It was snowing and it was my birthday (just turned 30 a noble step for any designer), and on December 23, 2001 an early beta copy of Flash MX dropped from the heavens. Happy Birthday was written all over it. Now, five months later, Flash MX has hit the shelves. If you are a designer or developer, it should feel like your birthday, too.
OK, there is a lot of hype on Macromedia's web site about how cool and how indispensable Flash MX is. And, believe or not, Flash MX is a solid upgrade from Flash 5. Flash MX is the first product from Macromedia bearing the moniker "MX". The new Dreamweaver, ColdFusion, Fireworks and Flash products are all MX-enabled. The name reflects the new direction of the products as an Internet suit of tools. Over the coming months you will read more about the solutions this suite of tools provides you on this website.
So what makes Flash MX worth the upgrade?
Well, the first feature that you will see is that the interface has changed. Gone are the "Adobe-like" floating panels and in is an elegant split panel view, as shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1: The New Panel Layout makes it easier to get to the tools you need without cluttering up the entire screen.
The Properties Panel from Dreamweaver is now a resident fixture through the entire MX lineup. With Flash it is much needed. Whenever you select an object on the stage, you now have the common properties for that object available in the Properties Panel. When you select a Text box, you do not need to open three panels to edit the paragraph, text style, and color it is all in the Properties Panel.