Flash used to be a core part of the internet, because for a time it was the only practical way to produce animations on websites.
It was also easy to use which made it attractive to designers and advertisers and at one time it seemed almost every site was decorated by Flash banners and adverts. But the arrival of HTML5 and CSS3, plus worries about security vulnerabilities, means that Flash has been on the decline for some time.
If you’ve used any sort of graphics or video editing package in the past then WebAnimator’s interface will feel immediately familiar. If you’ve created Flash animations you will feel even more at home as elements like the Stage, Scenes and Timeline even have the same names.
You can add objects to the Stage – the central grid area of the screen – using a simple drag and drop interface, then using keyframes on the timeline you can make them disappear, move, change colour, zoom them in and out, and so on. You can use simple geometrical shapes but you can also add existing bitmap or jpeg images and work with those.
Of course you can add text too and WebAnimator gives you access to the Google Fonts Directory so you can access a wide range of web fonts safe in the knowledge that they’ll work on other systems. The Plus version also lets you add audio and video files.
Each element you place on the Stage has its own properties depending on its type. You can change opacity and rotation for example, add drop shadows, reflections and more. There are a number of default templates allowing you to easily set up things like slide shows and product presentations with minimum effort.
You can add a selection of pre-defined live animations like fade outs and zooms, plus you can create your own customised effects using key frames if you prefer. Once an animation is in place it’s possible to fine tune its timing from the timeline. It’s also possible to add user interactions so that an element will react to a mouse click or hover. This is handy for making website buttons so that they change colour when the mouse passes over them or after they’re clicked.
You can add audio and video files but the lack of a standard format across all browsers means that, currently, you need to make different formats available to ensure the user is served with the right version. This isn’t the program’s fault but it nonetheless feels a bit clunky.
WebAnimator Plus is easy to get started with if you’re new to creating animations, but there’s plenty of powerful functionality available if you dig deeper. You may find you’re sent scurrying for help on some of the more advanced options though as they’re not always intuitive. Fortunately there’s a comprehensive PDF manual included in the package which also has details on integrating WebAnimator’s code with your website.
WebAnimator Plus costs £64.99 or there’s a cheaper basic version for £44.99 that lacks some functions like the ability to create animated buttons or embed audio and video.
Although it may seem expensive it’s a very capable package and if you’re serious about adding animated content to your website it’s well worth a look. There’s a 14-day trial available from http://www.webanimator.com/ to allow you to give it a go.