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Ron Ridley Auto Care Mall

  Flash 3
- Macromedia is a big name developer, so as expected, the installation was very smooth and straight forward. For this review, I removed Flash2 before installing the new version. I do not know if you can instal over top and save your old settings.

User Interface:
- Flash3 is a great tool for editing and animating streaming vector graphics, or animations that play as they load. Without doing any scripting or coding, interactive controls or actions can be added to your pages easily. The file sizes generated by Flash remain small to keep downloading fast. The files are i a compressed shockwave format. Thus a shockwave viewer is required to view them. Flash3 ships with the viewer, but it is also available for FREE on the Macromedia Website. Now is a good time to sneak in a plug for the plug-in. The viewer download is small and installs very easily. Perhaps futue browser versions will have the plugin built into it? I strongly reccommend downloading the viewer.

Creating Flash Movies is a lot like creating a cartoon animation. It is done using timelines. Each timeline contains frames much as you would see on a movie film. These frames are edited one by one or a group of frames can be edited together using a method called tweening or blending. When the movie is then run, it plays one frame at atime leaving a great animation or effect.

Also in this issue is a review of Dreamweaver 1.2 HTML Editor. The two of them work really well together, although, Flash files can be added in other editors easily as well. With the included aftershock utility that generates the HTML coding that is needed to display your movie, you no longer need to generate any of the code yourself.

Some great new features in Flash3:

The capability to add a java viewer to your page so that any Java enabled browser may view your movie. Note: I did notice a small increase inloading time with the java viewer though.
Shape tweening, a very similiar effect to morphing.This really is an interesting effect and has some great possibilities. Let your imagination run wild with this one.
Some new actions have been added as well. The allows the user to make pre-defined things (actions) happen with the click of a button or even when your movie reaches a specific frame. Some actions it can perform are to make a movie stop or start, start a new movie or even go to a new URL. These are just a couple of examples.
Frame labels make it easy to "label" certain frames as action targets - much the same as layers in Dreamweaver.
You can now add comments to your timeline. These are only viewable in the source code and are a great way to organize your work, especially large multi-layered movies.
The ability to create Flash templates for your most commonly used Flash effects.
You can monitor download performance. the monitor checks the bandwidth of each frame and alerts you to any trouble spots where the animation may fall behind.
The ability to exchange layered graphics between Flash3 and Macromedia's Freehand Drawing program.

Cost Value:
- As in Dreamweaver, I reccommend Flash for experienced or proffessional designers. Although, until browsers come with the plugin it may not get used as much, Flash3 is definately worth every penny of it's street value.

- Unlike the manual in Dreamweaver, I did find this manual to be full of information. Even more help was found in the programs help files and the tutorial was wonderfully done. Another source of help was in th included "Show Me" movies. Full marks for documentation here.

Overall Comments:
- The combination of Macromedia's Flash3 and Dreamweaver makes for a very powerful web design toolbox. It won't be long before these set the industry standard for web design. I must say, I am very impressed with Macromedia's efforts to bring web design to a whole new level.

Review ID Number: 357
  Product Details
Review Date: 2001-04-20
Reviewer: Brad Lawryk
Rating: 10 out of 10
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