- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
Ships from: POINT ROBERTS, WA
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
Ships from: Welwyn Garden City, United Kingdom
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
Flash answers designers' cravings for more graphics and more control of those graphics by providing a way to deliver vector images over the Web. Vector images keep file sizes down, and they are scaleable, which means that you can maintain control of what a Web site looks like when your viewer resizes the browser window, for example, making the whole thing stay in proportion as the window grows or shrinks. In addition, Flash provides streaming capability. Streaming allows some elements to display immediately upon download while more information continues to come over the Internet.
Animation in Flash is not limited to cartoon characters like Bugs Bunny orThe Simpsons. Flash animations also encompass navigation elements, such as buttons and menus. Neither does Flash limit you to creating animation only for the Web. You can license Flash Player and distribute Flash movies on CD-ROM. You can create stand-alone projectors and pass them out on floppy disks. You can export Flash to other formats, such as QuickTime or Windows.AVI movies. But Web-site creation and enhancement has become Flash's primary focus.
Although this book can't teach you to create a complete user interface for your Web site, what it will teach you about using Flash to create graphics, animation, and interactivity will go a long way toward helping you create an expressive, creative, exciting Web site. Whether you need a banner ad that grabs the viewer's attention, a button for moving around within your site or linking to other URLs, or a fun animated cartoon, this book will get you started quickly, helping you use Flash's tools to add activity and interactivity to your Web site.
Early on, the need for viewers of Flash content to use a player was considered to be a drawback to creating Web content with Flash. Designers feared that users would be reluctant to spend time downloading another helper application for their browsers. But Flash has become the de facto standard for vector art and animation on the Web, and Flash Players for Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer is now widely distributed. Flash Players are available with the current versions of the two most popular Web browsers (Netscape and Explorer), for example. Flash Players also come with the latest versions of both the Macintosh and Windows operating systems, and Flash Players are built into the applications from service providers America Online and Earthlink. Macromedia estimates that more than 100 million people currently are equipped to view Web sites created with Flash technology.
Most viewers lack the patience to wait for an entire site to download, especially one that has big bitmaps or sounds. Flash streams the content of your Web site over the Internet. Streaming means that once some of the vector art of your site has downloaded, Flash can quickly display it while the rest of your data continues to download. As Flash plays the first frames of your movie, subsequent frames keep coming into your viewer's computer, and Flash feeds them out at the specified frame rate. If you plan your movie right, the frames coming in never catch up to the frames being displayed, and your viewer sees only a continuous flow of images.
The data that comes over the Internet to create vector graphics and the data that creates bitmapped graphics are similar, in that they are both mathematical instructions to the computer about where and how to create images on-screen. Bitmaps, however, are lengthier and result in a less versatile graphic; vector graphics are compact and fully scaleable.
Bitmap instructions break a whole graphic into little dots and must tell the computer about each dot; vector instructions describe the graphic mathematically as a series of lines and arcs (Figure i.l). Picture a 1-inch black horizontal line on a field of white. For a bitmap, the instructions would go something like this: Make a white dot, make a white dot, make a black dot, make a black dot, make a black dot, make a black dot, and so on. These instructions would repeat until you'd strung together enough black dots to make a 1-inch line. Then the white-dot instructions would start again and continue until the rest of the screen was filled with white dots. The vector instructions would simply be a mathematical formula for a straight line plus the coordinates that define the line's position on-screen.
Flash began life as Future Splash Animator, a nifty little program for creating and animating vector art. In 1997, Macromedia acquired FutureSplash, changed the name to Flash, and promoted the program as a tool for creating graphic content for the World Wide Web. Flash excels as a Web-site-design tool because it includes all the pieces you need in one place: tools for creating graphics; tools for animating those graphics; tools for creating interface elements and interactivity; and tools for creating the HTML necessary to display your graphics, animations, and interface elements as a Web page via browser.
Standard illustration programs, such as Macromedia FreeHand and Adobe Illustrator, rely on Bezier curves to create vector shapes. Flash's tools let you deal with the vectors in a more immediate way, without manipulating curve handles or special points on a line. Flash's tools have a natural feel that appeals to many artists. (Artists who prefer to use traditional illustration software, however, can import their vector art into Flash and animate it there.) Flash's unique drawing tools also appeal to nonartists-those of us who can't draw a straight line to save our lives.
Flash helps beginners create simple animated graphics, but anyone who is familiar with animation can use Flash's tools to create quite complex animations. The scripting function is also easy enough to use that beginners can add simple interactivity controls, but the capabilities are extensive enough that serious scripters can accomplish more sophisticated interactions.
With each generation, Macromedia has added features and functions that preserve Flash's easy-to-use drawing tools while expanding its capabilities as an animation machine and interactivity creator. Flash 4 offers powerful action scripting and editable text fields that allow Web designers to capture information and interact with users at an even higher level.
How Flash Animates
Flash uses standard animation techniques to create the illusion of movement. You create a series of still images, each slightly different from the next. By displaying the images rapidly, one after another, you simulate a continuous flow of movement. Flash's animation tools help you create, organize, and synchronize the animation of multiple graphic objects and sounds.
Flash Movie Formats
Flash is both an authoring environment, for creating animation and a playback system for making that content viewable on a local computer or in a Web browser. Flash files are referred to as movies, whether they are in the authoring environment or in final playable form. You create animation and interactivity in Flash-format files. In the Windows world, these files have the extension .fla. To create viewable movies, you convert the authoring files to Flash Player format; these files have the extension.swf. Another name for the playable format is SWF (pronounced swif), which stands for Shockwave Flash; Shockwave was a movie-delivery system used in earlier versions of Flash.
How Flash Delivers
Flash includes a publishing feature that creates the necessary HTML code to display your animation in a Web browser. The publishing feature also automates alternative methods of delivering your movie-as animated GIF images, for example, or as a QuickTime movie.
Flash 4 sports an updated interface that brings Flash closer in look and feel to other Macromedia products. Some of the most exciting additions to Flash 4 are beyond the scope of this book but may spur you to learn the basics so that you can later soar with the full flexibility of Flash. Among the advanced enhancements are new actions, variables, expressions, and editable text fields. These elements, working together, allow you to create highly interactive Web sites that can actually communicate with and capture information from your viewers. You can also create and save your own color palettes in Flash 4.
The following sections list some new features that beginning and intermediate users of Flash will especially appreciate.
Timeline and Layer Enhancements
The new Timeline's grid layout makes it easier to see and locate individual frames. Controls for hiding, locking, and displaying layers as outlines are now clickable buttons in the Timeline (Figure i.2).
The reorganized Toolbar (Figure i.3) makes the oval, rectangle, and line tools available directly from the Toolbar. (In previous versions, these tools were nested within a single pencil tool.) The hand tool is now always available from the Toolbar, whereas before, you had to use a keyboard shortcut to access it.
The new Library (Figure i.4) offers hierarchical folders for organizing the elements that make up your Flash movie. The new Library is sortable. It also sports a menu of editing options. The Library can now track how many times each item appears in the movie.
In addition to the Object Inspector, which was added in Flash 3, Flash 4 offers a Transform Inspector for positioning and resizing objects with numeric precision, a Scene Inspector for organizing scenes, and a Frame Inspector for viewing information about a selected frame.
Flash 4 offers a Create Motion Tween command that helps you create the symbols and settings necessary for animating a selected object.
Flash 4's Publish feature helps you create the basic HTML necessary to show your Flash movie in a browser. In the previous version, you had to use a separate utility called AfterShock. The Publish command can also create alternative formats in which your movie can be shown in a browser-as a GIF, animated GIF, PNG, or QuickTime movie, for example. The HTML for these options is included in templates that come with Flash 4, and if you know HTML, you can customize the existing templates or create your own for use with the Publish feature. To help keep file sizes down, Flash 4 adds MP3 compression for sounds.
Like all Visual QuickStart Guides, this book seeks to take you out of the passive reading mode and help you get started working in the program. The exercises in the book teach you to use Flash's features. The book is suitable for beginners who are just starting to use Flash and for intermediate-level Flash designers. The initial chapters cover the basics of creating graphic elements by using Flash's unique set of drawing tools. Next, you learn how to turn objects into animations. After that, you learn the basics of using action scripts and sounds to make your movies interactive. Finally, you learn to use Flash's Publish feature to create the HTML that you need to put your Flash movies on the Web.
Macromedia designed Flash's authoring environment to have, as much as possible, the same interface on the Macintosh platform that it does on the Windows platform. Still, differences exist where the user interfaces of the two platforms diverge. When these differences are substantial, this book describes the procedures for both platforms. Illustrations of dialog boxes come from both platforms, but generally no special indication is given to indicate which platform is shown. If a given feature differs greatly between the two platforms, both are illustrated. If a feature is available on only one platform, that fact is noted in the text.
Most of Flash's menu-based commands have a keyboard equivalent. That equivalent appears in the menu next to the command name. When this book first introduces a command, it also describes the keyboard shortcut. In subsequent mentions of the command, however, the keyboard shortcut usually is omitted. You'll find a complete list of these commands in Appendix A.
Both the Macintosh and Windows platforms offer contextual menus. To access one of these contextual menus, Ctrl-click (Mac) or right-click (Windows) an element in the Flash movie. You'll see a menu of commands that are appropriate for working with that element. For the most part, these commands duplicate commands in the main menu; therefore, this book does not generally note t hem as alternatives for the commands ale scribed in the book The book does point out when using the contextual menu is particularly handy or when a contextual menu contains a command that is unavailable from the main menu bar.
The Flash graphics in this book are simple and easy to draw. In most cases, the examples are based on simple geometric shapes, which means that you can spend your time seeing the Flash features in action instead of re-creating fancy artwork To make it even easier for you to follow along, Flash files containing the graphic elements that you need for each task are available on the Peachpit Web site http://www.peachpit.com/vqs/flash/.
Posted November 28, 2000
This book was great for helping me understand the Flash environment. I was able to take the information provided and apply it to my own creation, although I had to use critical thinking to determine how to construct my movie- this book gave me the basic tools that allowed me to go further. Thanks for making this Flash4 easy to understand.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 15, 2000
I bought this book at a well known bookstore here in California, and I was able to learn Flash within 1 week, I can't leave it by my side reading it. The book is well organized, and you can even visualize how the program works by its illustrations. This book only works for beginners to intermediate though.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 4, 2000
You will learn the basics of Flash 4 if you read this book, recreate the examples, and then experiment on your own. I am a Senior HTML Programmer who had given up on learning Flash until I read Flash 4 for Windows & Macintosh: Visual Quickstart Guide. The screen shots and illustrations matched the books's text, making it very easy to understand the concepts the author was explaining.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 4, 2000
Posted January 6, 2000
This book is for anyone who would like to learn Flash 4 at a comfortable pace. It shows you the basics of Flash to get you on your way. I like all of the Visual QuickStart books and own many titles. They are inexpensive and get to the point. I was disappointed in this book as many of the Flash books go over the same things that the manual has or leaves out important things like preloading or special effects. The manual for Flash is the weakest thing about the program and Macromedia knows this but continues to not update it or put in any useful imformation that most Flash users want to learn. Get this book instead of the other featured Flash books such as the Web animation book by Darrel Plant. Check out the Flash sites such as Flashzone.com or Virtual-fx.net for anything beyond basic Flash authoring.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.