Flash/AIR Text Layout Framework public beta

Adobe today released a public pre-release version of the Text Layout Framework (TLF) on Adobe Labs. This is very good news for anybody working much with text in the Flash or AIR environments.

What is the Text Layout Framework? It’s an extensible ActionScript library for use with Adobe Flash Player 10 and Adobe AIR 1.5, It lives on top of the new text engine found in these products, and exposes the power of this text engine in exciting new ways, including:


- support for all the writing systems and OpenType layout features supported in Flash Player 10. This includes: Latin (the writing system for English and most European, African, and American languages), Greek, Cyrillic, Armenian, Georgian, Ethiopic, Tifinagh, Yi, Cherokee, Canadian Syllabics, Deseret, Shavian, Vai, Tagalog, Hanunoo, Buhid, Tagbanwal, Hebrew, Arabic, Thai, Lao, Khmer, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Devanagari, Bengali, Gurmukhi, Gujarati, Oriya, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Thaana, and Tibetan.

- many layout and text flow features, hyphenation and justification capabilities, including advanced features for East Asian languages.

- supports DefineFont 4, the latest format for embedding fonts in Flash and AIR applications. DF4 supports OpenType layout tables, and is necessary to have embedded fonts that support the advanced typographic capabilities in question. Some of the new language support is also reliant on DF4 for embedded fonts. (Of course, you can also use device fonts which have the needed features.)

Check out the features with the cool, highly interactive Flash demo at the top of the TLF Labs page.

How can you author content for it? You can author for TLF using the public pre-release of Flex “Gumbo,” or the plug-in component for Adobe Flash CS4 Professional (part of the TLF release).

Yes, this is the solution formerly code-named “Vellum,” which was previewed a year ago at Adobe MAX, and at more length at this year’s MAX (including in the keynote, and in talks by me and by lead engineer Robin Briggs). It was also seen at MAX in a technology preview of a news reader app created for the International Herald Tribune.

I am seriously excited about this technology. I can’t comment about specific product plans, but obviously this is going to be a cornerstone of future text support in Flash, Flex and AIR.

For more details, see:
- the release notes
- the TLF team’s blog
- the release on Adobe Labs
- the TLF Forum.
- the Flex Examples blog on embedding fonts in Flex Gumbo (added on 25 Nov 2008)

5 Responses

  1. Sean says:

    This is the only site I’ve seen with anything about embedding fonts using the new text framework… how the heck do you do it?[Authoring paths for the new text framework can use the new DefineFont 4 format for embedded fonts. As far as I understand it, to write out DF4 fonts today, you'd need to be using either Flex "Gumbo" or the authoring add-in for Flash CS4 Professional, both mentioned in my main post. - T]

  2. Tom Gewecke says:

    The language capabilities are impressive! Is text created this way searchable or copy/pastable?[Yes, unless the author specifically makes it not so. - T]

  3. Miguel Sousa says:

    @SeanPeter deHaan has posted some Flex examples that deal with font embedding at http://blog.flexexamples.com/2008/10/15/embedding-fonts-in-flex-gumbo/%5BThanks, Miguel. I’ll add that link to my main post – T]

  4. Tom Gewecke says:

    Do the advanced layout features by chance include vertical text (top to bottom, right to left) for CJK? Or Ruby?[As shown in the demo I linked, it does indeed include vertical text for CJK. I don't think it does Ruby, yet, but it does support quite a few other niceties for Japanese and other East Asian languages. - T]

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Thomas Phinney

Adobe type alumnus (1997–2008), now VP at FontLab, also helped create WebINK at Extensis. Lives in Portland (OR), enjoys board games, movies, and loves spicy food.

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