March 27, 2007

Adobe-Macromedia: Integration cornucopia!

I came to Adobe largely because integration between Flash and Photoshop just sucked–a situation that burned me every day as a designer. Back in 1999, when I learned that Adobe was planning a Web animation tool, I wrote to my contacts there and at Macromedia to suggest a "Flash Interchange Format" that would let everyone play nicely together.  I just wanted the tools to get the garbage tasks out of my way so that I could do my job.  Despite many assorted efforts, however, the stars just never aligned.

Fast forward to the present: we’re now starting to realize some of these long-sought benefits.  In just over a year of Adobe and Macromedia being a single company, here’s new integration we’ve been able to deliver (continued below/in the extended entry):


  • Flash does rich import of PSD files for the first time.  I once calculated that getting a 20-layer PSD into Flash intact took 168 steps; now it’s more like two, and the results are far richer.  Not only does Flash preserve layers and their names; it also can handle layer nesting, blending modes, layer effects, and more–even preserving live text. Check out the screenshot. If you use Photoshop and Flash, there’s your upgrade right there.
  • Copy/paste to Dreamweaver: Want to move a chunk of a design to Dreamweaver?  Copy it in Photoshop, paste in DW, and the latter will pop up its embedded Fireworks optimization engine (equivalent to Save for Web).  Once you save the resulting JPEG/GIF/PNG, you can select it and jump back to Photoshop, where the original PSD will open up.  Copy and paste again to update the optimized image.
  • Export of high-res imagery to Flash via Zoomify: Photographers are laying out hundreds of dollars for 8, 10, or more megapixels, then paying for the data in storage and processing time, only to chuck 90% of when going to the Web.  That’s some weak sauce.  I’ve posted tons of examples of how Zoomify export from Photoshop lets you work around screen & bandwidth limitations.
  • Fireworks does better PSD import and export: We heard you. In addition, Fireworks’ new Pages feature works great with multiple imported Photoshop files.
  • Photoshop embeds the Flash Player: You can now use SWF files as the front ends to Photoshop scripts, opening a huge door to the Web.
  • Export of Flash Video (FLV): If you’re using Photoshop CS3 Extended and Flash CS3 Professional, you can now export video from Photoshop as streaming Flash video.  If this doesn’t tell you we’re in a whole new world, I don’t know what will!


  • Symbols work more like Flash.  Did you even know that Illustrator had symbols?  Probably not, because creating them was subtle & editing them was a real pain (sorry, guys–but I know you know).  Now they work just like they do in Flash: Select artwork and hit F8 to create a symbol.  To edit it, double-click it and you’ll be editing right there, on the artboard, with the rest of the document ghosted out.  You can even specify whether it’s a graphic or a movie clip & give it an instance name.
  • Flash does high-quality AI import.  Now when you import an Illustrator file into Flash, you’ll get options for preserving layers, layer and object names, symbols, blending modes–the works.  It even gives you a little object-by-object incompatibility report when it hits things that don’t map well (e.g. really complex nested blending in Illustrator).  Here’s a screenshot.
  • Copy/paste from Illustrator to Flash:  Just as important (maybe more so), these same import hooks work when you copy and paste from AI to Flash.  Even blending modes and symbol names are carried over.  Damn!  (Sorry if I’m a little breathless, but I suffered through this workflow sucking for years.)
  • Support for SWF panels*: Illustrator can now be extended with SWF from Flash and/or Flex, providing integration with kuler as well as a new technology called knowhow.  Mordy Golding’s got details.


  • In addition to what’s mentioned above…
  • New Adobe panel system: The Flash interface has been revised to use the new panel system that’s shared with Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign.  (The teams plans to bring the system to apps like Dreamweaver and Fireworks in the future, but time didn’t permit it for CS3.)
  • More Illustrator-like pen tool: I don’t have all the details here, but the pen tool in Flash should now be more powerful & more consistent with what’s in Illustrator.  At the same time, Illustrator has added a Flash-like Eraser tool (on the heels of the Flash-inspired Live Paint introduced in CS2).

There’s more going on (mobile integration via Adobe Device Central; XHTML export from InDesign; Web presets in Illustrator; Photoshop layer styles & video layers in After Effects; video-oriented crop overlays in Illustrator…), but I’ve got to cut myself off at some point. :-)

* A note about nomenclature: The word “palette” has been replaced by “panel” across the Suite, but the two are interchangeable.

Posted by John Nack at 7:42 PM on March 27, 2007
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