Why Adobe Flash

ATHLET® SWF – the ultimate GUI solution

The need of modern GUI as well as the removal by ADOBE® of licensing fees and restrictions on use of the Flash® formats specifications (SWF, FLV, F4C)  in May 2008, explain the emergence of a new generation of IMAGEM products based on the direct exploitation of the Flash file format (.SWF) generated by the Adobe Flash authoring tool.
ATHLET® SWF is this new generation of FPGA IP core provided by IMAGEM Technology that is capable of « playing » the GUI application that is fully contained into a SWF file.

High-level GPU

Basically, ATHLET® SWF player allows splitting the customer system application and GUI application contained into the SWF file.
Whatever the product level (Intellectual Property, Graphics Card or Prototyping Box), Imagem Technology offers a Graphic User Interface (GUI) solution based on its ATHLET® SWF Player IP core which acts as a companion Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) regarding to the customer system.
The communication between the SWF GPU and the system CPU is done through high-level system information such as variables, keys and cursor parameters.

In this context, HITS, a PC tool developed by Imagem Technology, offers an easy way to emulate the final customer system in order to simplify development flow. HITS allows stimulating the GUI through applicative variables updates, keys and cursor/mouse events exactly as final system unit can do, allowing validating the GUI behavior before system integration.

6 Reasons Why You Should Adopt This Technology

1) Maximum Productivity
Flash is intrinsically a GUI framework: it enables the GUI to be implemented by the means of content, rather than within the embedded software. This makes it relatively easy to develop and maintain a consistent GUI regardless of the inevitable hardware and software changes. Other GUI solutions require translating their GUI prototypes into C, C++ or Java code, involving a labor-intensive process that could take many weeks or months. With Flash, developers can build their GUIs with high-level Flash tools and run them directly with a Flash player, without having to write graphics code.
One of the main advantages of the Flash file format is that it is a standard format generated on a desktop PC and every desktop PC has a Flash Player allowing any people to visualize. Flash is a communicant technology.
Similarly to ADOBE Flash Player on PC, ATHLET® SWF is capable of playing directly the SWF file generated by PC authoring tool without conversion. You can then export the GUI application from PC authoring tools and run it on the target in minutes.
The ATHLET® SWF drastically simplifies and shortens the development flow from GUI production to final customer acceptation for industrial products.

2) Low-Cost
The ATHLET® SWF IP core fits in the low-cost FPGAs making possible to add a full color display HMI in your end-product at minimal extra cost. Moreover, the delegation of the whole HMI to the SWF GPU and the use of high-level instructions between CPU and GPU make possible the use of a very low power/low-cost CPU.

3) OS Free
The ATHLET® SWF IP core does not require Operating System, making easy the integration in any system topology, and enabling developers to accelerate time to market.

4) Full-Design Creativity
Flash is creativity oriented. Flash authoring tools offer a wide variety of graphics features including time management allowing designing consumer-appealing GUIs with sophisticated transitions. Moreover, Flash is intrinsically a vector-graphics rendering engine allowing both to design GUI content without conscience of the final display resolution and to reach maximum graphics quality whatever the display resolution.

5) Standard and Popular
Flash is a cross-platform standard. This makes relatively easy to develop and maintain a consistent GUI regardless of the PC hardware and software platforms.
Additionally, millions of graphics designers worldwide use Flash authoring tools, providing with an immense pool of graphics expertise for GUI development.

6) Full support
ATHLET® SWF is a legacy implementation provided by Imagem Technology and is fully supported. A dedicated team is responsible for IP maintenance, bug fixes and features evolutions.
Any customer can contact Imagem Technology to get help at: support@imagem-technology.com
For customers requiring specific support or expertise, a Premium Support can be ordered at: sales@imagem-technology.com

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. Is ADOBE Flash becoming an obsolete technology?
Since the ADOBE announce to abandon Flash plug-in for mobile devices, many customers are questioning about the relevance of Flash for their future embedded developments. You can find the ADOBE official overview and roadmap for Flash at: www.adobe.com/go/flashplayer_roadmap

2. Why ActionScript 2.0 rather than ActionScript 3.0?
ATHLET® SWF solution includes a legacy implementation of ActionScript 2.0 subset of functions. In a resource limited (memory and performance) embedded environment, Imagem made the choice of ActionScript 2.0 rather than ActionScript 3.0 in order both to get full control over memory usage and to improve player efficiency.

3. How can I check the supported ActionScript subset?
Every Imagem product that is based on ATHLET® SWF is provided with a RELEASE CONTENT SPECIFICATION documentation which includes the exhaustive list of features and functions that are supported by the current version of product.
This supported subset intends to provide a consistent and sufficient function sets that allows full creativity at GUI level.

4. What about if I need a function that is not supported?
In the context of a distributed architecture between the system application and SWF GUI application, it may be relevant to delegate to the system application the unsupported functions and restrict the GUI ActionScript usage to graphics operations. If you absolutely need an unsupported function, the Imagem team is able to add it on request. Do not hesitate to share your needs with us at: support@imagem-technology.com

5. What about 3D support?
3D is a very wide topic and answer can be decomposed by application needs:
– Basic 3D effects are possible with 2D features like filters (drop-shadow, bevel) and are fully supported.
– Predefined 3D animation through a sequence of 2D images (either bitmap or vector based) is also possible.
– Movie-clip 3D transformation is not currently supported but will be at mid-term.
– Native 3D is not at all supported.