Adobe Catalyst CS5.5 and The New WritePro® Update from Stein Software . February 2012 . Vol. 18 No. 2

Cyber News and Reviews is a monthly column published for parents, teachers & business owners featuring kids educational software reviews, business software reviews (small business & home business), games and entertainment articles, a free resource since 1995.

Recent Software Reviews

October 2011 --Adobe ® Premiere Pro CS5.5
September 2011 --GroupMail Business Editon V5.2.089 from Infacta Ltd
August 2011 --Adobe® Dreamweaver CS5.5 Website Design Program

Adobe® Flash Catalyst from Adobe System Corporation and The New WritePro® Update from Stein Software Corporation

By Howard Berenbon

Adobe® Flash Catalyst CS5.5 from Adobe Systems Corporation

What is Flash Catalyst?

Flash Catalyst is a tool for enhancing projects developed in Photoshop, Illustrator and Fireworks without complicated programming. Basically, it’s a tool to help make your creative graphic designs interactive for use in games and on Websites.  Just load your completed work into Catalyst from its main menu by clicking on Create a New Project from a Design File, and then start your enhancements. Each layer or object in your design file can be accessed and modified for the desired action. You can easily build check boxes, radio button components, toggle buttons, navigation buttons, horizontal / vertical sliders and more, with the actions you want.  You can also start a new design right from Catalyst by clicking on “Adobe Flash Catalyst Project” under Create New Project. You then select the size of your Artboard (width and height) and background color (if you don’t want the default, white), and then click Okay to begin, which opens Catalyst in the Design Workspace. In the upper right corner of the screen you’ll see the tool bar: select and direct select, text, rectangle / elipse, shape, line, hand and zoom tools. Below the tool bar you’ll see the Layers tab and what’s in your project so far and the Project Library tab. On the top left you see File, Edit, View, Modify, States, Timelines, Windows and Help menus.  Below you’ll see the States pane, and below that is your art board, where you build your projects from scratch, or load in files from Illustrator, Photoshop or Fireworks for modification.

If you’re new to Flash Catalyst you may need a little help, so I’d head to Adobe TV at and watch some of their video tutorials. You can get there with the above link, or from Catalyst’s Welcome Menu by clicking on Adobe® TV on the lower right. You’ll find yourself at a list of Flash Catalyst video episodes by an Adobe expert.  Start with “What is Flash Catalyst” and then view your way down the list and learn some basics. You’ll learn the ins and outs of Catalyst by building a simple interactive game using artwork designed in Adobe Illustrator and then modified with help of Flash Catalyst’s tools.  Catalyst can also be used to optimize your graphic designs so when you build animations with Flash, they’ll run faster. Another neat feature is the ability to reuse graphic and audio components, like buttons and check boxes, from previous projects that are now located in the Project Library.

New Features for Catalyst CS5.5

Full designer-developer workflow

Work with confidence on shared Flex based projects with a new bidirectional workflow that allows designers to collaborate with developers who use Adobe Flash Builder 4.5.

Resizable applications and components

Visually design and preview the position and scaling of objects when designing interfaces and applications that adjust to fit various screen sizes or resolutions.

Enhanced timelines and animations

Craft precise, expressive transitions and effects with greater control and less effort. Animate filter effects and font sizes, and easily apply customizations across effects or objects.

Common Library panel

Quickly design wireframes and evolve developer-ready interface concepts using native Spark components and placeholder graphics.

Custom skinnable components

Craft the visual appearance, or skin, of developer-built custom components without the need to understand the underlying code or logic.

Improved interactions

Define user interactions more efficiently with the ability to globally target any component within your project, and specify double-click actions as interactions.

User-requested enhancements

Align and distribute objects with a new Align panel, lock aspect ratio when manipulating objects, easily name components for better collaboration with developers, and more.

New components and common library panel

Components allow designers to quickly design functional, interactive wireframes, which can later be skinned or modified by a developer. Flash Catalyst CS5.5 includes new components in a new common library panel.

Ability to edit the appearance of developer-defined components

Designers can now efficiently craft the visual appearance for developer-built custom components without the need to understand their underlying code or logic.

More intuitive component naming

When you convert artwork to a component, or when you double-click a wireframe component in order to skin it, that component is added tothe library panel. In Flash Catalyst CS5, these components were named automatically (i.e., Button1, Button2, etc.). In Flash Catalyst CS5.5, anytime you convert artwork to a component or you attempt to skin a wireframe component, a dialog appears, asking you to name the component. In this way, the components that appear in your library are organized and named, making it easier to work with the project.

Replacing objects on the artboard

Flash Catalyst CS5.5 makes it even easier to mock up functional wireframes by enabling you to easily replace objects on the artboard.

Enhanced alignment options

Flash Catalyst CS5.5 features a new Align panel, similar to that found in other Adobe design applications such as Illustrator.

Transition timeline improvements

Flash Catalyst CS5.5 includes a newly enhanced Timeline panel that includes a new scrollbar to make it easier to navigate long transitions.

Interaction enhancements

Flash Catalyst CS5.5 provides you with more powerful interaction possibilities, including the ability to trigger interactions with double click and the ability to target any component within the application.

Adobe® Flash Catalyst CS5.5 is available on its own for $399, or upgrade for just $79. For more information, or to order, visit

The New WritePro® Update from Stein Software Corporation

So, you think you have an idea for that great American novel, one that will end up in the halls of the classics like Ralph Elison’s Invisible Man, J. D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, or Mark Twain’s The Adventure of Tom Sawyer, to mention only a few.  The problem is you’re not an experienced writer, and just don’t know where to start.  Well, if your idea can transform into a great novel, then you may have a chance with a very newly improved writing course, from Stein Software Corporation, The New WritePro®.  I, too, have this great hope to publish a science fiction novel based on casino gambling, one of my passions, but this project hasn’t been going as expected. It’s been over 13 years in the making with many stumbling blocks along the way. 

Fortunately, last year was a turning point and I found time to start rewriting and I like the way my plot and characters are developing but I was still lacking the direction needed to see the novel to its end.  But now with the help The New WritePro® at my side, I am looking at my story and characters in a new light, and can see the end of the tunnel.  The suggestions helped me turn my single dimensional characters into real people that readers could care about.  If you can create believable, lovable and even hated characters, then your readers can’t help but read on.

I am currently working through the first set of lessons which I am finding really helpful and thought provoking, with a lot of good advice that makes sense.  It’s been taking me some time to go through each lesson page by page, because they require writing, and rewriting which is important for your book development. But, even though I almost through lesson two, I’ve made some great improvements.  In fact, I’ve gone back to my chapter one and enhanced the first scene with more details, and offered this new addition to a friend who has been proofing my manuscript.  He’s saying it was quite an improvement to the original chapter.  So, as I carefully go through the course, with an open mind for improvements, I will report back periodically.

Lessons One through Four

Quickly learn the professional way of making conflict dramatic and add visual tension. Learn how to create suspense that holds the reader’s attention, page after page, with characters who seem fully alive. Also learn how professionals produce action you can see, dialogue you can hear, all directly related to the story you're writing, using self-editing techniques that work.

Lessons Five through Seven

In lessons five through seven you’ll learn to create provocative dialogue, techniques for adding dramatic actions and how to create relationships that provoke suspense.  You'll also learn how connect to the reader’s erogenous zone by developing love scenes that are effective, but not offensive.

Lessons Eight through Ten

Learn the most effective way of outlining your novel, play, or screenplay, and see how advanced characterization can make readers fall in love with your characters. You’ll also find some proven ways to evoke strong emotions from the reader and techniques for holding the reader's attention right to the last page. As you work, you'll have easy access to 189 guidelines that have helped professional writers succeed. And the program will save you months of work with their newest time-saving method of revision.

The New WritePro® guides you step-by-step for creating interesting characters, suspenseful plots, and memorable dialogue. It’s divided in to 3 sections: lessons one through four, five through seven and eight to ten, each costing $149.95 with all ten lessons for $399.85.  But if you visit their site, you’ll find all ten lessons on sale for just $199, and you download lesson one free to try.  Also, if you’re dissatisfied after you buy it and try it, you have 30 days to request a refund.  The software runs on Windows 7, XP, Mac OS 9.1 or later, OS X and Unix computers with Java runtime installed. Visit for the details or to order.

Software Companies Mentioned

Adobe Systems Incorporated
345 Park Ave
San Jose, CA 95110-2704
Phone: 800-833-6687

Stein Software Corporation
277E South Broadway
Tarrytown, NY 10591
Phone: 914-631-5877