Top new features of Adobe Flash Catalyst CS5.5

Adobe Flash Catalyst CS5.5

Full designer-developer workflow

Flash Catalyst CS5 and Flash Builder 4 enabled a workflow that allowed designers to provide native Flex Project (FXP) files to developers, who could then open and continue to work with those files. Now, Flash Catalyst CS5.5 and Flash Builder 4.5 expand on this concept and deliver a powerful new workflow that lets designers and developers collaborate on the same project.

Resizable applications and components
Creating applications that look great across devices with different screen sizes is a huge design challenge, so Flash Catalyst now lets you to define constraints that control how applications and components adjust when they appear on screens with different sizes and resolutions.
You can set a project to be resizable via an option in the New Project dialog box, or in the Artboard Settings dialog box that causes objects and components on the artboard to display with small circles on each of the four sides of the object. Click on the little circles, called constraint handles, to apply constraints to the bounds of the application or the parent component.

Enhanced timelines and animations
Flash Catalyst CS5.5 makes it easier to navigate through longer timeline transitions, with a new horizontal scroll bar across the bottom of the Timelines panel. In addition, Flash Catalyst CS5.5 takes advantage of more efficient code enhancements. Transitions that are applied in the Timelines panel have been rewritten to use the <animate> tag, making for more efficient and better performing code

Common Library panel
The Wireframe Components panel in Flash Catalyst CS5 has been replaced with a new Common Library panel in Flash Catalyst CS5.5, sporting larger and more descriptive icons. Appearing in a horizontal format, the panel contains a collection of new components that fall into two categories:
• Flex components. Flex Spark components, written to support Adobe Flex 4.5, can be skinned and used directly by developers when projects are opened in Flash Builder 4.5. Flex components are identified with pencil icons in the Common Library panel.
• Placeholder components. Unlike Flex components, placeholder components are not Spark components, and they cannot be skinned in Flash Catalyst. They are intended to be used as mockups or placeholders, which a developer can modify later in Adobe Flash Builder 4.5.
The Common Library panel features a Search field that allows you to quickly find the component you need. In addition, there are filters that allow you to view all components, just Flex components, or just Placeholder components.

Custom skinnable components
Custom skinnable components are elements that are built by developers in Flash Builder 4.5 and contain customized parts that are defined and controlled by the developer. These custom components can be skinned by a designer in Flash Catalyst CS5.5.
When a custom skinnable component is imported into Flash Catalyst CS5.5, you can choose Modify > Convert Artwork To Component > Skinnable Component. This brings up the Select Skinnable Component dialog box, which allows you to choose from a list of all of the components available in the project. The dialog box also features an Import From File button that allows you to quickly import additional component definitions from a Flex Project Library (FXPL) file.

Improved interactions
With Flash Catalyst CS5, you could specify a transition to a state at the application level when defining an interaction, but you could not specify a transition to a state within other components. In Flash Catalyst CS5.5, you can visually target components directly from the artboard, making it possible to easily define transitions to other component states. A new target mode is now available when you define an interaction, which allows you to navigate and visually select another component or object on the artboard. You can then choose to target a state from the selected component.

User-requested enhancements
Adobe continuously reaches out to both designers and developers in efforts to add useful features. Flash Catalyst CS5.5 adds a number of enhancements requested by users, including the following:

Align panel
The new Align panel is similar to that found in other Adobe design applications such as Illustrator. It can be found grouped with the Interactions panel and contains align, distribute, distribute spacing, and match size functions. In addition, the panel allows you to align objects to the artboard.

Efficient component naming
When you convert artwork to a component, or when you double-click a wireframe component in order to skin it, that component is added to the Project Library panel. In Flash Catalyst CS5, these components were named automatically (i.e., Button1, Button2, and so on). In Flash Catalyst CS5.5, any time you convert artwork to a component or attempt to skin a wireframe component, you are prompted to name the component. In this way, the components in your library can be quickly understood, making it easier for developers to work with your projects.

“Replace With” command
Flash Catalyst CS5.5 simplifies the process of mocking up functional wireframes by enabling you to easily replace objects on the artboard. With an object selected, choose Modify > Replace With and the Select Asset dialog box open, listing all the objects in your project library. This allows you to quickly replace a rectangle with a component, or even replace one kind of component with another.

Updated color theme
Flash Catalyst CS5.5 features a new theme for wireframe component skins, which uses shades of gray to give you a color-neutral wireframe for your project. This new color theme appears in both the Flex and the Placeholder components.

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