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Macromedia Flash
the "must have" Rich Media development tool
by John Reynolds (April 1, 2000)

Since the release of Macromedia's Flash in the mid-1990s, it has been perceived by the creative web development community as a "must have" tool for creating and deploying high-impact multimedia content. Flash utilizes vector based images instead of larger bit-maps for animation. This has produced a large market penetration in the online community and great acceptance from the devotees in creative web community.

Not long ago, Flash lacked the momentum to be a tool for creative brand development because, unlike Java, it requires a plug in to be installed in the browser and initially had limited tracking capabilities. With the release of Flash 4.0 in the spring of 1999, Macromedia has improved Flash's tracking capabilities and expanded its capability to conduct transactions and integrate with marketer's databases.

This article is the first part of the Macromedia Flash review, a software package that allows you to create interactive sites without having to master JavaScript, Java or complex HTML. While Flash is a very powerful program, there are still some problems associated with its usability. One ongoing problem in Flash is the roughness of images imported in the program. Flash allows a wide range of bit-map image formats to be imported (JPEG, PNG, GIF, and PICT) to be used to create some type of animation. These images are put into layers, but once the addition of movement is added, a noticeable noise can be see on the playback.

Flash gets much of its power by converting images (bit-maps or any vector created image) into symbols. Once this conversion is taken place using a simple keyboard command (pressing F8, typing a name and clicking OK), this symbol can be used over and over inside the Flash file, without increasing the file size. This is a powerful feature. The symbol can then be reused by simply by pasting a clone back into the file. Newly created symbols can be easily modified by double-clicking the desired symbol in the Library palette and making the change.

Copyright 2000 John Reynolds All rights reserved.

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