What should Adobe do to save AIR?

ASNext was supposed to solve once and for all AS3 VM performance problems.
ASNext is now canceled, but the problem remains.

Why and how slow is AS3?

We know AS3’s VM and JIT aren’t very efficient in general, partly because the language is fairly rich and dynamic; and even if the VM was awesome, all maths are computed with double numeric types which are known to be massively slower than floats.

However compared to other scripting languages, we shouldn’t complain that it’s slow – AS3 AOT-ed on iOS is definitely much faster than interpreted LUA for instance, so why is that such a problem in AIR and not in Corona/MOAI/Gideros?
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NME – profiling your app performance

Profilers are some of the most important tools to optimize an application – yet many developers don’t even know such a thing exists.

There are profilers for most runtimes, that is you’ll get a different profiler for C++, .NET, Java and even Actionscript. For instance we’re using JetBrain’s dotTrace to profile FlashDevelop (a .NET application), and for Actionscript you’ll have the fantastic Adobe Scout.

Haxe NME, for desktop/mobile targets, cross-compiles your haxe code into C++ and builds a pure native application, so we’ll use a C++ profiler.

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NME: ready for the show!

NME is an impressive crossplatform technology particularly appropriate for 2D games development. And by crossplatform that mean:

  • Windows/Mac/Linux and iOS/Android/webOS – at full, native, C++/OpenGl speed,
  • and Flash so you can also compile it for the browser.

Activity & contributions around the NME project has increased a lot recently and it seems to have become mature enough as a few companies have started using it to develop (fairly impressive casual) commercial games. If you have an iPhone I warmly recommend trying Ponon Deluxe (free) – it’s incredibly slick and a clever variation on the Tetris theme.

If you know Flash and AS3…

…you’ll be up and running in a few hours:

  • this is most feature complete implementation of the Flash API that you will get your hands on – more complete than what Starling will ever be, and more complete than the subset of AIR you can use to keep performance decent,
  • development is in haxe, a clever language with increasing IDE support that you can however code like AS3 90% of the time.

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