Archive for the ‘DESKTOP’ Category
V8-GL from the author states:
Here is a video with more information on Silverlight 3 Beta features that are matches of the latest Flash killer features in pixel shaders, 3d planes (ability to create pseudo-3d engines like papervision3d), local saving, pixel operations/bitmap handling, local messaging (silverlight to silverlight – like localconnection), out of browser desktop running ability of SL3, SEO and search indexing capabilities / deep linking navigation and more.
Video of the features of SL3 Beta, Demos, at a Slow Pace from #mix09
A few points after the video and taking a tour of the features.
The pixel shaders are written in HLSL (shader 2), however they are compiled to byte code and do not currently use the gpu for rendering. While the pixel shaders are very cool and the language to write them is standard pretty much for shaders in HLSL shader model 2 DirectX-based (the other is GLSL OpenGL based) they have not allowed this byte code to run on the GPU… yet. Here Flash and Pixel Bender actually are ahead there.
Although there are 3d planes which is very exciting, no good pseudo 3d engine exists yet matching the 3 in flash (papervision3d, away3d, sandy). When SL3 comes out I am sure we will see a few emerge or build them ourselves because this iteration of SL3 looks pretty fun.
Pixel based operations will be a huge advancement much like it was in earlier flash versions as it adds some demo scene type abilities and experiments with pixels that are fun. This also lends to doing cool things like shaders, effects, AR, face recognition, motion detection etc.
Effects like Blur and Drop shadow are good and the ability to add custom ones, great. However currently they are pretty performance intensive. They are also in Flash but there needs to be some refinement in SL3 effects before launch.
Desktop runnable apps in out of browser will be nice and this is a direct compete with Adobe AIR which was a surprise.
Local Communication supports desktop to browser communication.
Isolated storage (similar to shared objects) supports 1MB in browser, 25MB out of browser defaults.
This version of silverlight is really a 1.0 version as typical with most software. Version 2 or version 3 is usually what the initial design goals pan out. Much like the latest unity3d version (2.5) that has windows support and the iPhone SDK 3.0 that both came out this week, even actionscript 3 compared to earlier versions, these toolkits are finally iterated enough that they are really solid platforms for building cool stuff on and become platforms. The next version of all these could be very, very dangerous.
Huge missing features:
Although there are some great features in SL3 beta, it is still not done and it is still missing some key components that Flash has which make it very attractive in the interactive space.
- Camera and Microphone support - Macromedia hired one of the smartest dudes around in Jeremy Allaire back in flash 6 days to help add support for Flash Communication Server (Flash Media Server now) Camer and Microphone support. One of the best R&D periods at Macromedia. SL needs this soon.
- Printing support – what was long a problem in Flash is so in SL, there is no good printing support
No GPU usage for Pixel Effects/Shaders– (neither flash nor silverlight support hardware accelerated shaders in PixelEffects/Pixelbender – Pixel Effects/Shaders need GPU support (see Kevin Goldsmith’s article on GPU mixed with CPU and how this may or may not be good. However processors are speeding up and multi-core helps software rendering, the quality of GPU is well beyond what software rendering can deliver for a few years to come at least while architecture advances, probably more like 5-10 years.
- No UDP plans yet - Adobe has RTMFP, SL sockets has no public plans for adding UDP that I have seen
- No Alpha Channel in Video - You can do this with a shader though but not supported by default.
Silverlight 3 Video
Flash has the upperhand in video and probably will still even though SL3 has H.264. Flash added this at the same time and though they still have FLV which revolutionized web video they are now much broader in support in video than SL3. Silverlight has H.264 and VC1 support (their own FLV like codec). Still pretty cool a couple years ago there was no HD on the web now everyone has it in H.264 video support.
Currently nothing innovative, mainly catchup still, but here are some options
Silverlight 3 beta and the video below the features and highlights will look very similar to flash and flash community advancements over the last couple years. There is no innovation just yet.
But where that could happen is in socket support with UDP. Flash has moved on this in RTMFP and the beginning of larger scale networking support with UDP with samples like stratus. This is a huge differentiating feature for what I think will be game changer on the web (it already is on desktop mmos) in real-time or closer to real-time support for larger sets of users in online games like MMOs or virtual communities, even tools to make request based real-time sites like micro-blogging faster and able to handle more users (right now it is very linear if users get many followers, UDP will allow a better distributed framework for messaging).
Silverlight and Unity3D all need this, Flash could use better support for this. Local saving of a files for cache beyond the internet cache and greater than the 1MB/25MB limits of SL3 IsolatedStorage. This is an issue when you are making large scale games in that you need to save lots of assets to a client but to make it economical you want ot save more than the default internet cache amount. Flash Shared Object (Local) allow you to do this somewhat but it would be great to have a way to just download files for cache (upon user agreement) to store assets in bulk of allowable types (images, video, models, bundles) to the file system.
Hardware rendering for 3d support and UDP support will put Flash and SL3 on par with the killer Unity3D kit for making online web games and other activex/plugins like instantaction that allow you to do these things already.
The one thing SL has over Flash
Flash and Flex are great. But there is this massive division in the community and marketing of Flash. Silverlight is entirely unified and this has much to do with starting clean at a time that interactive development is heading more into a technology and developers control. Flash and Flex need to bring it together. AS3 has been out long enough that the people with skills have hopped on and taken it to a new level, mainly from programmers. If Adobe created a version of Flash that was a new IDE and consolidated Flex and Flash into just Flash, made the IDE as powerful as FDT or FlashDevelop3 there could be hope to bring the platform together. I understand they had to work it in slowly because it was a designers platform really (even though coders still pushed the limits in games and apps built on it) so they had to tip toe carefully on this to not alienate people. But now I think the division is a serious problem with the platform and must be addressed, noone expected Silverlight to be this quick on at least SL3 features. And even though the initial approach might have been bad as SL1 was a huge letdown, Microsoft does not give up and you can see in the XBOX360 and DirectX that they are very pursuant. DirectX really didn’t become huge until version 7 so these guys won’t relent.
I am not a huge fan of using the proprietary tools. Even in Flash I use as much open source as I can even though the player is locked, but Moonlight is something that trails Silverlight development and is a very unique thing in both open source and cross platform/multiplatform development. It is a clear relationship and aims to make Silverlight run on multiplatform mono including Linux. This could win out in the end who knows.
Great iterations of software happened this week in the latest unity3d version (2.5) that has windows support and the iPhone SDK 3.0 and now SL3 is quite a surprise in feature set.
I have been really busy this week just delving into all them and hope to start making more cool and useful projects in them. The best part is right now is great to be an interactive or game developer as all major software companies and markets are focused on retaining good developers. I don’t’ recall a time other than the beginning the the web virtual land rush that has so many options and markets that skilled developers and designers can choose from. Good times.
The guys over at Flashbang Studios, a web game development studio in phoenix, az, and some of the most visible developers in the Unity3d space with Blurst, released something that may interest both FlashDevelop users and Unity3d developers.
FlashDevelop, is by far the best Flash / Flex /haXe IDE in my opinion so it is really great to release this for Unity. I hope one day I or someone has the time to port to Mono so it can be used on Macs even with the 140 pinvokes, it would be a good spread mechanism for mono.
With Unity3d coming to windows soon, UnityDevelop could be a good go to IDE for unity if you aren’t using solely C# with VS.NET. Currently this is based on FlashDevelop2 source code.
AIR is finally 1.0 and live as well as Flex3, both launched today. That is quite a 1-2 punch. These are both great technologies and AIR extends the reach to the desktop and lots of power with that being finally 1.0 and officially launched. It has been hard to convince people to develop on it other than tech demos and prototypes, this should help.
Ajaxian has the run down:
The AIR runtime and SDK has gone through an especially long beta cycle (since June 2007) to ensure that both security and compatibility with existing frameworks was achieved. Some key new and/or updated features include:
- Enhanced Desktop Fucntionality: Drag and drop to the operating system, copy and paste between applications, launching of AIR applications from the desktop or the browser, and run in the background with notifications.
- Data Access: Adobe AIR now provides both synchronous and asynchronous access to the local file system, as well as structured data within a local database. This database is implemented using the open source SQLite database.
- Security: Applications built on Adobe AIR can only be installed through a trustworthy install process that verifies that the application is signed via industry standard certificates, providing users with information about the source and capabilities of the application.
Adobe’s Flash-based RIA development platform, Flex, continues to mature and has been picking up steam in both the corporate space as well as sites such as blist and Scrapblog who have embraced Flex whole-heartedly. Some of the new features in Flex 3.0 include:
- Intelligent coding, interactive step-through debugging, and visual design of user interface layout
- New capabilities for creating RIAs and building applications on Adobe AIR
- Integrates with Adobe Creative Suite® 3 making it easy for designers and developers to work together more efficiently.
- New testing tools, including memory and performance profilers and integrated support for automated functional testing, speed up development and lead to higher performing RIAs.
One of the most compelling parts of the Flex announcement is the fact that Adobe has released the Flex SDK under the open source Mozilla Public License.
Picnik is an excellent application that makes believers out of RIA skeptics made with Flash/Flex. Today Picnik is now integrated with Flickr bringing user friendly photoshop essentially to the masses.
This is a pretty interesting market direction as more photo companies like photobucket and flickr add to the competition for photo editing. As flash based uploads, photo editors, word processors, presentation creators, conference systems, office apps, planning apps and many others all over the web does this mean the services model is really here and RIA is not just a fad?
The model of software is changing, again. The one competitive edge that web applications, and specifically RIA apps have over desktop is that many desktop apps are bloated, have legacy evolution that caused heavy, busy interfaces and absolutely no abstraction of the possible user level in many cases. Web applications are for a broad audience so these applications will see many benefits in making simplified versions of applications for lower skilled users, and then for advanced users more features.
The model is entirely different. They also have the ability to embed in sites like flickr, photobucket, social networks, office product offerings, small business servers, etc. They could even compete on these sites. The install base will not be millions of client computers but networks and clusters of users at online places and services.
This was a dream with ASP applications and software as a service. The problem was before RIA some of the limits of the web were preventing web apps from overtaking and beating out the features of desktop apps. RIAs and the web, web services, user controlled environments are changing the way software is used. is We aren’t entirely there yet but RIAs are reviewing their schematics, late at night, and are slowly taking over the software world and changing the model. Like a ninja is Picnik.
Regarding Picnik, I can’t say enough about the simplicity, clean design that they have pulled off here. The website and application have an identical brand. The application is extremely responsive and acts like html sites would when it comes to text and forms. The integration of services, webcam, all filters in flash, on and on. They really have a great team and it seems like they are both a great product team but also have the right quality. The new market is extremely agile, the paradigm is shifting.
Flash and Silverlight allow developers to make amazing tools, they allow creative expression and they also are usually a bad user experience many times.
Lots of that is changing as more applications are made and frameworks like Flex and Silverlight progress. Much of the needed performance is now available for Flash/Flex in AS3 and the AVM2 virtual machine that runs it, making full applications much faster for all actions that might have been a drag in AS2 and vector based application’s of the past. Some great tools were made with this still that were usable like gModeler a flash based UML modeling tool but the performance boost will make these applications even more usable for mainstream.
Some great examples of user friendly apps where the flash or the silverlight element doesn’t blind the developer from usability. These applications might really have a market for general users of applications from advanced depending on feature set as long as they are usable.
Is a word processor that is really well done. This is made with Flex and everything from validation to the toolset is very usable and clean. I use Google Docs and haven’t looked back for about a year but this application is a nice change to web editors for documents at the current state. It included all the usual basic functionality and great new zoom, revision history and sharing tools that web office tools like word processors has come to expect. Be sure to try this one.
scapblog is a bloggy/presentation that is a great template editor and the tools are broad and expected from users including great integration with the web for photos and video at major sites such as photobucket, flickr, etc.
This is a Flex 2 (actionscript 3) application that is very fast and usable in vector.
This demo showcases the speed of Silverlight and a usable OS like interface that performs well. It showcases Silverlight but also has great usability in expected user actions and results.
Tafiti is a search tool that uses SIlverlight and live search to represent search results in a rich way. They did a pretty good job with usability and especially considering the Silverlight 1.0 lack of good input controls. Little bit laggy.
The point is solution developers should use technology but most importantly make it functional and usable to what users expect. RIAs will succeed very well as long as you can select text, hit back buttons, deep linking, use menu systems, integrate services, have all the features of apps not in vector engines like Flash or Silverlight and to make it mainstream friendly they need to have a low bar of entry and just work. RIAs have an advantage right now as office apps move to the web and photo apps as well, many of these apps above would appeal to general computer users in addition to advanced users.
Incremental Blogger has posted a very well done mouse gesture/handwriting/tablet PC silverlight demo. ByteArray has a similar script for flash with a Mouse Gesture library but this is very accurate to real handwriting.
Grant Skinner has one upped the Flash CS3 AIR application export ability by adding a very useful panel to package Adobe AIR applications.
This is a pretty nice tool as usual from gskinner. Be sure to check out the panel and all the installation info at Grant Skinner’s blog.
Download the AIRPanel zip file from here
Adobe AIR apps are starting to pop up more. After the Grant Skinner AIR app for digg.com it appears Kevin Rose has launched pownce which is a twitter/email/friend/social sharing site/service. The desktop app for pownce.com is built with AIR. I believe AIR will really take off with these types of apps succeeding on it. Pownce is only alpha but it is hard to see it not being successful with the amount of digg users that will spill over.
Pownce (you have to be invited to private alpha)
Other apps for AIR so far that are usable and ready:
Competitor to last.fm. I wonder how long til a last.fm air app.
Digg Desktop Widget (from Adobe sponsored digg API contest)
Other AIR apps can be viewed here including kuler, a twitter app and more. And also here at Rob Christensen’s blog.
merhl has created an Adobe AIR iPhone widget for using the AIR runtime that is pretty cool. It only has some sample screens for most buttons in it but you can actually browse the web on it using the web browser and it flips sideways to show the screen flip. Check out your website or blog on the desktop iPhone. Get your AIR iPhone now!
merhl has made it auto updating with AIR so as he adds more functionality it will autoupdate. That is one neat aspect of doing desktop app/widget work with flash and AS3 in AIR is that it is much more capable of syncing content and that content is usually extremely optimized for fast delivery and keeping it up to date. Plus you can make chrome and shiny things with it.