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Flash CS5 has offered many improvements over Flash CS4. It's a very exciting release of the software. Flash CS4 introduced a new updated interface for Flash, and Flash CS5 has improved on that interface, adding extra features to the Color panel, the Info panel, and the Properties panel to make working in Flash more efficient. Flash has always been able to work with guides, but in Flash CS5, you can control the positioning of guides, down to the pixel.
In Flash CS4, Flash began to make the turn towards an XML-based file format. In Flash CS5, that transition is complete, and now FLA files are completely XML-based. Flash CS4 could support playback of H.264 video directly in the Flash Player. In Flash CS5, you can play those same videos in the FLV playback component and preview them directly in Flash without having to test in the Flash Player.
Further, you can add and remove ActionScript Cue Points directly in the Properties panel without having to write any code at all. Flash CS4 introduced the Deco tool. At that time, the Deco tool could draw vine shapes, grids, and the Symmetry Brush could draw objects around a certain point. In Flash CS5, the Deco tool has several times more options, so you're able to add more exciting effects to your animations, like a Particle System, Smoke Animation, or different types of flowers.
You can also create vector-based buildings that can be dropped into other artwork that you've created. Flash CS4 introduced Inverse Kinematic Bone systems into the Flash environment. In Flash CS5, that feature is enhanced with another feature called Spring, which adds realistic physics without having you do any of the work. Here, spring is swinging the pendulum in the clock back and forth, when all I had to do was to define two frames of animation: the pendulum at the right and the pendulum in the center.
In Flash CS4, the Text Layout framework was only available as an extension of Flash. In Flash CS5, the Text Layout framework is built into Flash so that you can use all of its powerful features without having to install any extra software. Flash CS5 has introduced the Code Snippets panel, which provides an easy way to add ActionScript code to your applications. So to create a link to a webpage, it just takes a series of clicks and then modifying the URL in the code.
Flash has always integrated well with other Adobe applications, but in Flash CS5, with the addition of Flash Catalyst and Flash Builder to the Flash family, integration has improved greatly. I can prototype artwork in Flash and set it to Flash Catalyst to add simple interactivity. Integration with Flash Builder allows you to create your artwork in Flash and write the code, leveraging the coding power of Flash Builder. The new features of integration with Adobe Photoshop allow you to do quick roundtrip editing of bitmap images directly from the library.
So any changes I make in Photoshop are automatically updated in Flash. For example, I can change the color of this bird image to black-and-white, go back over to Flash and it's automatically updated. Using the new FXG file format, it's easy to exchange art between applications like Illustrator and Flash, because updates made through vector artwork and text are preserved when the files are transferred back to Flash. So Flash CS5 is one of the most exciting releases of Flash ever.
These new features can greatly enhance your workflow and provide more potential for Flash than ever before.
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