Updates from the Lab

Customer feedback helps us evolve Flash so that we can help developers and designers push what’s possible for over a billion people on the web. Adobe Labs is an invaluable channel for us to engage with our community, and it’s where we share some of our early investigations, showcasing unsupported previews of experimental technologies. Some of these previews go on to become fully supported features or products, and others are phased out after we’ve had the opportunity to learn from them, allowing us to prioritize new product innovations.

In advance of releasing the next-generation Flash runtimes, Flash Player 11 and AIR 3, we want to share that we will soon be winding down our Labs preview of “Alchemy.”

We released Alchemy on Labs over two years ago as an experimental prototype that allowed developers to leverage C/C++ code in Flash Player and AIR. We have not updated the original Alchemy prototype, and while we noted from the beginning that it should not be relied upon for production content, we’ve received persistent requests from developers asking for official support in the Flash runtimes.

We’ve been listening and have decided to invest in creating an improved version of Alchemy, which we plan to release as part of a paid production offering for commercial development. We intend to make non-commercial use free of charge.

The production release will offer significantly better performance and productivity over the Labs prototype. By re-architecting major portions of the technology, we aim to enable code execution approaching native performance, scalable support for large code bases, full debugging support, up to 75% reduction in code size, and seamless integration with ActionScript – all while reaching virtually every connected computer on the web.

This new offering will be available with a future update to the Flash runtimes, and we are temporarily including the prototype in the initial releases of Flash Player 11 and AIR 3. We continue to advise developers not to use the prototype for production content. Content created with the prototype for Flash Player 10.x and AIR 2.x will continue to work in future versions of Flash Player and AIR. The new production version of Alchemy will be needed to deliver Alchemy-enabled content that requires Flash Player 11 or AIR 3 and beyond.

In other Adobe Labs updates, we’re excited about today’s announcement that Flash Player 11 and AIR 3 will be available in early October. They introduce full GPU-accelerated graphics rendering with the new Stage 3D API previewed on Adobe Labs, providing 1000x faster rendering performance over Flash Player 10 and AIR 2. Stage 3D takes the throttle off developer and designer creativity, enabling stunning content that can animate millions of objects with silky smooth 60 FPS rendering. Check out our announcement blog post to learn more about this and the other advanced new capabilities in Flash Player 11 and AIR 3.

We’re using the spirit of innovation behind Adobe Labs to change what people can do on the web, and technologies like Flash Player 11 and AIR 3 will enable a new class of incredible immersive experiences. We have a lot more in store as we continue our work to enable millions of developers to reach over a billion people with stunning applications – from games and premium video to sophisticated, data-driven content. We look forward to sharing – and showing – more about the future at Adobe MAX next month.

Update – Nov 22, 2011: Starting with Flash Player 11.2 and AIR 3.2, content targeting Flash Player 11 and AIR 3 (i.e., content using SWF version 13 and above) will not support the experimental Alchemy prototype. Existing Alchemy experiments targeting Flash Player 10.x and AIR 2.x are unaffected. We’re continuing work on the new production version of Alchemy for next year that will allow developers to publish Alchemy-enabled content targeting Flash Player 11 or AIR 3 and beyond. And if you’re interested in Alchemy, we invite you to participate in our survey. We appreciate hearing your thoughts and feedback!


3 Responses to Updates from the Lab

  1. Alex says:

    What will be the difference between Alchemy and AIR 3 Native extensions ?

    • Tom Nguyen says:

      Content using Alchemy is compiled to ActionScript bytecode and is executed in the AVM (ActionScript Virtual Machine). This allows it to run sandboxed in the browser in Flash Player (as well as in AIR) across platforms. This code cannot access native device/OS capabilities beyond what ActionScript can access. In contrast, native extensions introduced with AIR 3 can access deep native device/OS capabilities, but they are only available in standalone AIR apps, not Flash Player in the browser. This code runs natively, not in the AVM, so different native code ends up being packaged for, say, a Windows AIR app versus an iPad AIR app.

      Summary: Alchemy provides automatic portability and works in the browser, whereas native extensions introduced with AIR 3 provide access to deep native device/OS capabilities for standalone apps.

  2. Bruce_Jawn says:

    That’s really great!