By this point in the book, we hope you have started to see Flash as being more than "eye candy in motion." Although there is no doubt that Flash MX 2004 plays a supporting role in web animations and offers the developer site ideas beyond the simple static page, today's Flash MX 2004 has evolved from being regarded as a toy into a serious web authoring tool.
This old impression is so prevalent because most developers' first exposure to Flash is the creation of a timeline-based animation. This current release of Flash, with its improved ability to connect to the Flash Communication Server, is just another step in the application's evolution to a robust application development environment carried by HTML. Although today's HTML has the ability to display dynamic data, the output is still rather static on the screen.
This is not to suggest that HTML is somehow an inferior technology. Its purpose is, in very simple terms, to tell the browser where things are on a web page and how they look. It is quite a powerful language when coupled with Cascading Style Sheets and even ColdFusion MX. When it comes to Flash, HTML only has to tell the browser, "Here is where the Flash animation is located on the page." The Flash Player then picks up the conversation.
This way, Flash is able to access dynamic data and create full-fledged online applications that enhance the user experience because the user never needs to leave the web page. Suddenly Flash-driven web applications start feeling like desktop applications.