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A list of things that must be changed in Flash for their next release
2008-07-28 21:55:37 by Stuart-Hart
Today I briefly talk about things I think need changing in Flash to make life easier for new and experienced users.
I took me a while to figure out, but Flash is actually a pretty awful program for what it does. Unfortunately, it's the only program of it's type out there, so we have little choice but to put up with it's retarded irks and quirks until Adobe get round to sorting these problems out, rather than bolting on new features with each release. CS4 isn't far off and I actually have access to an early build of it, so perhaps some of these things in the list can be crossed off but I really doubt it.
Here's the the list, in no particular order:
1) The Subselection Tool - make it work. Editing points in your artwork with it is so unpredictable and for each point you nudge with it Flash will store the single point being moved in it's history, so if you make enough nudges, you may not be able to undo all the way back. Just make it like Illustrator. Like, not rubbish and actually extremely useful.
2) The Pen Tool - make it work. Another unpredictable tool that is mostly utterly useless. It doesn't work properly and undoing and redrawing with it can cause unexpected results. Same with the last point, make it like Illustrator.
3) Resizing Text - make it change the font size and line spacing, not the size of the object, like in Photoshop (unless it's a Symbol I suppose). This is so we don't end up with some 200% scaled text with a font size of 12 looking the same as some 100% scaled text that is size 24. It may not sound like a big deal, but if you think about it, it defeats the purpose as to why you would even set some text a font size.
4) Line spacing seems to work in Flash completely different than it does in any other art package.
5) Snap Align seems to enable itself automatically for seemingly no reason at random times. I've also hated this Align option ever since it was introduced, but perhaps that's just preference.
6) Snapping only half works when you're editing a Movieclip in place. Specifically, drawing new lines will not snap to anything (other than snapping to be perfectly vertical or horizontal). However, if you drag the end of a drawn line with the Arrow tool, it will snap as it should.
7) Add an option to quickly switch between using a contact-sensitive selection box or not (did anyone else notice Adobe trying to sneak that default option by everyone?).
8) Primitive objects (rounded rectangles, sliced ovals, etc). These are useless unless you manage to draw the shape in question to the exact size you want. If you try to scale a Primitive Rectangle with rounded corners, it will scale/stretch the corners. This is... wrong.
9) Expand/Inset Fill, Convert Lines to Fill, Soften Fill Edges etc all need fixing. They're some of the most glitchy commands in Flash and are truly a gamble as to whether they will work properly or not.
10) Don't allow a Motion Tween to be inserted between Keyframes where the artwork is invalid for the Tween to work properly.
11) Don't allow a Shape Tween to be inserted between Keyframes where the artwork is invalid for the Tween to work properly.
12) Don't automatically create Tween Graphic symbols.
13) Using Page Up/Down to cycle through Symbols while editing a Symbol - make it work all the time, not just up to a certain Symbol and then stop working.
14) Flash will sometimes forget any custom shortcuts you've made, only to remember them when you remind the program by showing it the command in the menu. Shortcuts aren't supposed to work like this!
15) Stop automatically enabling Lock Fill when I pick a fill with the Colour Picker. This wouldn't be so bad if there was a shortcut to quickly disable Lock Fill, but as far as I can tell, you can't hotkey it.
16) Let me be able to select multiple symbols on the Stage and still use the Swap... option.
17) Let me save/copy Custom Tween graphs for use on more than just that one single instance (There's actually a slight work around to this by copying the Instance on the Keyframe you wish to reuse the Custom Tween on, then Alt-Click-Dragging the Keyframe that has the Custom Tween you want over the Keyframe you just copied the Instance from. Now, delete the contents from the new Keyframe you just Alt-Click-Dragged and Paste in Place the Instance you copied from just before. Now you've got 2 Motion Tweens that essentially have the exact same Custom Tween. Great! Sure took a lot more doing than it should have though). This is actually the singular reason I very rarely use Custom Tweens.
18) Stop resizing the Timeline window when I move from one document to the other.
19) Make a Publish All option.
Ah... almost made it to 20, but that's all I can think of for now. Perhaps I can finish it off with something I genuinely like about Flash.
20) The Gradient Transform Tool is brilliant - don't mess with it.
Flash is still alright a program, but I think it could be tons more useful and productive if all these little things were sorted out. Granted, some things on the list are just nice-to-haves but others are really really needed quite badly. I think my biggest irk is the first one - that Subselection Tool frustrates me to no end. It's quite ironic as that and the Pen Tool are my number 1 tools to use whenever I use Illustrator. Even more ironic; I think the Gradient Tool in Illustrator is really underdeveloped. Strange, since Flash is now backed by Adobe, who also make Illustrator. Hopefully the next CS release will bring some much needed change, with CS3 perhaps only being an excuse to rebrand Flash a little.
Still, that doesn't stop me from being disappointed at software that has refused to change for the greater good over the past 5 years. Instead, they keep slapping on new features (some that don't even work properly) and remove useful tutorial files (why did they do this??) making the program hard for anyone to learn. I remember Flash used to have a Lessons option under Help. No such option exists anymore and while there are some Getting Started-esque help files, they're less accessible and I'm sure new users would sooner seek help from other resources. Even then, I reckon new users will be too busy scratching their head over why a certain thing didn't work the way they expected it to, slowing the whole learning process down.
Oh well. Flash gets the job done. I'll give it that.
Did I mess anything from the list? I'm sure I did. Maybe you found a problem and found a good work around for it? Share your secrets!
Man, that ninja really needs to learn to chill out.