Starting life as an animation package for the Web, Macromedia Flash has evolved over time into a powerful application development tool. This transformation has now been re-emphasised with the release of Flash MX 2004 - an upgrade so radical that Macromedia has had to soften the blow by splitting the package into two versions.
Flash MX 2004 Professional introduces a whole new way to create Flash movies based on 'screens'. Programmers and application developers will find this a more familiar approach than the package's traditional Timeline model. The Standard edition of Flash MX 2004 doesn't have this particular feature, but it's in no way a 'light' version of the package. It's still a full upgrade, jam-packed with new features - most of them aimed at making Flash faster and easier to work with.
Templates and components were introduced in the last version of Flash and the new release improves on these, making them easier to build, use and configure.
The big time-savers, though, are the Timeline Effects features and the new Behaviours panel. Both automate tasks that were previously the preserve of Flash experts, enabling you to add animation and interaction to your movies in seconds.
Follow our step-by-step tour of Flash MX 2004 Std to discover how the new features work and get some ideas for your own work.