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Adobe Flash Catalyst: A Designer's Ticket to the Interactive World

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Andrew Faulkner and his team at afstudio have been designing with Adobe products for decades. Though they're quite comfortable with Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop, they have had to look to professional programmers for help with creating Adobe Flash presentations for online projects. Now that he has had the chance to scope out the Adobe Flash Catalyst beta, however, Andrew is excited about the power that this new Adobe program will put into the designer's hands.

Exciting Opportunities

Like many designers, I am anxiously awaiting the release of Flash Catalyst, a new version of Flash developed specifically for designers who don't have coding skills. As a long-time Adobe design vendor, I was invited to Adobe to see this exciting new development first-hand. I wasn't disappointed!

Aside from the expected easy-to-use user interface, I like the thoughtful integration with the Adobe Creative Suite 4 Design Suite that I use on a daily basis. For starters, Flash Catalyst will allow designers to import layered artwork created with Photoshop CS4, Illustrator CS4, or Adobe Fireworks CS4, and easily create animation and interactivity. Additionally, Flash Catalyst offers a "roundtrip workflow," as Adobe calls it—in other words, users can work back and forth between Creative Suite applications and Flash Catalyst while preserving the native files.

You create your design and add interactivity in a visual user interface (UI), whereas on the back end Flash Catalyst writes MXML code, which can be edited further in Gumbo (the "next generation of Adobe Flex Builder," according to Adobe Labs).

As head of a small design studio, I like the look of Flash Catalyst for a number of reasons. Overall, Flash Catalyst will allow me to use my design skills to create interactive content for the Web—advertisements, portfolios, animations for websites, navigation interfaces—without having to hire an outside Flash programmer. Additionally, I can envision using Flash Catalyst to create comps of larger websites, so that I can show ideas to clients in a visually exciting way.

Our studio often adds Flash interactivity to websites we create for clients, and I'm hoping that Flash Catalyst will help me to leverage the existing skills of designers in the studio to do this type of work, as well as make the most of our Adobe Creative Suite products.

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