AdvancED Flash Interface Design Review

Original Publish Date: 7/6/2006

Author(s): Michael Kemper, Guido Rosso, Brian Monnone
Paperback: 360 pages
Publisher: friends of ED (May 8, 2006)
ISBN: 1590595556
Overall Score: 4/5

When i first got this book, I didn’t really know what to expect. I didn’t know if it was going to be a design book or an animation book for interfaces. I guess what I eventually ended up getting was a little bit of both.

The early chapters of the book are definitely not “AdvancED”, but give some good insight on some topics that are normally overlooked. The one problem with this book is that it was trying to fit information about a lot of combined programs, such as Final Cut Pro, After Effects, Photoshop, Illustrator, and Flash. However, this HAS to be done because of the way Flash interfaces are designed these days, so as a downfall it can be excused because sometimes it is unavoidable (and sometimes very handy) to know how to use all those programs.

There is a chapter on colors which is great, but the end of the chapter (page 56) talks about the Color class. The Color class is deprecated as of Flash 8 and I wish they would have went more in depth on using the new classes in 8, such as ColorTransform and the likes.

Now that we’ve got the negatives out of the way, it’s time to cover all the very formidable positives that this book has to offer. It has great explanations in every chapter of how to deal with good user experience and interface design. It’s obvious that the authors (award winners in this subject) know what they are talking about. For instance, on a personal level, I hate bringing in graphics into Flash from Illustrator and seeing all the miscellaneous graphic symbols that it makes while importing. Some people don’t clean this up in the library and it’s VERY frustrating to see all those symbols and have to go in and clean them up. These guys stress highly the importance of a clean library and have a great section in chapter 7 that shows how to clean these graphics up. I can’t tell you how many times I’d wished that people who work with me could make nice, clean libraries before they hand files over to me, but sometimes thats too much to ask for.

There is a chapter that makes mention of video and the best part about this chapter, after having recently made a project for AT&T that used Flash video, is the fact that it makes mention of the Flash 8 Video Encoder that comes bundled with Flash 8 Professional. It’s a stand alone application and nobody in my office actually knew what it was or how to use it (which for a large company such as I work for could be a bit mind boggling). They take you through the encoder and show you example usage, which is VERY handy when working with encoding FLV files. This chapter also boasts a great explanation (which I actually wish I had read before looking like a fool in an initial project meeting) of the video playback options that Flash has to offer (Streaming, Progressive, and Embedded video).

The middle of the book has a great color pullout (it’s not really a pullout, but ya know…) that demonstrates examples from the book and coincides with the color chapter (since obviously you want to see colors in a color chapter…). Chapter 9 is also an outstanding chapter which takes you from start to finish on how to design an interface in Photoshop (and 10 follows up with the proper way to import it into Flash so that you can work with those graphics). There is a section in this chapter titled “Moving from Photoshop to Flash” (pg. 232) which is a HUGE bonus. EVERYONE in the world who is a Flash designer/developer should convert graphics in the way that is described in this section. It saves a lot of time and headaches later on when you use the process outlined here.

Overall, the book was a treat. It started off a bit slow but definitely picked up a lot of momentum by the end. I’d definitely recommend it to someone who normally takes graphics from programs such as Illustrator or Photoshop and brings them into Flash. Conversely, I’d recommend it to designers who design for Flash developers as there is a lot of good information to learn from here.

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