Flash Catalyst and Flash Builder 4

I’ve been following the development of Flash Catalyst, formerly known as Thermo, ever since it was announced and I was really happy when Adobe finally released Flash Catalyst beta 1 earlier this month. I played with it a little and I am really excited by what this tool will become.

Flash Catalyst

To give Catalyst a try, I decided to write a very simple application to search for photos on Flickr. After 10 minutes in Photoshop, 15 minutes in Catalyst and 15 minutes in Flash Builder 4 I had a working application and I had written only a dozen lines of code.

Despite its qualities, Flash Catalyst has a long way to go. I know this is only the first beta of a 1.0 product but here is a short list of what limitations I encountered after writing a few simple applications:

  • The tool sometimes doesn’t feel responsive; I kind of expected this from an Eclipse-based Flex-based application in full screen mode on a 30″ monitor.
  • All sizes and positions are hardcoded in absolute coordinates. The lack of support for layouts will definitely make Catalyst a lot less interesting for stand-alone AIR apps.
  • There are only a few properties you can manipulate for each widget.
  • Round-tripping between Catalyst and Flash Builder is worrisome if you’re not careful.
  • Integration with Photoshop is definitely lacking and far from what was announced (or at least I thought was announced.)

The Photoshop integration is the only real issue I have with Catalyst. You can apparently use Illustrator or Fireworks but these are tools I’m not very familiar with. This also means getting new licenses because only CS4 is supported (too bad for my CS3 copy of Illustrator.)

I can’t wait to see what Flash Catalyst 1.0 will end up becoming and what Adobe has in store for the future releases.

2 Responses to “Flash Catalyst and Flash Builder 4”

  1. Ah first time hearing about that. Is that going to be an alternative to Adobe Flash. What is the point of creating Catalyst, while there is already Flex. Unless this is going to be timeline based.

  2. Romain Guy says:

    Catalyst generates Flex code. The purpose of Catalyst is to help you easily create a working Flex application starting from a design in Photoshop/Illustrator/Fireworks. It is a complement to Flex and Flash and does not replace either.