Flash Player 8 will be hot

By now, everybody has probably seen the latest post on Colin Moock’s blog with a link to the first public demonstration of some of Flash Player 8’s capabilities. The blurry, low-res video shows what can only be defined as a quantum leap from the previous version.

First, there’s some new font features (thanks to a new font engine) which can’t actually be seen, but people are saying it works like ClearType. Well, okey. I personally hoped that Flash would add features such as hinting before thinking of adding minor features such as ClearType support; but maybe it has been added and nobody couldn’t notice it from the video.

Then there’s the speed improvements. I don’t really know all the minor technical details of what has been shown, but at a glance, the player seems to be much much much much much much much much much much more faster then the previous version — the video shows the same graphical animation on both versions.

Video alpha channel support has also been added. While it was possible in the past, it’d require a sequence of imported PNG images – that is, bigger in size.

The demonstration also included some nifty effects that could be applied on movieclips. Particularly, that part made me nervous; I was afraid it would be some new behaviors (like the ones introduced in Flash MX 2004) that would create monster assets on design time. Thankfully, that doesn’t seem the case; it looks like they are created on run time and are available through scripting. The possibilities seem a bit limited right now (only a blurring effect was on display), but hopefully this is the tip of the iceberg.

And finally, the last part of the video had a video feed (of the actual speaker) going through several different color transformation effects. While it’s actually hard to figure it out, I hope that’s proof that more complex channel mixing is possible on this new player – and (one can only dream) that new transfer modes are also available now. This would turn Flash in a real serious animation tool.

While I work with Flash on 100% of my day and I love my job, in the past I started to become a bit sad with the direction Flash was receiving. I felt that some simple ‘web’ features could still be added to the Flash player, but instead it was being geared towards ‘online app’ developers.

While I don’t expect Flash to be geared towards designers in the literal way – I realize both communities must be served – I think it’s quite cool that Macromedia is adding some features that can actually make Flash move in the eyes of designers and creative-geared websites. For that, I thank the Macromedia Flash team.

PS: While I’m on it, there’s another reason I have to thank Macromedia. I had to pay my fees for the goods they’ve sent, but they turned out to be quite cool. Thanks Mike Chambers, thanks Macromedia.

Update: Peter Hall has some new information on the font engine used on the new Flash Player. He claims that, among other things, the new font engine adds hinting-like support for better font rendering on lower resolution. It’s a pretty good read, although I believe that the biggest problem with hinting is actually creating it (a very difficult and lengthy work) than the resulting file size.

  • loz

    But whens the release date??…Beta or new
    ]?[

  • 😀

  • Macromedia doesn’t say a word about it on it’s website.

  • zeh

    Yeah, it’s because, as usual, they’re not releasing official information about their products so ahead of time. All known information has been presented on developer presentations and is still subject to change. More info here:

    http://newsfeed.fatorcaos.com.br/000049.html