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Adobe CS6 review: Flash Professional

Flash reinvents itself again with new features aimed at app developers

Flash is currently going through something of a transitionary phase and perhaps even a renaissance. Once the darling of the internet (nip back a decade and many people were furiously arguing that all sites should be made in Flash), its online fortunes have dwindled. Flash is barely supported on mobile, while on the desktop, HTML5 video is making major inroads. But Flash has always managed to reinvent itself, and the latest release cements its repositioning as a tool for creating apps and games, and then delivering them to a range of devices and computers.

Appropriately, then, many updates and improvements in Flash Professional CS6 centre around boosting performance in gaming. This release lets you easily generate a sprite sheet from one or more animations, which Flash helpfully optimises based on a number of user-defined settings. Adobe also states you can take advantage of hardware acceleration through the open-source Starling framework. Games are often limited to 24 fps, but Flash Professional CS6 should enable you to boost this to 60 fps.

Developers are increasingly using Flash as the basis for creating games and apps for iOS and Android. Flash Professional CS6 provides tools for simulating mobile interfaces. Templates give you quick access to interactive content that utilises mobile gestures and interactions such as swipes and changing the device's orientation; these can subsequently be tested using the Simulator Controller. And native extensions provide access to device-specific capabilities, such as battery levels and vibration.

Anyone working with AIR, too, will find plenty to like in this update. With Flash Professional CS6, you can generate a pre-packaged AIR application which can be run without installing AIR. You can also more easily grab an AIR SDK from within Flash (rather than manually installing), and target the AIR 3.2 runtime, which extends your content to Android 2.2 and iOS, subject to various app store approvals processes.

Learn how to creating a sprite sheet in Flash CS6 in our Macworld Masterclass.

Flash Professional is part of CS6 Design/Web Premium and the Master Collection - plus Creative Cloud. It's no longer part of Production Premium.

CS6 Design/Web Premium costs £1,509, or from £298 as an upgrade. CS6 Master Collection costs £2,223, or from £397 as an upgrade.

Creative Cloud costs £38.11 per month with an annual contract. Current owners of CS3 or later suites or products can get this for £22.23 per month. On a month-by-month basis, Creative Cloud costs 57.17.

All prices exclude VAT. Adobe says CS6 will be out before May 22.

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