The Away3D Team is pleased to announce the final production ready version of the Away3D 4.0 engine!
This Gold release marks a revision of Away3D that offers major improvements in both flexibility and reliability. A high level view of updates are presented here, and an update of the features pages will follow along with a more detailed breakdown of API changes as release notes accompanying the source code. Wherever possible, functionality has been maintained in a consistent manner and updates have concentrated on bolstering the existing APIs while cleaning and commenting others for a much improved coding experience.
Starling Integration APIs
As a frequently made feature request, a Stage3D manager API is integrated into the 4.0 Gold release allowing interoperation between Away3D and other Stage3D-based libraries. Now it is a straightforward matter to integrate both Away3D and Starling frameworks into your Stage3D projects for a seamless, optimised experience. For more information, check out our Away3D & Starling interoperation tutorial which demonstrates how you can manage multiple API render layers in a single context, reducing GPU overheads and allowing multi-framework content to be easily published to mobile platforms. More framework integration code examples can be downloaded from the away3d github repository at integration-examples-fp11.
Mouse Interaction and picking APIs
Another significant area of improvement, 4.0 gold comes with an upgraded object picking system that allows you to tailor mouse interaction methods for your precise requirements. Straightforward shader-based picking is available for systems that allow a reasonable rate of GPU readback, or you can choose between pure AS3-based picking for single core systems and mobile, and Pixel Bender-based picking for multi-core systems. The accuracy of picking data has also had some work, allowing you to adjust for as much or as little data as you need from 3D picking results or 3D mouse events. We are currently working on a set of tutorials that demonstrates the flexibility of the system, and the various pros and cons of each option on offer.
Frame-based animation APIs
For a long time, Away3D 4.0 has had some great functionality in its animation packages that has been largely overlooked due to implementation restrictions and an under-commented API. With 4.0 Gold, Away3D animation is back in the spotlight with a revamped set of animator controllers, as well as independent state management that allows multiple animator instances to feed from the same animation dataset. There have also been significant improvements to the node-based API for the creation of more complex additive and difference animation blendtrees. You can see some examples of the implementation in our updated code examples available on github ataway3d-examples-fp11, or as a downloadable zip file in our download section.
Established content workflows for designers
As we move closer to fully immersive 3D applications & gaming in Flash and on mobile, the production process for Away3D assets becomes an important part of the framework’s featureset. With Away3D 4.0 Gold, we have created a workflow for Autodesk 3DS Max and Maya designers that allows seamless content publishing using our own AWD file format. Plugins for Max 2012 and Maya 2012 are available from the AWD downloads pages, and we are please to announce the first in a series of step-by-step guides on workflow that will be published to our tutorials section, that provides an example of an Autodesk 3DS Max to Away3D workflow.
Bugfixes, examples and documentation
Our Away3D github issues tracker has been white hot with activity in recent weeks, and for 4.0 Gold we have cleared over 200 bugs and pull requests submitted by the community, while dealing with countless other known issues and updates. As a result, this release is our most stable to date and includes a completely revamped set of documentation pages and inline comments in source files. There are also many new examples and demos available, for which full source code is supplied. Check out the examples repository on github at away3d-examples-fp11, as well as the integration-examples-fp11 repository for code that demonstrates how to integrate Away3D with other APIs such as Starling.
Download packages and sources
The download section of away3d.com has been updated to contain the latest binaries for framework and example files, as well as a pre-compiled library swc for easily dropping the framework into new Away3D projects. For a bleeding-edge build, you can download the latest stable release from the master branch of our away3d-core-fp11 github repository, or live on the edge by downloading the regular updates from our dev branch. Github is also the place to keep track of new development branches for the upcoming 4.1 Alpha version of Away3D, and we still welcome bug reports, feature suggestions and pull requests on any of the repositories managed on the Away3D Github homepage.