Today, the Flash Pro team is releasing an update that should be a fairly major milestone in the tool’s history. In this post I’ll explain my personal view of what’s changed, why it’s a good idea, and where Flash goes from here.
Note that this post is about Flash-the-animation-tool. The runtimes (Flash Player and AIR) are a separate topic, but suffice to say that today’s update doesn’t affect them.
Background: FLA types
Then a bit later, Flash gained a WebGL file type (currently in tech preview). Along with other new features to publish SVG and sprite sheets, Flash Pro was becoming more and more a multi-purpose tool. Which brings us to…
Announcing: Custom Platform support
CreateJS and sprite sheets are great but there are tons of other formats and libraries out there. In an ideal world Flash could publish them all, but waiting for Adobe to implement them one by one is not the way to go. So, today’s Flash update introduces a mechanism whereby anyone can extend Flash to natively support any library or format, just as it supports SWF and CreateJS.
Here’s how it works. Let’s say you’re an animator and you want to create an animation to play back in Unity or Starling. You might decide to use the GAF format. So first you’d go and get the GAF extension for Flash and install it. Then re-launch Flash and you’ll find a new FLA type to choose from:
When you create a GAF project you’ll notice a few changes – for example the 3D rotate tool will be grayed out (because GAF doesn’t support perspective transforms). And when you open the publish settings, you’ll see custom settings for GAF:
Finally, when you hit File>Publish you’ll get your GAF file, which you can then play back in Unity, Starling, Cocos2D, Marmalade, and so forth.
Neat. Why is this important?
The nice thing about being an evangelist is that I’m pretty free to go off-script and speak my mind. (There isn’t actually a script in this case, but nonetheless.) So here’s where I do that: I believe that custom platform support is the feature that will determine whether Flash Pro is still around 5-10 years from now.