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Nuggets: It's Flash, it's groovy and we dig it man...

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Written by Justin Pearse, Contributor

We cried sweet tears of joy...

Cries of joy from designers across the land as Macromedia release Flash 4. Flash has become the defacto tool for creating vector-based Web sites and the Free Source licensing programme, released by Macromedia in May, should help get it into the next generation of Web-enabled devices. Flash 4 has a whole load of new features to give your creations the edge. One of the most exciting is MP3 streaming audio support for adding sound to your Web masterpiece, such as voiceovers and background music. Support for text-input fields has also been added, allowing you to collect information on site visitors from within Flash-based pages that are then passed to a Web server.

Macromedia's been listening to all your suggestions and has upgraded the interface as a result. The whole package has been tweaked so that it looks more like its other products, including making the toolbox look like Freehand's. There are several new dockable inspector palettes for managing objects, scenes and frames, and there's an improved library palette with for sorting, counting and organising assets. Macromedia has also introduced a Publish command to automatically generate files in a range of formats, including compressed bitmaps, GIF, JPEG and QuickTime. Another little time saving thing Flash 4 does for you is automatically create the HTML code that tells a browser to display a movie, so there's no need for hand coding.

It's on the shelves now for £199 or £79 for the upgrade. www.macromedia.com

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