Flash 4 for Windows & Macintosh (Visual QuickStart Guide)

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9780201354737: Flash 4 for Windows & Macintosh (Visual QuickStart Guide)

Flash 4 for Windows and Macintosh: Visual QuickStart Guide is a step-by-step guide to creating animated Web graphics using Macromedia Flash 4. This easy, visual approach to learning Flash takes the reader through the basics of vector drawing to the creation of animated multimedia files for the Web. Using this clear guide, professional Web designers, as well as hobbyists, can find out how to add sophisticated multimedia effects to their Web pages, without having to learn complicated scripting languages.

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Review:

Flash is a great name for an application; who wouldn't want to add flash to their designs? In practice, Macromedia Flash 4 is a complex set of tools for creating animated and interactive graphics that can be played within most up-to-date Web browsers. Flash 4 Visual QuickStart Guide is a well-paced, thorough introduction to all that this powerful application has to offer.

The book begins by introducing the editing environment, including the toolbar, inspectors, menus, and timeline. From there it explains how to create and manipulate objects (graphics) and how to convert them into symbols (Flash's term for oft-used images) that can be stored in libraries.

It covers simple and complex animations, including ones with interactivity--from rollovers to movies with sound and conditional actions. Readers learn how to create frame-by-frame animations, use motion and shape tweening, optimize movies for playback on the Web, and many other key features of Flash.

As with all Visual QuickStart Guides, Flash 4 uses a column of text side by side with screen shots for every step. Readers can set their own pace by reading all of the text, just the steps, or just the illustrations and captions. Skipping ahead or reading the book in a nonlinear fashion is easy since each section recaps any previous steps that may be necessary for that lesson.

Flash 4 is a cross-platform guide, but there are minimal differences between the Windows and Macintosh applications; illustrations are used from either one or the other, but only from both when the differences are significant. This keeps the book lean; readers familiar with how menus look on both platforms will find it very clear.

Flash may not be as complicated as Macromedia Director, but it's not simple either. Becoming fluent in the application will require a few days of study. But with Flash 4 Visual QuickStart Guide, new users can get some basic animations completed in a few hours: a little bit of flash in a little bit of time. --Angelynn Grant

Topics covered: using the editing environment, including the timeline, stage, toolbar, menus and keyboard shortcuts; creating and modifying objects, using layers, saving objects as symbols and using libraries; creating frame-by-frame animations, animations with motion and shape tweening; using masks, movie-clip symbols, interactivity with frame actions and buttons; adding sound to movies, complex interactivity, including conditional actions; preparing a movie for optimal playback on the Web, including Flash Player settings; and publishing HTML for Flash Player files.

About the Author:

Katherine Ulrich is a writer and editor specializing in graphics, publishing, and multimedia software. Her career includes a 12-year stint at Macworld magazine. As a developmental editor, Katherine helped to develop and direct Macworld's how-to sections (Media, Publishing, Secrets, and Create).

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