There’s been quite a lot happening in the world of 2D frameworks. Here’s some news regarding a few that I personally use on a regular basis both commercially and for personal projects.

New Starling Book

The Starling Framework is the most significant thing to happen in the world of Flash for years and has done an amazing job of breathing life into the platform. In fact it’s so popular that there seems to be a constant stream of iOS and Android games being released that were built on top of it. Additional proof of Starling’s popularity is the publication of a new book, Starling Game Development Essentials by Juwal Bose and published by Packt. The book takes you through the steps required to build an isometric game for both web and mobile. Additionally it covers pathfinding and also deployment of your finished game to the App Store and Google Play. It’s also worth mentioning that Starling’s creator, Daniel Sperl, was one of the book’s technical reviewers so the content covered is of the highest standard.

Since Starling is an open source framework, Packt Publishing pay a royalty directly to the framework’s author. If you use Starling then I strongly urge you to support it by buying a copy of the book or better still, donating directly to the Starling framework via this link.

Starling JS Joining Forces with Away Foundation

You may also remember that an HTML5 port of Starling was announced just under a year ago. Things have been suspiciously quiet of late and I was starting to think that Starling JS was perhaps never going to see the light of day. Well it turns out that the project was actually on the brink of cancellation after the main sponsor pulled out. And while development had continued, it had slowed to a crawl thanks to various technical and funding issues. The good news however is that the Away Foundation who are responsible for Away3D have taken the project under their wing after identifying that they need to be able to offer their clients a 2D solution as well as a 3D one.

This is great news and hopefully the final API will remain similar to both Starling and Sparrow (the Objective-C version). Starling JS is written in TypeScript, which was also the language of choice for the JavaScript port of Away3D, so those coming from an ActionScript background should find development fairly familiar. I’m personally really looking forward to tinkering with Starling JS and fingers crossed that it has both a Canvas and WebGL renderer.

PixiJS Site Goes Live

PixiJS has to be my favourite HTML5 2D renderer at the moment. Having support for both Canvas and WebGL means its hardware reach is pretty damn awesome. Plus it’s screaming fast on WebGL-enabled mobile browsers. In fact, even Safari on my ageing iPad 2 (which doesn’t even support WebGL) is capable of some pretty impressive results. Additionally, Pixi’s API isn’t that different from Starling’s, so if you’re coming from an ActionScript background you’ll feel right at home.

PixiJS has gathered some serious momentum of late and its developer, Mat Groves, has now launched Pixi’s official website complete with a showcase section, code examples, and tutorials. In fact my recent four-part Pixi tutorial can be found on the site too!

Pixi is now at version 1.5 and new releases seem to appear faster than I can actually keep up with. It’s probably one of the fastest 2D JavaScript renderers around and still getting faster. If you’re looking for a true multi-platform solution then Pixi should probably be top of your list.

WebGL Support for CreateJS

We’ve been using CreateJS a lot at WeeWorld over the past year. Its tight integration with Flash Professional CC makes it perfect for our workflow: our illustrators and animators are able to continue using the tool they love and we’re finally able to playback their rich vector content and animations outside of the Flash runtime. This is huge as it provides an avenue for running content created in Flash on mobile web browsers. In fact, as I’ve said in previous posts, development really doesn’t feel that different from our older Flash-only projects.

Until recently, CreateJS was a strictly Canvas-only affair. Well the good news is that a WebGL renderer is now in early beta and promises significant performance advantages. While the WebGL renderer supports a limited API compared to the Canvas implementation, CreateJS makes it possible to layer your WebGL and Canvas content, allowing your games to utilise the strengths of both APIs. You can find more information on the official CreateJS blog.