25 March 2007
A year and a half ago, I remember hearing several people involved with the Macromedia Flash 8 beta saying that it was the best release they had ever seen. Several customers later told me that they didn't think Flash could get any better than "the ocho."
Well, I am happy to say that during our Adobe Flash CS3 Professional prerelease cycle, we received many similar remarks. Our prerelease testers told us we were doing it again—with comments like "the tightest release ever," "you've done a hell of a job with this one," and "CS3 truly is an improvement over all previous versions."
As the technical product manager for Flash, I feel rewarded when I hear customers favorably comparing Flash CS3 Professional with Flash Professional 8—the most successful release in the history of Flash. That tells me we're off to a good start.
And with that (drum roll, please) I am very excited to introduce you to Adobe Flash CS3 Professional. Our latest release features powerful new functionality that will make it even more enjoyable for you to create truly engaging, interactive content. Advanced design and animation tools provide greater flexibility to express your most creative ideas, new ActionScript programming features make for an even more productive development environment, and impressive integration with other Adobe design and development software will improve your productivity greatly.
The following is an overview of the top 10 new features in Adobe Flash CS3 Professional.
One of the top requested features for Flash has been the ability to work with Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator files (see Figure 1). As an integral part of the Adobe Creative Suite 3 family, Flash CS3 Professional now offers impressive integration with Photoshop and Illustrator. Designers and developers are now free to use the applications they feel most comfortable with, yet still work within the powerful design and development environment of Flash—without sacrificing any loss of fidelity.
For many designers, using ActionScript to define the movement of Stage elements allows for smaller file sizes and greater flexibility and control. For example, an animation that is described in ActionScript can be adjusted on the fly based on input from the viewer. While many designers and developers are aware of this capability, the process of writing the necessary code can be complex and very time-consuming.
Now in Flash CS3 Professional, Timeline animations can be instantly converted to ActionScript 3.0. This allows you to animate visually first and then translate motion into reusable, easily editable code. Even if you've never used ActionScript before, the ability to copy motion from the Timeline (see Figure 2) and paste it as code offers the perfect way to learn it.
One of the most obvious new features in the new look of Flash CS3 Professional is styling. Flash now shares the same common interface with Photoshop and Illustrator. It not only looks great but truly enhances your workspace.
As you know, a workspace is something you never have enough of. This is especially true for me when I work on a laptop. Flash CS3 Professional has added a new, elegantly redesigned interface featuring workspace panels that dock and group for optimal organization while eliminating overlapping palettes and windows. Save custom workspaces and leverage your knowledge of similar tools, panels, and keyboard shortcuts used in other Adobe software, such as Adobe Photoshop CS3, Adobe Illustrator CS3, Adobe InDesign CS3, Adobe After Effects CS3, Adobe Premiere Pro CS3, and Adobe Soundbooth CS3.
For those of you who love to code, Flash CS3 Professional brings a new level of efficiency to your development with ActionScript 3.0—a broad language that is accessible to beginners while offering professionals a powerful programming environment. Because ActionScript is based on universal programming concepts, learning to use it will set you up to expand successfully into working with additional programming languages as your skills grow.
Working with and testing your ActionScript 3.0 content is easier than ever. The brand new ActionScript debugger allows you to step through a wide variety of properties in your code at runtime, providing greater flexibility and feedback than before. Because the new debugger is shared with Adobe Flex Builder 2, you can expect consistent feedback and behavior when switching between the two applications.
Rather than confining you to a single panel, the new debugger comprises a collection of panels in a Debug mode workspace, which makes it easier to move through your debug tasks. When you enter Debug mode, Flash brings up the workspace and loads the SWF file in a stand-alone player.
Integrated with Flash CS3 Professional, as well as throughout the various editions of Adobe Creative Suite 3, Adobe Device Central CS3 simplifies the creation of mobile content with built-in mobile device skins and device profiles that are updated quarterly. Now you can easily design, preview, and test engaging mobile content (see Figure 3), such as interactive Adobe Flash Lite applications and rich user interfaces.
Over the years, professional designers have come to appreciate the power and precision of the vector drawing tools found in Adobe Illustrator—the industry standard for vector graphics creation. Now you can expect that same level of precise control in Flash CS3 Professional when using the new Pen tool, which looks and behaves like the one found in Illustrator.
Manipulate Bézier control points using the familiar Illustrator keyboard shortcuts and modifiers. Even copy and paste—or drag and drop—artwork from Illustrator into Flash, preserving its full fidelity. In addition, Flash introduces a new set of Shape Primitives tools that allow you to create dynamic shapes quickly that you can adjust on the fly.
With Flash CS3 Professional, you can design interactive content using a new lightweight, easy-to-skin set of prebuilt components—all written in ActionScript 3.0. This collection of user interface components includes buttons, progress bars, and check boxes—as well as a comprehensive list of video components. They are so easy to customize that you no longer have to write code to modify the look of interface components. Instead, just double-click the component states and draw to redesign the interface components (see Figure 4).
Although most people today are publishing video for Adobe Flash Player, there are times when you want to take an animation that you've created in Flash and publish it in a video format, such as Apple QuickTime. Flash CS3 Professional introduces an advanced QuickTime export feature that captures exactly what Flash Player plays back. That means complex nested symbols and all ActionScript will be exported exactly as you would have seen and heard them in Flash Player.
As the type of content that appears on the web continues to evolve, and as access to increased bandwidth becomes commonplace, more and more designers and developers are looking to incorporate video into their Flash projects. In fact, Flash video has made such a large impact on how broadcast video content is delivered on the web that Adobe recently received an Emmy Award for Flash video technology.
In order to incorporate video into your Flash project, you must first encode it into Flash video format (FLV). There are two ways to accomplish this. You can choose to encode your video on the fly as you import the content into your project—which is fine for quickly getting a video or two into your project. If you're incorporating a large amount of video into your Flash project, however, you can use Adobe Flash Video Encoder, a new stand-alone application geared towards batch processing large amounts of video content.
In addition to new functionality present in ActionScript 3.0, Flash CS3 Professional introduces tools to reduce the time needed to write ActionScript. Code editor enhancements include Script Assist mode for ActionScript 3.0 and the same compiler as Flex Builder.
Here are a few other enhancements we added in Flash CS3 Professional:
As you can see, Flash CS3 Professional sports some great new features. With tighter integration with the other tools in Adobe Creative Suite 3, support for a much more powerful language, and advanced animation capabilities, Flash CS3 Professional will not only let you be more creative but also more productive. I hope that you are as excited as we are about our latest release.
These are only the highlights, however, so please check out the product page and feature tour for more detailed information. Also see this video discussion about it from Jonathan Duran, senior Flash quality engineer.