Over the years, Flash has slowly but surely made its mark on the Internet until virtually every interactive website contained some form of Flash. As it’s now a fundamental part of the Web, seeing some updates to this technology is very much welcome. There are quite a few new features in Flash 11, including some highly notable ones. In fact, the release of Flash 11 may be more important than Flash 10.
Before we start, I need to make sure you know exactly what Flash is and where it can be found. Flash can be found anywhere, from your YouTube player to those addictive games you play like CityVille. Even some ads (the ones that animate a lot) are displayed with Flash rather than using an image. Simply put, it’s in a lot of places, and you’ll notice it pretty quickly if you don’t have Flash or if you uninstall it. Personally, while I recognize the impact Flash has on the Web, I would rather it be replaced by HTML5. But like any other major technology shifts, people will resist at first and that will make the transition a long process.
Native 64-bit Support
One of the major features being touted in this release is that stable 64-bit builds are available to be used. While it’s strange that Adobe, who have plenty of popular products, never really touched the 64-bit world, they did so with Flash and I think it’s a step in the right direction. Although Windows users were probably fine using the 32-bit version, the availability of 64-bit builds will help everyone. Not only will those builds have slight performance increases simply from its 64-bit nature, but it will also make Linux users very happy to finally have a native 64-bit plugin instead of using plugin wrappers.
In the past, Adobe has once before tried to make Flash available to 64-bit users, but sadly that release lagged behind the official 32-bit build. Today, however, the 64-bit build is in sync with the regular plugin and is ready for mass consumption.
3D Graphics Acceleration
The next major feature is “Stage 3D Accelerated Graphics Rendering”. Simply put, this feature allows the use of GPUs to render the graphics for both 2D and 3D contexts. This is a great addition to Flash as 3D objects were somewhat slow. Instead, they should now render much more quickly and be more competitive compared to native-code 3D games. You can find some demos that use this technology here.
Even More Support
There are many other additions, such as H.264/AVC Software Encoding for Cameras, JPEG-XR support, and support for other compression technologies. Even more so, stability and security fixes over Flash 10 are included as well to reduce the amount of crashes. The end results should be a faster, smoother, and more reliable Flash experience. Therefore, everyone should update to the new version, not only to be able to do more, but to also stay safe.
Flash, while I personally wish it would slowly disappear, still holds much power on the Web. With continuous improvements coming from the developers at Adobe, Flash will keep on living for quite a while as it provides some unique features that HTML5 may not yet have. Only in the course of time will we see whether Flash or HTML5 becomes the dominant technology, or whether they will be tied.
Which do you prefer, Flash or HTML5? Why do you say that? What would you like to see added to Flash or HTML5? Let us know in the comments!