I’ve been watching the large number of blog links regarding the news from Adobe labs that Flash Catalyst is now in public Beta; naturally I had to download and have a go myself.
My first impressions are not good.
It seems like they’ve decided to invent their own usability best practices for the tool shortcuts. Where the hell is the pan tool? Why doesn’t holding the space bar and then using the mouse to scroll perform a pan? Keyboard shortcuts for delete don’t seem to work in the layers panel. Where is the align panel? Do I really have to right click an asset and select an align option from a dropdown? It’s a real mouseathon in the program at the moment. These aren’t really things I see as Beta related, they should just be in the app – which they are in any other CS4 product, so I’m mystified how these issues got through QA to this stage.
Probably the biggest issue is the speed (or lack thereof) of the program. Trying to edit a button’s state is painfully slow. I’m not sure whether this is to do with my system (dual core 2.4Ghz with 4Gb RAM on Vista) but I’d like to know if I’m the only one who thinks the program runs painfully slowly.
Aside from the usability and productivity issues I’m still at a loss as to why the CS4 core wasn’t used for this (or was it?) and even why we need a further dilution of the Flash product base. Surely Flash CS could be re badged as Flash Designer and the Catalyst toolset integrated (I realise I made that sound easier than it would be, but as it stands the introduction of this third tool looks like more of a money grab than anything else). This would go nicely alongside the newly re badged Flash Builder (which incidentally looks very good, so kudos to the Flex team).
I haven’t upgraded to CS4 as yet, and it’s for some of the reasons above that I haven’t. I just don’t know where the Flash products are headed, and quite frankly if this is where they’re going I may jump ship completely onto HMS Flex and let the “designers” out there handle getting the assets I’m after into a state in which I can use them. Though the right side of my brain may have something to say about that statement…