Flash is the first member of the old Studio 8 to take on the new Creative Suite 3 interface. It’s a definite improvement over the Macromedia interface – still used by Dreamweaver and Fireworks CS3 -- as it’s a lot harder to end up with the usual mess of palettes.

The Web-focussed animation tool has also borrowed some creative tools from Illustrator and Photoshop -- though more important is the fully-featured AI and PSD file import as they’re still much better art tools than Flash. It’s also tied into the Bridge asset management tool, and the Version Cue version management system for small teams.

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Unfortunately, Flash hasn’t also nicked the timeline from <a href=After Effects, which is faster to use and offers more fine-tuning controls – both directly on the timeline and in the excellent graph editor. Adobe admits that AE’s system is better, but notes that moving old-hand Flash users to a new timeline will be a challenge.

Draw more in Flash

Flash 8’s drawing tools were notoriously weak next Illustrator, Photoshop -- and any other major pro-level creative application you care to mention. Flash CS3 gains the same Pen tool as Illustrator and After Effects (right), which gives you access to Bézier curve-based controls over points and lines -- for both creating elements and manipulating those created in other applications.

Other new drawing tools include Smart Shapes for easier control over more complex shapes with cutouts such as wheels and pie wedges – and nine-slice scaling (see Fireworks for more details). However, creating designs from scratch can be painful if you’re used to Illustrator and Photoshop -- and the import tools (direction) are more useful for this than Flash’s built in ones.

Bring it in

It’s easier to move elements from Illustrator and Photoshop to Flash in Creative Suite 3. As well as sharing similar interfaces, any shape in Illustrator can be saved as a symbol and copy/pasted into Flash.

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