There have been a few posts already regarding the decision by Adobe to re-version the Flash Player 8.5 to Flash Player version 9. The reasons do seem valid with respect to the differences between the version 8 Flash Player currently available and the new Flash Player 8.5/9.
Having used Flash now for close to 10 years (yes, myself and my good friend Mike Jones over at FlashGen are talking about a ‘do’ to celebrate) there are two things that struck me regarding the release of the Flash Player 9, as it will now be know.
- In the last 10 Years this is the first time a Flash Player or Plugin has been released BEFORE the general Flash IDE. Macromedia have also announced that:
We expect to release an ActionScript 3.0 preview release (public alpha) of the next release of the Flash authoring tool, code-named “BLAZE”, on Adobe Labs around the time of the Flash Player 9 launch.
Based on the fact that Flex 2 and the Flash Player 9 are expected this summer:
Flash Player 9 is expected to ship with the Flex 2.0 launch this summer. It will be publicly available for download from the Flash Player Download Center.
This could mean that the new Flash 9 player could be ‘in the wild’ some months before general flash producers have access to a truly creative/design orientated visual editor to produce from. Rather than the Flex 2/Eclipse platform that Action Scripter’s already have access to.
- The second unique thing about the new Flash 9 Player is that over the last 10 years a key feature of each player release was that they had some level of backwards compatibility. The Flash IDE has also always had some level of support for producing and saving content compatible with previous Flash IDE versions or earlier Flash Player versions.
Even The latest Flash 8 IDE release has the ability to save your production FLA in a format compatible with Flash MX 2004 (Flash 7) IDE. Not to mention that it can export or output SWF files compatible with any player version right back to the 1997 Flash 1 Player version SWF (or SPL as it was in fact known if memory serves :p ).
From what I understand, and have seen so far this does not seem to be the case with AS3 Flash Player 9 based production at the moment. Now whether Adobe intend “Blaze” to offer some support for producing to previous Flash Player Versions or Saving production files for use in previous Flash IDE versions remains to be seen. On a personal note I have worked in enough agencies to know that if it isn’t possible there could be issues in the take up from production houses.
Even now agencies are being asked by clients to produce content compatible with Flash Player 5, and also to supply source files compatible with flash MX. The fact is is that the developers and designers that are pushing the boundaries and evangelizing about the latest features and capabilities of flash are not I suspect the largest user/consumer base of either the Flash IDE or the Flash Player.
While I think getting the new Flash 9 Player out in the open early is certainly a good way to avoid the ‘Player Version Lag’ that has always plagued flash adoption. It may not be the only reason that ‘Flash Version Lag’ exists.