This is the companion site for Learning Flash CS4 Professional (O’Reilly).
Please explore the pages above for more info about the book, downloadable source files, table of contents, portfolio project site, and much more.
At the time of this writing, Flash CS4 has been out in the world for approximately six months. In that time, one of my responsibilities at Adobe has been to help the Flash community get up to speed with all of the new changes. Like any software release that includes a significant number of new features, it has been a bumpy road for some people as they adapt to the new ways of doing things. Flash CS4 has undergone some major changes to existing features, in addition to introducing some brand new capabilities.
Just for some background, the central focus for each release of the Flash authoring tool has tended to be cyclical in nature. Flash MX 2004 was primarily focused on providing support in the tool for the then-new ActionScript 2.0 language. Following that, Flash 8 unveiled a slew of new designer options, like filter effects, bitmap manipulation, and alpha channel video support. Keeping the cycle going, Flash CS3’s main thrust was to provide support for the great new ActionScript 3.0 language. Noticing the pattern here? Well, designers will be happy to know that the cycle remains intact. Flash CS4 is packed with features dedicated to the creative professional.
Probably the biggest change, and the thing you will notice right off the bat, is the entirely new animation and timeline model. For years the Flash community has been asking for an animation system similar to that found in tools like After Effects. Well, Adobe has listened and has completely revamped the way in which you create timeline animations. The repetitive creation and modification of keyframes is a thing of the past, as Flash will now automatically create the necessary keyframes as you manipulate your objects on the timeline. A full-featured motion editor has also been added, giving you fine control over your animations.
Another request that we have gotten for years is for 3D support within Flash. With Flash Player 10, we now have the capability to manipulate any display object in 3D space. There are some new tools in Flash CS4 to support these features, and they make creating 3D effects no more difficult than creating any other type of animation.
Character animators will be very happy to find support for inverse kinematics (IK) in Flash CS4. IK allows designers to create bones between movie clips, and within shapes, to create animations that adhere to the constraints of a skeletal structure. This system is not just for characters, either, and can be used to create a wide array of animation effects.
I could go on and on talking about the features in this exciting new version of Flash. I could talk about the new user interface, the new Spray and Deco drawing tools, the new Project panel, and the enhanced integration with Adobe Flex. I could do that, but I’m going to let a much better writer than myself, Rich Shupe, take over from here.
I remember seeing Rich speak at my very first Flash Forward conference in New York and was extremely impressed with his knowledge and methods of teaching. Through my own years of teaching Flash, I know how hard it is to explain some of the seemingly unexplainable parts of our amazing platform. Rich definitely has a knack for finding ways to make these areas understandable.
In addition to the book that you’re holding right now, Rich is also the writer of Learning ActionScript 3.0: A Beginner’s Guide (O’Reilly), which I consider to be one of the best ActionScript books ever written. In fact, you will find a quote from me on the cover of newer versions of the book stating just that. Rich’s writing style and true mastery of Flash makes learning the new versions of Flash and ActionScript easier than I ever imagined. That book also makes an excellent companion to this one, giving you a well-rounded library of knowledge on Flash.
I would also like to take a moment to thank O’Reilly for being committed to producing this book in full color. I can’t tell you how much more engaging a book like this is when the code samples and screenshots look exactly as they do on your own computer screen. Beyond just being pretty to look at, the full-color treatment greatly enhances the learning experience as well.
Rich has structured this book in a project format, which is no easy task. I find it to be really refreshing that readers will actually be building something useful at the same time that they are learning the new software. While reading a prerelease version of this book, I actually learned many new techniques that I didn’t know about—and I work for Adobe—so I’m confident that you will find it an extremely rewarding experience.
Flash Platform Evangelist, Adobe
San Francisco, 2009