Adobe has released details about the latest version its Flash authoring tool, which arrives amid great uncertainty concerning the multimedia platform’s future.
Flash Professional CS5 boasts a number of improvements over previous versions, including better animation physics, improved typography controls, new code hints and snippets for building webapps in ActionScript, some new data formats, and better ability to add cue points to videos. It also has a few tricks for developers eager to publish apps to places where Flash isn’t allowed.
Flash is part of Creative Suite 5, Adobe’s new package of apps for building websites, assembling videos and editing photos. The new suite of apps, which Adobe says will ship mid-May, was announced Monday.
New Features in Flash CS 5
Video cue points
If you’re building content around a Flash-embedded video file, you’ll be keen on one of the new enhancements in CS5: the ability to use cue points in the videos’ timelines to trigger ActionScript events.
Building ActionScript apps
Adobe Flash Builder, which is fully integrated with Flash CS5, in flash CS 5 you are now given the option to use Flash Builder or Flash CS 5 code editor. You can also set up Flash Builder to be your default code editor for ActionScript while working in Flash CS 5.
If you’re a whiz at ActionScript, you’ll appreciate the new ActionScript editor in the new Flash CS 5. You get new custom class-code hinting and code-completion features. There’s also a library of ActionScript snippets for new coders — so many, in fact, that you don’t really need to know that much about ActionScript to build simple animations.
Animations will be more natural overall since Adobe has updated its physics engine in Flash CS5. The last version saw the inclusion of a new inverse-kinematics engine, and it’s been enhanced in CS5 to produce animations that are more lifelike and realistic.
There are new text handling tools, too, including Adobe’s Text Layout Framework. This framework has been built into multiple products, including Flash Player 10.x and the other CS5 production tools. So, when a designer hands you a file with text laid out in InDesign or Illustrator, that text will be better preserved once you start playing around in Flash.
Outside the box
One more cool thing Adobe has done in CS5 is they’ve solved Flash’s hermetically-sealed–box problem. When you export your Flash project, you can just spit out a single, binary FLA, or you can choose to export as an XFL package. It’s a new XML-based format developed for Adobe Flash.
The XFL option produces an uncompressed package where your various elements — video, objects, scripts — are all left separate. You can edit individual elements of your project (or pass them off to other team members for editing) without having to repackage everything any time a change is made.