Flash's authoring environment contains the
, where you place the artwork that appears in your final Flash creation, and the
(formerly called the
), a storage area
the Stage. The Pasteboard gives you more storage space for objects that need to stay behind the scenes than the work area used to. The Pasteboard grows to meet your needs. If you place graphic elements that are larger than the current Pasteboard, Flash
of the Pasteboard to accommodate them.
Tabbed documents for Mac users
operating system has always allowed Flash users to view multiple open documents as tabs in a single window. Flash 8 gives Mac users the same capability. By default, multiple
documents appear as tabs in one window. You can see the documents in separate
by changing Preferences settings.
Tabbed panels for everyone
In previous versions, Flash grouped panels vertically, which takes up a lot of room on the desktop and leads users to repeatedly collapse and expand panel windows. Flash 8 adds the ability to
multiple panels as tabs in a single window (
Figure i.2. Flash 8 offers tabbed panel groups. To view a different panel, click its
Multiple libraries in one panel
In previous versions, each active Flash document had a separate Library panel. In Flash 8, by default, the Library panel contains the libraries of all open documents; as you switch documents, the active document's library appears in the panel. To view another document's library, choose it from a menu in the Library panel (
). You can pin the library currently on display so it doesn't change when you switch documents; you can also open libraries in separate windows.
Figure i.3. The Library panel in Flash 8 contains information for all the Flash documents currently open. To view the contents of a different library, choose it from the menu of open documents.
Flash 8's history-tracking feature gives you a choice of techniques for undoing your work. Flash can track each step you take in a document in sequence, and you can undo those steps in reverse order. Alternatively, Flash can track the steps used in creating symbols separately from the other steps you take. That way, you can undo changes to one symbol without undoing changes you made to another symbol or to the document as a whole.
Script Assist mode
In Script Assist mode, Flash 8's Actions panel provides text fields,
, and check boxes that help you enter ActionScript code in the correct syntax (
Figure i.4. Assisted scripting returns in Flash 8. The Script Assist mode of the Actions panel helps you to enter scripts. You make choices and enter text in the Script Assist window; Flash
the ActionScript code using the correct syntax.
Object Drawing mode
Flash's natural-style drawing tools create shapes that interact with one another. For
used to using other graphics tools, such as Macromedia FreeHand or Adobe Illustrator, that's a confusing concept. Flash 8's Object Drawing mode enables you to draw
that don't interact unless you command them to.
Flash 8's gradients can display up to 15 colors. You control how a gradient fills an object when you resize the gradient (
). You can modify the location of a radial gradient's focal point. You can now use gradients in strokes as well as in fills.
Figure i.5. When you resize a gradient so that it's smaller than the object it's filling, you control the way the gradient fills the gap by choosing an overflow method from the menu in the
Flash 8 uses a new
the readability of text, especially text at small sizes. Flash Type
text in both the authoring environment and in Flash Player. Users of Flash Professional 8 can customize the way Flash Type antialiases their text.
Flash's default scaling can distort graphic-objects when you resize them; the distortion is particularly noticeable at the corners of the resized objects. Flash 8 offers a technique for improving the looks of scaled movie-clip symbols. By enabling a movie-clip symbol's 9-slice scaling guides, you can define corner
that don't change when the symbol
. The result is a consistent look among different-
copies of the same symbol (
Figure i.6. When you edit a movie-clip symbol that has 9-slice scaling enabled, guidelines appear within the symbol. The draggable guides define the corners of the object. The corner sections don't scale when you resize the object.
When a button or movie-clip symbol contains complex vector graphics, animating the symbol can bog down the playback of your movie. That's true even if the symbol just moves around the Stage without changing its content. Runtime bitmap caching improves playback performance by taking a bitmap "snapshot" of such a symbol and moving the bitmap around the Stage pixel by pixel. Bitmap caching avoids the need to recalculate complex vectors for the symbol in each new position.
Filters and blend modes (Professional only)
Flash Professional 8 provides two ways to create special effects for objects. Filters can be applied to text boxes and movie-clip and button symbols to create such effects as
, drop shadows, or blurs. Blends can be applied only to movie-clip symbols. Flash's blend modes work similarly to those found in Macromedia FireWorks and Adobe Photoshop, allowing you to composite images and control the interaction of colors among overlapping objects.
Custom easing (Professional only)
Flash's easing controls have always helped make animations appear more natural by letting you control the rate of change in a tweened animation sequence. Custom easing gives you more precise control, allowing you to set different rates of change for different properties (for example, changing an object's position quickly, but changing its color slowly). You can also vary the rate of change over time: for example, starting the change slowly, speeding up in the middle of the animation sequence, and then
down at the end.
Video enhancements (Professional only)
Flash Professional 8 offers several new video features:
On2 VP6 is a new codec (compressor/decompressor) for creating Flash Player 8 content. On2 VP6 improves Flash's ability to balance file size and quality for video that you include in your Flash movies.
Flash 8 Vide Encoder is a stand-alone video encoder that can handle batch processing of video files.
Flash 8 Professional supports alpha channels. You can use alpha channels to create transparency effects: for example, compositing video animation and cartoon animation (often called blue- or
Flash 8 Professional supports embedded cue points for synchronizing video and Flash animation.