Understanding and Using IK Spring Properties

Venerable Flash animator Chris Georgenes has created a very nice and helpful video tutorial about the new Spring properties that can be set on bones when working with inverse kinematics (IK) armatures in Flash. These properties, Strength and Damping, can be confusing at first, and usually require a little bit of experimentation in order to create the specific effect you are looking for.

Chris’ video helps a lot with this and should save you a lot of time getting up to speed with the new properties.

Chris has also written an article explaining the use of the new properties in detail. The video and article can be found here:

Great new community videos from FlashandMath.com

The folks at FlashAndMath.com have been hard at work on some really helpful new video tutorials for Flash Pro CS5. Here are the ones I’ve had a chance to look at so far:

There are more that just these 3, so check those out too at http://www.flashandmath.com/flashcs5/index.html.

Thanks to Barbara, Doug, and Dan at FlashandMath for their valuable contributions to the Flash user community. Keep it up guys!

Adobe Labs Ideas site now live

We have launched a new site on Adobe Labs to ask for your ideas about the Flash Platform products and give you a chance to see others’ ideas and vote on them. If you have features or enhancements you’d like to see in Flash Professional or any of the other platform tools, post your input at Adobe Labs Ideas.

Follow me on Twitter

I usually post links to the entries on this blog to Twitter, so if you’d like to have another way of getting these updates without stopping by this page, follow me at www.twitter.com/jarmstrongtw/.

Flash Pro CS5 Help updated

I’ve just updated the Help for Flash Pro CS5, specifically the Using Flash book. The following topics have been edited or had links added.

For faster Help performance, you can download a local copy of the update via Adobe Community Help, included with all CS5 bundles.

Adobe Flash Professional CS5 Help is live

Adobe Flash Professional CS5 Help is now live, so you can read all about the new features.

The What’s New page lists all the new features and other changes to the application. Here are the highlights:

  • A new Text Layout Framework text engine, which provides greatly expanded text layout and control capabilities.
  • A new Font Embedding dialog box that is used to manage all embedded fonts on a per FLA basis rather than the older per-text field basis.
  • The Code Snippets panel allows you to quickly apply code to objects or the timeline to enable many common types of functionality. This panel also allows you create and share your own re-usable snippets, and is a great way to begin learning code from the simple snippets that it provides. You can create entire simple applications with only code snippets.
  • Video Cue Points are easier to work with and can be seen and edited in the Properties panel.
  • The Packager for iPhone Preview allows you to deploy your applications on the iPhone.
  • FLVPlayback Component live preview on stage allows you to watch and seek to any point in an FLV/F4V file without the need to use the Test Movie command.
  • Newly enabled workflows between Flash Pro and Flash Builder 4 allow you to edit ActionScript in Flash Builder and test and debug in Flash seamlessly.
  • FLA files are now based on a new internal XFL file format, which includes the ability to work with Uncompressed XFL, allowing individual versioning and source control of each component of the file.
  • New Decorative Drawing tools have been added for a series of new effects, including particle systems, smoke, fire, and more.
  • The new Spring properties for IK bones enable a whole new type of animation for IK armatures.
  • SWF Size History let you see the size of every SWF file you have generated from your FLA file in the Document Properties panel.

A few links in the Help may not resolve yet due to external content that is still to come, but these should be working in the very near future.

Flash Glossaries around the Web

I have been asked many times if there is a decent Flash glossary out there, so I thought I would create an entry to act as a hub for such glossaries. Please send me links in the comments to any that I have missed or that are added in the future. I’ll add them to the list as they come in.

Please also send comments about terms that you think should be included in glossaries. I’d love to hear what terms you have found frustrating or confusing in your own learning process or with people you’ve taught.

In most cases, the glossaries that exist provide only fairly cursory definitions. It’s not that I think there should be a whole treatise on each term, but it would be nice to see definitions that give a new or learning user a real sense of what a term means and how it fits into Flash as a whole.

Here are a few links to what’s out there so far:

Addison-Wesley’s Web Wizard Series:
http://wps.aw.com/aw_webwizard/2/721/184735.cw/index.html
This one has a decent list of terms, often with fairly short definitions.

Wikispaces.com:
http://msit8q3.wikispaces.com/Flash+Glossary
This one is very short, and somewhat out of date. One nice thing about it is that some of the entries have links to short tutorials.

Flash SEO:
http://www.flashseo.com/glossary/
This one, at the Flash Search Engine Optimization web site, is pretty light weight, but it’s nice to see it as a start. I’m not sure it will help anyone who really needs it. Hopefully it’s a work in progress.

Know of any other Flash Glossaries? Please send me those links!

Kevin Lynch speaks about the future of Flash

For those of you who haven’t seen it yet, Kevin Lynch has written a blog post about the future of Flash and its place in the technology landscape. He addresses the variety of mobile devices, the iPad, and HTML5. It’s definitely worth a read if you’re interested in hearing the inside perspective from one of the lead architects of Flash’s trajectory.

Update: as of 2/3/2010, there are over 70 comments on Kevin’s post. Kevin has added a lengthy comment in response, which you can see here.

Planning Flash Pro CS5 Tutorials?

Are you considering creating written or video tutorials for Flash Pro CS5? If so, Adobe is willing to collaborate with you toward the following ends:

• We can point out to you new features in Flash Pro CS5 in need of tutorials.
• You need not be on the Flash Pro CS5 Beta list, we can get you added.
• We can let you know of some tutorials already in production, in case you’d like to avoid duplicating the efforts of others.
• We can create links from the Flash Pro Help system to your tutorials, to drive traffic to your site.
• We can help you post your video tutorials to Adobe TV, if that is something you would like to do.

If you are considering creating videos, here are some of the common characteristics we have found in the most successful video tutorials:

• Video duration is 5-8 minutes. Users resoundingly prefer short content.
• Steps present real-life workflow, avoiding tangent information or alternate workflows.
• Voiceover is clear, in sync, and descriptive of each step on screen.
• Speed of voiceover is not rushed and is appropriate to understanding of content.
• Product UI is legible in video after compression (see Learn CS4 shows for examples).
• Avoid long (4+ seconds) narrated sequences without action.
• Use of overlays of pointers or highlights does not distract from content.
• Assets are simple and relevant to the task. Aesthetics and design quality of assets are relevant to the user audience.
• Credits are brief (around 10 seconds) so users don’t give up before the content begins

If you are interested in coordinating your tutorial efforts with Adobe’s in-house documentation efforts for Flash Pro CS5, please drop me a line at jarmstrong at adobe.com. After we receive your signed NDA, I can share more specific information.

AIR 1.5.3 now available

AIR developers, the latest release of the Adobe Integrated Runtime is now available on Adobe.com.

This release includes:
- Improvements to certificate renewals
- WebKit version 34190
- The latest Flash Player v. 10.0.42.34
- Bug fixes

You can download the new version here:
http://get.adobe.com/air/

Check out the announcement on the AIR Team blog at:
http://blogs.adobe.com/air/2009/12/adobe_air_153_now_available.html

You can find the detailed release notes here:
http://www.adobe.com/support/documentation/en/air/1_5_3/releasenotes_developers.html#newfeat

Enjoy.