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Flash MX 2004

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating


Macromedia Flash MX 2004
Macromedia Flash MX 2004

The Bottom Line

While Flash MX can be a tad confusing for the uninitiated, Macromedia once again comes through with a stellar improvement on its renowned Flash 2D animation and application design software. Full support makes learning easy, and the software can now be upgraded to support third-party extensions (sold separately).


  • Improved user interface design from previous versions.
  • Wide range of included tutorials and reference material.
  • Increased functionality and compatibility.
  • Comes packaged with a new compiler and Flash Player 7.


  • Cluttered layout.
  • Not compatible with earlier operating systems.
  • "Designer" and "Developer" options rather rigid.
  • Some upgraded features require a separate purchase.


  • Macromedia Flash MX is a richly-featured tool for 2D animation and interactive applications.
  • Also supports development for mobile devices.
  • Supports a wide variety of uses, and is cross-compatible with a many programs from other developers.
  • Allows the user to import and utilize content in various formats.
  • Mimics "traditional" animation with the use of keyframes and visual timelines.
  • Takes the work out of animation with the use of "tweening" to automatically fill frames.
  • Uses vector rendering to create smooth end results that can be easily resized without "pixelation".
  • Vector-rendered files also help to reduce file sizes when embedding content for the web.
  • ActionScript 2.0 offers greater support for object-oriented programming.

Guide Review - Flash MX 2004

Flash MX 2004, the latest version of the Flash software, is an impressive upgrade to an already-proven application. This version offers more tools for the aspiring animator or the seasoned professional; while at first the vast array of panels can be daunting, the extensive help section contains more than enough informative guides to help the beginner get oriented.

But those tool panels do create a problem: they take up a great deal of space. The program opens with a large array of control panels arranged around a central canvas. Many of these fold-out panels can’t be moved or reduced in width, and closing them when you'll need them five minutes later is inconvenient; they can only be minimized in height, and still infringe on the available work area. For programming, this isn't much of a problem; but for users more focused on artistic aspects, the tool panels can be a hindrance that takes up valuable space.

It's not an insurmountable hurdle, but an annoying one that can be adjusted to. It's more than worth the extensive range of functionality; like previous versions, you can draw or animate, import rich media content, or create interactive applications, but Flash MX offers increased stability, faster processing, an enhanced compiler, and a greater gamut of export tools. The timeline has been simplified as well, with more convenient controls and behaviors. With the addition of ActionScript 2.0's object-oriented programming support, Flash MX is a definite improvement.

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