Flash CS3 "Save As" Gotcha (and Adobe's nasty "Save" trick)

Be careful with the Save As feature in Flash CS3: it's horribly broken.

On any other Mac application, if you choose to Save As, your file dialogue will default to the folder that the file is currently saved in. Not so in Flash CS3, where it defaults to the folder that you last saved any file into. So, if you save FLA A into Folder A and then do a Save As on FLA B (which is in Folder B), it will default to saving it in Folder A. This can result in having different versions of files saved in weird and wonderful locations on your drive which, in turn, can lead to lots of head scratching and the wasting of otherwise valuable and potentially productive time.

To make things worse, it will also forget the version of Flash that the FLA was saved for. So, if you saved an FLA for Flash 8 (because you need to share it with people who are still using Flash 8 Professional), it will randomly forget this.

So that's the problem with Save As, but it gets worse when you look at a related but different feature: plain old Save (File -> Save). And this time, the problem is not a bug; it's by design. When you try to save a Flash 8 FLA in Flash CS3, Flash will try and save it in CS3 format every time, forcing you to use the (broken) Save As feature until you finally can't take it anymore and save it as CS3, thereby locking out anyone with Flash 8 Professional from editing your FLA (which is exactly what Adobe wants you to do so it can sell more licenses of Flash CS3). Of course, this could also backfire. Since working in a mixed team where some members have Flash 8 Professional and others have Flash CS3 is so frustrating, some companies may choose to keep everyone on Flash 8 Professional for as long as possible.

Unfortunately, for the most part, the way the Save feature works is a very effective way to get people to upgrade, usability be damned. It's a cheap and nasty trick and I do hope that Adobe reconsider this tactic and stop using it in the future. But it does work, and virally at that (by pissing people off so much that everyone in a team/company is forced to upgrade when one person does), so I won't be holding my breath on that one.

Regardless of the "as designed" behavior of the Save feature (File -> Save), the Save As (File -> Save As) behavior I described above is most definitely a bug and I do hope that it gets fixed in the next point release. I rely on the Save As feature working correctly so much that I sometimes use it to make sure that I'm working on the correct version of a file.

Update: You can command-click (right-click) the name of the FLA on the title bar of the Flash IDE to see which folder it's in. This works with nearly every OS X application. Thanks to Jay, in the comments, for the tip.

Please fix Save As. And, if you really want to be nice, change the Save feature too so that it doesn't automatically try to save Flash 8 FLA files in CS3 format. What you lose in upgrade sales through frustration, you may gain in goodwill. Or maybe I'm just naïve like that...