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Flash CS4 Workspace

I have left the discussion of the new FlashR CS4 workspace, as well as a few other odds and ends, for the last section of the review. Now that we have discussed the many new features and improvements in CS4, this new workspace will seem to be a natural change. The first thing that you will notice when you open Flash CS4 is the new workspace layout, which has certain similarities to PhotoshopR and After EffectsR, including tabbed documents and several new preset workspaces. Each preset workspace is optimized for certain common tasks. Switching between these preset workspaces is easy with the drop-down menu.

Next, you will notice that much more of the workspace is dedicated to the Stage than ever before. With the new object-based animation and other new features, so much of the work is done by dragging directly on the Stage. It only seems logical that the previously understated Stage area now takes "center stage" in the workspace. You will also notice that rendering has been greatly improved.

Another change is that the Timeline has been moved to the bottom of the workspace and toggles with the Motion Editor. This clears up most of the upper part of the workspace for the much larger Stage area. As in previous versions of Flash, most of the panels are on the right side of the workspace and now the Tools panel has joined them on the right as well. Adobe has even moved the Properties panel over to the right side and given it a vertical orientation. This makes it much easier to use. Those controls that previously were hard to find at the very bottom of the old horizontal Properties panel, are now easier to see. Also, you will like the "scrubbly text" controls which are much easier to use than the old sliders controls. With most of the panels over on the right side of the workspace, it can quickly become cluttered. This problem is solved by the accordion-style panel system, which allows you to quickly toggled the panels open or closed.

One change, or necessary evil, that I personally do not like is that the help documentation is now online at Adobe.com. I have mentioned this in my other CS4 software reviews as well. Although, I do have to admit that for Flash CS4, the link from the Menubar to the online help really does take you directly to the help documentation. I find this less irritating than the link from Photoshop's Menubar that takes you to a more general "Help and Support" page, which is just one more step before you can view the Photoshop online documentation.

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