Today we decided to use the new “Projects” feature in Flash MX 2004 Professional to manage a fairly large interactive piece we’re doing at work. We started setting up the project in Flash after reading about the benefits of using Flash Projects to control versioning and make sure the files are in a central location. It didn’t take us long to discover that Flash Projects have a ways to go before they are usable for the type of project we’re doing.
Basically, the only thing we wanted to do was create a project that would keep track of several Flash files on the server and allow us to check them out, work on them locally, upload them automatically to the server when we checked them back in and then publish them based on our settings at one time. Simple enough, right? That’s what we thought.
This is where Projects fall flat. If I create a file and add it to my project, anyone else who wants to use the same file has to manually add it to their project, there’s no way for new files to be automatically added to all the participants project. This wouldn’t be a problem with a 5 or 10 file project, but once it gets bigger than that, adding every file manually gets pretty tedious.
In addition, there’s no easy way to have the same folder structure in the Flash Project as on the hard drive and/or the server–you have to manually create folders in Flash to manage that.
Those are the obstacles we could get around. The one that we really didn’t like was the fact that the only way to add a file that you didn’t create to your project was to use the Finder (mac) or Windows Explorer (PC) to browse to the server, download the file to your local hard drive, add it to the Flash Project in Flash then start using it. If you didn’t do that, you could get the file from the server, but once you went to check it back in, Flash complained that it couldn’t check it in because the file didn’t exist on the local drive.
We didn’t even get far enough to get into the publish profile settings… by that time, we’d had enough.
The solution? We set the entire project up as a Dreamweaver site. Everything works perfectly there, in addition, we can use Dreamweaver to edit text files, external ActionScript and XML files without opening up another application. If you’re thinking about using Flash Projects to manage a large project, I’d suggest you wait until it matures a little. Right now, Dreamweaver seems to be the tool that will work for us.