Adobe launches Flash Professional CS5 and AIR 2.5

Adobe believes we are in the age of the app, and has positioned its visual development tools to match.

By George Walsh
Managing Editor, Jon Peddie’s TechWatch

Smartphones, Internet TVs, tablets, PCs—how does one develop content for all of these devices at once? At the recent Adobe MAX conference, the company outlined some solutions it thinks will build apps that reach across platforms. Two of these development tools are Flash Professional for CS5 and a new version of Air.

No Flash in the pan

To review, Flash is a development environment for web design, web application development, and interactive and video products. For the web, Flash offers the ability to develop interactive content, typography, video, and animation. In many areas, it works hand-in hand with Air, which we’ll get to shortly. Flash Professional interacts with all of the other apps in Adobe’s Creative Suite including Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and Flash Builder. Versions of CS5 include Flash Pro. The latest version of Flash also includes capabilities that could enhance game development. The first are its Deco drawing tools, which allow you to add animation effects like particle phenomenon such as clouds or rain. You can also work more closely with developers who can use your Adobe Flash Professional project files with Flash Builder to test, debug, and publish your content.

At MAX 2010, Adobe announced that Flash now supports game controllers. The company also showed a demo of 3D in Flash. It can use 100% GPU rendering instead of CPU. It also takes advantage of OpenGL and DirectX. The code name for the project is Molehill. In addition, Adobe also announced that the latest version of Flash player was installed on 74% of PCs in three months and that Flash has been installed on 2 million Android devices and that they expect 10 million by the end of the year. According to Adobe, 70% of casual games on the Internet were built with Flash.

Something in the AIR

Perhaps more impressive is the Adobe AIR 2.5 runtime. It lets you use HTML, JavaScript, Adobe Flash Professional software, and ActionScript (a scripting language originally developed by Macromedia with the same syntax and semantics as JavaScript) to build web applications that run as standalone client applications without the constraints of a browser. AIR applications run across operating systems and are delivered using a single installer file. In RIM’s new PlayBook, AIR is embedded in the OS and linked to the multitasking environment.

Adobe AIR gives you an environment for the delivery of applications across devices and platforms. Support for Android, BlackBerry, Tablet OS, iOS mobile operating system, and TV is now available. A beta of Flash Professional CS5 for AIR offers new features for the Android, Windows, Mac and, Linux platforms, including new profiles for TVs. Using AIR, you can build games and other programs for web, desktop and mobile applications without having to recode for each. It also supports multi-touch and gestures for Windows 7, Android, BlackBerry Tablet OS and iOS. It’s sort of like Java’s old mantra: “write once, run anywhere.”

Let’s put on a show

While games are always the star of the show, one of the products that could really benefit from Flash and AIR is Adobe’s web development tool, Dreamweaver. Dreamweaver lets you work visually or directly in code and offers testing support for content management system frameworks like WordPress, Joomla!, and Drupal. Dreamweaver supports web technologies that include HTML, XHTML, CSS, XML, JavaScript, multiple Ajax frameworks, PHP, Adobe ColdFusion software, and ASP. It works on both the Mac OS and Windows platforms. However, the new cool thing about Dreamweaver is that it supports AIR as well as Flash. This means that you can build a website that includes Flash elements and use AIR to run it and format it on the fly for different devices—including smartphones and tablets. In fact, in the case of tablets and other small devices, it can render the site into scroll format so that viewers don’t have to squint to see the data.

I can see clearly now

Most of us are really impressed with all the new smaller format designs for computing. However, as with much technology (including the PC), the devices emerge before the software needed to really put them to use. With AIR, we can now see data in the format that fits the bill. Right now, it’s limited to supporting web apps and Flash games but it can’t be long before our little machines can run other apps in a visible format. Here, of course, the first things that come to mind are higher end games and graphics tools. In addition to the new version of Flash and the advent of AIR, Adobe demonstrated a few new and interesting applications that could make life easier for users of small format devices, among them the ability to switch between devices without losing data. For example, you could start playing a game on a tablet and move the game to your TV without interrupting the play. Soon smartphones won’t give us eye strain and tablets with be more than electronic books and web browsers. It’s not the machine, it’s the app.

Related posts