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Flash Catalyst - Components

Most of us were introduced to FlashR CatalystTM with its beta 2 release last year. I guess it must have made an impression because AdobeR added Catalyst to its lineup for Creative SuiteR 5. Flash Catalyst CS5 is now "all grown up". You can publish your Catalyst project as a SWF file, Adobe AIRR file or open it into Flash BuilderTM for advanced work.

So what is Flash Catalyst and who will be most interested in what it can do? Flash Catalyst is designed with the designer in mind. It allows the designer to convert graphics and layouts into an interactive user interface (UI). But the designer doesn't need to write one line of ActionScript or any other code. Flash Catalyst will write the code in the background as the designer works.

The first thing that you will notice is Catalyst's simple, non-intimidating workspace. The number of panels and tools are reduced to a minimum compared to PhotoshopR or Flash CS5. Catalyst's menu-driven interface basically escorts the designer through each step of the creation process.

The most important element in Flash Catalyst is the component such as a button, checkbox, scrollbar, text input box, slider or data list. These components make adding interactivity to your design possible. To start, you will want to check out the prebuilt components that come packaged with Catalyst. These prebuilt components come with built-in effects, such as rollover effects, and are already programmed to do their job so that they will work without any programming needed from the designer. But they are somewhat generic "out of the box". You can customize their appearance via the Properties Panel and Catalyst even has a set of filters that can be applied to the components.

You might ask yourself how this is different from what you can do in Flash CS5 which also comes packaged with a set of prebuilt components. The fun really begins when you import your own graphics that you have created in Photoshop, IllustratorR, FirefoxR or another graphics program into Catalyst and convert them into interactive components.

*Adobe provided a review copy to me free of charge.

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