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Software Review: Adobe Master Collection — Flash CS5 Professional from Adobe Systems

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This is the third of a series of reviews that will cover what is contained in the Adobe Creative Suite 5 (CS5) Master Collection. When Adobe released CS5 this year, they not only will release single version products, but also five separate suites of products. They are Design Premium, Design Standard, Web Premium, Production Premium, and Master Collection. You can go online to compare what is contained in each version. The goal of this series it to define what each product does and provide information of what the new version brings to the table.

Adobe Flash CS5 Professional is the multimedia authoring program that can be used to create Web applications, games, movies, as well as content for mobile phones and other embedded devices. Adobe Flash CS5 Professional is geared for interactive designers, Web designers, graphic designers, and motion graphics designers and video editors.

Flash CS5 Professional

As the flagship product for designing and developing content for the Adobe Flash platform it is an integral part of many of the Adobe Creative Suites. Flash Professional provide a comprehensive toolset for design for web, mobile, and video work flows.

What do you need to run Flash CS5 Professional?
On PCs:
• Microsoft® Windows® XP with Service Pack 3; Windows Vista® Home Premium, Busi¬ness, Ultimate, or Enterprise with Service Pack 2; or Windows 7
• Intel® Pentium® 4 or AMD Athlon® 64 processor

On Macs:
• Mac OS X v10.5.7 or v10.6.3
• Multicore Intel® processor

Both:
• 1GB RAM
• 4 GB hard-disk space for program installation
• 1024×768 display (1280×800 recommended) with 16-bit color
• DVD-ROM drive

• QuickTime 7.6.2 software required for multimedia features
• Broadband Internet connection required for online services

So what is new with Flash CS5 Professional?
• New Text engine – adds support for the new Text Layout Framework that is built into Flash Player. This will enable you to use print-quality typographic functionality within your Flash documents. This support also brings multilingual typographic control that was not available in prior versions. This new engine also maintains layout and text formatting with better fidelity when importing content from Adobe InDesign as well as other Adobe products.

Flash CS5 Professional

• XML-based FLA – will let you save your Flash files as before as a single compressed FLA file, but now you will also have the opportunity to save your file as an uncompressed XML-based implementation the FLA file format called XFL. This compact and efficient file format maintains data in a Flash document and makes the individual elements easier to manage and use. When saved in this way, uncompressed projects appear not as a single FLA file, but as a folder which contains all of the assets for your project, allowing you to easily swap out assets and work collaboratively with others.

• Code Snippets panel – gives you a new way to quickly include code for things like timeline navigation, actions, animation, audio and video, and event handlers with the Code Snippets panel. By injecting prebuilt code into projects, you can work faster, freeing up more time.

• Enhanced ActionScript editor – will help to increase development speed by including custom class code hinting and completion as well as giving you the ability to reference your own code or external code libraries. This will be especially helpful for novice coders who can be provided hints has they learn.

• Improved Creative Suite integration – now adds the ability to edit bitmaps in Photoshop, export complex graphics using the FXG format that can be open in Illustrator, as well as opening content from InDesign, importing FXG files from Fireworks, and opening content from After Effects while still retaining editing flexibility.

• Flash Builder integration – now will let Flash interact with the professional Eclipse-based development tool that was formerly known as Adobe Flex Builder. With this new Flash builder integration you will have more intelligent coding, interactive step-through debugging, and visual design of the user interface and behavior for Flex applications. Rather than having to choose between one integrated development environment (IDE) and another, you can now write your ActionScript code in Flash Builder and then test, debug, and publish your content in Flash Professional.

• Spring for Bones – is a new, easy-to-use Inverse Kinematics (IK) feature that gives you the ability to quickly create and control animation. With Flash Professional CS5, Adobe integrates the power of a dynamic physics engine into the Inverse Kinematics system. This engine allows new users to create physics-enhanced animation with ease, and gives expert users powerful functionality that is supported for both runtime and authortime. Spring for Bones gives IK animation lifelike movement that is 100% configurable, so you can get realistic multi-object interactions that look less robotic and rigid.

Flash CS5 Professional

• Video improvements –gives you the ability to use video content within their design solutions because they offer a dynamic nature to the experience. With the new integrated support for content created with Adobe Premiere Pro or Adobe After Effects software, we will make it easy to work with video content directly in Flash Professional CS5 and to more quickly and easily incorporate video, and make the video content more meaningful by timing content against cue points.

• New Deco drawing tools – extends the functionality of the dynamic Deco brush tools, enabling you to easily draw shapes and add advanced animation effects. Use these new brushes to quickly add graphical elements to your projects.

Adobe Flash CS5 Professional has really added some nice features, especially for those who have the need for enhanced text formatting, ActionScripting, and working with XML-based Flash files. For many, especially those who are still using CS3, this may be enough.

When you add the Deco brushes, the IK bone element, and the new Code Snippets panel, this makes for a very interesting update. While it does not bring a totally new and encompassing upgrade, it does make for a worthy successor to CS4 and so I can easily recommend this product.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.