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Product: Flash CS3
Company: Adobe
$699.00 Upgrade: $199
Review By: Andre Da Costa

Have you been on the Web lately? Look around the hundreds of millions of web pages and you will see it everywhere. Flash, it is the standard that is defining how content is delivered over the Internet. But, Adobe is not targeting only the web, Flash is on course for your desktop and mobile devices, giving developers green pastures to target their content and custom applications to a wider audience. The free Flash Player plays a key role in the reach of the platform itself, but Flash CS3 Professional plays a critical role in ensuring your content gets there fast! Let’s take a look at the features of this new release:

New Features:

·          Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator import: Import Adobe Photoshop® (PSD) and Adobe Illustrator® (AI) files, while preserving layers and structure, and then edit them in Flash CS3 Professional. Optimize and customize the files during import with advanced options.

·          Convert animation to ActionScript: Instantly convert timeline animations into ActionScript™ 3.0 code that can be easily edited, reused, and leveraged by developers. Copy animations from one object to another.

·          Adobe interface: Enjoy a new, streamlined interface that emphasizes consistency with other Adobe Creative Suite 3 applications and can be customized to improve workflow and maximize stage space.

·          ActionScript 3.0 development: Save time with the new ActionScript 3.0 language, featuring improved performance, increased flexibility, and more intuitive and structured development.

·          Advanced debugger: Test content with a powerful, new ActionScript debugger that offers greater flexibility and user feedback, as well as consistency with Adobe Flex™ Builder™ 2 debugging.

·          Adobe Device Central: Design, preview, and test mobile device content using Adobe Device Central CS3, now integrated throughout Adobe Creative Suite 3. Create and test interactive applications and interfaces viewable with Flash Lite™ software.

·          Rich drawing capabilities: Visually adjust shape properties on the stage with smart shape drawing tools, create precise vector illustrations with the new Pen tool inspired by Adobe Illustrator, paste illustrations from Illustrator CS3 into Flash CS3 Professional, and more.

·          User interface components: Create interactive content with new, lightweight, easily skinnable interface components for ActionScript 3.0. Visually modify components' look and feel with the drawing tools — no coding required.

·          Advanced QuickTime export: Render content published in a SWF file as a QuickTime video using the advanced QuickTime exporter. Export content that includes nested MovieClips, content generated with ActionScript language, and runtime effects such as drop shadow and blur.

·          Sophisticated video tools: Create, edit, and deploy streaming and progressive-download FLV content with comprehensive video support. Ensure the best video experience with a standalone video encoder, alpha channel support, a high-quality video codec, embedded cue points, video import support, QuickTime import, closed captioning, and much more

·          Timesaving coding tools: Save coding time with new code editor enhancements. Focus on relevant code with code collapse and commenting, and jump to code errors with the error navigation feature.

Like its core siblings Flash CS3 features the new design and layout common to Photoshop CS3 and Illustrator CS3 making it easier to work between applications resulting in an efficient workflow. Tools can be configured in one or two column panels. Panels can now be docked along the edge of the monitor, or minimized to icon view, so that they can fly out when needed, freeing valuable screen area. Even the Timeline can be docked.

CS3 Integration

Users of Photoshop, Illustrator and Flash will greatly appreciate the focus on integration in the CS3 releases. Native Photoshop files can now be imported while preserving more features from the original PSD file. Layer hierarchy, transparency, and blend modes remain intact, and Photoshop layer styles become Flash filter effects. You can also choose which layers you want to import and how to treat them in Flash. For example, you can keep text editable, or convert to vector outlines or flattened bitmaps. You can even create Flash movie clips during import to simplify your Flash workflow.

With Illustrator, documents import into Flash has been improved too, with added features that reduce repetitive tasks. You can import layered Illustrator files, preserving layer attributes. Illustrator layers can be specified to become Flash layers, keyframes, or be combined into one image during the import process. Movie clips can be created from layers during the import proves, complete with instance names, and set their registration points.


Drawing Improvements

Consistency is a key part of this release sharing unified experience with other Adobe tools. The enhanced Pen tool behaves similarly to the Adobe Illustrator Pen tool, with tighter control over vertices and control points. Two new vector drawing primitives, Oval and Rectangle, offer easily adjustable alternatives to the Ellipse and Rectangle shapes, and can be manipulated by using the Property Inspector.

Flash filter effects can now be copied from one symbol and applied to another, making it easier to apply a consistent filter style to many symbol instances. The new Copy Motion option in Flash lets you copy motion tween attributes of an existing motion tween and apply it to another movie clip. This provides a way for designers to reduce repetitive workflows by not having reconstructed the tweens from scratch. Additionally, the motion is stored in XML format and can be exported for use in future files.

Export Only Visible Layers

A new publish setting lets you choose whether objects in hidden layers are exported to SWF files when published. This dramatically speeds workflow and increases your publishing options by allowing you to include or exclude assets simply hiding the layer in which they reside.

ActionScript 3.0

ActionScript is now a more robust and powerful language. It boasts significant performance improvements and includes many new features such as improved XML handling, regular expression searching, sound visualization capabilities, and full-screen display. The language itself isn’t the only area of improvement. There are several new code editing features in Flash, such as code collapse, block comment/uncomment options, and one-click navigation to reported errors. You can now double click an error in the Compiler Errors panel to go to the relevant code in the Actions panel or Script windows. When editing external ActionScript files, you also specify which FLA to publish directly from within the AS file. A new ActionScript 3.0 debugger has been added.

You can now select a tween created in the timeline and copy the ActionScript 3.0 code required to recreate it. The relevant attributes of the animation are automatically translated into a combination of ActionScript and XML, and can be replayed by ActionScript. This allows you to use ActionScript to easily modify attributes of the tween.

ActionScript 3.0 also includes a set of new components which are pre-created collections of graphics and code that can dramatically reduce the amount of design and scripting you have to develop. 

Integration with QuickTime and Flash Video Encoder

If you work with video, you will feel right at home in your workflow, because Flash already has a strong focus on animation; you can create videos from movie clips manipulated by ActionScript. An improved export process supports rendering nested symbols, so that your videos work and play normally in the ubiquitous Adobe Flash Player. The Flash Video Encoder has also been updated to be a lot more robust and integrate better with Flash. I can now check preview settings, import and export cue points using XML files. Deinterlacing has also been added to the mix so your videos can come off with better quality by checking a box. Custom Flash video can be saved and exported in supported encoding profiles.

Final Comments

How It Grades

Installation: 90%
Features: 95%
Ease of Use: 85%
Price/Value: 88%
Documentation: 90%
Overall: 92.3%

Adobe Flash CS3 is partly responsible for the modern Internet of today, and redefining the web of tomorrow. The vastly improved animation capabilities, motion tweening, frame by frame sequencing, enhanced Pen tool, and the added benefit of copying and pasting filter effects and motion tweens brings a new perspective to the designers workflow that not only strengthens the skill set of designing and developing innovative content for the web, but also focuses opening new doors for end users and budding content producers in the Entertainment industry.

The traditional web developer will certainly welcome Flash CS3’s tight integration with the Adobe Creative Suite 3 so work flow experiences between designers and developers can be more cohesive.

Specs & Package
Overall Score 92.3%
Version Reviewed Flash CS3
Release Date Out Now
The Good Points Streamlined Interface
Well Integrated with Photoshop, Illustrator, and Fireworks
Strong mobile design support and previewing
Flash Video Encoder for getting video web-ready
The Bad Points Expensive
Time Needed to Adjust to Interface
Longer Learning Curve
In The Box
3 DVDs, 1 Manual
Similar Product Microsoft Expession Studio
System Requirements
  • Intel® Pentium® 4, Intel Centrino®, Intel Xeon®, or Intel Core™ Duo (or compatible) processor

  • Microsoft® Windows® XP with Service Pack 2 or Windows Vista™ Home Premium, Business, Ultimate, or Enterprise (certified for 32-bit editions)

  • 512MB of RAM (1GB recommended)

  • 2.5GB of available hard-disk space (additional free space required during installation)

  • 1,024x768 monitor resolution with 16-bit video card

  • DVD-ROM drive

  • QuickTime 7.1.2 software required for multimedia features

  • Internet or phone connection required for product activation

  • Broadband Internet connection required for Adobe Stock Photos* and other services



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