Flash & Dreamweaver CS6 First Impressions

Adobe’s new Creative Suite 6 debuted today and I’ve decided to upgrade my Flash and Dreamweaver CS5.5. Upon installing Dreamweaver CS6, I immediately noticed that it looked almost exactly the same as CS5.5. Nothing jumped out at me as to say “Hey look what Adobe added!” and it was kind of disappointing. One window I did find that was added is the “PhoneGap Build Service” tab. This tab requires you to create a PhoneGap account and once registered, you can log in through Dreamweaver CS6. This feature lets you create native applications for iOS, Android, Blackberry, webOS and Symbian, and then you can take a picture of the QR Code to test it on your device. Pretty neat, but on the other hand, PhoneGap already existed in Dreamweaver CS5.5 and it allowed you to create native apps using HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

Flash CS6’s upgrades seem to all be for mobile development. This is fine with me because lately it’s all I’ve been using it for, but it feels a bit like Adobe has turned their backs on their animator customers. Makes me wonder if it’s time I set time aside to learn Toon Boom Animate and give up Flash for animated cartooning. The major upgrades are spritesheet exporting, JavaScript exporting through the CreateJS extension, and AIR packaging for Android apps.

The AIR packager was the first feature I utilized out of the gate. I had an app that I developed in Flash for my day job and I figured it’d be a great time to try it out. For those who have never published an Android app in Flash, when the user downloads and installs your app from Google Play, they must also download and install Adobe AIR before they can use your app. Now you have the option of packing AIR with your app to save your customers having to download two apps in order to use one. This of course comes at a price of an extra 9 megs or so of increase file size.

The CreateJS extension must be downloaded separately and installed through Adobe Extension Manager CS6. This allows you to publish out your Flash files as JavaScript that can be viewed without the need of a Flash Player plug-in. However, there is a learning curve to this. If your have any actions in your timeline they need to be converted to a format such as:

/* js

this.stop();

*/

Also, if you have actions for interactivity, they must now be written in JavaScript inside the exported files that Flash produces. I don’t have a lot of experience with JavaScript so this is a bit of a learning curve for me. I looked for EaselJS/CS6 tutorials, but only found videos in French and the obligatory Adobe videos that skim over anything you’d want to know.

The spritehseet exporter can be useful if you plan on developing in JSON, Starling or Cocos2D. If you don’t plan on using those, you can create your own data format using JSFL, but I have no clue how to even begin to do that. As a CoronaSDK user, I’ll probably stick to Zwoptex or SpriteHelper, but it’s nice Flash included the spritesheet exporter.

Overall I think the CS6 upgrade is nice, but it’s nothing too crazy. Maybe my opinion will change once I get to really dive into the software, but initially I wasn’t wowed by anything I’ve seen.

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