After digging into Flash CS3 a bit and talking with Richard Galvan, the new technical product manager for Flash, I've come up with 5 new features that will help both developers and designers who are new to the CS3 version. Flash gained a lot from the Adobe-Macromedia merger, and this first version should give people using Flash a lot of things to cheer about. I've also got some screenshots of the new features in the Flash CS3 Features Gallery.
5. Brand New Interface
Flash got a new interface, one that makes it consistent with the rest of the CS3 suite, including Photoshop and Illustrator. This means designers should quickly and easily be able to jump between programs and keep on working. The new interface also focused on user comfort for a variety of screens. The panels are all collapsible, but clicking on them brings up all the tools so you can quickly get what you need even if you're working on a small screen. But if you're on a dual monitor desktop, you can easily add all kinds of toolbars and panels so everything is right at your fingertips. Flash CS3 includes workspace preferences so you can have one for the office, one for home, and one for the laptop. Screenshot here.
4. New and Improved Flash Video Importer
The video exporter got a few new features which should make Flashers dealing with video very happy. At the top of the list is the ability to deinterlace video right from the exporter, something people have wanted for a while. Flash CS3 also supports a more robust cue point interface, and other Adobe products like After Effects and Remix support cue points that can be imported into Flash so you can have a consistent work flow between video programs. Finally, the video player skins have been updated to support Flash Player 9's new full screen mode. You can also customize the look and feel of the default skins a bit.
3. Improved Skinning of Components
Traditionally, the default components in Flash were very functional, but tough to skin. In Flash CS3, the team put a lot of time and effort into making sure that the default components are easy to customize. The new interface allows you to double click on a component from the stage, then modify all of its states and properties from one screen. You just drill into the state you want to modify, create a beautiful version of that state, then back out and work with the other states. This should make for some good looking Flash applications. Screenshot here.
2. Exporting Motions and Animations
Flash CS3 supports a "motion export" that you can use across projects or bring into Flex. When you create something like a motion tween in Flash for a certain asset, you can right click on it, copy its motion, then apply it to any other asset in the stage, or in another project. It makes reusing motions and animations very easy. You can also export it as an XML-based file which shows all the properties of the animation in declarative markup. That markup is just part of an ActionScript class that can be dropped right into a Flex application or ActionScript project so that designers can create the motion then hand it off to developers to implement. Screenshot here.
1. Import Photoshop Files
The best thing about Flash CS3? It integrates seamlessly with Photoshop. Flash now comes with an import wizard that allows you to import Photoshop's PSD files and Illustrator's AI files quickly and easily. All of the layers are kept in tact, and you can modify each layer in the import wizard to be brought in as a vector, a bitmap, or text. You can even choose to import the layers as Flash layers (the default) or as individual keyframes. With this, you could do an animation in Photoshop or Illustrator using the layers, then import it into individual keyframes so that you had an instant Flash animation. The importer gives Flash developers a lot of flexibility in exactly how you want those assets to behave and appear, so the workflow from Photoshop to Flash is near perfect. Screenshot here.
Flash CS3 focused heavily on making the entire Creative Suite work together well, and it definitely succeeds. Being able to take projects from Photoshop and use them in Flash, while keeping the fidelity of the assets, will be huge for design shops. Developers also win with things like the animation exporter and easily sinkable components. What's your favorite feature in the new version of Flash?
For more Flash CS3 goodness, check out Flash Magazine's Flash CS3 (p)review.