Cool Stuff with the Flash Platform - Molehill 3D Special Edition - 3/4/11

Posted on Mar 04, 2011

This was a crazy busy week with the announcement of the Flash Incubator program which includes the Molehill hardware accelerated 3D API's. There were so many news article, tutorials and code samples surrounding Molehill that I decided to dedicate an entire section below specifically to it this week. The other official releases this week that generated some talk were the Pixel Bender 3D Beta and ColdFusion Builder 2 preview release on Labs. Lastly on the release topic, Jon Rose announced the beta release of the FlexMonkey project for automated testing of Flex applications.

Cool 3D Molehill Stuff

Surrounding the Flash Gaming Summit keynote, Adobe's Thibault Imbert announced the AIR and Flash Player Incubator program that will give people access to bleeding edge versions of the runtimes. While this, in and of itself, is exciting news, the bigger news this week surrounded the availability within the current Incubator build of the Molehill (3D GPU accelerated) APIs (the build also includes support for creating cubic bezier curves). This section will take a look at just a small portion of the Molehill related posts in the community.

Thibault's post noted 8 different ActionScript 3D frameworks that already have some level of Molehill 3D support added. For example, on Away3D's site, they announced the Away3D 4.0 Alpha release, codenamed "Broomstick", which includes Molehill support. They also share the source code for a number of impressive looking demos.

Another framework with Molehill support is Minko. This video shows off the the capabilities via a fan-made video showing a Quake 3 level running in Flash.

With the availability of Molehill, Unity Technologies was able to announce the a feature allowing you to export 3D built with Unity to the Flash Player rather than just the Unity Player. While details such as availability and pricing aren't available yet, there was a lot of excitement about the direction.

Another announcement came from Adobe's Kevin Goldsmith who announced the availability of a Pixel Bender 3D Beta on Labs to provide a quick and convenient way of supplying shaders to "Molehill." Lars Gerckens followed up this release with an introduction to various types of shaders for PixelBender 3D. Lars also created a Molehill demo using a Molehill port of ND3D.

You may have noticed this from my shader discussion, but I admit that much of this 3D terminology goes over my head at the moment. To help people like myself, Adobe's Narciso (nj) Jaramillo began a series of posts demystifying Molehill, even explaining common terminology. Along similar lines to NJ, Mikko Haapoja wrote a MoleHill getting started guide that tries to explain terms, the parts of Molehill and how to handle setup and render. This includes some sample code based on a post from Thibault but heavily commented with explanations.

Another option to using a 3D framework, you can use the Molehill API from scratch. Tinic Uro shares a sample Flash CS 5 project for a 3D teapot using the raw Molehill API's.

Adobe evangelist Lee Brimelow spoke with the folks from Mandreel About Molehill. They converted their Wii game to Molehill in about a week using their framework for C++ and OpenGL games.

If you're interested in testing some of the demos above or in working on your own Molehill demos but are concerned about issues running a bleeding edge version of Flash Player, this tip from Adobe evangelist Serge Jespers on how to easily switch Flash Player versions in Google Chrome should get you going.

Another option would be to deploy to a standalone executable but one is not officially available. However, Jesse has created a unofficial standalone debugger.

Cool Mobile & Devices Stuff (AIR for Android, AIR on TV, Flash on Android, iPhone etc.)


Barbara Kaskosz, Doug Ensley and Dan Gries of Flash and Math created an AIR for Android GraphSlider puzzle application and share the source code. They also specifically discuss how they handled saving state within the application.

Elliot Mebane created and also recently updated a GPU test application for AIR on mobile showing benchmarks helping to illustrate how and when to use GPU acceleration.


Once you've built your Flex/AIR application for the Playbook, Joseph Labrecque shares his experience with the code signing process to get your application in the AppWorld marketplace.

Cool Flex, Flash Builder & Catalyst Stuff

Jon Rose released a new FlexMonkey 'Reloaded' Beta with a brand new console, new test elements and much more. Adobe evangelist James Ward links to a ton of articles and video tutorials on how to use FlexMonkey for test automation.

Adobe evangelist Piotr Walczyszyn updated his as3viewnavigator project with some significant improvements including supporting it for Flex desktop projects in addition to ActionScript projects. As3viewnavigator brings the ViewNavigator concept from Flex mobile to other types of projects.

Adobe evangelist Renaun Erickson shares tips for creating non-debug SWF's in Flash Builder.

Jeffry Houser shares this tutorial on how to create a custom cursor in Flex.

This post shows how to animate Spark List items using a custom layout to create a sequence of effects that occur upon a change to the dataprovider.

Cool ActionScript/Flash Stuff

Mark Grossnickle posts the winners of the Stanford Hackathon Flash game competition.

Richard Lord separated the 3D mathematics class from his Flint Particles project and released them as a project he is calling Coral.

Dan Florio created an Away3D RegularPolygon Explorer that allows you to test various settings on the RegularPolygon. Since he could not determine a way to remove the spokes on the RegularPolygon, Dan created an Away3D Polygon class.

Emanuele Feronato finishes his ongoing series comparing 3D engines for creating a Sokoban game with the final Flare3D version, the final Away3D version and the final Alternativa3D version. All versions include source code provided.

Todd Shelton starts a series showing how to use ActionScript3 with Phidgets input/output devices, in this case an LED light strip. Part 1 focuses on creating the setup.

Jake at Hook follows up his recent post using Alchemy to create an Ogg Vorbis encoder and decoder with a tutorial series on how to use Alchemy. This post focuses on setting up your environment to use Alchemy with Flash.

William B. Sanders continues his series on ActionScript 3 design patterns with a final post on understanding the intention of a pattern.

Cool ColdFusion Stuff

The Scotch on the Rocks conference is going on in Edinburgh, Scotland and Raymond Camden summarized some big announcemens including the preview release of ColdFusion Builder 2 on Adobe Labs and some previews of ColdFusion X including the death of JRun. Now we just need a new nickname for my colleague jrunrandy.


Bruno Fonzi Good wrap-up of what is happening in the Flash Platform and personally very excited about Molehill.

I just thought this is also be also worth the mention:

Using Molehill Flash Player 11 3D APIs with haXe.

Posted By Bruno Fonzi / Posted on 03/04/2011 at 9:36 AM

Brian Rinaldi Thanks for the tip Bruno, I had not seen that tutorial.

Posted By Brian Rinaldi / Posted on 03/04/2011 at 9:43 AM

Matthew Fabb Also of interest (well, it's my own blog so of course it's interesting to me) is this run down of the APIs beyond Molehill that are in the incubator build of Flash Player 11:

Lots of cool small little things and the classes for HID (Human Interface Device) show a bit of what Adobe has been playing around for game controller support.

Posted By Matthew Fabb / Posted on 03/04/2011 at 11:01 AM

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My name is Brian Rinaldi and I am the Web Community Manager for Flash Platform at Adobe. I am a regular blogger, speaker and author. I also founded RIA Unleashed conference in Boston. The views expressed on this site are my own & not those of my employer.