has become the standard for animation on the web for its small
files sizes and multimedia content. You can create and import many
different kinds of images or sounds making Flash ideal for creating
unique content, whether you want buttons for your webpage or a
whole multimedia presentation. There's lots of new features and
improvements in MX 2004 so let's look at some of them.
So what's new?
The biggest change is that there are now two versions of Flash:
Flash MX 2004 and Flash MX Professional 2004. Help > About will
tell you which you have installed.
Flash MX 2004 is the premiere application for multimedia animation
for the web, but it doesn't stop there, with tools for photo
slideshows, presentations, forms and many others.
Flash MX Professional 2004 is an advanced program suited
for advanced web designers and application builders. It includes
all the features of Flash MX 2004, and new tools as well, including
project-management tools for streamlining workflow between the
designers and developers. Because of its ability to use external
scripting and handling dynamic data from databases Flash MX 2004
is great for large complex projects.
New to both versions
As in all of the new applications in the MX 2004 suite, Flash
sports a new Start Page. Work on a previously open document,
start a new one, choose to work from a professional template,
take a Flash tour, or do a tutorial. You can access Macromedia
Exchange to get extensions, or even update your help file.
If you don't like the new start page, click the "Don't
show again" box at the bottom of the Start Page.
Open files from a Dreamweaver site
Now you can open a file from a Dreamweaver site, using File > Open
New Publish and Sharing Options
Now in the Publish settings, you can tell Flash to detect
the version of player your audience has. You can also save
custom publish settings to use again later.
Sharing this job with a co-worker or team? Send the .fla file
to them via email, right from inside Flash MX 2004.
Finding the panels
Panels are now divided into categories in the window menu:
Design panels pops out to list the design group and so on,
making it easier to find panels from an ever-growing list.
New help panel
The new dynamic help panel puts help at your fingertips and
can be updated when new help files are released. The only thing
I found a bit confusing is that it's called a panel, it behaves
like a panel—docking and collapsing and so forth—but
it isn't found in the Panels menus. It is only reachable in
the Help menu. Which I guess is where it should be, but when
I heard about this new help panel, I went searching in the
windows menu, where I expect all panels to be, and it wasn't
New polystar tool
The new polystar tool lets you draw stars and
polygons. Set the options in the property bar. Specify polygon
or star, number of sides and star point size.
With new Timeline Effects, some common tasks can be repeated
with a simple menu item. They are non-destructive, so they
can be removed or altered easily! Now I realize that this little
animation won't win any prizes, but it took me 3 seconds to
make...Flash made all the new frames. All you do is select
the Timeline effect from the Insert menu, set a few options,
and you're in business!
With the new Behaviors panel, like the one found in Fireworks and FreeHand,
you can add simple interactivity without knowing how to write a script.
Save panel layout
Work effectively by setting up your panels as you like, and
saving the panel layout to be loaded for use later. If you
are working on different kinds of projects this can be a real
time saver! This isn't new, but as it fits in with the new
ease of workflow in the new versions, it merits a mention here.
More new features you will find in both versions:
New file format imports: Besides
the formats already supported by Flash MX —gif, jpg,
bmp, Illustrator, Freehand, to name only a few—Flash
MX 2004 now supports PDF and EPS file import, giving you even
more freedom for image creativity.
Improved performance: Thanks
to an enhanced compiler and Flash Player 7, Flash works faster
so you can too.
New version of Action Script:
Action Script 2.0 supports object oriented programming.
New Action Script Editor: The
normal mode is gone in favor of the more customizable expert
CSS Support: Flash now includes
support for standard CSS files to help you maintain sitewide
New components and V2 architecture :
Using your own components or components from Macromedia or
other designers, quickly build interactive content.
Spell check and find and replace:
Spell check is self explanatory. Find and replace is a great
new feature that lets you search the whole movie for objects
by parameters you set, and replace them with a couple easy
New text options: Unicode and
New History panel: This sophisticated
undo panel allows you to save a series of steps as a command
macro for reuse. If you use Fireworks you will be familiar
with these, and glad they were added to Flash!
New accessibility features: Create
accessible content using Microsoft's new MSAA compliant components
for screen readers and keyboard access systems.
Additional features only in the Professional Edition
Only in Professional edition:
Forms based development
Advanced components add data connectivity and media playback
Connect to web application servers and data bases
Support for high quality video: nearly double the quality
for playback in Flash Player 7
Support for application building for mobile devices
Want to know more?
Check out Macromedia's Flash MX 2004 Professional page here.
Download a trial and give it a run! Learn more about or try
out Flash MX 2004 here.
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designs and images on these pages other than product shots or trademarks
are copyrighted to me, Sara Froehlich and Northlite Designs. If you want
to use something you see, please contact me for permission. Thank you!