Preview 3 and the future of PB3D

We have just released preview 3 of Pixel Bender 3D (PB3D) This is the best preview to date in terms of reliability and stability. Please look at the release notes ( for the details.

PB3D remains an experiment, where we are exploring the utility of the language for high-level authoring of Stage 3D shaders. Workflows remain command-line based, and it is still easy to write programs that exceed the limitations of Stage 3D. To spend the resources to address the workflow issue would require a significant investment from Adobe, and to justify that we would need extraordinary uptake from the developer community. Please regard the current state of the system as an opportunity to evaluate whether the language is a useful design for your needs, and let us know if you would adopt it for main-line use given a more convenient workflow or language changes, or if it is useful in its current form. Unless PB3D gains significant momentum in the next few months, this is likely to be the last release.

Please note that this announcement only concerns Pixel Bender 3D. Pixel Bender 2D and Flash Player Stage 3D remain unchanged.

5 Responses to Preview 3 and the future of PB3D

  1. As the player with Stage3D isn’t released yet, it would be a bit sad to discontinue this product, when there has been no real chance for proffessional users to utilize it in real world projects.

    If it should remain a command line tool, I would probably prefer the AS3 AGAL compiler, but if it was more like PixelBender for 2D (i.e. you can actually see what your doing, and have interactive test controls automatically generated) then it would be incredibly useful.

  2. Jeremy Friesen says:

    I must admit to not having spent a lot of time trying to learn Pixel Bender 3D, but from what I saw I won’t miss it too much. The AGAL mini assembler is pretty usable, and has the advantage of being able to dynamically assemble programs that are exactly tailored to the number of lights, etc. Pixel Bender 3D added complexities to the workflow, and also has a bigger runtime footprint as well. I would be perfectly happy with an official, supported version of the AGAL mini assembler in the future.

  3. Carl Looper says:

    There is no way PixelBender3D can gain momentum until Flash 11 and AIR 3 have become part of the real world landscape. This could take up to a year. If the criteria for PB3D continuing is it’s take up in the next few months, then it will become a self fulfilling prophecy that support for such will discontinue.

    Now it is silly to suggest that writing shaders in AGAL is going to be something that most developers would want to continue to do on an ongoing basis. In any other 3D framework the equivalents of PB3D exist, and most developers use those equivalents.

    It is in relation to existing shader languages – rather than AGAL – that PB3D needs to be considered: Cg, HLSL etc.

    What is likely to occur – whether PB3D continues or not – is that AGAL compilers for existing shading languages will start to emerge. It will be these compilers that would eventually challenge PB3D. Perhaps such compilers are already in the works. If PB3D is put to bed now then they will most certainly start to be considered. I’d start writing one myself … not that I would want to do that.

    Give me a ready made solution any day.

  4. Joe Cutting says:

    This will be a big shame if pixelbender development stops. I’ve been hoping to use it for number crunching work on the GPU but each new release doesn’t quite get there.
    I would also really need the high level authoring environment as AGAL is completely alien to me.

  5. Jan Drabner says:

    No modern 3D environment will be able to succeed if there is no support for high-level shading languages.

    Either there is one, or Flash 3D will pretty much die when it comes to really good looking games from professional developers. No professional coder team would take the time to learn AGAL if things like webGL and cross-platform engines like Unity are there that offer exactly that.

    Shaders are partly the core of atmosphere in any modern 3D application/game. And without high-level shader support, any engine is pretty much useless, IMHO.