The Bottom Line
- 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
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.