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What's New in Flash MX 2004?

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In just under seven years, Macromedia has matured Flash from simple animation to a full-featured, sophisticated tool you can use to develop rich, multimedia solutions for the Web. And now comes the new generation of Flash tools: Flash MX 2004 and Flash MX 2004 Professional. Both of these two new tools set a new bar for what can be accomplished through the tiny Flash Player. In this article, Matthew David tells you what is hot in the new versions of Flash MX.
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In just under seven years, Macromedia has matured Flash from simple animation to a full-featured, sophisticated tool you can use to develop rich, multimedia solutions for the web.

And now comes the new generation of Flash tools: Flash MX 2004 and Flash MX 2004 Professional.

Both of these two new tools set a new bar for what can be accomplished through the tiny Flash player. In this article, you will find out what is hot in the new versions of Flash MX.

The Player is the Thing...

The success of Flash has long been attributed to the Flash Player. The player itself is the plugin that sits within your web browser and allows you to view content created as a Flash Movie, or SWF file, for the Web. The Player, as with the main product, has gone through a major overhaul. The following are some of the key improvements:

  • ActionScript now runs at least twice as fast, sometimes even faster

  • New ActionScript methods and objects

  • You can now connect Flash Video files (FLV) and stream them to the Player without needing Flash Communication Server

  • The file size of the Player is still amazingly small (for Internet Explorer users on a PC, the downloaded file is only 450Kb).

  • The Player can now connect to Web Services via the SOAP protocol

  • Text can now be viewed as both alias and anti-alias

  • Support for legacy versions of Flash Content (1–6)

  • Tighter security

As you can expect, the Player is now available. Anyone who goes to a web site that requests that they upgrade their Flash Player will now be upgrading to the Flash 7 Player. One of the main challenges in creating Flash web sites and applications has been judging who has what version of the Player. That problem has been addressed if you are running a Windows computer. Now, part of the installation of the Flash Player includes an update tool that notifies you when a new version of the Flash Player has been released. You will see a gray Flash icon in your task bar appear when a new version of the player has been released. In the past, this has been important. With the Flash 6 Player, almost all the Flash Communication Server components would not work unless you had version 6, 0, 65, 0, or later of the Flash Player. This required that the developer coded their web site correctly, asking for the user to download the correct new player and that the user downloaded the new player. Now, with the automatic update feature some of this stress has been removed.

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