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Macromedia Flash 4

Richard Price

Flash 4 is hardly a new program. It has been around for some time and is used by designers to create high-impact web sites with animations, vector graphics and sound.

The Flash player Ė needed to view Flash content Ė is free and now comes with most Browsers.

Flash sites also donít consume too much bandwidth. This has helped ensure Flashís success.

There are a number of features which make Flash 4 the ideal choice for web designers who have no desire to learn a complicated programing language.

Itís relatively easy to use and the tutorials get you going quickly.

There is support for MP3 streaming audio and Flash offers a wide range of compression options. Synchronizing audio with animation is a lot easier in Flash 4 with the new timeline

If you think Flash is just for creating meaningless eyecandy animations, perhaps you should look again.

Flash 4 now also boasts its own simple programing language that you use to control how your movie plays. Using ActionScript you can assign actions to parts of your movie. You donít have to be a computer programmer either. If you can handle the concept of a basic Word macro you can get some idea of how it works.

Even just stringing a few basic commands together lets you add simple interactivity.

Theoretically, with Flash 4, you can say goodbye to HTML forever.

Editable text fields in flash 4 work in a similar way to browser form fields. You can use these text fields to display dynamically generated text. You could also specify that any information entered be sent to a CGI script for processing just like a standard HTML form. This data could also be integrated with Cold Fusion, Active Server Pages or Generator.

Flash 4 also supports a variety of formats as well as Quicktime 4. So you can export to Quicktime or import Quicktime files into Flash

Flash 4 has a new Publish feature that simplifies the way you deliver Flash content. This simplifies the task of exporting all the necessary files to ensure that Flash files can be delivered to any browser.

Using familiar pop-up menus, you can ensure your site design remains constant no matter what platform it it being viewed on.

The Publish setting dialogue box lets you choose the files you want to export and in what format they should be exported in.

You can also customise the HTML parameters. If the Flash 4 player is not detected alternative GIF images will be used.

There is also a safeguard to stop your SWF being reimported into Flash.

For those unfamiliar with Flash, the program comes with a set of lessons, samples and tutorials to help you get up and running in no time. The tutorials are all created using Flash 4, which help reinforce the versatility of the program.

Flash 4 is also closley integrated with Freehand 9, allowing you the freedom to turn art work for traditional print media into a suitable HTML format for publication onto the Internet.

Flash 4 is available for both Mac and Windows.

Minimum requirements for Flash 4 running on Windows 95, 98, and NT 4 are a 133 MHz Pentium, 32MB RAM, 20 MB available disk space and a 256 - colour monitor with a 800 x 600 resolution.

The recommended retail price for Flash 4 is AU$569. Current registered Flash users can upgrade for AU$235.




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