Demo: Flash Catalyst ("Thermo") makes PSDs interactive

Adobe’s upcoming Flash Catalyst (previously demoed as “Thermo”) is meant to let designers easily convert static Photoshop, Illustrator, and Fireworks artwork into interactive content without coding.  It lets you turn imported layers into components quickly, specifying & tweaking animated transitions.


Evangelist Ryan Stewart and Product Designer Narciso Jaramillo have posted a clear, crisp little tour of the design process.  Besides turning a Photoshop design into an animated prototype, they demonstrate using Illustrator to tweak the placed artwork.


Catalyst & the future of Flex were a hot topic at Adobe MAX. I wasn’t able to squeeze into one of the standing-room only sessions, but now you can check one out via Adobe TV.  Ryan’s Catalyst demo (similar to the one above) itself starts around 17:30 and runs roughly 10 minutes.  You can also get a look at the next version of Flex Builder, codenamed "Gumbo."

6 thoughts on “Demo: Flash Catalyst ("Thermo") makes PSDs interactive

  1. I’m really worried about all the attention that Adobe is giving to Catalyst. I develop flex apps and I have been privy to Catalyst for some time ( even the ‘secret’ demos ); with Catalyst, Adobe is laying a big egg. Many developers and I have talked about it, and we just do not see any use for this application. Designers are a finiky bunch, and are generally unlikly to learn an app if they don’t have to, developers will *NOT* use the code generated by it, and companies are already flaky about spending money on apps they need- and this is one they definitly don’t ‘need’.
    This app needs to have some ‘killer app’ feature. So far it’s just like the ‘design’ view in Dreamweaver, and about as usefull too.

  2. Alan: what is wrong with “Design” view in Dreamweaver?
    When developing page content, I mainly use this view. (I’m still using 2004 MX, so perhaps it has changed since then).

  3. Alan – I see value in it for me but I don’t know their target audience. What will be valuable to me is to see the code that is generated for transitions and effects. I can make buttons and graphics easily in MXML which means I don’t have to “code” the look. It also means I don’t have to jump through hoops to get transitions and effects. I want to see them and work with them in real time. I want tools to help me tweak the ux. I think developers are designers by heart, just through a different medium.
    What I don’t like is ambiguity behind Catalyst. What are it’s specific goals? I want to know the real specific reasons it’s being made and the goals for the next 2 versions. A troubling issue with Flex development is that its being repurposed each version. Flex 4 goals are vastly different than 3 as were 2.
    BTW I said it’d be nice to have all the design features in Flex but it might work just as well with all the developer features in Fireworks…

  4. I’m going to respectfully disagree with Alan on this one. The reason you can’t get designers to get interested in Flex is that it is currently wayyyy to complicated to create a completely custom looking Flex application. It feels incredibly constrictive working with the existing themes – and it’s incredibly easy to spot a Flex-based site or application.
    What’s exciting about Catalyst is the fact that a designer can mock up all of the motion and interactivity in an app (and create all of the artwork in PS, AI, FW, etc.). The look, feel and motion of the UI is squarely in the designers hands, where it should be. We’re not backed into a corner where we’re forced to work with pre-existing components…we can easily create custom ones.
    I can completely understand the point about the code though – I’ve been griping about what Dreamweaver writes for years. Mayhaps more developers should pledge their time in a prerelease cycle so that FC can generate code that every one is happy with (i know that’s kind of idealistic, but we can hope can’t we?).
    IMHO, Flash Catalyst is going to be a game changer. I’ve been longing for an app like this since the launch of Flex. I’m just hoping I can get into the prerelease program. 😉

  5. As a finiky designer, I actually agree with Alan. The dev guys I usually “hand stuff off to” were always so annoyed with DreamWeaver and all the MM javascript, it just got uncomfortable. Lots of re-dos just to make them happy. They already looked down on me for changing link-colors everyday (I had to see it in action before I’d know!). I eventually learned enough to switch to text-based html and css and everyone works much smoother now.
    So while I still think Thermo is great for someone like me to make app components etc, I totally understand the real-world annoyance to the dev department.
    [I don’t know the current thinking, but I strongly hope that Catalyst makes it possible to use one’s own code, not just generated code. I as a designer should be able to say “Turn this graphic into a scrollbar” and have my team’s custom scrollbar code used. I’ve been making this point for a long time. (As someone from the graphical side of the house/brain, I can’t stand the prospect of not being able to use great conversion/tagging tools, all because they don’t create Real Man’s Code(TM).) –J.]

  6. I agree and disagree with the previous post.
    In my mind, FXG is the star of the show. Catalyst is just a GUI middle man between the designer and developer. Some shops wont need the middle man, but some might find it useful and even comforting (it even bares the “Flash” name). It really depends on the staff and their work flow.

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