Yesterday I posted my Mother's Day animation that I created for my mother on BlazingGames.com. This was kind of a milestone, as this was the first ever Flash 9 file that I released on my web site. By Flash 9, I mean that it requires the Flash Player 9 plug-in to view the animation. To create content for Flash player 9, however, there are a number of options available. The official channel is through Adobe, in which you have three choices available to you: the Flex 2 SDK, the FlexBuilder tool, or Flash CS3. The Flex 2 SDK is free (and is going to be released as open source), though is just libraries and command line compiler. The FlexBuilder program is Eclipse with a plug-in GUI. Flash CS3 is the traditional Flash animation program that comes with the various Adobe Creative Suite 3 collections. As I own CS3 Web Premium, I have Flash CS3 and used that for the creation of the animation, even though the animation was created entirely in ActionScript 3. Now is an appropriate time to go over my review of Flash CS3.
Flash CS3 has been reviewed a number of times, yet all of the reviews I have seen seem to miss the biggest reason for getting Flash CS3 which is ActionScript 3 (AS3). What is AS3? ActionScript is the scripting language that is used in flash. AS1 appeared with the release of Flash 5. Object Oriented extensions were "added" to the language with ActionScript 2 that appeared in Flash 7. The third version of ActionScript is a much larger leap over AS2 as it is actually compiled and the Flash Player uses a JIT engine to run the compiled code. This results in significantly faster code execution. The display engine was also drastically overhauled and is now much more flexible to work with. I will cover the display engine in future entries.
Writing AS3 code for me is a huge deal, though sadly the built in editor is still lacking. I suppose Adobe figures that programmers will migrate to FlexBuilder while artists and animators will stick with Flash. As code, including the code for the main timeline, can be assigned to external text files, this division of labor may make some sense. The problem is that there are people like me, who are somewhere between the two, who want the animation and drawing abilities of Flash yet want to write a lot of code so would like the code editing abilities of FlexBuilder, especially code completion. That said, the editor has improved a bit. The big improvement being collapsible code blocks and better debugging. In fact one of the neat things about CS3 is the fact that when the compiler catches an error, it will let you click on the error message and take you right to the problematic line. I, of course, intentionally left some typos in my code to test this feature out.
There are many other reasons to consider upgrading. The Photoshop like user interface, which I initially didn't care much for but am getting use to it now. The cool convert animation into ActionScript 3 code feature. Excellent support for importing Photoshop psd files, which will come in handy if Mary ever decides to do some artwork for Blazing Games. Better video exporting capability. Finally, integration with Adobe Bridge. If you have an earlier version of Flash, I think it is well worth the upgrade just for the ActionScript 3 support.