Hot on the heels of Microsoft's Silverlight 2 release, Adobe has rolled out the tenth release of Flash, adding 3D support, a new image processing technology and much improved audio support. By far the most anticipated feature is the native support for 3D, taking full advantage of GPU hardware acceleration and allowing developers to apply 3D transformations and animations to 2D objects. Previously Flash developers had to use third party libraries such as Papervision.
Then there's the integration of the Pixel Bender toolkit, the technology used in many of the filters available in After Effects, Adobe's video post production software, allowing developers to create complex video filters. It's support for multi-core CPUs should mean that resource-intensive flash games could add richer textures at minimal cost.
Recent releases had been criticized for introducing serious bugs in Flash's already limited audio support. This release brings the ability to work with audio tracks at a binary level, providing application-level audio mixing and filtering, enabling developers for the first time to create sophisticated audio tools living online.
Other additions include a new text rendering engine created in partnership with the Adobe InDesign team, allowing complex text layouts such as bi-directional text and flowing text across multiple columns.
It certainly feels like Adobe have got their act together since the arrival of Silverlight, and Microsoft will have their work cut out playing catch-up. Great times for interactive developers working on either platform.