Before I jump into the book I thought I would quickly note what my expectations are so that these are clear in the evaluation. Flash Catalyst is a high-level web development tool that allows for creation of flash-based web pages directly from Photoshop or Illustrator. Although these can be deployed to production environments from what I understand and perceive these are more useful as prototypes for user testing prior to actual production and deployment using more standards-compliant tools. So, here’s a quick guide and I judge from the end matter I will gain a quick understanding of how the tool is positioned as well as some rapid hands-on exercises to gain appreciation of its capabilities. That’s just what I am looking for. So let’s dive in.
The Quick Guide to Flash Catalyst by Rafiq Elmansy is not meant to be a comprehensive guide to Flash Catalyst but simply an introductory tutorial that provides hands-on exercises for the uninitiated to get a feel for using the environment. It succeeds in this intention and I found the guide quite easy to follow, well illustrated with screen shots and clear in instruction. At around a tenner for the 75 pages it is quite reasonably priced. It’s aimed very specifically at the beginners market. It introduces Catalyst and takes you quickly through a very quick project. Nothing more nothing less. You get a tour of the various components of the environment, start with an Illustrator file, apply interactivity and then publish your work so that it can be test drove on the web. The author provides concise, but pithy commentary about a few subtler points of the process, but not in distraction from getting your feet wet with Catalyst.
So, it accomplishes the expectations I set out for it and provides the relatively instant appreciation of what and how you can mobilise Flash Catalyst for web user interface prototyping. Its not meant for anything more than getting a rapid experience, but many may find this quite useful with a trial version of the product to determine whether Catalyst is the product for you.