The Future of Adobe Flash Player 10 – Part 1: 3D Environment

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With Google’s recent announcement that it will begin indexing text and links in Flash files, I thought it appropriate to talk about the release of Flash Player 10.

There have been many changes and advancements with Flash since Macromedia first introduced it back in 1996; the majority of which occurred with Adobe’s release of Flash Player 9 and ActionScript3.

In this article, we’re going to uncover some of the upcoming features of Flash Player 10, which has recently been released for public beta testing.

3D Environments

New to Flash Player 10 is the native 3D support. Previously, Flash only allowed us to move images around on a 2D workspace by changing the ‘x’ and ‘y’ position of an on-screen object. The ‘z’ position has been introduced in Flash Player 10 as a way to move images in a 3D workspace by adjusting the depth.

The new 3D environment is incredibly easy to use and requires little learning for someone with past Flash experience. However, the features are still insignificant compared to what has already been developed by the Flash community (like PaperVision3D). Still, this is a major advancement in the Flash Player’s native graphic capabilities and, with a bit of creativity, the possibilities are endless.

In addition to depth control, there are also new rotation properties. In Flash Player 9 and earlier, the ‘rotation’ property would rotate an object using the z-axis as its guide. This is useful if you want to turn the hands on a clock, but in a 3D world we want to be able to do much more than that.

By changing the ‘rotationY’ and ‘rotationX’ properties, we can effectively achieve the true feeling of a 3D environment. By default, a display object is flat and will appear as though it were cut from a sheet of paper. With some minor code manipulation we can give our objects mass, unlocking the door to even more creative potential.

Lastly, it should be noted that there is no “camera” object in Flash Player 10. However, it is possible to imitate a camera by putting all the display objects inside a container. Now, when the container moves, we get the appearance of moving through the environment.

That’s all for now, but check back for the next article installment: Dynamic Sound!

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