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Teaching Geoscience with Visualizations: Using Images, Animations, and Models Effectively
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Cutting Edge > Visualization > Tools for Creating Visualizations > Flash

Flash

Page information compiled by Jeff Sale, San Diego State University.
(From Macromedia's web site) Rapidly build data-driven rich Internet applications using the robust development capabilities found only in Flash MX Professional 2004. A familiar forms-based development environment and powerful data binding make it easy for visual application developers to build rich, effective applications for e-commerce, corporate intranets and more.

To Order

Download a 30-day trial version or purchase at http://www.macromedia.com/software/flash/

Cost

Retail: $499, Upgrade from previous version: $199, Educational: $99

Platform Support

Windows and Mac (all versions) for development. Windows/Mac/Unix/Linux for playback with the Flash Player.

Data Formats

Flash uses a proprietary format, but it can import a wide variety of additional media, including audio, video, images, and text. Learn more from the manufacturer...

Integrating with other Tools

Flash allows for 3rd parties to develop add-on modules call Extensions. These Extensions provide additional capabilities for Flash, primarily to add things like special effects to enhance a web site's 'pizzaz', as the name "Flash" implies. Learn more about Extensions.

Data Analysis

Flash is not really designed for scientific data analysis, but it does have powerful database interface capabilities through interfaces using tools like Cold Fusion, PHP, Perl, ASP, etc. This gives it the ability to serve as a high-quality, accessible interface to database-driven sites. The built-in scripting language, ActionScript, does have some mathematical functions (sin, cos, asin, acos, log, ln, abs, and random, for example) that allow for some data analysis, so in the hands of creative developers, some powerful analysis is possible.

Output Options

Flash primarily outputs to browser-based applications for the web. It may also output to QuickTime or AVI movies, a wide range of bitmap and vector image formats, and image sequences as well. It does not have an equivalent "standalone" executable output option like Macromedia Director.

Usability

Flash's interface is quite advanced, with several windows to manage at any one time. However, their built-in tutorials, extensive documentation, and online support make it one of the easiest multimedia development tools to learn. There are also extensions supporting automatic checking for accessibility requirements.