The MX Factor

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Richard Koman

Richard Koman
Mar. 14, 2002 11:48 PM

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Macromedia ships Flash MX today, with the Flash Player 6 available for download now.

Leading the list of new features are:

  • Support for AVI, QuickTime and DV video, via Sorenson Spark, from the makers of the QuickTime codec. Transform video with scale, skew and rotate features, and get a live preview in the editor.
  • A components panel that lets you use predefined interface objects like checkboxes scrollbars. You can customize the skins for these components, and control them via ActionScript.
  • A preferences panel that centralizes all attribute controls.
  • An improved ActionScript editor that offers code hinting and completion, a complete language reference, a more powerful debugger, and improved performance on native functions (100x for some functions). You can also customize the display of code by color, font and point size.
  • Integration with Macromedia's ColdFusion middleware product (a new version code-named Neo is expected mid-year), persistent XML connectivity for real-time updates of XML data, ability to store client data on the user's machine, 20x performance increases for XML objects.
  • Improved text tool, dockable palettes, an "answers" palette, improved color mixing tools, ability to source in video and MP3 files during playback.

For the release today, Macromedia is showcasing MX-based web apps from Boreal Ski Resort and Webvertising's OneScreen iHotelier hotel reservation system.

For more on Flash, check out Simon St. Laurent's outraged blog entry, "Macromedia Reinvents the Web," complete with entertaining reader discussion; and Dale Dougherty's more, um, balanced, interview with Bruce Epstein, "Why Flash is Significant" (an equivocal headline if ever there was one).

In fact both of these pieces hint at the basic question about Flash MX: Can Flash offer a better client development platform than HTML and JavaScript? That's the topic I'll be looking at in the initial installment of a four-part series on Flash MX. Look for that piece next week.

Richard Koman is a freelancer writer and editor based in Sonoma County, California. He works on SiliconValleyWatcher, ZDNet blogs, and is a regular contributor to the O'Reilly Network.