Adobe Flash vs. HTML5: The Latest

Adobe Flash LogoAdobe has published its 12-month roadmap for Flash and Adobe Air. They still see Flash having a role in games despite the growth in HTML5/JavaScript as an alternative technology. They’ve acknowledged that, but are still pushing ahead with changes to Flash and ActionScript to keep it in the game longer.

They have initiatives such as a normalized game developer program, game services amd productized support to let developers use existing C and C++ code in their Flash-based games. I’m guessing this means that Project Alchemy will finally move out of the Labs where it has been for the last couple of years and into production Flash. It’s a good move, somewhat similar to Google with Native Client.

I’ve been wondering why they haven’t offered their own cloud services for Flash games. This is a space owned primarily by Amazon with AWS and others (e.g. Heroku). It’s not as if Adobe can have been oblivious to what Zynga did in the last five years with their Flash games and the Z-Cloud infrastructure they built to service those games.

I also think Adobe has been a bit slow in getting GPU support into Flash, though it’s there now, and they’re planning to include it in iOS via Adobe Air. Despite Adobe abandoning Flash Player on mobile and iOS in particular, developers can still run their Flash games on iOS through generating iOS compatible projects and building them with XCode, Apple’s own development technology. Soon those games will be able to include GPU support to enhance performance.

One of the biggest complaints with the Flash run time has been its single threaded performance bottleneck. Adobe plans three releases of the Flash player this year, which is an aggressive target! Many of these releases include performance enhancement with ActionScript execution on separate threads, hardware support for older video cards, and making better use of the current environment through a performance index API.

ActionScript 3 itself should run faster through making use of hardware oriented numeric types, and static typing where possible, which means the compiler checking things at compile time rather than the Flash run time.

It’s not all good news though. Linux looks as if it’s losing Flash except in Chrome browser. I’ve never found Flash on Linux to be as reliable as under Windows but Adobe is taking a different tack at this. Chrome browser has an API called Pepper (PPAPI) which allows Native code to be run within Chrome. The Flash player will be implemented as native client under Chrome. Interestingly, this should also work on Windows as Native Client is platform agnostic, and it may be a way for Flash to survive in a future where browser plugins can no longer exist. Assuming that you use Chrome, of course.

Want to find out more? Read Adobe’s entire roadmap.

Comments

  1. BY SteveM says:

    Good article. I also found this one that provide some analysis on flash v html5 and the future of silverlight in the context of web mapping. Not gaming but still relies on some of the same concepts.

    http://www.georelated.com/2011/11/web-mapping-enabling-technology-are.html

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