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Flash Professional CS6

Flash Pro CS6 adds more tools for building hardware-accelerated games that work across multiple platforms, as well as tools for designing and testing mobile applications, without leaving your PC.
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By Simon Bisson on
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Flash Professional CS6
The CS6 release of Flash Professional adds more tools for building hardware-accelerated games that work across multiple platforms, as well as tools for designing and testing mobile applications, without leaving your PC. You can also download an add-on that adds HTML5 support — turning Flash movies into Canvas animations.

Flash Pro is in three CS6 suites: Design/Web Premium (£1,509 ex. VAT; upgrade from £298), Production Premium (£1,509 ex. VAT; upgrade from £298) and Master Collection (£2,223 ex. VAT; upgrade from £397). On its own, Flash Pro CS6 costs £556 (ex. VAT; upgrade from £79). Flash Professional CS6 is also available via a Creative Cloud subscription (£38.11 ex. VAT per month on an annual subscription).

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User interface
Flash Pro CS6 is still the familiar Flash development environment, with tools for code-heavy ActionScript development and for design-led animations. You get the familiar timeline animation development, while there's a full code editing environment for working with ActionScript and building the logic needed for 2D and 3D AIR games. A drop-down lets you switch the workspace layout depending on your current task — and includes a small-screen option that's ideal for working with Flash on a notebook.

Screenshots: Simon Bisson/ZDNet UK 

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Templates
Adobe makes it easy to get started with Flash Pro CS6. As well as the standard selection of layouts, there are a series of templates that give you basic designs and code for a selection of common use cases, including media players, mobile applications, animations and advertising. All you need to do is choose a template, and then customise it appropriately.

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Sprite sheets
Flash's vector graphics aren't always the fastest way to deliver animations. If you're using a 2D graphics framework like Starling to build a fast 2D game, or if you're planning to export an animation to HTML5 and Canvas, you'll need to make a sprite sheet of key frames in your animations. Load the sheet and its index into your application and you've got a fast way of delivering graphics that are tailored to a target screen. Select the movies you want to convert to sprites, and export a sequence of frames as sprites for use by Starling or by your own code.

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Embedded AIR
If you're building AIR applications for Android, you now get the option of embedding the AIR runtime in your application — just like for iOS. Users only need one download to run your code, with only a small increase in application size. You choose to embed the runtime when in the AIR for Android settings dialogue.

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Direct Render
2D games built for Flash can take advantage of the Starling framework for accelerated 2D graphics. In the AIR for Android settings dialogue, choose the Direct Render mode. If you're not writing games, and are using 3D graphics, choose Auto or GPU — CPU rendering is really only appropiate if you're forcing an application to have the same performance on older and newer devices, where a GPU isn't essential for your application.

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Native code extensions
Flash can't be all things to all devices, and Adobe now supports native code extensions to add device specific features to your applications. If you're targeting specific features, like vibration or additional camera controls, in your AIR applications, you can now write native code that access those functions, bundle it as a .ane file, and then use those features from inside Flash. An extension can target more than one class of device, making it easier to have one API to write code against.

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iOS targeting
As well as Android, AIR applications can target iOS. You can choose to fix the screen orientation, as well as targeting either iPhone or iPad (or both). There's also the option to set high resolution, so your applications work well on retina display devices. AIR will also use GPU acceleration if it's available. There's no need to choose whether or not to bundle the runtime — it's included with every iOS build.

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Device simulation
Testing device features can be complicated, especially if you have to load each build onto test hardware each time you make a change. If you're using the device simulator built into Flash, you can access hardware-specific features — like geolocation and accelerometer — from your development PC. Fire up the simulator, open the control panel and use your mouse or trackpad to set a position.

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Touch simulation
Similarly you can apply a touch layer to a simulation and use your mouse to simulate one of a range of different gestures and actions. First choose the mouse or trackpad action you want to use, and then select the gesture it simulates. Select Swipe here to make a mouse click-and-drag behave just like a finger swipe, triggering the touch actions you've added to your code. Changing the gesture lets you simulate a range of different interactions without having to load development code onto a test device.

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