• Price: £667.20, £113.41 upgrade from CS5

  • Company: Adobe

  • Pros: Develop for Android and iOS devices; easier text formatting in TLF fields; improved animation tools

  • Cons: No software-based simulator to test iOS apps; few improvements for web publishing

  • Our Rating: We rate this 8 out of 10 We rate this 8 out of 10

Flash CS5.5 is an odd beast with modest benefits for its traditional audience. Now animators can pin joints to more easily simulate naturalistic movement with the Inverse Kinematics tools, and margins, padding and custom tab stops can be set directly on the stage using the Text Layout Framework (TLF) engine. However, the real focus is mobile publishing.

Apple put the brakes on third-party iOS development tools when it tightened the rules for publishing to its App Store. Now its stance has relaxed, Flash CS5.5 makes up for lost time with iPad and Retina Display support. It brings Android into the fold, too.

Your incentive to upgrade is to maximise returns by reaching a wider audience. Vital project-management tools smooth the process. Documents can be linked in a project and assets shared among them by ticking checkboxes in the Library panel. Flash moves the content to a separate file for you. Ultimately, this streamlines cosmetic maintenance when working across multiple platforms.

An option to scale assets and preserve 3D perspectives reduces time investment in addressing different display resolutions. Locked and hidden layers can be exempted, but not separately. Vector graphics can be rasterised when published, making them easier for mobile devices to handle. New code snippets cater to touch-based input, although you’ll need basic coding skills to tailor their behaviours.

Enhancements to the Project and Library panels help you manage app development for different platforms and display resolutions

Testing differs between platforms. iOS apps can’t be tested in Apple’s simulator or Device Central. (You must pay £59 per year to test on hardware and sell through the App Store.) Android allows direct app installation and feeds debugging information back to Flash. It’s worth getting to grips with the different testing strategies because there isn’t a cross-platform development environment that offers a smoother ride.