Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Adobe Flash Catalyst - First Look

This week Adobe has released the first public beta build of Flash Catalyst on Adobe Labs. Catalyst (formerly known as Thermo) is an application that enables you to quickly build interactive user interfaces and content in Flash without having to perform any coding.

Flash Catalyst enables you to take designs you have created in either Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator and using Catalyst convert these into interactive components including objects such as buttons, scroll bars etc.

At present Flash Catalyst does not bring anything to the Captivate user’s table. Flash Catalyst SWFs do not seem to play well in Adobe Captivate 4.0.1 even if you create AS 3 projects. But that doesn’t mean that there won’t be any integration in the future.

One area where I think that Flash Catalyst might be able to help the Captivate user out would be as an alternative to creating Widgets.

Introduced in Adobe Captivate 4, Widgets though extremely powerful, require that you have a solid understanding of Flash and Action Scripting which unfortunately many Captivate users just don’t have and this where I think that Flash Catalyst could be of use. Personally, I would like to have the option of building components from Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator files that I could then be imported and used in my Captivate projects.

If like me you would like to see Catalyst integration with Adobe Captivate in a future version then please do submit an Enhancement Request.

Some might think that I have my head in the clouds here, but as a member of the Cloud Appreciation Society, I don’t consider having my head in the clouds a bad thing.

You can learn more about Adobe Catalyst from the link I have included below.

Learn about Adobe Flash Catalyst.


mark said...

Interesting post. I've been told via some other elearning folks, via twitter, to check out Catalyst for its elearning possibilities. I did, and I just don't see it other than a useful tool to develop custom user interfaces or course players. But you'd still need to code the navigation in Flash or Flex and you can import the graphics into Flash already, so no real benefit from using Catalyst for that.

In regards to Captivate Widgets...I was really hopeful about them when they first came out but then that hope was deflated when I looked at the stub code they provide. It's horribly documented and difficult to follow. I have yet to see a single Widget developed by anyone other than Adobe, so I'm certainly not in the minority here. I admittedly haven't given it much time though, but based on what I saw, the Widget functionality is a long way from being useable for folks.


macrofireball said...

Hi Mark,

Thanks for your comments. With regard to Widgets, there are a few Flash Developers creating Captivate widgets. Take a look at the Adobe Captivate Exchange for more details.

As for Flash Catalyst and eLearning, that is something that I am still thinking about. I can see some potential but at present for eLearning, Captivate wins hands down.