Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Astro and the dragon

I have heard some people saying that the 3D in Astro is software 3D. From watching the video clip of the announcement the words "native support" mean that it is a feature built into the player which means that even if it is software, the action script api would be making calls to native code graphics functions which would still be considerably faster than doing the work entirely in ActionScript. Nobody will know for sure what the real speed and capabilities of the 3D support will be until after the beta is released and there is no announcement as to when that will be. So even if the simple 3D support is entirely in software, it will be faster than what can be done in ActionScript and libraries like PaperVision3D or Sandy should be able to take advantage of the API to get a speed boost. Below are links to keynote videos for those who want to see them yourself.

Another thing that Flash player 10 is going to have is support for Adobe's Hydra programming language. I don't know why the language is named after a multi-headed dragon but Hydra is a graphics processing language that will take advantage of the hardware shading languages that many 3D cards support. The technology preview that is currently on Adobe Labs requires 3D cards that support hardware shading but they say that software based rendering will be in the future releases for people who don't have high-end video cards (like me). If you do have a high end video card and want to experiment with Hydra, the link is

While the upcoming 3D features of Astro may not be robust enough to be the end of projects such as Sandy or PaperVision3D, I am hoping that there is hardware 3D support in Flash Player 10 and that it is good enough to make the existing 3D libraries irrelevant. While this may sound harsh, if there was a standard native library for doing 3D in Flash that was better than the existing software libraries, then everybody would benefit. Though going by personal experience, the Flash Player releases are just better enough to force me to have to upgrade but not good enough to do everything I want to do. At least this is better than Java, which basically abandoned the applet. Yes, FX looks neat but it really seems to be too little too late.

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