With the release of the Starling framework for 2D game development utilizing Flash Player 11’s Stage3D API, you can now leverage hardware rendered particle based effects, like fire, smoke, lasers, explosions, and so on.
Now, if you’re on OS X then you can use applications like Particle Designer by 712  to create your effects and export the required PEX file and associated PNG for use with Starling’s particle API. However if you’re a Windows user you currently don’t have that many options (well, none, really), for the easy creation of particles.
So for all you Windows users out there who are keen to add particle effects to your 2D Starling-based games check out Devon O. Wolfgang’s excellent Flash-based Particle Editor  (you’ll need Flash Player 11 to run it).
It exports a zip archive that contains the PEX and PNG that you’ll need to import into Starling to display your particle effect – something I’ll be writing more about very shortly.
One thing Devon mentions is that if you are on a Mac please consider using Particle Designer as it has more features and deserves the support (something I completely agree with – I use Particle Designer myself). You can also read up on Devon’s particle editor on his blog OneByOneDesign.com