All posts tagged ‘adobe’

File Under: Multimedia

New Flash Player 10.2 Goes Easy on the CPU

flash logo[Updated, see below] Adobe has released the first beta of Flash Player 10.2, an update that focuses primarily on speed and performance improvements. New in Flash 10.2 is something Adobe calls “Stage Video hardware acceleration,” which the company claims will “decrease processor usage and enable higher frame rates, reduced memory usage, and greater pixel fidelity and quality.” And the hardware acceleration technology does do all of these things, though your mileage will vary depending on what kind of hardware and software you’re using.

To try out the new Flash Player 10.2 beta, head over the Adobe download page. Be aware that, while 10.2 appears to be relatively stable, it is a beta release and there may be bugs.

The Stage Video hardware acceleration means that Flash Player 10.2 can leverage your graphics card for not just H.264 hardware decoding (which works in Flash Player 10.1) but also color conversion, scaling, and blitting.

Adobe’s press release makes a rather bold claim: “using Stage Video, we’ve seen laptops play smooth 1080p HD video with just over 0% CPU usage.”

Sadly, we have not seen such results. While we won’t argue with the smoothness of the playback in this new release, Flash is still going to use quite a bit of your PC’s CPU. Based on my testing (done on a Macbook Pro laptop using both Firefox 4b7 and Safari 5, and a Mac Pro tower using the same browsers — Wired is an all-Mac office), while CPU usage is down in Flash 10.2, it’s still a long way from zero.

Update: Since this article was published, we’ve been hearing from you, our awesome readers, in the comments and over e-mail. Some things to note: The new beta performs much better on Windows computers than it does under Mac OS X. Also, full hardware acceleration on Mac OS X requires Snow Leopard or later, otherwise it falls back to using software rendering in the CPU. Thanks for the comments, and keep them coming!

On our Macs, we tested several 1080p videos on YouTube in Flash Player 10.1 and found that on average the 10.1 plugin used between 44-48 percent CPU. Watching the same movie in Flash 10.2 did drop the CPU usage down to the 18-22 percent range, but definitely not zero.

Worse, running the same tests on Adobe’s Stage Video optimized demos, Flash 10.2 actually performed worse than than it did on normal 1080p movies with the cpu usage varying widely between 5 and 60 percent (the 18-20 percent range appears to be the norm).

The short story is that, while Flash 10.2 does offer decreased processor usage, it doesn’t quite live up to Adobe’s claims. While Flash Player 10.2′s performance falls short of the hype, there’s no question that it’s a huge leap forward in terms of performance. The smaller CPU footprint alone is well worth the upgrade, provided you don’t mind running beta software. So far Adobe has not set a final release data for Flash 10.2.

One other thing to keep in mind: to take advantage of the new Stage Video tools, sites like YouTube and Vimeo will need to alter their video players. So, it may be some time before the full benefit of Stage Video’s improvements makes it to your day-to-day web browsing.

As for other new features in this release, there’s Internet Explorer 9 GPU support and support for fullscreen mode with dual monitors — meaning that you can have a movie on one screen and keep working on another.

Custom cursors get some love in this release, too, with Flash Player 10.2 handing off the job to the operating system rather than using resources to manually draw custom cursors. The beta also improves text rendering, adding sub-pixel rendering enhancements that should make your typography look a bit nicer and more readable.

It’s worth noting that the Flash Player 10.2 beta does not replace the Flash Player “Square” preview release — in other words, Flash Player 10.2 still isn’t 64-bit native. If 64-bit support is important to you, stick with the Flash Player “Square” preview.

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Adobe Shows Off Fancy WebKit-Based Typography

Typography on the web has improved by leaps and bounds since the dark days of the blink tag, but it’s still a long way from ideal.

Sure there are great ways to serve custom fonts, and you can even use JavaScript libraries like Lettering.js for even more control over your layout. But when it comes to the flow of text around images, pull quotes and other block level elements, well, web typography falls apart.

The demo movie above from Adobe shows off some WebKit-based experiments that seek to change that. Adobe Engineering VP Paul Gubbay narrates and the demo, and he shows how his team is extending the WebKit browser to do some new typographic tricks. WebKit is the open source engine behind Safari and Google Chrome, and it powers the most popular mobile browsers like the ones on the iPhone, iPad, iPod and all the Android phones. The demo certainly shows some impressive results.

However, we’re a bit suspicious of the methodology behind the results. Gubbay talks about extending WebKit’s CSS support via vendor prefixes, but neglects to mention what those prefixes are built against — in other words, there’s no mention of submitting a standard that other browsers could work from.

In fact, while the demo is pretty cool, the whole overview is too vague to say much about other than, “that would be nice.”

Also, note to Adobe, you don’t need to work with Google to work on WebKit. It’s an open source project. You can just submit your patches (instructions are here).

[via John Nack]

Update: The original post got Paul Gubbay’s name wrong. We have updated it. (Sorry, Paul!) Also, be sure to read his response in the comments.

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Adobe Shows Off Flash-to-HTML5 Converter

Even though its Flash technology is used as a punching bag by web standards fans, Adobe has been building tools that embrace HTML5. The company recently released its own HTML5 video player, and Adobe Illustrator and Dreamweaver CS5 now contain a number of new HTML5 export tools.

Now it seems Flash might be joining the party. At Adobe’s Max conference this week, Adobe engineer Rik Cabanier showed of a demo of tool that converts Flash animations to HTML5 (well, technically it looks like a combination of HTML5, CSS and images).

The video below, while not the best quality, shows the tool in action:

Adobe Flash has taken a beating in the last couple of years. First Apple attacked Flash for poor performance, then open tools like HTML5, CSS 3 and JavaScript began stealing much of its thunder, offering video, audio and animation — traditionally Flash’s strongholds — without the need for the free plug-in.

While rumors of Flash’s demise have been greatly exaggerated, there’s no question that, were Flash to remain what it is today, it will eventually be replaced by HTML5 tools.

Keep in mind this is just a demo, not something that’s scheduled for release any time soon. It’s also worthy noting that, despite the claims of “HTML5,” the page generated appears to be using the XHTML 1.0 doctype. Clearly this is a work in progress.

Still, even if the final project generated the kind of messy markup you see in the video, just the ability to export your animations out of Flash, even if the final code needs some clean up, would be godsend for developers that want to move their complicated Flash animations to web standards that play on devices where Flash can’t run.

[via Adobe’s John Nack]

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File Under: Software, Web Services

Using the New Features in Adobe BrowserLab

BrowserLabThe following tutorial comes to us courtesy of Adobe. The company introduced some new enhancements to its BrowserLab service last week to improve its cross-browser testing abilities, and this is an overview of how to use some of these enhancements.

We told you about BrowserLab here on Webmonkey when it first showed up as part of Dreamweaver CS5 in April. It’s a hosted service that lets web developers preview their work across multiple browsers and operating systems in a single environment. Since it’s a hosted service, Adobe can update the backend with the latest code from all the popular browser engines as they’re updated in the real world.

It integrates fully with Creative Suite 5, so if you’re using Dreamweaver, you can launch BrowserLab previews at any point in your workflow and test your live code against all the major browsers.

Adobe may eventually turn BrowserLab into a paid service (the cost will likely be between $200-300 per year), but if you sign up for access before April 30, 2011, you can secure an account for a full year at no charge. All you need is an Adobe ID login, which is free.

The new features of the include a BrowserLab add-on for Firebug and the ability to smart-align screenshots. There are also some further integrations with Creative Suite 5. To walk us through using these new features, Webmonkey has collaborated with Scott Fegette, a technical product manager for Dreamweaver and BrowserLab.

So, take it away, Scott.
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File Under: HTML5, Mobile

Video: Watch Flash Hand HTML5 a Beating on Mobiles

We’re not trying to throw gasoline on the fire or anything, but here’s an interesting video of Flash and HTML5 duking it out on two different mobile devices.

Developer Chris Black shows us two versions of the same animation, one done in Canvas and JavaScript and one done in Flash. He first runs it on a brand new iPod Touch (HTML5) and then on an Android Nexus One (HTML5 and Flash). The framerate is much higher and steady on the Flash version — 57 frames per second versus 40fps in Canvas on the Nexus One and 22fps on the iPod.

A few huge caveats here: The animation is very simple, and is hardly on par with most web animations. Also, the JavaScript code is not optimized as much as it could be, which may be hurting the framerate numbers in the HTML5 portion of the test. Lastly, it’s only an experiment. The HTML5 test measures the rendering speed of the mobile browsers being used, so it can’t be taken as a true head-to-head Flash/HTML5 benchmark. Read the comments on Black’s post and you’ll see people reporting different results across different Android devices. To that point, he uses an iPod Touch, roughly the same as an iPhone and not as fast as an iPad (none of which can play Flash content).

So what’s the purpose, then? Black says he’s trying to take the temperature of the different choices to decide where it makes the most sense for him to focus his efforts as a developer. Here’s his rationale, in the comments of his post:

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