As with the rest of the Creative Suite products, Flash Professional CS4 is a mix of new workflow enhancements and tools, boasting improved integration with the rest of the Creative Suite 4 applications.
Its biggest change is in the Flash Professional CS4 Timeline. Adobe has moved Flash's timeline to an object-orientated model, which allows motion tweens to be applied directly to objects instead of individual keyframes. This is a big step for Flash users and will no doubt open up Flash Professional CS4 to less technically minded designers, as will the Motion preset library.
For those versed in ActionScript, Flash CS4 introduces a new Motion Editor panel, which offers granular levels of editing for fine-tuning animations. Flash Professional CS4's interface has been refined into a single application window - much like Photoshop CS4 - with a redesign properties panel intended to clear the stage of unnecessary palettes and windows.
Flash Professional CS4's 3D prowess has also been improved. Two new tools feature: the 3D Translation tool, which provides ultra-smooth object manipulation, and the 3D Rotate tool, which allows you to apply local or global rotation when working with an object.
New powers unveiled include inverse kinematics and a new Bones tool. The latter allows you to click and drag between unlinked objects, sewing them together into one object with separate forms of movement. Users can save these as an Armature layer, which allows complex, organic motions that translate through to further linked elements of the object.
There's also a new Deco tool aimed at procedural modellers and designers. It allows the user to create patterns from single elements, or even full kaleidoscopic renderings.
With new and improved support for handling Photoshop CS4, Illustrator CS4, Flash CS4 and Dreamweaver CS4 files, plus a new Adobe AIR packaging function and Flex support, Flash still looks to be an unmatched authoring environment.
A full, in-depth review and analysis of Flash Professional CS4 and the rest of Creative Suite 4 will be in November's Computer Arts magazine, issue 155 - on sale October 23.
What's new in Flash CS4
- Object-based animation model
- 3D Transformation tools
- Inverse kinematics
- New Bones tool
- New Deco modelling tool
- Adobe media encoder with H.264 hi-def support
- XFL Support
- Motion Presets panel
- Motion Editor panel
- Adobe AIR Authoring