Trials and tribulations of learning Adobe Flash CS4

I’m trying to get my head around a new application – Adobe Flash CS4. Usually when I pick up something new I find it fairly easy to catch on to how it works. I use a blend of “play” with it, look at demo’s/tutes if available, and use the manual for reference – to find out about specific tools/aspects or check how to do something I’ve forgotten. From the start I like to work with something real – I loathe tutorials that give you a set-piece to work through because they never do what I want to achieve and usually give a simplistic view! When faced with these I usually try and do something of my own and just follow the recipe with different ingredients.

With CS4 I am having problems – I don’t find it intuitive. Think my mind works very differently to Adobe’s – probably doesn’t help that I don’t use other Adobe “stuff”. Have used Photoshop a bit but usually find that it is overpowerful for my needs (usually just a bit of simple pic editing). Also suspect I would find it easier if I was used to Macs – never used one – as I think maybe it was really developed for Mac. Also for me a major issue is that there appears to be no text based manual or help system. It doesn’t have to be printed/printable – but I really need a searchable reference text where I can look at an index or search for a term/tool and find out how to use it. I am finding the video tutorials are OK but limited in scope and not flexible in use. Without a manual there is no way to check on something you are not sure about other than to go through the entire video again (if you can remember wich one you need to revisit). If anyone knows of a basic user guide/manual for CS4 available online from Adobe and I’ve missed it I would be very grateful if you could let me know – and I will then grovel suitably!

I don’t find I learn very well when forced into someone else’s concept of how I should learn something. I feel that this is what is happening to me with CS4 and the “follow these steps” approach. I am more of an exploratory/discovery type learner then a learn by rote person. It also seems that part of the objective may be to encourage people who are trying to learn the application to spend money on additional resources to help them learn. While I feel that it is fine to produce as many additional training materials as required and indeed to sell them to those who need them, I do feel that it is unfair to customers to fail to provide a basic user manual in some form. I expected to find this on the second CD in the pack – however there are just “tasters” of training for a whole range of Adobe products. I also found that much of the internet available training material from Adobe shows a Mac screen not a Windows screen and is still heavily focussed on CS3 – there has been a major change in functionality from CS3 to CS4. I know I will eventually get my head round all the “how to’s” but at the moment it is very frustrating!