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By Cynthia Scott | Wednesday, September 01, 2010

lynda.com author Paul Trani on creating sites with Flash CS5

As part of our ongoing Flash training courses, we just released a new course that guides viewers through the steps to creating a web site with Flash Professional CS5: Creating a First Web Site with Flash Professional CS5. This project course is a good follow-up to Flash Professional CS5 Essential Training. It gives you a chance to practice your new skills, and results in a usable project that can be repurposed to suit your needs.

Q: What inspired you to create this course?

A: I realized that the reason I learn software is because I have a project in mind. Rarely do I have time to just learn software in my spare time. That’s how this project-based title was born, out of the need to create a website. Flash websites can be specifically tricky to make because it allows for so much freedom. So, what I do is boil it down to the basics and make everything as clear as possible and only tell what the viewer needs to know to make a stellar website. And the great thing is that the principles work the same whether it’s a website, or a rich media banner, or any other project that requires animation, sound, video, and interactivity.

Q: What are some of the advantages of using Flash Professional CS5 to create web sites versus any other web design software ?

A: Other software doesn’t really give you the freedom or the tools to get the job done effectively. If it’s an HTML site, for instance, you just don’t have the freedom to animate or add interactivity the way Flash does. You might be able to do basic functionality, but it’s not long before you have to know HTML and/or JavaScript to do what you want. That’s why I chose Flash. It’s easy to use and it gives me the creative freedom I need.

Q: Did you run into any particular design issues or problems in the creation of this course?

A: Overall, I didn’t run into any design issues. Because with Flash, what you see is what you get. All the user needs is the Flash Player. Now, I do want to be aware of bandwidth and file size, but that goes for anything being displayed over the Internet. But it’s nice to know that design integrity is maintained regardless of browser.

Q: What are your top five tips for designers using Flash Professional CS5 to create web sites?

A: First, Don’t embed video. Secondly, if you’re using large images, dynamically load them using UILoader component, or click to Load/Unload SWF, or Image in Code Snippets panel.

Third: Keep it simple. This mainly refers to navigation, but also applies to animation, sound, and video.

Fourth, remember the fundamentals of design. Color theory, layout, white space, and legibility are extremely important in the cluttered world of the web. And last but not lease, be creative! Flash is a program that allows for creative freedom. Use it!

Q: What are some of the most intriguing web sites made from Flash Professional CS5 you’ve seen?

A: The list changes on a daily basis so that’s why I usually point people to the Favourite Website Awards. I also like The Eco Zoo, and the social site IS Parade.

Q: What foundation skills would people need to get the most out of this course?

A: Basic skills with Adobe software such as Photoshop or Illustrator is a huge plus, but if you’re also familiar with motion/animation software such as Adobe After Effects, then that would be a big help. Luckily, with the introduction of the Code Snippets panel, there is less of a need to know a programming language like JavaScript, but it would be a big help.

Q: In your opinion, what’s the most helpful feature in Flash Professional CS5 for web designers?

A: Code Snippets, by far. Imagine being able to select the action you want an immediately add that code to the button of your choice. But Code Snippets doesn’t just hide  the code from you once it’s applied. It shows the code to you so you can modify it and learn how to write ActionScript yourself. The second most helpful feature is TLF Text, which gives control over text like you do in InDesign. Yes, it’s that good.

Q: What are some of the main issues for web designers?

A: The main issue right now is fragmentation in the industry. Apple has decided not to support Flash, so this is an obvious issue. On the other hand, Android-based smartphones display Flash superbly as do 98 percent of desktops. This fragmentation means web designers have to decide what devices to support while maintaining the integrity of the product. Sometimes this means making an HTML backup for some devices while the rest of the viewers can see the product the way it was intended.

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