Easy Flash with New Flash Catalyst!

Flash Catalyst Logo.jpg
I attend a lot of education conferences all over the U.S. as part of my job for Adobe Systems. Typically I will demonstrate our award winning tools to educators at these conferences in our trade show booth which usually has a small theater set up in it so conference attendees can watch half hour demos of our tools and learn all about the amazing features they have.
After my demonstrations I always get several folks who come up to me and ask the same two questions repeatedly no matter what conference I’m attending or in what part of the country I’m in. The first question typically is “Richard, where can I find affordable training on Adobe Tools?” In regards to this question I wrote a whole blog post about it here called Teacher’s Pet – A List of Affordable and Free Adobe Tools Training. The second question (which is the topic of this blog post) for the most part is “Richard, I love Adobe’s tools, but they have such a steep learning curve, especially Flash!”


Many (but not all) of Adobe’s tools are in fact a bit of a challenge to get up to speed on. Most of Adobe’s tools are in fact considered professional tools and do take some time to master really well – Photoshop Extended and After Effects are two examples. But Adobe also offers the easy to learn yet very powerful Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 and Premiere Elements 8 tools too (among others) which are powerful like their big brother pro tools, yet both of these tools are super easy to learn and a lot of fun to use!
When it comes to creating cool stuff in Flash as an example the real power of Flash has always been using its complex built-in scripting language called Action Script. While I’ve taught Flash animation for many, many years, frankly I simply don’t have what I call “coder brain” and I never went beyond Flashes’ timeline to do anything really cool in Action Script.
What I’m really excited to share with you here in this post is Adobe for years has heard about how hard Flash can be for a lot of people (like me!) who aren’t the coder types and moved forward and developed a non coder Flash tool called Flash Catalyst. So why the heck haven’t you heard of this tool up till now? Most likely because you may not be aware of an area on Adobe’s web site called “Adobe Labs”.
Adobe labs is a kind of testing ground where Adobe offers tools and technologies to the public (for free BTW) to test out the tools before actual release. Adobe Flash Catalyst is just one of many cool tools you’ll find on Adobe Labs you can download for free, play around with, send Adobe feedback on what you like about the tool or don’t like including any bugs you may come across.
In regards to Flash Catalyst what’s super great about the tool is if you know how to import files into a program, can pick some choices from a pull down menu and click an export button you pretty much know how to use Flash Catalyst – no kidding it’s that easy to use and again, no coding!
A picture is worth a thousand words so below I’ve included a few of my favorite links to how to get started learning Flash Catalyst videos that will get you up to speed on how it works and all.
Adobe Labs

Adobe Flash Catalyst

Terry White’s (Excellent) Getting Started with Flash Catalyst Pod Cast

Flash Catalyst Training Videos on Adobe TV

2 Responses to Easy Flash with New Flash Catalyst!

  1. Ammar Midani says:

    Great application, great walkthrough by Mr. White..

  2. David Screen says:

    David,
    To answer your question in plain English the answer is yes and also frankly no. I’m for sure not a rocket scientist developer/coder type; I’m in fact an artist who doesn’t know a lick of Action Script nor anything beyond the very basics of HTML and even less about CSS. In sort when it comes to creating cool stuff on a computer I’m most interested in quick, simple, easy yet powerful ways to do things.
    Flash Pro is all about being very powerful, but for sure it’s not quick, simple and definitely not easy beyond the timeline, meaning adding code (Action Script) to your Flash creations. Flash Catalyst (FC) on the other hand was created for being quick, simple and very easy to use without writing code what-so-ever, but it’s not anywhere close to being super powerful like its big brother Flash Pro.
    Now to get to your clearly stated question; can you create an entire web site with FC? Yes and no. Yes if for the most part your Flash web site will not be data driven, in other words your Flash created web pages are not communicating with a backend database like a content management system (CMS) or a Learning Management System (LMS). As an example when a visitor to your Flash site fills out a web form and clicks a button to submit data entered into your form’s fields you’re going to have to go to that next level and use Flash Pro or hire a Action Script developer to do this work for you.
    FC will create very dynamic animating menus, ads, fly outs and an entire web site, but again if you want to take that site to the next level you’ll most likely want to do it with Action Script or as you stated have a developer take it to the next level for you.
    BTW, most digital artist (like you stated) I know are more than happy to create cool content in their favorite art program and then hand their art off to a coder to take it to the next level. Most digital artist again like you said here are in fact small one person shops or contract freelancers. FC was created for the non-coder types to take that same art much, much farther along in the “workflow” to completion empowering the artist/designer to actually write code (totally hidden behind the scenes) through drop down menus, button clicks and dragging things in FC’s timeline.
    In closing think of Flash Catalyst as simply another tool you might consider adding to your digital tool box – or not. If you love creating animating content but found Flash Pro daunting or its steep learning curve turned you off, FC just might be the ticket for you to go back and have fun creating cool Flash content. If you’re an Action Script coder think of FC as a way to empower the artist/designers you work with by giving them more power to move their content farther along the workflow until you need to be brought in ala data driven Flash sites and beyond.
    Richard John Jenkins
    Of all the things I’ve watched regarding Flash Catalyst the one single most important question has constantly failed to be answered.
    After every presentation the single most depressing comment is this… “and then it can be passed over to a developer”.
    Surely it must have occurred to someone in Adobe that only a tiny minuscule of outfits wanting or needing to use Flash Catalyst actually have tame developers on tap.
    I’m a one horse outfit and use flash to create website regularly – and am constantly crippled (as are 99% of other users) in my efforts to deliver wondrous stuff because of this moronic reliance upon the underwater soot juggling intricacies of actionscript.
    So: tell me this Mr. Rocket Scientist (and do it in plain simple English please)… Can I (not you – me) actually produce a finished, good to go, website using Flash Catalyst without the need or use of this mysterious animal known as a developer. Or is it necessary to have a developer on hand to finish the project off before it will actually work properly.
    Don’t take this too lightly as umpteen million people are needing to know the answer to this – before they spend a lot of money on something that might not actually do what they (we all) hope it should do.
    Cheers: Screenie