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Flash: The Next Step Up

Flash users come in a few flavours. First there's those of us who know only the basics of interactivity and timeline-based animations. After that are the users who regularly find themselves in the Actionscript window adding more complex functions to multiple-nested movieclips. Up from there, well the possibilities go very far and wide. Here's a few things to read up on for the developer who wants to take the next step up.

Code-Based Animation:

Imagine yourself editing the timing of an entire animation sequence, and adding complex organic behaviours using just a few keystrokes in the Actionscript window. This is the very useful and powerful world of code animation. Flash has a useful built-in Tween class, but there are even better free classes out there. Tweener is an easy, versatile one. TweenLite and TweenMax are perhaps even easier and they compile lighter. For the animator wanting powerful timeline control and code versatility, The Fuse Kit is the granddaddy of them all. Once you have tasted those you may want to move on to AS3 Animation System the APE physics engine or Fuse's Actionscript 3 successor GoASAP.

Full Flash Websites

If you want to build a site completely in Flash someday in either Actionscript 2 or 3, you want to try using the Gaia Framework. Sure, you could build your own movieclip loader, asset manager, and event framework that are standards-based and search engine friendly, but who has a couple weeks to throw away?

3D Engines

Here we have the future of Flash. There are rumours that Adobe will create a 3D engine of their own in their next Flash release, but in the meantime you should check out Papervision3D, Away3D, Sandy, Alternativa, and FIVe3D. There is, of course the WOW AS3 Physics Engine that is available for use with the first three of these, and the 3D animation tools Cast3D and Go3D.

Flash Remoting

XML and XML Sockets are good ways to get Flash talking to your server, but people who want the best performance should consider Flash Remoting using AMF. This is a method of transferring binary data in native formats with no translation necessary. There are a few free options available, and some further info on Wikipedia. I also found a couple [1] , [2] good tutorials on AMFPHP.

Go Pro With Your Code

If you explore any of the options above, you will soon find yourself needing to get familiar with object-oriented programming. Flash CS3 and the latest Flash Player introduced support for Actionscript 3, which has a bit steeper learning curve than version two, but offers some significant performance advantages. AS3 is quickly becoming the language of choice for Flash development. Diving right into code examples and modifying them is a good way to learn programming but there are some concepts which are quicker to learn via a good manual such as Essential Actionscript 3.0 by Colin Moock.

Go get 'em Flashers!





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