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Studio MX 2004 | Dreamweaver | Fireworks MX 2004 | FreeHand MX 2004 | Flash MX 2004 |


Flash MX 2004 and Flash MX 2004 Professional

FlashFlash has become the standard for animation on the web for its small files sizes and multimedia content. You can create and import many different kinds of images or sounds making Flash ideal for creating unique content, whether you want buttons for your webpage or a whole multimedia presentation. There's lots of new features and improvements in MX 2004 so let's look at some of them.

So what's new?

The biggest change is that there are now two versions of Flash: Flash MX 2004 and Flash MX Professional 2004. Help > About will tell you which you have installed.

Flash MX 2004 is the premiere application for multimedia animation for the web, but it doesn't stop there, with tools for photo slideshows, presentations, forms and many others.

Flash MX Professional 2004 is  an advanced program suited for advanced web designers and application builders. It includes all the features of Flash MX 2004, and new tools as well, including project-management tools for streamlining workflow between the designers and developers. Because of its ability to use external scripting and handling dynamic data from databases Flash MX 2004 is great for large complex projects.

New to both versions

Start page

As in all of the new applications in the MX 2004 suite, Flash sports a new Start Page. Work on a previously open document, start a new one, choose to work from a professional template, take a Flash tour, or do a tutorial. You can access Macromedia Exchange to get extensions, or even update your help file. If you don't like the new start page, click the "Don't show again" box at the bottom of the Start Page.

start page


Open files from a Dreamweaver site

Now you can open a file from a Dreamweaver site, using File > Open from Site.

New Publish and Sharing Options

Now in the Publish settings, you can tell Flash to detect the version of player your audience has. You can also save custom publish settings to use again later.

Sharing this job with a co-worker or team? Send the .fla file to them via email, right from inside Flash MX 2004.

Finding the panels

Panels are now divided into categories in the window menu:

panels menu

Design panels pops out to list the design group and so on, making it easier to find panels from an ever-growing list.

New help panel

The new dynamic help panel puts help at your fingertips and can be updated when new help files are released. The only thing I found a bit confusing is that it's called a panel, it behaves like a panel—docking and collapsing and so forth—but it isn't found in the Panels menus. It is only reachable in the Help menu. Which I guess is where it should be, but when I heard about this new help panel, I went searching in the windows menu, where I expect all panels to be, and it wasn't there.

flash panels

New polystar tool

The new polystar tool lets you draw stars and polygons. Set the options in the property bar. Specify polygon or star, number of sides and star point size.

Timeline Effects

With new Timeline Effects, some common tasks can be repeated with a simple menu item. They are non-destructive, so they can be removed or altered easily! Now I realize that this little animation won't win any prizes, but it took me 3 seconds to make...Flash made all the new frames. All you do is select the Timeline effect from the Insert menu, set a few options, and you're in business!

Behaviors panel

With the new Behaviors panel, like the one found in Fireworks and FreeHand, you can add simple interactivity without knowing how to write a script.

behaviors panel

Save panel layout

Work effectively by setting up your panels as you like, and saving the panel layout to be loaded for use later. If you are working on different kinds of projects this can be a real time saver! This isn't new, but as it fits in with the new ease of workflow in the new versions, it merits a mention here.


More new features you will find in both versions:

  • New file format imports: Besides the formats already supported by Flash MX —gif, jpg, bmp, Illustrator, Freehand, to name only  a few—Flash MX 2004 now supports PDF and EPS file import, giving you even more freedom for image creativity.
  • Improved performance: Thanks to an enhanced compiler and Flash Player 7, Flash works faster so you can too.
  • New version of Action Script: Action Script 2.0 supports object oriented programming.
  • New Action Script Editor: The normal mode is gone in favor of the more customizable expert mode.
  • CSS Support: Flash now includes support for standard CSS files to help you maintain sitewide consistency.
  • New components and V2 architecture : Using your own components or components from Macromedia or other designers, quickly build interactive content.
  • Spell check and find and replace: Spell check is self explanatory. Find and replace is a great new feature that lets you search the whole movie for objects by parameters you set, and replace them with a couple easy mouse clicks.
  • New text options: Unicode and Aliased text
  • New History panel: This sophisticated undo panel allows you to save a series of steps as a command macro for reuse. If you use Fireworks you will be familiar with these, and glad they were added to Flash!
  • New accessibility features: Create accessible content using Microsoft's new MSAA compliant components for screen readers and keyboard access systems.


Additional features only in the Professional Edition

Only in Professional edition:

  • Forms based development
  • Advanced components add data connectivity and media playback
  • Connect to web application servers and data bases
  • Shadowing
  • Project view
  • Support for high quality video: nearly double the quality for playback in Flash Player 7
  • Support for application building for mobile devices

Want to know more?

Check out Macromedia's Flash MX 2004 Professional page here. Download a trial and give it a run! Learn more about or try out Flash MX 2004 here.

Related Links:

Flash classes at Eclectic Academy
Flash classes at LVS Online


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