – found some secret bootleg footage of one of 0L4F’s first Molehill / Away3D experiments: