The first thing one notices upon opening applications in the CS3 suite is the new, unified interface, especially apparent between Photoshop, Illustrator and Flash. Each of these applications is sporting new dockable / detachable panels, and toolbars that can collapse, expand, and be reduced to iconic representations. This is all very nice for space saving, because we all love screen real-estate (it's cheaper than real real-estate, but harder to find). It is a smart move on Adobe's part to make these three applications similar in terms of UI as they form pretty much the standard core of working applications for most web designers, developers, multimedia professionals and students, and the similarities will aid usability.

Flash sports a number of new features, among them:

  • Upgraded drawing tools, particularly the Pen tool, which is now functioning more like the Pen tool from Illustrator
  • Alignment and distribution controls that are consistent across applications
  • Support for ActionScript 3.0 for the first time
  • Changes to the Actions panel, bringing it more into line with Dreamweaver's code editor
  • The ability to capture a motion tween as XML, allowing it to be dropped directly into ActionScript code for later re-use
  • New, more stable ActionScript 3.0 Debugger
  • The ability to export sub-animations (animations embedded inside movie clips on the main timeline) when exporting to a video format
  • Component skinning vastly improved - states can now be accessed and modified directly on the Stage
  • Improved Video import
  • Advanced Photoshop and Illustrator import functionality

The new features are, by and large, focused on the production of web/interactive content, and many of users out there who are engaged in full-scale animation production using Flash may wonder, what is the advantage of this new version. The animation process will no doubt be helped along by the better integration with graphics applications, the new pen tool and also the ability to export embedded movie clips to video, but aside from these new/improved features it is hard to see many animation studios rushing to upgrade to CS3.

On the other hand web content producers should be over the moon at the raft of new features that will make the delivery of media-rich and or data driven content a much fuller and more seamless experience than before.