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In Flash Catalyst CS5 Essential Training, author Mordy Golding demonstrates how to create and publish fully interactive Flash (SWF) micro sites, widgets, portfolios, and applications from static Photoshop, Illustrator, and Fireworks artwork—all without writing code. The course covers planning a project, importing and organizing assets, creating interactive components, defining repeating data lists, and publishing final projects. Exercise files are included with the course.
One of the great things about Flash Catalyst is that it's really easy to learn. In fact, if you're familiar with other design applications from Adobe, such as Photoshop, Illustrator or Fireworks, it's really easy to get started using Flash Catalyst. In fact, let's take a look at creating a simple project inside of Flash Catalyst. First, let's take a look at what I've created here inside of Illustrator. I'd like to create some kind of a widget that I can add to a website. I want it to be interactive to get people to use it, and I've chosen to create a game.
By playing this game, I'm hoping to get people to visit my web site and visit my factory. So I've started by creating all of the design elements here inside of Illustrator. Before I bring this into Flash Catalyst however, I want to talk about the things that I've thought about when I created this content. When you're designing interactive content, especially with Flash Catalyst, it's really important to take to few moments before you start your project to think about how people will interact with that and to create all the necessary assets or design elements that you'll need.
Let's take a look at my Layers panel here inside of Illustrator. I'm actually going to go ahead and pull it open over here so we can take a better look at it. And I'll reveal some of the contents of these layers as well. I'd like to create this game where people can actually click on the individual bottles here to choose the flavor. So I've created a layer inside of Illustrator called Bottles and I have sublayers inside of that for each of my flavors. I also want people to easily identify what the flavors are. So for example, for the Rosemary bottle, I've created a layer called Text, which identifies that flavor.
When I bring this into Flash Catalyst, I'll add interactivity so that this text will appear when somebody mouses over that bottle. Now, what happens when somebody actually clicks on one of these bottles? I've created another layer here inside of Illustrator called Results, I'll make that layer visible, and you can see that I've created some kind of transparent background here on top of the content. Then depending if the person chose the right or the wrong choice, I'll let them know if they're a loser or a winner. I've also designed some buttons on the bottom here where they can learn more, which will direct them to my web site.
Or they'll submit their email address so I can contact them about their complementary tour. I've created all the elements that I need to build this little widget and I've organized everything on layers inside of Illustrator. This will make it so much easier for me when I bring this into Flash Catalyst. So with that in mind, let's switch over to Flash Catalyst and see how to build this widget. When you open Flash Catalyst for the first time, you'll see this Welcome Screen. You can choose to open up any recent projects you've been working on; you can create a blank new project inside of Flash Catalyst; or in this case, since I've already designed my file inside of Illustrator, I can choose to create a new project from a design file.
Flash Catalyst allows you to start projects from files that were created inside of Illustrator, Photoshop or Fireworks via the FXG Export command. I'll click over here: From Adobe Illustrator AI File, I'll navigate to my Desktop here, scroll down to my Exercise folder, click on Quickstart and here is my olive_game Illustrator file. I'll choose that and click the Open button. At this point, I'm going to get a dialog box called Illustrator Import Options. Flash Catalyst automatically picks up the artboard size that I used inside of Illustrator, 252 pixels by 400, and then we'll do what's best to maintain the design fidelity of my file, but I'll try to keep filters, text, gradients and blends all editable.
I also have the ability to import any non-visible layers, which I definitely want to do in this case, because if you'll remember, those text labels that appeared beneath the Bottles were hidden, and I can also choose to include unused symbols in my file, but for now I don't need to do that. So I'm going to click OK, and at this point, Flash Catalyst actually goes through that Illustrator file, and converts the entire file itself into code. The beauty of course about Flash Catalyst is that you don't see that code; all you see are the graphics itself.
To really appreciate what just happened, let's take a quick side bar and take a look over here where it says Design towards the top of screen. This means that currently, I'm in the Design Workspace inside of Flash Catalyst. However, if I'm adventurous, I can click on this button and choose Code. This shows me the Code view or the Code workspace inside of Flash Catalyst. And I'll see now what just happened. Everything that I created inside of Illustrator has now been converted into computer code for me. But enough about code; let's get back to designing.
I'll switch back to the Design workspace so we can work on our project. First take a look at the user interface here inside of Flash Catalyst. It feels very much like a design application. I have my panels with tabs and I have familiar tools like my Selection tool, my Text tool and my Shape tools. You can double-click on the tab of any panel to collapse it. For example, I don't need to see the Timelines panel right now. So I'll double-click to hide that. And I'll even see that familiar keyboard shortcuts from Adobe's design applications, for example my Spacebar to get the Hand Grabber tool, all works here exactly the same inside of Flash Catalyst.
Now, before we get started creating anything inside of this project, let's save it. I'll go to the File menu here, and I'll choose Save to save my project. I'll navigate back to my Exercise_Files folder, go back to my Quickstart folder here and I'll save my file with the name olive_game, and notice that it saves my file as an FXP file, which is the native format for Flash Catalyst, and I'll click Save. So we've successfully brought our artwork from Illustrator here into Flash Catalyst.
And in the next movie, we'll learn how to start adding interactivity in the form of creating components.
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