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Adobe’s CS4 Free Gift of Layers Magazine a Bust

When you purchase any of the Adobe CS4 suites and register the product, Adobe gives you a free gift. Incentive to register, I suppose. They had done this in prior versions (I believe starting with CS3-I could be wrong), but they offered fewer options last time around and I ended up choosing a free Adobe font set.

Over the past year I had decided one can indeed have too many fonts, so when prompted to choose my free gift after installing and registering CS4 Master Collection, I chose the two free copies of Layers magazine. What a great opportunity to get some professional introduction to the new tools and features in CS4, right?

Wrong. And really, there are three problems compounded here.

First, the Layers issues which I was emailed (see problem number two) were for July/August (four months old) and September/October (two months old).  Why give away two issues of a magazine so old that they can't contain any CS4 information? How does this benefit users for the new software they just paid well over $2,000 to purchase? I understand some people might get upset that they didn't get their free gift right away and they have to wait up to two months for the next issue to be released, but they did choose a magazine. And I'd say it is fair to assume that people know they will be waiting for the latest issue to arrive if they choose to order a magazine. Either way, it took Layers (or Adobe) about 3 weeks to even send me an email to "pick up" my digital copies... which were up to four months old. This leads me to my second point.

Second, I received an email from Layers and Adobe saying that my two free issues of Layers were "now available" and I should "pick up the Jul-Aug-08 issue now". Reading through the email it is more trying to get me to subscribe to a fairly expensive magazine (even with the 60% discount) then anything else, but clicking on the pick up link takes you to a third-party digital delivery provider. When I got to the site I was fairly annoyed. If I chose to get a magazine as my free gift, why am I being provided a digital copy? I suppose I missed something when choosing my gift that notified me it would be a digital "download"? Even saying it is a "download" is incorrect, because as far as I can tell you can only view it online and when connected to the internet, without resorting to some hackery anyways.

Third, once I did "download" my digital copies, I was even more surprised to find that they contained no CS4 content, but rather all old CS3 content. So much for that introduction to the new tools and features in CS4 I was hoping for. A table of contents from the 'latest' issue is at the right.

All in all, I probably would have been better off taking the free fonts. Don't make the same mistake I did.

FDT Tip: Turning Off Error Notices for External Classes

I've been using FDT for quite some time now, and I keep having a recurring issue when using external, third-party, open source classes/libraries: if the code is not strictly data typed and/or contains some other small issue FDT's parser doesn't like, the folder containing the classes shows up with a red 'x' symbolizing there is an error.

This is annoying for several reasons, the biggest being that if your custom classes are in the same folder you cannot determine at a glance if your code is error free.

I had blogged about this exact issue when using BulkLoader a while back, and in that case I had resorted to altering the code so the errors would go away. However, I typically do not like to go in and alter code for open source projects which I know work perfectly well because updating them later becomes a crap-shoot at best -- you no longer have the option of just simply copying over the old classes with the new version.

However, I recently had someone comment on my post about BulkLoader issues in FDT with a much better solution.

First, setup a new folder in your FDT project for all your external classes/libraries. For instance, call it "external" or "classes" and put libraries such as BulkLoader in that folder.

Next, open the properties panel for your FDT project as shown in the following screenshot:

Once in the properties panel, select "FDT Build Path" from the left-hand menu and then select the newly created project source folder ("external" or "classes") and un-check the check box next to "Generate Problems/Tasks".

Hopefully this will help others out who also like to maintain an overly clean FDT project setup. :)

I am thinking about posting a series of small FDT tips including how to get it setup for use with Flash CS4, so if you'd like to see them please comment or send me an email at info -at- jonnymac -dot- com.

Lastly, to avoid any confusion I should note that Arthur Debert, the creator of BulkLoader, did make the necessary change to the project's code after my post on the subject so BulkLoader no longer throws errors in FDT. Made for a good example, though, since I had blogged about it at one point!

Flash CS4 Bug with OS X Spaces

Update (5/15/2009): It seems that the combination of the Apple OS X 10.5.7 update and the Flash CS4 10.0.2 update fixes this issue!

- - -

As a developer I use both multiple monitors and OS X Spaces when working with the Flash IDE. While I don't usually code within Flash, but rather FDT, I do like to have the actions and output panels open on my second monitor while working in Flash. This allows me to free up space within the main Flash work area and requires much less collapsing and expanding of panels while working throughout the day.

I had come across a bug in Flash CS3 a while back where OS X Spaces would cause the Flash IDE windowing system to become completely unusable after switching between spaces a few times. Sadly, this bug is still present in Flash CS4 - and even more prevalent. So, I decided to email Adobe to see if the issue could be resolved. In the process I took a screencast of my desktop to help them diagnose the problem. Below is what I have sent them:

The issue in question with Flash CS4 (and possibly other CS4 apps) can be found in OS X 10.5 (I'm specifically running 10.5.5) when using two or more "spaces". Additionally, one of the panels needs to be in its own window -- for instance the actions panel should not be docked within the application interface -- and also placed on a second monitor/display from the application.

In the video below I am recording my main display while my secondary display is not visible, and on that second monitor I have an undocked actions panel. The video shows me switching back and forth between two OS X spaces - one with FDT open, the second with Flash CS4 open. As you can see, switching back and forth between the spaces can cause the Flash CS4 interface to become "detached" from itself. This ends up being a very frustrating issue because there isn't a lot that users can do to solve the problem, and any solutions I have found don't seem to work consistently. In fact, the only fix I have found is the bring the undocked windows (in this case the actions/output panel) back onto the main monitor, overlapping the Flash IDE.

Here is the video, re-sized to fit within my blog:

Get the Flash Player to see this content.

You can also download the original screencast as a Quicktime .MOV here, which is much larger and clear.

Sadly, no fix yet, but let's hope if enough people also note the issue it will be fixed in the next update.

Offline Help and Language Reference Location in Flash CS4

Since installing Flash CS4 a few weeks back, I have been searching my hard drive looking for the offline help and ActionScript 3.0 language reference. Using the offline docs can be much faster than waiting for the online version to load, and they are helpful on planes or in other places you don't have internet access. A great resource to bookmark, which is what I did in CS3 but haven't been able to do in CS4 since they were not in the same or a similar location.

Well, it took me quite a while, but I finally found the correct location in CS4 and thought it might help save someone a few minutes of searching by posting it here:

OS X:
/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Help/en_US/AS3LCR/Flash_10.0/index.html

Windows:
C:\Program Files\Common Files\Adobe\Help\en_US\AS3LCR\Flash_10.0\index.html

You can also find the entire offline documentation for the Flash CS4 IDE at the following location in OS X:

/Library/Application%20Support/Adobe/Help/en_US/Flash/10.0_UsingFlash/index.html

Note: Since I only have a copy of Flash CS4 for OS X, I don't have the path for Windows. If you find the docs location on Windows, please leave a comment and I'll update the post.

[Update: Windows path added. Thanks!]

Code Snippets in Flash IDE with ASExpander

I noticed a post by Keith Peters this morning where he created a JSFL script for the Flash IDE that would allow similar functionality as tab shortcuts in TextMate. This means that you can type shortcuts like "&mousedown", then use a keyboard shortcut you assign to the script to have it replace the shortcut text with real code - in the case just mentioned the addEventListener for a MouseEvent.MOUSE_DOWN. If you are still unclear on how this works, check the short screen capture at this post (note: written in German).

Although Keith's post says he intended it to make AS3 easier for designers and beginners, I promptly installed the script and was happy to be on my way to typing much less when needing to code in the Flash IDE actions panel. I have a feeling other developers will agree that this is a huge time saver.

Keith has already posted an update to the script and made it available via download under the free MIT license, and I highly recommend checking it out.

Flash on the Beach 08 / Day 1 / Sessions and Adobe Keynote

Flash on the Beach 2008, Brighton, UK - Day One
September 29, 2008

Richard Galvan - Keynote/Flash New and in the Future
Carlos Ulloa - The Best Way to Predict the Future is to Invent It
Branden Hall - Brilliant Ideas that I've Blatantly Stolen
Mark Anders - A Preview of Flex 4 and "Thermo"
Tink (Stephen Downs) - Flex Effects: Transitions as Design Elements
Erik Natzke - Beyond the Knowledge: The Art of Play
James Paterson - Modulating a Lot

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