Macromedia announces Flash MX 2004!

Macromedia announced Flash MX 2004, its latest upgrade to their Flash development environment. With this release Macromedia has also announced Flash MX Professional 2004, a version of Flash specifically targeted towards professional.

Rather than re-hash everything you are going to see out today about the new product, I will highlight a few of the new additions…

This is the most exciting part of Flash 2004 for me. ActionScript2 is a true object oriented language based after the ECMA v4 specs (also known as JavaScript 2.0). This will greatly improve the productivity of application development and help push good application development standards in the Flash Community.
Benefits include:

  • Cleaner OOP Code
  • Compiler time type checking when strong typing variables
  • AS2 code gets compiled down to AS1 byte code which enables you to use it with projects intended for Flash Player 6
  • Implements packages
  • ItÂ’s much easier to pick up someoneÂ’s code and find out what is going on
  • New keywords class/private/public/dynamic/intrinsic/extends/get/set/import
  • Enforces that each class be in its own file
  • Editors can be enhanced to take advantage of some of the new additions! (will post more details soon)
  • Will be excellent for projects with a large team

If you have ever worked in a visual development environment like MicrosoftÂ’s Visual Studio and found the form-based development environment to be a great way of rapidly developing application then you will enjoy Screens. Depending on how you used to structure your applications in Flash MX, this new addition may make a lot of sense. Essentially each screen corresponds to a MovieClip in the library, but the interface to building such applications is tailored especially for this need with some subtle but useful changes/additions. Also each Screen has a base class that Macromedia provides which you can extend to specialize for your specific Form. This is definitely a welcome addition to application development and I look forward to using it in real-world applications. This is a feature only available in Flash Professional 2004

Flash 2004 includes a brand new component architecture and a brand new set of components. The new components are very well built and very feature rich. Their apiÂ’s have changed but are definitely welcome. The components included in Flash 2004 Professional are Accordion, Alert, Button, CheckBox, DataGrid, DateChooser, DateField, Label, List, Loader, Menu, MenuBar, NumericStepper, ProgressBar, RadioButton, ScrollPane, TextArea, TextInput, Tree, and Window (Some of these components are only included in the Professional version). ItÂ’s good to see Flash ship with many components that other development environments have, components like the MenuBar, TextArea, and TextInput might seem like a small addition but are definitely needed.

Other than adding support for compiling AS2 code, the compiler also provides some optimization that will improve code execution.

Data Components:
Flash 2004 Professional includes Data Components. Simply, these are the FireFly components upgraded and integrated into Flash. The Data Components include DataHolder, DataSet, RDBMSResolver, WebServiceConnector, XMLConnector, and XUpdateResolver.

Have you ever wanted to create a tool for something you do a repeatedly? In MX we created swf panels, but those panels didnÂ’t have a lot of power. Well with JSAPI (JavaScrpit API for the Flash IDE), you can write commands that will automate some of the tasks you do. These command can be added to a new commands menu in the menubar, executed via the command line, or you can build swf panels that will take advantage of this new extensibility layer. IÂ’m looking forward to seeing what interesting tools people produce.

Some Final Thoughts:
I really like this upgrade. If you have been using Flash for a while, you might have gotten used to the complete-rework that Flash received on every upgrade. The panel system, timeline, and a lot of other things changed between Flash 3,4,5,MX. With this upgrade Macromedia has not done that, instead they have refined a lot of the existing while adding some addition to help developers greatly work the way they want to work, and work in new ways that will surely increase productivity.

We plan to cover some of these features in greater detail soon

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