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Review of Macromedia's Flash 5.0—
A Web Graphics Application

by, Kathy Aanestad

Macromedia's Flash can be used as a graphics tool, an animation tool and an interactivity tool. Interactivity is the real power of Flash. If you have a basic working knowledge of Photoshop, Illustrator or Freehand, or Premiere, then Flash is just the ticket, plus it's lots of fun.

What is Flash? Flash is a vector-based program consisting of symbols, libraries, elements or cast members, layers, masks, timelines, motion and/or shape tweens, keyframes and frames, a stage, work area, buttons, roll-overs, custom scripting, sounds, movies and so much more. Your final product is called a SWF file or small web file for use on the Internet/kiosks/intranet/CD. You originally create a .fla file (which is analogous to .psd in Photoshop), When you create a .SWF file (analogous to .jpg in Photoshop), all your fonts are automatically embedded into it. Flash will compress and stream your files. How cool is that!

The whole idea is to create fabulous, engaging, entertaining files for the internet that will load quickly. Because the program is vector-based, you will be creating graphics which are small, mathematically based objects. This translates into small file sizes. Additionally, vector graphics are device independent which means that their resolution can be changed to match any output device. The print quality of a Flash image will equal the quality of the user's printer. No matter what the DPI capability of the printer, the Flash image will output at the resolution of the printer!

This is very good especially when you want to share files for print amongst your friends. For example, Jane has a printer with 600 dpi output and Marta has a printer with 1200 dpi output. That one file will print out beautifully on either printer. Another really terrific feature of Flash is that any part of a graphic can be included as a hyperlink to another of your web pages or other URLs... and you don't have to know any HTML to make it work.

You can create images within the program or import images already created in Illustrator or Freehand. Flash can be a great way to repropose your content and as we all know, 'CONTENT IS KING'. You can import raster images (ex: Photoshop .pict images), however, the file size will be larger.

Go to http://www.macromedia.com/shockwave/download/ to get the latest version of the plug-in. You can go to http://dynamic.macromedia.com to download the Extension Manager from Macromedia Exchange and then download basic shapes and button clip art and much more.

Another really neat site to visit for Flash is lynda.com. http://www.macromedia.com/support/flash/ for Macromedia's Flash Support Center for online forum, Flash examples, downloads, and more.

http://www.flashplanet.com/ is Flash Planet for really great tutorials, sounds, clip art, and so on. http://www.enetserve.com/tutorials/ for Flash Academy.

On a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being the highest, I give Flash a score of 5. Within a few weeks, I was creating little animated 'movies' with sound and having a blast. For people working with web content, Flash is a 'must-have' program. Check it out at http://www.macromedia.com/.




 

Imagine all the people... the possibilities of what you can do online are limitless!

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