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Features > Macromedia Flash MX 2004

Macromedia Flash MX 2004

Each new release of Flash brings with it new features, improvements, and added sophistication. To start, Macromedia have split the Flash development environment into two products: Flash MX 2004 and Flash MX Professional 2004. The standard edition is aimed at Web and multimedia designers and the Professional edition is for the application developer. They are essentially the same application with some added functionality in the Professional edition that can be enabled when purchased.

  • Start Page When Flash MX 2004 is launched a Start page appears that allows you to access recently used files, create new files, retrieve up-to-date help information and access the Macromedia Web site.

  • Templates Flash now includes a set of templates for creating a variety of projects such as Web advertising banners and pop-ups, slide and video presentations, and projects destined for broadcast. These pre-built, pre-formatted files designed to conform to known standards are a great starting point.

  • Document Tab Tabs for each open document appear at the top of the Document window so you can quickly switch between open documents (Windows only).

  • Help Panel This context-sensitive panel includes the complete documentation for Flash as well as tutorials and an ActionScript language guide. You can also keep the Help up-to-date with the Macromedia site.

  • Customize Tool Panel Customize the Tool Panel by rearranging or adding new tools. You can create your own tools using the JSFL language or install tools created by other users.

  • Polystar Tool Flash now includes is a Polystar tool to create polygons and polystars with up to 32 sides.

  • Snap Align Objects Snap Align objects with precision while dragging with a new dashed line that appears when drag is triggered.

  • Vertical and Horizontal Text Vertical or horizontal orientation of text is now featured. You can now easily implement scrollable text with vertical or horizontal scroll bars. You can even embed a JPEG or SWF into a text field in an HTML fashion. Text will automatically wrap around the embedded object.

  • Small Text Display In the case of small fonts or fonts used in cell phone or PDA displays, easily turn off the anti-aliasing for a specific font in the Property Inspector.

  • Globalization and Unicode Flash now supports multi-language authoring using any character set.

  • Languages and the Strings Panel The increasing need for localization of Flash content has created this new built-in method for tracking strings in a project. The Strings panel makes it possible to track all localized text string data, saving versions in multiple languages in an XML document. Each version can be selected and exported separately.

  • Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) Flash now supports Cascading Style Sheets helping to bridge the visual gap between HTML and Flash content. Specify font style, size, and color and share these settings with Dreamweaver MX; easily add rollover effects to dynamic text fields.

  • Spell Checker The spell checked searches the text a document for spelling errors. The spell checker includes a personal dictionary to recognize unique words in your documents.

  • Find and Replace The Find and Replace command locates and replaces text, a font, a color, a symbol, a sound file, a video file, or an imported bitmap file.

  • File Import Flash MX 2004 can now import Adobe Illustrator 10 and Adobe PDF files bridging the gap between these industry standard formats and Flash. MP3 ID3 tags are preserved and can now be read on import.

  • Video Import Wizard The Video Import Wizard streamlines the importing of video files into the Flash environment. Store settings such as cropping, scaling, and color correction to be used again. You can now target a specific data rate and stream the native Flash video format (FLV) over http. Flash will maintain the level of quality you set. The new robust Flash 7 Player can handle higher frame sizes and frame rates.

  • Timeline Effects You can now easily apply built-in transition and animation effects, such as Blur, Copy to Grid, Distribute Duplicate, Drop shadow, Expand, Explode, Transform, and Transition to objects on the Stage.

  • Built-in Behaviors Simple interactivity and navigational controls can now be quickly implemented through the Behaviors panel without writing any scripting code. Included are event handlers, video and sound controls and many more that can be downloaded from the Macromedia Web site. Flash MX Professional 2004 includes enhanced behaviors.

  • ActionScript 2 (AS2) This change to ActionScript was designed with the programmer in mind. It is fully compliant with the European Computer Manufacturers Association programming model and will appeal to the java programmer. This will be editable only in the Professional version but is supportable by both versions. For the standard edition, ActionScript 1 is still used with the addition of several new classes with some new methods and properties. Additionally, the "Normal" mode has been removed.

  • Accessible Authoring and Components There is now a set of tools for creating accessible applications. Through the Accessibility panel, text headings can be substituted for buttons and other interactive elements, such as tab ordering and tab focus management, which can be read by screen readers and other assistive technologies, such as closed-caption programs. Accessibility support also provides keyboard shortcuts for navigating and for using interface controls without using a mouse.

  • Built-in Components Application interfaces can be built with a complete set of built-in UI components, such as buttons, menus, and scroll bars. Create your own components with the V2 Component Architecture. Flash MX Professional 2004 includes enhanced components.

  • History Panel and Commands The History panel allows you to automate repetitive tasks. Record all of the steps taken to complete a task and save it as a Command macro that can be reused.

  • Publish Settings Easily create, save and reuse Publish Settings, set Publish locations (including staging servers). There is an HTML template that enables Flash version detection and Size Reports now include ActionScript and compression ratios.

  • Flash Deployment Kit The new Flash MX Deployment Kit removes the need to write additional JavaScript for HTML pages where Flash content is embedded. It also standardizes the method for plug-in detection.

  • Flash Player 7 The Flash Player 7 boasts a 2-10x boost in runtime performance for many tasks. Other enhancements have been made to such areas as graphics display, video playback, XML parsing and backend server connectivity, as well as better memory usage. The player also includes built-in update notification so users can remain up-to-date with the latest version. The player also provides stricter security; SWF files with nonsecure protocols (HTTP) cannot access content loaded using secure protocols (HTTPS). The Flash Player 7 now supports Microsoft Active Accessibility (MSAA) which enhances the rich media experience for visually disabled people.

  • Flash Player Detection Flash Player Detection allows you to publish SWF files with related files that detect if a viewer has a specified version of the Flash Player on their computer and to use alternate files if they don't have the specified version.

  • Publish Profiles Easily create profiles to save your publish settings, which you can export and use with other Flash projects.

  • Extensibility Architecture and Third-Party Extensions Take advantage of the extended functionality created by third party developers to extend the authoring environment. The Flash JavaScript application programming interface (JSAPI) allows anyone to create extensions or plug-ins for Flash to implement new behaviors, Timeline effects and animation.



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