Pros redesigned interface; excellent new 3D and bone tools; fixed prior CS3 bugs; improved video import
Cons 3D tools are limited to Flash 10 player (not backward compatible); new motion editor is awkward; pricey upgrade
Summary I am a professional, long-time user of Flash and my review is most likely heavy-handed. I enjoyed the improved interface most of all. CS3's interface was cumbersome and distracting, but CS4's new panels and unified widgets were well designed and subtle. Panels are easier to dock and arrange to your own liking-- extremely important for the professional user.
I also enjoyed the improved video import and export-- I had many problems with the Mac version and Adobe had no fix or response for some of the problems users had. Unfortunately, the upgrade is a steep price for a bug fix.
The new 3D and bone tools are very cool-- until you need them in a production environment. They are not backward-compatible and limited to use only with the latest Flash player (version 10) and use only with Actionscript 3.0. This bars the way for their use in any deliverables where you would want your site to be compatible with the greatest number of users.
Finally, the new motion editor is a great idea but poorly executed. The interface is awkward to say the least. Some necessary professional features, such as easing, are cumbersome to setup and make quick adjustments. Additionally, the motion editor's timeline does not give a proper view of needed keyframes and graph lines. I feel this tool will need much interface design attention for it to be truly valuable in future versions.
Overall, if one hasn't upgraded to Flash CS3, Flash CS4 is a great place to be with all the added features and improvements. But if one already uses CS3 and finds it adequate for all their needs, then I recommend waiting for Flash CS5 or future version (which will offer new "must-have" features).
Pros I've been a professional flash animator since Flash 4 days thru Flash 8. Had to upgrade to deal with work situation. For an animator who draws and is not interested in phony bone stuff there is NO improvement in CS4. It is a dog.
Cons 1) Work elements cannot be locked in place. Mine shifts out of wack almost everytime I save or save as!
2) Flash CS4 cannot render usable quicktime movies. Useless for youtube, etc.
3) Many tools fail to work accurately compared to earlier versions.
Summary Adobe has totally missed the boat. By attempting to ball things to all types of users they have ruined a solid animation platform. This is bloatware of the worst kind. I am very disappointed.
Pros Great quality animations, nice interface, easier Tweening than previous
Cons Line tool lines do not connect together as well as CS3, old users will have to adjust to newer interface
Summary Last December, I got Flash CS4 for a Christmas present. I was very excited because I loved using Flash CS3 which was installed at my high school's computer lab, and Macromedia Flash 8 which was installed on their library computers. I loved Flash 8 from the start. I didn't use layers, just moving, non-animated Stick figures. Later, when I used CS3, I started with layers. Well, I'm getting off topic here.
I open up the program and immediately wanted to make a clone of YouTube member TomSka's asdfmovie. I drew all the lines, but when I put the paint in, it didn't work. It wasn't until later did I realize that when I zoom in up close, you can see that it wasn't connected, so it didn't work.
Another thing I noticed was when I was going to change my framerate (I use 33fps), I couldn't find the bar at the bottom like in Flash 8 and CS3. I never looked in the Document bar when in older versions, so why would I have to look now? Apparently, because I can't find the bottom bar. Later I find that they added a new tab interface on the right where the Library is, but it doesn't have the fps showing.
A problem I also have is that I can't import my videos. Great, now what do I use to add little fun censor bars or light sabers?
Now, enough with the cons. I love the new motion tween. It's very nice to use. Now I can see where the motion is going in the same frame. Though a problem I have with it is that I can't change out of the tween in that layer unless I remove it altogether.
The rotate tool is also helpful, but I haven't found out, if possible, how to make a 3D item to rotate. For now, I'll just stick with the free transform. The bone tool, I haven't figured out what it does, but I haven't had to use it in 6 months, so it's no use to me.
All in all, it's a great program, awesome if you use the student discount (Though they might have already replaced it with CS5 in Adobe's Student area). But if you're an experienced user, don't upgrade and stick to CS3, 8, or MX.
Pros looks good. helps with what I need. full featured trial is a very good idea. I would not have bought it without it.
Cons $$$; and some things that don't work, where I need to supplement using sswif (open source) and lazlo (ditto), or they may but I may not have found it yet;
the always online stuff is pretty bad too. And that it does not run on Linux is major bad!
Summary just have to have it for professional reasons, so no buts and ifs around it.
Sure, getting it from discountmountain, let's hope it is a real thing.
Very good is the full trial. That convinced me that this is 'the' thing I need and which will solve my issues, and help me actually to add a new business diversification, could make a little thing that will make sites 'cookie-cutter' way, just add some xml files, edit controls (my controls), add artwork, off we go, the swf is never changed (unless I add another opensource effect from the tweener thing); which reminds me to mention that the tweens that come with it are pretty lame, and single level (cannot be nested). I'd expect better at $700, especially when Tweener shows how it can be done (I just add the tweener class...).
Bad is also that it is proprietary systems oriented, if it runs on a Mac then there is no reason it cannot be released for Linux!
However: summary: it's all good, and has a lot of nice stuff, for gfx, and for .swf .
This is my first flash IDE, I did not have earlier ones, and those who complain that things did change: tough! Life goes on, and progress is a thing that just happens, so live with it.