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Adobe Flash, by Macromedia, is software mainly used in web-development as it is able to work extensively with multimedia; this is by being able to stream audio and video and manipulate vector and raster images. The latter is particularly important when making animations for a website.
Flash uses a language called ‘ActionScript’, mainly basing itself on events and actions. When building a website, you can integrate flash content by way of files which typically end in an .SWF extension. Flash video can also be used, ending in an .FLV extension, as popularly used by Youtube and other websites.
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In 1993 Jonathan Gay developed the initial idea for a program based on the manipulation of vector graphics. The first name was ‘SmartSketch’ and it was used to make drawing on computers easier, instead of the usual free-hand method. Although originally not successful, it began to grow as the internet expanded and more websites were being developed.
It the changed it’s name to ‘FutureSplash’ and was eventually bought Adobe and used by Microsoft, available for both the Windows and Mac platform. The name fused into Flash when it was acquired by Macromedia in 1996 and became the widely used software we know today.
(main source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adobe_Flash#History)
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The features which were added prove useful not only for expert flash designers or animators, but also for beginners who have no knowledge of programming or the ActionScript language. Most of the additions easily integrate with the rest of the Adobe environment, and it is intended to be used alongside with packages such as Photoshop CS3 or Illustrator. The main additions are:
Photoshop and Illustrator Import – With this new feature you are now able to import Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator files and edit them within the program.
Improved drawing tools – A new pen tool and smart shape tool offer greater freedom and are less time-consuming. These were developed in the same manner as the tools offered in the current Photoshop package. With smart shape you are able to easily create shapes, round off edges, adjust angles and more. The pen tool offers great freedom including the customary Add, Delete and convert anchor points options.
Convert animations to ActionScript – You don’t have to be a developer in order to use Flash. You can create animations based on a timeline and a ‘What-you-see-is-what-you-get’ editor, which are then converted into programming code. This is helpful is you need a developer or programmer to look at your animation code and adjust it appropriately.
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Great emphasis is placed on saving time with this current version. As mentioned, you don’t need to have programming knowledge in order to use the application as it converts automatically for you. You can also edit and crop your video while it’s playing which saves further time.
Being a video and animation editing program however, a strong system is still recommended: a 3Ghz processor and a lot of memory (typically 3 or 4 GB) is recommended, or you will have problems importing images and editing your video live.
As with the other Adobe packages, an upgrade to Flash CS3 is recommended if you are serious about web development and wish to build professional and solid multimedia applications. Learning the program remains difficult for beginners despite the many short-cuts, but if you put some time into it the possibilities are endless.