Planning the look of a site is just as important as planning the logic and data contained in the site. There are some definite steps to be followed as you move through the approval process with your client.
We started with modeling the server-side workflow for Flash MX 2004. We showed how all communications between the Flash Player in the browser and the database pass through an HTTP Communication Layer and presented several ideas regarding how to make the Flash Player's trip through the HTTP Communications Layer as efficient as possible.
We explained how to map a Flash login using Freehand MX and the use of "data buckets" and simple shapes to indicate server interaction in the data flow.
From there we moved into wireframing a site and showed how an artist's sketch can be used in Freehand MX, Fireworks MX 2004, and Dreamweaver MX 2004 to create wireframes. We also showed how the Libraries of wireframe symbols created in Fireworks and Freehand can be shared with other members of the team.
From there, we demonstrated the MX 2004 workflow as a wireframe page created in Freehand MX, sliced, and given links in Fireworks MX 2004. We then showed how Fireworks slices can quickly be added to a Dreamweaver MX 2004 document using the Quick Export button in Fireworks and how links can be added to Fireworks slices through the use of hot spots added in Dreamweaver.
We also explained the way to move from wireframe models to comprehensive designs that present the look of the page using graphics and text. We then dissected a rather simple Fireworks MX 2004 page, paying particular attention to its underlying complexity in layering and the reasons behind that decision.
The final section of the chapter essentially focused on that old adage: "Work smarter, not harder." The new Freehand MX Actions tool is a good example of that adage. We presented a rather thorough review of a new tool that not only links objects and pages in multiple Freehand pages, but also adds Flash ActionScript interactivity to the mix. From there you can actually publish an .swf file that can be added to a Dreamweaver MX 2004 page. Suddenly, the creation of click through sites for clients becomes something that can be done in a couple of hours, not a couple of days.
This completes the first section of the book. By focusing on the production aspects of building a dynamic site, from file naming to "clickthrus," you lay the groundwork for success. By methodically planning each bit of data and each step of the process leading up to assembly and content creation, you have most likely discovered that the creation of a dynamic site involves more than launching the applications in Studio MX 2004 and going to work. There is a lot of paper involved, from creative briefs to sketches, but the time spent patiently mapping and charting the data flow and logic actually reduces production time when the team kicks into gear.
Now that we know what the site looks like and how it will work, let's go build a dynamic facility tour for the Oakbridge Community Center.