This language enables Flash 5 to couple with XML (Extensible Markup Language), HTML (Hypertext Markup Language), and other content in many ways. So it’s also a scripting language that’s capable of communication with other parts of the Web. Furthermore, in alliance with Macromedia Generator, Flash 5 is also capable of serving as the front end and graphics engine for the premiere, robust solution for the delivery of dynamic Web content (graphics, charts, sounds, personalized Flash movies) from databases and other back-end resources. A final note to our list of Flash capabilities: Just as this manuscript was going to press, we learned that Macromedia has collaborated with the makers of ColdFusion to create a toolkit that will enable dynamic data-driven Flash interfaces that are based on CFML (ColdFusion Markup Language) or JSP (JavaServer Pages).
So, what’s this hybrid we call Flash capable of? That’s a question that remains to be answered by developers such as you. In fact, we’re hoping that you will master this application and show us a thing or two. That’s why we’ve written this book: to point out the facets of the tool, hoping that you will take the tool in your hands and amaze us and the world!
So, if Flash is a hybrid application, and if this application is capable of just about anything, a good place to start working with this powerhouse is to inquire: What are the components of this hybrid? And if they were separated out, how might their capabilities be described? Those are the questions that we answer here.
In truth, Flash has limited capabilities as an image-editing program. It is more accurate to describe this part of the Flash application as a bitmap handler. Bitmap images are composed of dots on a grid of individual pixels. The location (and color) of each dot must be stored in memory, which makes this a memory-intensive application and leads to large file sizes. However, for photographic-quality images, bitmap formats are indispensable. One more drawback to bitmap images is that they cannot be scaled without adversely affecting the quality (clarity and sharpness). The adverse effects of scaling an image up are more pronounced than when scaling down. Because of these two drawbacks file sizes and scaling limitations bitmaps images are not ideal for Web use.
Much of the Flash application is a vector-based drawing program, with capabilities similar to either Macromedia Freehand or Adobe Illustrator. A vector-based drawing program doesn’t rely upon individual pixels to compose an image. Instead, it draws shapes by defining points that are described by coordinates. Lines that connect these points are called paths, and vectors at each point describe the curvature of the path. Because this scheme is mathematical, there are two distinct advantages: Vector content is significantly more compact, and it’s thoroughly scalable without image degradation. These advantages are especially significant for Web use.
The vector animation component of the Flash application is unlike any other program that preceded it. Although Flash is capable of handling bitmaps, its native file format is vector-based. So, unlike all other animation and media programs, Flash relies on the slim and trim vector format for transmission of your final work. Instead of storing megabytes of pixel information for each frame, Flash stores compact vector descriptions of each frame. Whereas a bitmap-based animation program (such as Apple’s QuickTime) struggles to display each bitmap in rapid succession, Flash quickly renders the vector descriptions as needed and with far less strain on either the bandwidth or the recipient’s machine. This is a huge advantage when transmitting Flash animations and Flash content over the Web.
You might say that the body of Flash is a multimedia-authoring program, or multimedia- authoring environment. It authors movies that can contain multiple kinds of media, such as sound, still graphics, and moving graphics. Yet it is also an interactive multimedia program because it has the capability to assign action commands to the movies that it authors.
Most multimedia-authoring programs have a component for sequencing content as animation, and Flash is no exception. But in Flash, the animation sequencer is the core of the application. The organization of sequences, also known as movies, is as follows:
Programming interface and database front end
With Flash 4, Macromedia expanded the capabilities of Flash to include limited but powerful programming capabilities that were capable of controlling the nature and quality of Flash interactivity. Furthermore, these capabilities augmented with Generator 2 gave Flash the ability to work as the database front end for sophisticated interactive applications such as online shopping, forms, and other activities not normally associated with an animation program. In fact, there were many ingenious creations that melded code with vector content in ways that no one could have imagined! But that was Flash 4.
Flash 5 has changed all of that in ways that we cannot begin to describe simply because there is little, if any, limitation to what Flash 5 is now capable of. All one need add is a dash of genius, and genius is in good supply among Flash aficionados. What are we talking about? Well, with Flash 5:
Viewing Flash movies
Generally, Flash movies are played back in one of three ways. The most common implementation is for Flash movies to be played back within Web browsers either as part of an HTML page, or as a 100-percent Flash Web page that contains no visible content other than the Flash Movie. Flash movies can also be played through a separate application called the Flash Player. In addition to the Flash Player, Flash movies can also be created as Stand Alone Projectors that facilitate playback without the need for either the player or the browser.
There are several other ways in which Flash movies, or their parts, can be played back or displayed. Since Flash 4, the Publish feature has offered provisions for the export of movies, or sections of movies, to either the QuickTime digital video format, the QuickTime Flash layer vector format, or to the Animated GIF format. Parts of movies can also be exported as a series of individual bitmaps or as vector files. Single frames can also be exported to these formats. Recently, methods were developed that enable Flash content to be used as screensavers
Flash Related Interview Questions
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Understanding The Flash Framework
Exploring The Interface: Panels, Settings, And More
Using Tools For Navigation And Viewing
Working With Selections And The Pen Tool
Working With The Drawing And Painting Tools
Working With Text
Exploring The Timeline
Checking Out The Library: Symbols And Instances
Drawing In Flash
Animating In Flash
Using Bitmaps And Other Media With Flash
Designing Interfaces And Interface Elements
Understanding Sound For Flash
Importing And Editing Sounds In Flash
Optimizing Flash Sound For Export
Understanding Actions And Event Handlers
Navigating Flash Timelines
Controlling Movie Clips
Sharing And Loading Assets
Planning Code Structures
Creating Subroutines And Manipulating Data
Understanding Movie Clips As Complex Objects
Sending Data In And Out Of Flash
Understanding Html And Text Field Functions In Flash
What Is Generator?
Revving Up Generator
Working With Third-party, Server-side Applications
Working With Raster Graphics
Working With Vector Graphics
Working With Audio Applications
Working With 3d Graphics
Working With Quicktime
Working With Realplayer
Creating Full-motion Video With Flash
Creating Cartoon Animation With Flash
Planning Flash Production With Flowcharting Software
Working With Authoring Applications
Publishing Flash Movies
Integrating Flash Content With Html
Using Players, Projectors, And Screensaver Utilities
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