by November 10, 2003 0 comments



This version of Flash has even more to offer than the earlier version (Flash MX), which was considered a major upgrade. For one, it’s now divided into two parts: Flash MX 2004 Standard and Flash MX 2004 Professional. We have reviewed the latter. 

Macromedia has finally listened to the programmer in you by including forms, slides, project panel and data-bound objects.

With Flash becoming more of an interface-designing tool for the Web rather than animation software, the form interface of the software is a good addition. It’s also the feature that differentiates the Professional from the Standard version. 

Another new feature is slide presentations. What this means is that you can use either a timeline (as in the earlier versions) or slides (just as he would in PowerPoint). In fact, each slide also has its own timeline. There are also loads of templates for mobile devices–form applications to slide shows. Though the tagging of slides and forms was possible with the older versions as well, it is much simpler with Flash MX 2004. Another feature is the Flash project, which is similar to the project files of other programming languages.

The components panel has been revamped, new components have been added and some components have been data bound.

Data binding will streamline the workflow and bring down development time. The option of third-party components was introduced in Flash MX, and has been extended in 2004. 

The software that you used with Flash will now be available as plugins within the Flash environment. The major ones come from Swish and Swift 3D. The day may not be far when you will get Flash plugins as you get Photoshop plugins, streamlining the flow even further. For example, the Swish charting extension can be used to make beautifully animated graphs in a jiffy.

The same would have taken hours of programming effort for the programmer before. 

If you’ve used Director, you would know of behaviors. That concept has now been brought to Flash. While there are some predefined behaviors, the developer can make and save others for further use. 

It’s not just the programmer who will benefit from the new version. The animator also gets his share of upgrades with timeline effects and enhancements in video. Especially, the upgrades in the Flash player have led to better video handling, making it even more apt for the Web. For the designer, there is the import facility from Adobe Illustrator and Adobe PDF format. 

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Price : Flash MX 2004 Professional: 34,950
Flash MX 2004: 24,950
Meant for: Web design/animation
Key specs : New slide/form view, better video handling
Pros : Better tools for programmers, better flash player
Contact : Macromedia, Mumbai.
Tel : 28201705/28241566.
E-mail : nchawla@macromedia.com 

Pro VS Standard
The MX Standard version will service most Flash developers, while the Professional version is targeted at programmers. The Pro version is extended by the support for forms, slides, project panel and data bound objects in the data front. On the video side of things, Pro supports high-quality video, third-party software integration and allows .flv (Flash video) files to be played externally. Also, it comes with extra in-built data and video components. On the mobile device development front, there is a lot more available to the developer in the Pro version.

So, if you are an animator who would use Flash mainly for standalone tasks either on the Web or as an exe, the new version makes a worthy upgrade. On the other hand, if you are a developer and use a lot of database integration and action scripting, the Pro version could be the magic potion that you were looking for to reduce your programming time.

Flash away!

Geetaj Channana

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