Adobe Flash Professional CS5 review

Price when reviewed

Adobe has all-conquering ambitions for Flash as the web platform of choice for designers and developers, but it began life as a simple animation package for producing online cartoons.

Things have progressed a long way from the basic tween effects with which Flash made its name, however. In the previous CS4 release, Flash added support for Inverse Kinematics for the realistic animation of jointed figures. Now, CS5 adds a physics engine that enables bones to be given spring and damping – that’s what you need to create naturalistic effects such as objects wobbling when they’re brought to a halt.

The main advantage Flash brings to online animation is its bandwidth-friendly vector handling. Here, Flash Professional CS5 has radically revamped its procedural Deco tool to enable it to add elements such as buildings, trees, flowers and animated particle effects.

Adobe Flash Professional CS5

Video support has seen radical change, allowing files to be encoded during import (the Media Encoder is still bundled for greater control). Once encoded, even externally loaded video is displayed directly and you can quickly scrub through it to add cue points.

Flash Professional CS5’s text handling has also been overhauled, with support for Adobe’s Text Layout Framework. This adds advanced typographic control over features such as kerning, ligatures and tracking. More importantly, it allows Flash Professional to offer true threaded text blocks for the first time, complete with control over multicolumn layout, inline graphics, indentation and padding.

Flash Professional CS5’s new text layout handling comes into its own when working with interactive publications produced with InDesign CS5, as it means text blocks can remain fully editable. The question is, as InDesign CS5 can now create its own advanced Flash-based SWF publications, why would you want to involve Flash Professional at all? One reason is the wider range of output options on offer, most notably Adobe AIR.

Flash Professional CS5 also introduces the ability to convert files to native iPhone applications. However, after the original fanfare surrounding the announcement, Adobe has been back-pedalling hard. The Packager for the iPhone component is provided only as a “preview”, and you’re encouraged to “explore” rather than use it in anger.


Software subcategory Graphics/design software

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported? yes
Operating system Windows XP supported? yes

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