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Macromedia Opens Flash File Format, Unveils New Flash Products (cont.)

In related news, Macromedia today announced the immediate availability of the beta version of Flash 3, an enhanced edition of the Internet's leading design tool for vector-based graphics and animations. The public beta of Flash 3 is now available for download at no charge.

With more than 40 million downloads in the past year, Flash has become the premier Web interface design tool among a broad range of content publishers, including the International Olympic Committee, Disney Blast, Sony Europe, Suzuki, FOX, and NBC.

Flash 3 offers several fundamental new design capabilities for creating and delivering compact and fast Web animation, graphics, navigation, maps, cartoons, and more, even over slow modem connections.

These include:

  • Vector & Bitmap Transparency: Flash users can now create translucent graphics, overlay transparent vector objects on bitmaps, and vary the levels of opacity, transparent colors, gradients and other attributes at any time. For example, set-top box developers can use this feature to create transparent program guides that overlay video.
  • Animated Buttons and Menus: New support for sprite animation allows for easy creation of animated buttons, hierarchical and pop-up menus, checkboxes, and puzzle games, enabling Flash users to incorporate more sophisticated interactivity into their applications.
  • Shape Morphing: New shape morphing lets Web designers easily morph any graphic across any number of frames, without having to draw each incremental change in its own key frame.
  • Bandwidth Profiling: Flash now provides a graphical representation of how Flash movies are streaming. By simply adjusting for a target modem speed, such as 28.8 kps, Web designers can see exactly how their movies are streaming, and easily optimize them.
  • Standalone Projectors: Flash movies can now be delivered along with the Flash player in a single file, allowing users to deliver Flash animations on floppy diskettes, CD-ROMs and DVD-ROMs, as well as the Internet.

Macromedia's newly unveiled Flash Generator product is a powerful server-based tool that automates the real-time creation of Web graphics. With Flash Generator, any graphic--from personalized banner advertising to custom weather maps to automated event listings--can be driven from a data source and refreshed without redesigning the entire graphic or page.

Flash Generator is designed for data-driven sites with frequently changing graphical content, such as:

  • News and Information Sites that need to display live information, including graphical sports scores, headlines, weather maps, response graphs, or event listings.
  • Corporate/commerce sites that dynamically generate promotional information, real-time advertising, charts, and schematics.
  • Destination sites that require personalization and customization of the interface for each user, as well as branded, promotional content.

Flash Generator output can be both vector-based interactive Flash files as well as GIF or animated GIF files. To see the Generator in action, visit www.flash.com/generator.

Flash 3 for Windows 95, Windows NT, and Power Macintosh will be available in Spring 1998 for an estimated street price of US$299, and an upgrade price of US$99 from any previous version of Flash or FutureSplash.