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Disappointing Flash CS4

Posted on Nov 28 2008

We at last received our Flash CS4 licences at Motion-Twin !

It always takes a lot of time to be able to get the international version in France... and the prices in euros are much more expensive than in dollars. We calculated that next time we would have better hiring some guy to go the US by plane and buy CS4 licenses for us in dollars...

Anyway, since I already played with all the Flash 10 features, I was not so much in a hurry to try it, since I barely use the IDE. But our designers do... and they didn't like it.

Even on a brand new computer with a lot of RAM, opening one of our current projects FLA takes much more time than on CS3, and much more memory (it peeks at 1.2 GB of used memory !). And after that, a lot of simple operations such as adding keyframes complains... about the lack of memory... (even if the computer still has more than 2GB free memory)

Memory issues are is not CS4 specific, but are even worse now. I'm quite sure that we are not the only ones that have issues with big FLAs, and that's a shame that a "professional software" loads everything into memory and is not able to be a bit more efficient in the way it handles resources.

That's the same for disk space : I can understand that there are more infos in an FLA than in a SWF (layers and library) but for instance a SWF of 500KB makes an FLA of.... 157 MB (more 300 times the amount of information !). We don't care so much about it since we have plenty of disk space, but when all these informations get loaded into memory... ouch !

What's exactly stored in an FLA ? I would have liked to know more about that, by using for instance the brand new XFL format that was announced before and would "open" the proprietary FLA format by being able to use an xml-based format instead.

Sadly, while XFL would have been very useful to get some informations about FLAs, CS4 can only import XFL and not export it.... WTF ?

  • Nov 28, 2008 at 20:03

    I installed CS4 a couple of days ago and had the same impressions. It is slow and unresponsive. Even if the new timeline and 3d features seem impressive, I think I will stick to FDT and use the IDE only when there's is no other choice.

  • Nov 29, 2008 at 11:38

    Yep, quite disappointing that CS4 doesn't natively work with XFL. One of the thing I miss the most of current Flash workflow is being able to diff to FLA files.

    XFL is XML based so comparing 2 files would be much, much easier. I think even Adobe should create a XFL diff command line tool so people would be able to integrate it in their projects (FDT, FlashDevelop, etc).


  • Manuel Dahm
    Dec 01, 2008 at 10:36

    Almost all the filesize of FLAs comes from whats in the library ;)

  • Dec 03, 2008 at 04:17

    Not sure if you're using Windows or Mac versions of Flash, but it kind of sounds like your using Vista. If so, I highly recommend taking advantage of Ready Boost w/ a USB or other flash-memory drive (if you're not already). It really helped me boost CS4 on a Vista 64 bit system...except for, er... there's still no 64-bit flash player :(

  • JLM
    Dec 03, 2008 at 18:33

    I am disappointed with the properties panel it takes a lot of screen space and I can't add a classic tween directly like in the old properties panel and really don't have time to explore the new tween functionality. I understand that the old panel was confusing to newbies, but the new one needs more work as on a laptop it takes 1/3 of the screen, before it is a good replacement for the old one which was much more efficient. Output panel still demands attention when you run a swf so no improvement there. The IK stuff is interesting but very closed in terms of the XML structure, I got some as3 controlling an IK system dynamically so I am sure an IK swf should be useable with haxe but not tried yet. But CS4 will probably grow on me as I use it more.

  • Tony Polinelli
    Dec 06, 2008 at 06:41

    The most annoying thing i'm finding is that the library slows down if you make it quite large (on screen). In a fair sized job (many assets in library), stretch it to the full height of your screen- if you have a second monitor as i do that means that it will be 1200px height. It slows to a crawl! make it smaller - it is much more responsive. Surely the functionality of a responsive interface (AS2 or AS3 style) is more important than making everything a nice shade of gray to suit other cs4 products. And surely they tested for "professionals" with second monitors and large resolutions? Their interface just cant handle it.

  • Dec 13, 2008 at 11:33

    > What's exactly stored in an FLA

    FLA seem to store things in "incremental" manner, seems like every single user action since the last save is logged. This doesn't help undoing things much, but "save and compact" command can reduce FLA size substantially.

  • Jan 09, 2009 at 17:54

    Hi Nicolas,
    Finally how did you cope with the above-mentionned difficulties?
    Do your designers experiment unbearable slowdown when working with the lib?
    Did they eventually turn back to CS3? or did you increase your RAM? or.. ?

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