BANG!  Flash Gets Update

Macromedia has announced a new version of their web graphics standard, Flash. The new Flash 5 Player allows Flash developers to take advantage of XML, and makes it even easier to create compelling, interactive Web animation. Flash has emerged over the last two years as the de facto standard for Web animation and interactive development. Flash allows for designers to break the mold of the Web-like interface while adding more features and pizzazz to their web sites. Flash 5 will take Flash development to the next level. According to Macromedia:

Macromedia, Inc., today announced breakthrough new features in the Macromedia Flash 5 Player that will enable developers to engage site visitors with innovative next-generation Web applications. Announced today (see separate release), Macromedia Flash 5 is the professional standard for producing high-impact Web experiences. The free Macromedia Flash 5 Player, expected to be available in late August, will enable those users to experience all the Macromedia Flash 5 content that will be created, as well as retain its ability to play older Macromedia Flash content.

The Macromedia Flash 5 Player is tightly integrated with leading server technologies such as Extensible Markup Language (XML), for structured data transfer, and Macromedia Generator, for delivering server-created, real-time visual content to data-intensive, content-rich, highly-trafficked sites. For example, an e-commerce site can use Macromedia Generator to process complex catalog information based on user input, keeping the Macromedia Flash content compact by moving all the data-intensive graphics processing to Generatoris scalable server infrastructure. The Macromedia Flash 5 Player also has support for HTML formatted text within Macromedia Flash content, as well as the ability to maintain a persistent connection between the lightweight client and server to share real-time XML information for mission-critical business applications.

The player also uses the new ActionScript language that can be authored in Macromedia Flash 5, which is now easier for developers to write as it has the same syntax and structure as JavaScript. The Macromedia Flash 5 Player is also fully backward compatible, which will enable Internet users to continue experiencing Macromedia Flash content authored with earlier versions of Macromedia Flash. Developers can create new content in Macromedia Flash 5 that will play back on older versions of the player, as the new player gains acceptance online. For more information on Macromedia Flash 5 Player, visit the Web site at www.macromedia.com/go/flashplaypr.

Macromedia Generator 2 Enterprise Edition delivers real-time, personalized graphics to the Macromedia Flash Player for news and information sites such as CBS Sportsline, e-commerce sites such as Tiffany & Co., and entertainment sites such as Disney. This enables the sites to update their Macromedia Flash content with rich interactions, product configurations, and data visualization for personalized applications. Macromedia Flash 5 Player also enables Web site visitors to experience bandwidth-friendly, branded e-commerce applications that can read in and export XML data, which can be used for sales forms, virtual shopping carts, and stock availability screens.

The Flash 5 player is currently in public beta, and the final version is expected sometime in August. You can find more information at the Macromedia web site.

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