Some of the coolest, groundbreaking stuff at MAX is shown in very raw form at Adobe’s Sneaks (last year they were called Sneak Peaks). This is where you get to see the type of things Adobe is doing R&D on straight from the engineers. However, since all of the tech is still work in progress and might never make it into real products,y Adobe never records and uploads the video of the Sneak sessions. So instead people who don’t go to Adobe MAX have to rely on audience members recording it and putting it up places like YouTube.

Many of these videos have been shared via Google+ or Twitter, but in case you missed any of them, here is video clips of the whole set.

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Multithreading in Flash update

September 2, 2011

I figured I would give a quick update on multithreading in Flash, as since I wrote about the subject last year, around 80% of the search engine traffic coming to my site are using keywords “multithreading in Flash”, “concurrency in Flash”, “threads in Flash” and literally hundreds of other variations. If you follow the latest Flash news then some of this might be old news, but I figured I would summarize it and then make some guesses about the future.

What will the API look like?
So earlier this year at Flash Camp Brazil, Arno Gourdol from Adobe had a future of Flash presentation. He covered quite a few things including what the concurrency API likely would look like. Here is the slides for that presentation (PDF) and bellow is the code sample found in that presentation:
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So the new Flash Player Incubator program is really quite exciting seeing the Flash Player while it’s still in development and before it reaches beta. Now a lot of the attention so far on the incubator builds of Flash Player have been on Molehill, the new 3D API but I’m also curious about what else is in there.

Poking around in the docs one of the interesting things that I found is mention of a Flash Player 10.3 and AIR 2.7. So while these incubator builds are a sort of alpha of Flash Player 11, there’s going to be another Flash Player and AIR release between now and Flash Player 11 & AIR 3.0.

Another interesting thing is the classes in the flash.hid directory. HID stands for Human Interface Device, which is likely the game controller support Adobe has been talking about. It’s not working just yet, but you can see the devices Adobe has been playing around with, some of them really quite different and strange (like a Magic Carpet Simulator device, to VR gear). Some of them with references to DVDs and VCRs, I wonder if it has to do with Flash being on tvs now. Also those following the PlayBook development might realize it’s OS is called QNX. QNX is a company that RIM bought out and still provides it’s OS for everything from cars to equipment on NASA’s Space Shuttle. With QNX running Flash it running on cars, I wonder if that’s where things like variables referring to car alarms comes from.

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After many years of developers asking for the feature, at Adobe is talking about adding multithreading, or at least some sort of concurrency system to the Flash Player!

I’m surprised it wasn’t bigger news at Adobe MAX 2010, perhaps putting it into the second Adobe MAX keynote. Instead, the news was slipped into the Flex Roadmap session at MAX. Which again is a bit strange, rather than to see it in the Flash Platform Runtimes Roadmap session. The MAX session can be seen online here on Adobe TV and they start talking about it shortly after the 40 minute mark.

In the session Deepa Subramaniam, the Flex SDK Senior Project Manager went over the different ways of how Adobe could implement concurrency into the Flash Player. As the Adobe Flash Player team seems to be still looking to a system that is easy enough for new developers but complex enough for more experienced developers (from scripters to developers to software engineers is how they put it in the presentation).

Speaking of new developers, if you don’t know what multithreading or concurrency is, let me take a moment to explain why this is such a big deal.
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As I blogged about earlier, one of the highlights of FITC these past couple of years has been going to Jim Corbett‘s presentations on the internals of the Flash Player. They are like Tinic Uro’s posts on the Flash, a behind the scenes look at what goes on in creating the Flash Player, straight from one of the engineers on Adobe’s Player team, with tons of great info for Flash developerment. This was his third such presentation at FITC Toronto and this time the focus was what was done for the mobile version of Flash Player 10.1.

Now Corbett doesn’t have a blog and so he won’t be posting his slides unless FITC or someone from Adobe possibly post them for him. I knew this from previous years and also realized that content can be quite helpful to other Flash developers. So I’ve taken pictures of almost every slide (I arrived slightly late after lunch so I‘m not sure if there‘s any missing slide from the beginning) which you can go through on your own here on Flickr.

Some quick highlights on new things about Flash Player 10.1 that I’ve yet to hear elsewhere. Now Tinic Uro’s already blogged that Flash content scrolled out of view or on another tab will be paused or throttled to 2 frames per second, to save resources on the computer or device. Corbett expanded on this saying that there will be a new HTML parameter to control this called hasPriority. The default of this boolean value is set to false and setting it to true will stop Flash content from being paused or throttled. Tinic Uro also mentioned previous that Flash content with running audio and video doesn’t get paused or throttled. Check the slides for more details, but this is obviously important for people to be aware of since it is one of the few times where Adobe has done something to the Flash Player to effect existing content.

Jim Corbett at FITC

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FITC Toronto 2010

April 25, 2010

Today begins the 9th annual FITC Toronto convention (although the workshop part began yesterday). I’ve been going to FITC since the 2003, although I missed 2 years (made up for it by winning tickets to FITC Hollywood one year I didn’t go). It’s always been a great time of learning combined with being inspired by what others are doing with Flash. I’m extremely lucky to have such a great conference where I live, rather than having to travel to go to conferences. I don’t think I would be the Flash programmer I am today without both FITC conferences and monthly FlashInTO user group meetings.

If you don’t already go to user group meetings in your area, check out Adobe Groups to see where they are organized in your area. If there isn’t one and you know of other Flash creators in your area, consider organizing one yourself.

Back to the conference, last year I was blogged for FITC and never posted the links on my website. However, checking now the links to the old FITC blog seem to be dead. Perhaps, I’ll achieve those posts later in my own blog.

This year it won’t be officially blogging for FITC, but will still be writing a few article for my own blog instead.

I’m really looking forward to seeing Jim Corbett’s 3rd FITC presentation on Flash Player internals, with this year a focus on mobile Flash. Learning behind the scenes info on how the Flash Player works from someone from the Flash Player engineering team is always geeky fun. Plus it’s great being able to ask him some questions after the presentation. Last year I asked about the future of ActionScript and ECMAScript, plus the chance of multi-threading happening in Flash Player. I may follow up on him with about the future of ActionScript and perhaps ask him about Sherlock (although that might be outside of the Flash Player’s team domain).

There’s other presentations that I’m really looking forward to, but the first session at FITC is about to start.

Also if anyone is interested I have a handful of free promo stickers from my work StickerYou, which say “code is beautiful”. If you see me at FITC, feel free to ask me for a sticker if I have any left.

So I’ve finally added my first feature request to the Flash Player in Adobe’s Bug and Database Management System. I’ve voted on quite a number of bugs and features, but never added added my own feature before.

It’s issue #FP-3889: “In the right-click context menu include a link to the player’s bug system”. So that users could see in the context menu something like “Report a Flash Player bug” which goes to http://bugs.adobe.com/flashplayer/

I think making more of the general public aware of the bug system would result in catching more bugs, which would result in a better Flash Player. I don’t think that the Flash Player is nearly as bad as many complain that it is, but I think this would be helpful. It could even help the image of the Flash Player to those who think it’s buggy.

Perhaps a step further would be to help less technical people in reporting bugs and include a Flash Player version detection that filled in the form with their version number, browser and operating system. It would also obviously mention if their Flash Player was out of date.

I’ve thought this would be a good feature for quite some time but finally got around to submitting it, as I got thinking about reporting bugs because of Ted Patrick’s recent campaign to get more Flash developers to report bugs in the Flash Player 10.1 and AIR 2.0 betas. Which is great, as I unfortunately still come across a few Flash and Flex developers and quite a number of Flash designers who aren’t even aware of bugs.adobe.com. Perhaps adding this to the context menu would not only help the general public more aware of the bug database, but could also make more of the Flash community aware of it.

So please vote for issue #FP-3889. If you don’t already have an account Adobe’s Issue database, and you are a Flash developer or designer, do yourself a favour and take the time to create an account. Not for the purpose of voting for my feature request (as that would be nice) but so that you can influence the future of the Flash Player (plus Flex SDK, BladeDS and more) plus bring attention to any bugs you might have come across.

Ted Patrick recently blogged that the betas for Flash Player 10.1 and Adobe AIR 2 is winding down. Beta #3 for Flash and AIR is set to come out in a couple of weeks, with the release version set to come out within 60 days.

So now is the time to report any remaining bugs, so that Adobe can fix them before the next big release. As the Flash Player team can only fix bugs if they are aware that they exist. While Adobe does do a lot of QA internally looking for bugs, there’s such an incredibly huge amount of Flash content out there on such a wide variety of platforms, that it’s impossible for Adobe to thoroughly test everything themselves. Which is why it’s important for people to discover and report any bugs they discover.

So here’s the link for Flash Player 10.1 Beta 2, and here’s the link for Adobe Air 2.0 and if you find any bugs they can be reported at bugs.adobe.com. Make sure you do a search before adding a new bug, as someone else might have already included that bug. In which case, you can vote for it to give the bug more priority.

This particularly relevant, with the recent discussion lately about Flash the result of the iPad launch and talk about HTML5, as part of these online discussions there are some who think that the problem with Flash is that it’s too buggy. There are groups who complain about the proprietary nature of Flash, yet I imagine few of these people realize that Adobe does have an open bug and issue database.

So it would be great, not just to test content with the betas, but to pass this along (via Twitter, Facebook, email, blogging or old fashion verbally mentioning it) to others. Perhaps even go beyond just Flash developers but also other technically inclined people who might take the time to report bugs. Non-Flash developers aren’t likely to be able to pin-point the cause of bugs without access to debug the source code, but they could still point to any Flash content causing any major bugs or crashes.

The more people are aware of bugs.adobe.com and the more bugs get reported before a major release is shipped, the better off the next version the Flash Player and with it Adobe AIR will be. It’s actually too bad that there isn’t a “Report a Flash bug” in the right-click context menu, so that more people outside of the Flash community could be aware that they can report bugs. Perhaps when I have time later this week, I will add that as a feature request, which is the other great side of the Bug & Issue database.

One last thing, if you look between the lines of Ted’s announcement that the release version of Flash Player 10.1 will be available within 60 days, that means CS5 will likely be out within 60 days. As a new release version of Flash has always come out within a few days of the new version of the Creative Suite.