Finally, after some long waiting and nagging for it, Adobe has released Flash Player 11.4 and AIR 3.4 beta today. This release has a lot of awesomeness to it. Let’s look at what’s inside.
First of all, there is the concept of multi threading that is being introduced in ActionScript. For those of you who don’t know what multi threading is, it is a system where you can run multiple tasks at the same time and they all get a separate thread assigned, which means they get CPU time all together. Very simply put, if you have a quad-core CPU and 4 tasks to run simultaneous, each task will get a full core to its disposal.
In Actionscript, these threads are called Actionscript workers. Thibault Imbert has some great basic examples that you can download and explore for yourself.
Although this system is mainly conceived for gaming purposes, all developers can use this to their advantage, be it for heavy duty batch processing in the background or optimization of multiple user access. As an enterprise developer, I’m really happy with this, because this will increase the performance of some of the applications I’m writing.
There is however some sad news as well. To be able to fully take advantage of this new feature you’ll need full support in Flash Builder (for debugging), which is not there yet. But it will be here soon. It will become public in August, so they promise.
Secondly, there is now camera support for StageVideo, using the attachCamera() method. This makes using the camera in your application uses very little precious CPU time, because it will now work on the GPU.
Next up is the image processing from the camera. If you wanted to use the image from the camera to work on, up until now you needed to work with BitmapData.draw() to get those pixels. That meant a lot of development overhead in creating additional objects just to get the camera image. Now, you can simply use these 3 new methods:
- copyToByteArray(rect:Rectangle, destination:ByteArray)
- copyToVector(rect:Rectangle, destination:Vector)
This makes it a lot easier to work with the camera data, because you can simply create the necessary buffer to store the data, call these methods and don’t have to worry about the rest.
Another major upgrade for this release of AIR3.4 beta is the fact that it now supports debug deployments directly onto iOS devices. Up until now, when you wanted to test an application on iOS devices, it was quite the hassle to get there. You had to use iTunes or the iPhone configuration utility. But now the ADT supports direct launch of debug apps on iOS devices. Of course, that means that you still will have to wait on the Flash Builder update to run it from within the tool itself.
There are a lot more feature updates as well, but for myself, these are the major ones. And I can’t wait to play around with it. To download the Flash Player 11.4 and AIR 3.4 beta versions, just go to http://labs.adobe.com.