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Working with
Flash Documents

Creating or opening a document and setting properties

Using document tabs for multiple documents

Saving Flash documents

Saving and version control

About adding media content

About creating motion and interactivity

About components

Managing media assets with the library

Working with library items

Working with folders in the Library panel

Sorting items in the Library panel

Editing items in the library

Renaming library items

Deleting library items

Finding unused library items

Updating imported files in the Library panel

Working with common libraries

About ActionScript

About Multiple Timelines and levels

About nested movie clips

About parent and child movie clips

About movie clip hierarchy

Using absolute and relative target paths

About absolute paths

About relative paths

Writing target paths

Organizing Timelines and the library

About scenes

Working with scenes

Using the Movie Explorer

Using Find and Replace

Finding and replacing text

Finding and replacing fonts

Finding and replacing colors

Finding and replacing symbols

Finding and replacing sound, video, or bitmap files

Using the Undo, Redo, and Repeat menu commands

Using the History panel

Undoing steps with the History panel

Replaying steps with the History panel

Copying and pasting steps between documents

Saving documents when you undo steps

Automating tasks with the Commands menu

About steps that can't be used in commands

Creating and managing commands

Running commands`

Getting more commands

Creating custom keyboard shortcuts

About customizing context menus in Flash documents

About the links menu in Flash Player

Speeding up document display

Optimizing Flash documents

Testing document download performance

Printing from the Flash authoring tool

Creating or opening a document and setting properties

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You can create a new document or open a previously saved document as you work in Flash. In Windows, you can use the New File button to open a document of the same type as the last document created.

To set the size, frame rate, background color, and other properties of a new or existing document, you use the Document Properties dialog box. You can also use the Property inspector to set properties for an existing document. The Property inspector makes it easy to access and change the most commonly used attributes of a document. For more information on the Property inspector, see Using panels and the Property inspector in Getting Started with Flash.

You can open a Flash template as a new document. You can select from standard templates that come with Flash or open a template you have already saved. For information on saving a document file as a template, see Saving Flash documents.

In the On Launch section of the Preferences dialog box, you can select an option to specify what document Flash opens when you start the application: You select New Document to open a new, blank document, Last Documents Open to open the documents that were open when you last quit Flash, or No Document to start Flash without opening a document. For more information, see Setting preferences in Flash in Getting Started with Flash.

You can open a new window as you work.

To create a new document:

  1. Select File > New.

  2. On the General tab, select Flash Document.

To create a new document with the New File button (Windows only):

  • Click the New File button in the main toolbar to create a new document of the same type as the last document created.

To open an existing document:

  1. Select File > Open.

  2. In the Open dialog box, navigate to the file or enter the path to the file in the Go To text box.

  3. Click Open.

To set properties for a new or existing document in the Document Properties dialog box:

  1. With the document open, select Modify > Document.

    The Document Properties dialog box appears.

  2. To embed metadata within your SWF files, improving the ability of web-based search engines to return meaningful search results for Flash content, do the following:

        * Enter a descriptive title in the Title text box.

        * Enter a description in the Description text box.

    Descriptions can contain searchable keywords, author and copyright information, and short descriptions about the content and its purpose.

    The search metadata is based on the RDF (Resource Description Framework) and XMP (Extensible Metadata Platform) specifications and is stored in Flash in a W3C-compliant format.

    NOTE: Flash lets you make the settings you specify in the Document Properties dialog box the default settings for any Flash document that you create. The exception to this is the Title and Description, which you need to specify for each Flash document that you create.

  3. For Frame Rate, enter the number of animation frames to appear every second.

    For most computer-displayed animations, especially those playing from a website, 8 frames per second (fps) to 12 fps is sufficient (12 fps is the default frame rate).

  4. For Dimensions, do one of the following:

    * To specify the Stage size in pixels, enter values in the Width and Height text boxes.

    The default document size is 550 x 400 pixels. The minimum size is 1 x 1 pixels; the maximum is 2880 x 2880 pixels.
    * To set the Stage size so that there is equal space around the content on all sides, click the Contents button to the right of Match. To minimize document size, align all elements to the upper left corner of the Stage, and then click Contents.
    * To set the Stage size to the maximum available print area, click Printer. This area is determined by the paper size minus the current margin selected in the Margins area of the Page Setup dialog box (Windows) or the Print Margins dialog box (Macintosh).
    * To set the Stage size to the default size, click Default.

  5. To set the background color of your document, click the triangle in the Background Color box and select a color from the palette.

  6. To specify the unit of measure for rulers that you can display along the top and side of the application window, select an option from the pop-up menu in the upper right. For more information, see Using the grid, guides, and rulers in Getting Started with Flash.(This setting also determines the units used in the Info panel.)

  7. Do one of the following:

        * To make the new settings the default properties for your new document only, click OK.
        * To make the new settings the default properties for all new documents, click Make Default.

To create a new document from a template:

  1. Select File > New.

  2. Click the Templates tab.

  3. Select a category from the Category list, and select a document from the Category Items list.

  4. Click OK.

    To open a new window in the current document:

        * Select Window > Duplicate Window.

To change document properties with the Property inspector:

  1. Deselect all assets, then select the Selection tool.

  2. If the Property inspector is not visible, select Window > Properties.

  3. Click the Size control to display the Document Properties dialog box and access its settings.

  4. To select a background color, click the triangle in the Background color box and select a color from the palette.

  5. For Frame Rate, enter the number of animation frames to appear every second.

  6. For Publish, click the Settings button to display the Publish Settings dialog box with the Flash tab selected. For more information on the Publish Settings dialog box, see Publishing Flash documents.

  7. If you are developing content for mobile devices such as cell phones, click the Settings button to display the Device Settings dialog box.

The Device Settings dialog box lets you choose devices for use in testing mobile content and provides information on ActionScript support for each device you select. For more information, see the Flash Lite Developer Guide.

 

NOTE: The Device Settings button can be used only if your publish settings are set to a supported version of Flash Lite.

 

Using document tabs for multiple documents

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When you open multiple documents, tabs at the top of the Document window identify the open documents and let you easily navigate among them. Tabs appear only when documents are maximized in the Document window.

To make a document active, you click its tab. By default, tabs appear in the order in which the documents were created. You cannot drag tabs to change their order.

To view a document when multiple documents are open:

    * Click the document tab.

 

Saving Flash documents

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You can save a Flash FLA document using its current name and location or save the document using a different name or location. You can revert to the last saved version of a document. You can also save Flash 8 content as a Flash MX 2004 document.

When a document contains unsaved changes, an asterisk (*) appears after the document name in the document title bar, the application title bar, and the document tab (Windows only). When you save the document, the asterisk is removed.

You can save a document as a template, which lets you use the document as the starting point for a new Flash document (this is similar to how you would use templates in word-processing or web page-editing applications). For information on using templates to create new documents, see Creating or opening a document and setting properties.

When you save a document using the Save command, Flash performs a quick save, which appends new information to the existing file. When you save using the Save As command, Flash arranges the new information into the file, creating a smaller file on disk.

If you quit Flash while one or more documents with unsaved changes are open, Flash prompts you to save the document or documents with the changes.

When you delete items from a document by undoing commands, you can permanently remove the items from the document and reduce the document file size, using the File > Save and Compact command. See Saving documents when you undo steps.


To save a Flash document:

  1. Do one of the following:
       * To overwrite the current version on the disk, select File > Save.
       * To save the document in a different location and/or with a different name, or to compress the document, select File > Save As.

  2. If you selected the Save As command, or if the document has never been saved before, enter the filename and location.

  3. Click Save.

To revert to the last saved version of a document:

 * Select File > Revert.

To save a document as a template:

  1. Select File > Save As Template.

  2. In the Save As Template dialog box, enter a name for the template in the Name text box.

  3. Select a category from the Category pop-up menu, or enter a name to create a new category.

  4. Enter a description of the template in the Description text box (as many as 255 characters).

    The description appears when the template is selected in the New Document dialog box.

  5. Click OK.

To save a document as a Flash MX 2004 document:

  1. Select File > Save As.

  2. Enter the filename and location.

  3. Select Flash MX 2004 Document from the Format pop-up menu.

    WARNING
    If an alert message indicates that content will be deleted if you save in Flash MX 2004 format, click Save As Flash MX 2004 to continue. This might happen if your document contains features, such as graphic effects or behaviors, that are available only in Flash 8. Flash does not preserve these features when you save the document in Flash MX 2004 format.

  4. Click Save.

To save documents when quitting Flash:

  1. Select File > Exit (Windows) or Flash > Quit Flash (Macintosh).

  2. If you have documents open with unsaved changes, Flash prompts you to save or discard the changes for each document.
        * Click Yes to save the changes and close the document.
        * Click No to close the document without saving the changes.

 

Saving and version control

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When you save your FLA files, it is important to consider using a consistent naming scheme for your documents. This is particularly important if you save multiple versions of a single project.

Use intuitive, easy-to-read names for your files. Do not use spaces, capitalization, or special characters. Only use letters, numbers, dashes, and underscores. If you save multiple versions of the same file, devise a consistent numbering system such as site_menu01.swf, site_menu02.swf, and so on. Many designers and developers choose to use all lowercase characters in their naming schemes. Many Flash designers and developers adopt a naming system that uses a noun-verb or adjective-noun combination for naming files. Two examples of naming schemes are as follows: class_planning.swf and my_project.swf. Avoid cryptic file names.

It is good practice to save new versions of a FLA file when you build an extensive project. The following are different ways that you can save new versions of files:

   * Select File > Save As, and save a new version of your document.
   * Use version control software (such as SourceSafe, CVS, or Subversion) to control your Flash documents.

NOTE: SourceSafe on Windows is the only supported version control software that integrates with the Project panel. You can use other version control software packages with FLA documents, but not necessarily in the Project panel.

Some problems might occur if you work with only one FLA file and do not save versions during the process of creating the file. It is possible that files might bloat in size because of the history that's saved in the FLA file or that a file might become corrupt (as with any software you use) while you are working on it. If any of these unfortunate events occur, you have other versions of your file to use if you save multiple versions throughout your development.

You might also encounter problems when you create an application. Perhaps you made a series of changes to the file and you do not want to use these changes. Or you might delete parts of the file that you want to use later in your development. If you save multiple versions while developing, you have an earlier version available if you need to revert.

There are several options that you can use to save a file: Save, Save As, and Save and Compact. When you save a file, Flash does not analyze all the data before creating an optimized version of the document. Instead, the changes you make to the document are appended to the end of the FLA file's data, which shortens the time it takes to save the document. When you select Save As and type a new name for the file, Flash writes a new and optimized version of the file, which results in a smaller file size. When you select Save and Compact, Flash creates a new optimized file and deletes the original file.

CAUTION: When you select Save and Compact, you cannot undo any changes you made before you saved the file. If you select Save when working with a document, you can undo changes made prior to that save point. Because Save and Compact deletes the earlier version of the file and replaces it with the optimized version, you cannot undo earlier changes.

Remember to use Save As frequently and to type a new file name for your document after every milestone in your project if you are not using version control software to create backups of your FLA file. If you encounter major problems while working on the document, you have an earlier version to use instead of losing everything.

There are many software packages that let users use version control with their files, which enables teams to work efficiently and reduce errors (such as overwriting files or working on old versions of a document). Popular version control software programs include CVS, Subversion, and SourceSafe. As with other documents, you can use these programs to organize the Flash documents outside Flash.

 

About adding media content

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You can add media content to a Flash document in the Flash authoring environment. You can create vector artwork or text directly in Flash; import vector artwork, bitmaps, video, and sound; and create symbols, reusable media content such as buttons.

You can also use ActionScript to add media content to a document dynamically. For more information on ActionScript, see Learning ActionScript 2.0 in Flash.

Media content that you add in the authoring environment includes the following:

Vector artwork You can create vector artwork with the Flash drawing and painting tools or import artwork from another application. See Drawing and Using Imported Artwork.

Text You can create static text, text whose contents and appearance you determine when you author the document. You can also create dynamic text fields, which display text that updates dynamically during runtime, and input text fields, which let users enter text for forms or other purposes. See Working with Text.

Bitmaps You can import bitmaps from other applications, use a bitmap as a file, convert the bitmap to vector artwork, and modify it in other ways. See Using Imported Artwork.

Video You can import video clips from other applications as embedded or linked files, and select compression and editing options. See Working with Video.

Sound You can import sound files from other applications and use them as event sounds or streaming sounds in a document. See Working with Sound.

Symbols You can use symbols, objects that you create once and reuse multiple times. Symbols can be movie clips, buttons, or graphics. Each symbol has its own Timeline. See Using Symbols, Instances, and Library Assets.

 

About creating motion and interactivity

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Flash provides several ways for you to easily add motion and interactivity to your documents, which creates a compelling user experience. For example, you can make visual elements, such as text, graphics, buttons, or movie clips, move or disappear; you can link to another URL; and you can load another document or movie clip into the current document. The following features let you add motion and interactivity:

Timeline effects
are prebuilt animations that you can apply to text, graphics, bitmaps, and buttons, to add motion to visual elements with little effort. See Using Timeline effects.

Tweened and frame-by-frame animation
is motion that you create by placing graphics on frames in the Timeline. In tweened animation, you create the beginning and ending frames of the animation, and Flash creates the intermediary frames. In frame-by-frame animation, you create graphics for each frame in the animation. See About tweened animation and About frame-by-frame animation.

Behaviors
are prewritten ActionScript scripts that you add to an object to control that object. Behaviors let you add the power, control, and flexibility of ActionScript coding to your document without having to create the ActionScript code. You can use behaviors to control movie clips and video and sound files. See the following sections:

  • Controlling instances with behaviors.

  • Controlling video playback using behaviors.

  • Controlling sound playback using behaviors.

In screen-based documents, you can use behaviors to control screens. See Creating controls and transitions for screens with behaviors (Flash Professional only).

NOTE :
You can use ActionScript to create complex or customized interactivity. See Writing and Editing ActionScript 2.0 in Learning ActionScript 2.0 in Flash.

 

About components

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Components are movie clips with parameters that let you modify their appearance and behavior. A component can provide a wide range of functionality. A component can be a simple user interface control, such as a radio button or a check box, or it can be a complicated control element, such as a media controller or a scroll pane. A component can even be nonvisual, such as the focus manager that lets you control which object receives focus in an application.

Components let you separate coding and design. They also let you reuse code, and download components created by other developers. For more information, see "Getting Started with Components" in Using Components.

 

Managing media assets with the library

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The library in a Flash document stores media assets that you create or import for use in a Flash document. The library stores imported files such as video clips, sound clips, bitmaps, and imported vector artwork as well as symbols. A symbol is a graphic, button, or movie clip that you create once and can reuse multiple times. You can also create a font symbol. For information on symbols, see Using Symbols, Instances, and Library Assets and Creating font symbols.

The library also contains components that you have added to your document. Components appear in the library as compiled clips. For more information, see Components in the Library panel in Using Components.

The Library panel displays a scroll list with the names of all items in the library, which lets you view and organize these elements as you work. An icon next to an item's name in the Library panel indicates the item's file type. The Library panel has an options menu with commands for managing library items.

You can open the library of any Flash document while you are working in Flash, to make the library items from that file available for the current document.

You can create permanent libraries in your Flash application that is available whenever you start Flash. Flash also includes several sample libraries containing buttons, graphics, movie clips, and sounds that you can add to your Flash documents. The sample Flash libraries and permanent libraries that you create are listed in the Window > Common Libraries submenu. For more information, see Working with common libraries.

You can export library assets as a SWF file to a URL to create a runtime-shared library. This lets you link to the library assets from Flash documents that import symbols using runtime sharing. For more information, see Using shared library assets.

To display the Library panel:

  • Select Window > Library.

To open the library from another Flash file:

  1. Select File > Import > Open External Library.

  2. Navigate to the Flash file whose library you want to open and click Open.

    The selected file's library opens in the current document, with the filename at the top of the Library panel. To use items from the selected file's library in the current document, drag the items to the current document's Library panel or to the Stage.

To resize the Library panel, do any of the following:

  • Drag the lower right corner of the panel.

  • Click the Wide State button to enlarge the Library panel so it shows all the columns.

  • Click the Narrow State button to reduce the width of the Library panel.

To change the width of columns:

  • Position the pointer between column headers and drag to resize.

    You cannot change the order of columns.

To use the Library panel options menu:

  1. Click the options menu button in the Library panel's title bar to view the options menu.

  2. Click an item in the menu.

This section contains the following topics:

  • Working with library items

  • Working with folders in the Library panel

  • Sorting items in the Library panel

  • Editing items in the library

  • Renaming library items

  • Deleting library items

  • Finding unused library items

  • Updating imported files in the Library panel

  • Working with common libraries

 

Working with library items

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When you select an item in the Library panel, a thumbnail preview of the item appears at the top of the Library panel. If the selected item is animated or is a sound file, you can use the Play button in the library preview window or the Controller to preview the item. You can use folders in the library to organize library items. See Working with folders in the Library panel.

To use a library item in the current document:

  • Drag the item from the Library panel onto the Stage.

    The item is added to the current layer.

To convert an object to a symbol in the library:

  • Drag the item from the Stage onto the current Library panel.

To use a library item from the current document in another document:

  • Drag the item from the library or Stage into the library or Stage for another document.

To copy library items from a different document:

  1. Select the document that contains the library items.

  2. Select the library items in the Library panel.

  3. Select Edit > Copy to copy the library item.

  4. Select the document that you want to copy the library items to.

  5. Select that document's Library panel.

  6. Select Edit > Paste to paste the library items in the Library panel.

 

Working with folders in the Library panel

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You can organize items in the Library panel using folders, much like in the Windows Explorer or the Macintosh Finder. When you create a new symbol, it is stored in the selected folder. If no folder is selected, the symbol is stored at the root of the library.

To create a new folder:

  • Click the New Folder button at the bottom of the Library panel.

To open or close a folder, do one of the following:

  • Double-click the folder.

  • Select the folder and select Expand Folder or Collapse Folder from the Library options menu.

To open or close all folders:

  • Select Expand All Folders or Collapse All Folders from the Library options menu.

To move an item between folders:

  • Drag the item from one folder to another.

    If an item with the same name exists in the new location, Flash prompts you to replace it with the item you are moving.

 

Sorting items in the Library panel

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Columns in the Library panel list the name of an item, its type, the number of times it's used in the file, its linkage status and identifier (if the item is associated with a shared library or is exported for ActionScript), and the date on which it was last modified.

You can sort items in the Library panel alphanumerically by any column. Sorting items lets you view related items together. Items are sorted within folders.

To sort items in the Library panel:

  • Click the column header to sort by that column. Click the triangle button to the right of the column headers to reverse the sort order.

 

Editing items in the library

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To edit library items, including imported files, you select options from the Library options menu.

You can also update imported files after editing them in an external editor, using the Update option in the Library options menu. For more information, see Updating imported files in the Library panel.

To edit a library item:

  1. Select the item in the Library panel.

  2. Select one of the following from the Library options menu:

    • Select Edit to edit an item in Flash.

    • Select Edit With and then select an external application to edit the item.

      NOTE : When starting a supported external editor, Flash opens the original imported document.

 

Renaming library items

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You can rename items in the library. Changing the library item name of an imported file does not change the filename.

To rename a library item, do one of the following:

  • Double-click the item's name and enter the new name in the text box.

  • Select the item and select Rename from the Library options menu, and then enter the new name in the text box.

  • Right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Macintosh) the item and select Rename from the context menu, and then enter the new name in the text box.

 

Deleting library items

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When you delete an item from the library, all instances or occurrences of that item in the document are also deleted. The Use Count column in the Library panel indicates whether an item is in use.

To delete a library item:

  • Select the item and click the trash can icon at the bottom of the Library panel.

  • In the warning box that appears, select Delete Symbol Instances (the default) to delete the library item and all its instances. Deselect the option to delete only the symbol, which leaves the instances on the Stage.

  • Click Delete.

 

Finding unused library items

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To make organizing a document easier, you can locate unused library items and delete them.

NOTE : It is not necessary to delete unused library items to reduce a Flash document's file size because unused library items are not included in the SWF file. However, items linked for export are included in the SWF file. For more information, see Using shared library assets.

To find unused library items :

  • Do one of the following:

    • Select Unused Items from the Library options menu.

    • Sort library items by the Use Count column.

      See Sorting items in the Library panel.

 

Updating imported files in the Library panel

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If you use an external editor to modify files that you have imported into Flash, such as bitmaps or sound files, you can update the files in Flash without reimporting them. You can also update symbols that you have imported from external Flash documents. Updating an imported file replaces its contents with the contents of the external file.

To update an imported file:

  1. Select the imported file in the Library panel.

  2. Select Update from the Library options menu.

 

Working with common libraries

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You can use the sample common libraries included with Flash to add buttons or sounds to your documents. You can also create custom common libraries, which you can then use with any documents that you create.

To use an item from a common library in a document:

  1. Select Window > Common Libraries, and select a library from the submenu.

  2. Drag an item from the common library into the library for the current document.

To create a common library for your Flash application:

  1. Create a Flash file with a library containing the symbols that you want to include in the permanent library.

  2. Place the Flash file in the Libraries folder located in the Flash application folder on your hard disk.

    NOTE : The Libraries folder is located in the application-level configuration folder, one of several configuration folders placed on your hard drive when you install Flash. For the location of configuration folders, see Configuration folders installed with Flash in Getting Started with Flash.

 

About ActionScript

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ActionScript is the Flash scripting language that lets you add complex interactivity, playback control, and data display to a Flash document. You can add ActionScript within the Flash authoring environment using the Actions panel or create external ActionScript files using an external editor.

You don't need to understand every ActionScript element to begin scripting; if you have a clear goal, you can start building scripts with simple actions. You can incorporate new elements of the language as you learn them to accomplish more complicated tasks.

As with other scripting languages, ActionScript follows its own rules of syntax, reserves keywords, provides operators, and lets you use variables to store and retrieve information. ActionScript includes built-in objects and functions and lets you create custom objects and functions. For more information on ActionScript, see Learning ActionScript 2.0 in Flash.
ActionScript is based on the ECMAscript specification (ECMA-262), the international standard for the ECMAscript programming language. ActionScript offers a subset of ECMAscript's functionality. For more information about ECMAscript, see the ECMA International website at www.ecma-international.org.

The popular JavaScript language is rooted in the same standard. For this reason, developers who are familiar with JavaScript should find ActionScript immediately familiar and have no trouble learning it quickly.

 

About Multiple Timelines and levels

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Flash Player has a stacking order of levels. Every Flash document has a main Timeline located at level 0 in Flash Player. You can use the loadMovie action to load other Flash documents (SWF files) into Flash Player at different levels. For more information, see loadMovie (MovieClip.loadMovie method) in ActionScript 2.0 Language Reference.

If you load documents into levels above level 0, the documents stack on top of one another like drawings on transparent paper; when there is no content on the Stage, you can see through to the content on lower levels. If you load a document into level 0, it replaces the main Timeline. Each document loaded into a level of Flash Player has its own Timeline.

When you add a movie clip instance to a document, the movie clip Timeline is nested inside the main Timeline of the document. You can also nest a movie clip inside another movie clip. For more information, see About nested movie clips.

You can use ActionScript to send a message from one Timeline to another. You must use a target path to specify the location of the Timeline to which you are sending the message. For more information, see Using absolute and relative target paths.

 

About nested movie clips

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Flash documents can have movie clip instances in their Timelines. Each movie clip instance has its own Timeline. You can place a movie clip instance inside another movie clip instance.

NOTE : A movie clip is a type of symbol. For information on adding movie clips to a document, see Using Symbols, Instances, and Library Assets.

A movie clip nested inside another movie clip (or inside a document) is a child of that movie clip or document. Relationships between nested movie clips are hierarchical: modifications made to the parent will affect the child. You can use ActionScript to send messages between movie clips and their Timelines. To control a movie clip Timeline from another Timeline, you must specify the location of the movie clip with a target path. In the Movie Explorer, you can view the hierarchy of nested movie clips in a document.

You can also use behaviors, which are ActionScript scripts, to control movie clips. For more information, see Controlling instances with behaviors.

For information on working with nested movie clips, see the following sections:

  • About parent and child movie clips

  • About movie clip hierarchy

  • Using absolute and relative target paths

  • Using the Movie Explorer

  • Organizing Timelines and the library

 

About parent and child movie clips

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When you place a movie clip instance on another movie clip's Timeline, the placed movie clip is the child and the other movie clip is the parent. The parent instance contains the child instance. The root Timeline for each level is the parent of all the movie clips on its level, and because it is the topmost Timeline, it has no parent.

A child Timeline nested inside another Timeline is affected by changes made to the parent Timeline. For example, if portland is a child of oregon and you change the _xscale property of oregon, then the scale of portland also changes.

Timelines can send messages to each other with ActionScript. For example, an action on the last frame of one movie clip can tell another movie clip to play. To use ActionScript to control a Timeline, you must use a target path to specify the location of the Timeline. For more information, see Writing target paths.

 

About movie clip hierarchy

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The parent-child relationships of movie clips are hierarchical. To understand this hierarchy, consider the hierarchy on a computer: the hard disk has a root directory (or folder) and subdirectories. The root directory is analogous to the main Timeline of a Flash document: it is the parent of everything else. The subdirectories are analogous to movie clips.

You can use the movie clip hierarchy in Flash to organize related objects. Any change you make to a parent movie clip also affects its children.

For example, you could create a Flash document containing a car that moves across the Stage. You can use a movie clip symbol to represent the car and set up a motion tween to move it across the Stage.

To add wheels that rotate, you can create a movie clip for a car wheel, and create two instances of this movie clip, named frontWheel and backWheel. Then you can place the wheels on the car movie clip's Timeline--not on the main Timeline. As children of car, frontWheel and backWheel are affected by any changes made to car; they move with the car as it tweens across the Stage.
To make both wheel instances spin, you can set up a motion tween that rotates the wheel symbol. Even after you change frontWheel and backWheel, they continue to be affected by the tween on their parent movie clip, car; the wheels spin, but they also move with the parent movie clip car across the Stage.

 

Using absolute and relative target paths

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You can use ActionScript to send messages from one Timeline to another. The Timeline that contains the action is called the controlling Timeline, and the Timeline that receives the action is called the target Timeline. For example, there could be an action on the last frame of one Timeline that tells another Timeline to play. To refer to a target Timeline, you must use a target path, which indicates the location of a movie clip in the display list.

The following example shows the hierarchy of a document named westCoast on level 0, which contains three movie clips: california, oregon, and washington. Each of these movie clips in turn contains two movie clips.

level0
        westCoast
                california
                        sanfrancisco
                        bakersfield
                oregon
                        portland
                        ashland
                washington
                        olympia
                        ellensburg

As on a web server, each Timeline in Flash can be addressed in two ways: with an absolute path or with a relative path. The absolute path of an instance is always a full path from a level name, regardless of which Timeline calls the action; for example, the absolute path to the instance california is _level0.westCoast.california. A relative path is different when called from different locations; for example, the relative path to california from sanfrancisco is _parent, but from portland, it's _parent._parent.california.
 

About absolute paths

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An absolute path starts with the name of the level into which the document is loaded and continues through the display list until it reaches the target instance. You can also use the alias _root to refer to the topmost Timeline of the current level. For example, an action in the movie clip california that refers to the movie clip oregon could use the absolute path
 _root.westCoast.oregon.

The first document to open in Flash Player is loaded at level 0. You must assign each additional loaded document a level number. When you use an absolute reference in ActionScript to reference a loaded document, use the form _levelX, where X is the level number into which the document is loaded. For example, the first document that opens in Flash Player is called
_level0; a document loaded into level 3 is called _level3.

To communicate between documents on different levels, you must use the level name in the target path. The following example shows how the portland instance would address the atlanta instance located on a movie clip called georgia (georgia is at the same level as oregon):

_level5.georgia.atlanta

You can use the alias _root to refer to the main Timeline of the current level. For the main Timeline, the _root alias stands for _level0 when targeted by a movie clip also on _level0. For a document loaded into _level5, _root is equal to _level5 when targeted by a movie clip also on level 5. For example, if the movie clips southcarolina and florida are both loaded into the same level, an action called from the instance southcarolina could use the following absolute path to target the instance florida:

_root.eastCoast.florida

 

About relative paths

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A relative path depends on the relationship between the controlling Timeline and the target Timeline. Relative paths can address targets only within their own level of Flash Player. For example, you can't use a relative path in an action on _level0 that targets a Timeline on _level5.

In a relative path, use the keyword this to refer to the current Timeline in the current level; use the alias _parent to indicate the parent Timeline of the current Timeline. You can use the _parent alias repeatedly to go up one level in the movie clip hierarchy within the same level of Flash Player. For example, _parent._parent controls a movie clip up two levels in the hierarchy. The topmost Timeline at any level in Flash Player is the only Timeline with a _parent value that is undefined.

An action in the Timeline of the instance charleston, located one level below southcarolina, could use the following target path to target the instance southcarolina:

_parent

To target the instance eastCoast (one level up) from an action in charleston, you could use the following relative path:

_parent._parent

To target the instance atlanta from an action in the Timeline of charleston, you could use the following relative path:

_parent._parent.georgia.atlanta

Relative paths are useful for reusing scripts. For example, you could attach the following script to a movie clip that magnifies its parent by 150%:

onClipEvent (load) {
_parent._xscale = 150;
_parent._yscale = 150;
}

You can reuse this script by attaching it to any movie clip instance.

NOTE : Flash Lite 1.0 and 1.1 support attaching scripts only to buttons. Attaching scripts to movie clips is not supported..

Whether you use an absolute or a relative path, you identify a variable in a Timeline or a property of an object with a dot (.) followed by the name of the variable or property. For example, the following statement sets the variable name in the instance form to the value "Gilbert":

_root.form.name = "Gilbert";

 

Writing target paths

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To control a movie clip, loaded movie, or button, you must specify a target path. In order to specify a target path for a movie clip or button, you must assign an instance name to the movie clip or button. A loaded document doesn't require an instance name because you use its level number as an instance name (for example, _level5).

To specify a target path, do one of the following:

  • Use the Insert Target Path button (and dialog box) in the Actions panel.

  • Enter the target path manually.

  • Create an expression that evaluates to a target path. You can use the built-in functions targetPath and eval.

To assign an instance name:

  1. Select a movie clip or button on the Stage.

  2. Enter an instance name in the Property inspector.

To insert a target path using the Insert Target Path dialog box:

  1. Select the movie clip, frame, or button instance to which you want to assign the action.

  2. This becomes the controlling Timeline.

  3. Select Window > Actions to display the Actions panel if it's not already open.

  4. In the Actions toolbox (at the left of the panel), select an action or method that requires a target path.

  5. Click the parameter box or location in the script where you want to insert the target path.

  6. Click the Insert Target Path button above the Script pane.

  7. In the Insert Target Path dialog box, select a syntax: Dots (the default) or Slashes.

  8. Select Absolute or Relative for the target path mode.

  9. For more information, see Using absolute and relative target paths.

  10. Select a movie clip in the Insert Target Path display list.

  11. Click OK.

To insert a target path manually:

  • Follow steps 1-4 and enter an absolute or relative target path in the Actions panel.

To use an expression as a target path:

  1. Follow steps 1-3.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • Enter an expression that evaluates to a target path in a parameter box.

    • Click to place the insertion point in the script. Then, in the Functions category of the Actions toolbox, double-click the targetPath function.

      The targetPath function converts a reference to a movie clip into a string.

    • Click to place the insertion point in the script. Then, in the Functions category of the Actions toolbox, select the eval function.

    The eval function converts a string to a movie clip reference that can be used to call methods such as play.

    The following script assigns the value 1 to the variable i. It then uses the eval function to create a reference to a movie clip instance and assigns it to the variable x. The variable x is now a reference to a movie clip instance and can call the MovieClip object methods.

    i = 1;
    x = eval("mc"+i);
    x.play();
    // this is equivalent to mc1.play();

    You can also use the eval function to call methods directly, as shown in the following example:
    eval("mc" + i).play();

 

Organizing Timelines and the library

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Frames and layers on a Timeline are two important parts of the Flash authoring environment. These areas show you where assets are placed and determine how your document works. How a Timeline and the library are set up and used affect the entire FLA file and its overall usability. The following guidelines help you author content efficiently and let other authors who use your FLA documents have a greater understanding of how the document is structured:

  • Give each layer an intuitive layer name, and place related assets together in the same location. Avoid using the default layer names (such as Layer 1, Layer 2), because it can be confusing to remember or locate assets when you are working on complex files.

  • Clearly describe the purpose or content of each layer or folder when you name it in a FLA file. This helps users to quickly understand where particular assets are found in layers or folders. It is a good and common practice to name the layer that contains your ActionScript actions and to use layer folders to organize similar layers.

  • If applicable, place your layers that include ActionScript and a layer for frame labels at the top of the layer stack in the Timeline. This makes it easy to locate the layers that include code and labels.

  • Add frame labels in a FLA file instead of using frame numbers in your ActionScript to reference points on the Timeline. This is important and useful if you reference frames in your ActionScript and those frames change later when you edit the Timeline. If you use frame labels and move them on the Timeline, you do not have to change any references in your code.

  • Lock your ActionScript layer immediately so that symbol instances or media assets are not placed on that layer. Never put any instances or assets on a layer that includes ActionScript, which can potentially cause conflicts between assets on the Stage and ActionScript that references them.

  • Lock layers that you are not using or do not want to modify.

  • Use folders in the library to organize similar elements (such as symbols and media assets) in a FLA file. If you name library folders consistently each time you create a file, it is much easier to remember where you put assets. Commonly used folder names are Buttons, MovieClips, Graphics, Assets, Components, and, sometimes, Classes.

About scenes

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Using scenes is similar to using several SWF files together to create a larger presentation. Each scene has a Timeline. When the playhead reaches the final frame of a scene, the playhead progresses to the next scene. When you publish a SWF file, the Timeline of each scene combines into a single Timeline in the SWF file. After the SWF file compiles, it behaves as if you created the FLA file using one scene. Because of this behavior, avoid using scenes for the following reasons:

  • Scenes can make documents confusing to edit, particularly in multiauthor environments. Anyone using the FLA document might have to search several scenes within a FLA file to locate code and assets. Consider loading content or using movie clips instead.

  • Scenes often result in large SWF files. Using scenes encourages you to place more content in a single FLA file, and hence, you have larger documents to work with and larger SWF files.

  • Scenes force users to progressively download the entire SWF file, even if they do not plan or want to watch all of it. Your users progressively download the entire file, instead of loading the assets they actually want to see or use. If you avoid scenes, users can control what content they download as they progress through your SWF file. This means that users have more control over how much content they download, which is better for bandwidth management. One drawback is the requirement for managing a greater number of FLA documents.

  • Scenes combined with ActionScript might produce unexpected results. Because each scene Timeline is compressed onto a single Timeline, you might encounter errors involving your ActionScript and scenes, which typically requires extra, complicated debugging.

There are some situations where few of these disadvantages apply, such as when you create lengthy animations, which is a good time to use scenes. If disadvantages apply to your document, consider using screens to build an animation instead of using scenes. For more information on using screens, see Creating a new screen-based document (Flash Professional only).

 

Working with scenes

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To organize a document thematically, you can use scenes. For example, you might use separate scenes for an introduction, a loading message, and credits.

NOTE : You cannot use scenes in a screen-based document. For information on screens, see Working with Screens (Flash Professional Only).

When you publish a Flash document that contains more than one scene, the scenes in the document play back in the order they are listed in the Scene panel in the Flash document. Frames in the document are numbered consecutively through scenes. For example, if a document contains two scenes with ten frames each, the frames in Scene 2 are numbered 11-20.

You can add, delete, duplicate, rename, and change the order of scenes.

To stop or pause a document after each scene, or to let users navigate the document in a nonlinear fashion, you use actions. For more information, see Syntax and Language Fundamentals in Learning ActionScript 2.0 in Flash.

To display the Scene panel:

  • Select Window > Other Panels > Scene.

To view a particular scene:

  • Select View > Go To, and then select the name of the scene from the submenu.

To add a scene, do one of the following:

  • Click the Add Scene button in the Scene panel.
    Select Insert > Scene.

To delete a scene:

  • Click the Delete Scene button in the Scene panel.

To change the name of a scene:

  • Double-click the scene name in the Scene panel and enter the new name.

To duplicate a scene:

  • Click the Duplicate Scene button in the Scene panel.

To change the order of a scene in the document:

  • Drag the scene name to a different location in the Scene panel.

 

Using the Movie Explorer

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The Movie Explorer provides an easy way for you to view and organize the contents of a document and select elements in the document for modification. It contains a display list of currently used elements, arranged in a navigable hierarchical tree. You can filter which categories of items in the document appear in the Movie Explorer, selecting from text, graphics, buttons, movie clips, actions, and imported files. You can display the selected categories as scenes, symbol definitions, or both. And you can expand and collapse the navigation tree.

The Movie Explorer offers many features to streamline the workflow for creating documents. For example, you can use the Movie Explorer to do the following actions:

  • Search for an element in a document by name.

  • Familiarize yourself with the structure of a Flash document created by another developer.

  • Find all the instances of a particular symbol or action.

  • Print the navigable display list that appears in the Movie Explorer.

The Movie Explorer has an options menu as well as a context menu with options for performing operations on selected items or modifying the Movie Explorer display. The options menu is indicated by a check mark with a triangle below it in the title bar of the Movie Explorer.

NOTE : The Movie Explorer has slightly different functionality when you are working with screens. For more information, see Working with Screens (Flash Professional Only).

To view the Movie Explorer :

  • Select Window > Movie Explorer.

To filter the categories of items appearing in the Movie Explorer, do any of the following:

  • To show text, symbols, ActionScript, imported files, or frames and layers, click one or more of the filtering buttons to the right of the Show option. To customize which items to show, click the Customize button. Select options in the Show area of the Movie Explorer Settings dialog box to view those elements.\

  • From the options menu in Movie Explorer, select Show Movie Elements to show items in scenes.

  • From the options menu in Movie Explorer, select Show Symbol Definitions to show information about symbols.

NOTE : Both the Movie Elements option and the Symbol Definitions option can be active at the same time.

To search for an item using the Find text box:

  • In the Find text box, enter the item name, font name, ActionScript string, or frame number. The Find feature searches all items that appear in the Movie Explorer.

To select an item in the Movie Explorer:

  • Click the item in the navigation tree. Shift-click to select more than one item.

    The full path for the selected item appears at the bottom of the Movie Explorer. Selecting a scene in the Movie Explorer shows the first frame of that scene on the Stage. Selecting an element in the Movie Explorer selects that element on the Stage if the layer containing the element is not locked.

To use the Movie Explorer options menu or context menu commands :

  1. To one of the following:

    • To view the options menu, click the options menu control in the Movie Explorer's title bar.

    • To view the context menu, right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Macintosh) an item in the Movie Explorer navigation tree.

  2. Select an option from the menu:

    Go to Location jumps to the selected layer, scene, or frame in the document.

    Go to Symbol Definition jumps to the symbol definition for a symbol that is selected in the Movie Elements area of the Movie Explorer. The symbol definition lists all the files associated with the symbol. (The Show Symbol Definitions option must be selected. See its definition in this list.)

    Select Symbol Instances jumps to the scene containing instances of a symbol that is selected in the Symbol Definitions area of the Movie Explorer. (The Show Movie Elements option must be selected.)

    Find in Library highlights the selected symbol in the document's library (Flash opens the Library panel if it is not already visible).

    Rename lets you enter a new name for a selected element.

    Edit in Place lets you edit a selected symbol on the Stage.

    Edit in New Window lets you edit a selected symbol in a new window.

    Show Movie Elements shows the elements in your document organized into scenes.

    Show Symbol Definitions shows all the elements associated with a symbol.

    Copy All Text to Clipboard copies selected text to the Clipboard. You can paste the text into an external text editor for spell checking or other editing.

    Cut, Copy, Paste, and Clear perform these common functions on a selected element. Modifying an item in the display list modifies the corresponding item in the document.

    Expand Branch expands the navigation tree at the selected element.

    Collapse Branch collapses the navigation tree at the selected element.

    Collapse Others collapses the branches in the navigation tree not containing the selected element.

    Print prints the hierarchical display list that appears in the Movie Explorer.

 

Using Find and Replace

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You can use the Find and Replace feature to find and replace a specified element in a Flash document. You can search for a text string, a font, a color, a symbol, a sound file, a video file, or an imported bitmap file.

You can replace the specified element with another element of the same type. Depending on the type of specified element, there are different options available in the Find and Replace dialog box.

You can find and replace elements in the current document or the current scene. You can search for the next occurrence or all occurrences of an element, and you can replace the current occurrence or all occurrences.

NOTE : In a screen-based document, you can find and replace elements in the current document or the current screen, but you can't use scenes. For information on working with screens, see Working with Screens (Flash Professional Only).

The Live Edit option lets you edit the specified element directly on the Stage. If you use Live Edit when searching for a symbol, Flash opens the symbol in edit-in-place mode.

The Find and Replace Log at the bottom of the Find and Replace dialog box shows the location, name, and type of the elements for which you are searching.

To open the Find and Replace dialog box:

  1. Select Edit > Find and Replace.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • Select Current Document from the Search In pop-up menu.

    • Select Current Scene from the Search In pop-up menu.

For more information about finding and replacing Flash elements, see the following sections:

  • Finding and replacing text

  • Finding and replacing fonts

  • Finding and replacing colors

  • Finding and replacing symbols

  • Finding and replacing sound, video, or bitmap files

 

Finding and replacing text

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When you find and replace text, you can enter the text string to find and the text string with which to replace it. You can select options for searching by whole word, for matching case, and for selecting which type of text element (text field contents, ActionScript strings, and so on) to include in the search.

To find and replace text:

  1. Select Edit > Find and Replace.

  2. Select Text from the For pop-up menu.

  3. In the Text text box, enter the text that you want to find.

  4. In the Replace with Text text box, enter the text that you want to use to replace the existing text.

  5. Select options for searching text:

    Whole Word searches for the specified text string as a whole word only, bounded on both sides by spaces, quotes, or similar markers. When Whole Word is deselected, the specified text can be searched as part of a larger word. For example, when Whole Word is deselected, the word place can be searched as part of the word replace.

    Match Case searches for text that exactly matches the case (uppercase and lowercase character formatting) of the specified text when finding and replacing.

    Regular Expressions searches for text in regular expressions in ActionScript. An expression is any statement that Flash can evaluate that returns a value. For more information, see ActionScript Reference Guide Help.

    Text Field Contents searches the contents of a text field.

    Frames/Layers/Parameters searches frame labels, layer names, scene names, and component parameters.

    Strings in ActionScript searches strings in ActionScript in the document or scene (external ActionScript files are not searched).

  6. Select Live Edit to select the next occurrence of the specified text on the Stage and edit it in place.

    NOTE : Only the next occurrence is selected for live editing, even if you select Find All in step 6.

  7. To find text, do one of the following:

    • Click Find Next to find the next occurrence of the specified text.

    • Click Find All to find all occurrences of the specified text.

  8. To replace text, do one of the following:

    • Click Replace to replace the currently selected occurrence of the specified text.

    • Click Replace All to replace all occurrences of the specified text.

 

Finding and replacing fonts

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When you find and replace fonts, you can search or replace by font name, font style, font size, or any combination of those characteristics.

To find and replace fonts:

  1. Select Edit > Find and Replace.

  2. Select Font from the For pop-up menu, then select from the following options:

    • To search by font name, select Font Name and select a font from the pop-up menu or enter a font name in the text box. When Font Name is deselected, all fonts in the scene or document are searched.

    • To search by font style, select Font Style and select a font style from the pop-up menu. When Font Style is deselected, all font styles in the scene or document are searched.

    • To search by font size, select Font Size and enter a value for minimum and maximum font size to specify the range of font sizes to be searched. When Font Size is deselected, all font sizes in the scene or document are searched.

    • To replace the specified font with a different font name, select Font Name under Replace With and select a font name from the pop-up menu or enter a name in the text box. When Font Name is deselected under Replace with, the current font name remains unchanged.

    • To replace the specified font with a different font style, select Font Style under Replace With and select a font style from the pop-up menu. When Font Style is deselected under Replace with, the current style of the specified font remains unchanged.

    • To replace the specified font with a different font size, select Font Size under Replace With and enter values for minimum and maximum font size. When Font Size is deselected under Replace With, the current size of the specified font remains unchanged.

  3. Select Live Edit to select the next occurrence of the specified font on the Stage and edit it in place.
    NOTE : Only the next occurrence is selected for live editing, even if you select Find All in step 4.

  4. To find a font, do one of the following:

    • Click Find Next to find the next occurrence of the specified font.

    • Click Find All to find all occurrences of the specified font.

  5. To replace a font, do one of the following:

    • Click Replace to replace the currently selected occurrence of the specified font.

    • Click Replace All to replace all occurrences of the specified font.

 

Finding and replacing colors

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To find and replace a color, you can select a color to find or replace by picking a color swatch in the color pop-up window, by entering a hexadecimal color value in the color pop-up window, by using the system color picker, or by selecting a color from the desktop with the eyedropper tool. You can find and replace a color in a stroke, in a fill, in text, or in any combination of those items.

You cannot find and replace colors in grouped objects.

NOTE : To find and replace colors in a GIF or JPEG file in a Flash document, edit the file in Macromedia Fireworks or a similar image-editing application.

To find and replace a color:

  1. Select Edit > Find and Replace.

  2. Select Color from the For pop-up menu.

  3. To search for a color, click the Color control and do one of the following:

    • Select a color swatch from the color pop-up window.

    • Enter a hexadecimal color value in the Hex Edit text box in the color pop-up window.

    • Click the Color Picker button and select a color from the system color picker.

    • Drag from the Color control to make the eyedropper tool appear. Select any color on your screen.

  4. To select a color to use in replacing the specified color, click the Color control under Replace With and do one of the following:

    • Select a color swatch from the color pop-up window.

    • Enter a hexadecimal color value in the Hex Edit text box in the color pop-up window.

    • Click the Color Picker button and select a color from the system color picker.

    • Drag from the Color control to make the eyedropper tool appear. Select any color on your screen.

  5. Select the Fills, Strokes, or Text option or any combination of those options to specify which occurrence of the color to find and replace.

  6. Select Live Edit to select the next occurrence of the specified color on the Stage and edit it in place.
    NOTE : Only the next occurrence is selected for live editing, even if you select Find All in step 6.

  7. To find a color, do one of the following:

    • Click Find Next to find the next occurrence of the specified color.

    • Click Find All to find all occurrences of the specified color.

  8. To replace a color, do one of the following:

    • Click Replace to replace the currently selected occurrence of the specified color.

    • Click Replace All to replace all occurrences of the specified color.

 

Finding and replacing symbols

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When you find and replace symbols, you can search for a symbol by name. You can replace a symbol with another symbol of any type--movie clip, button, or graphic.

To find and replace a symbol :

  1. Select Edit > Find and Replace.

  2. Select Symbol from the For pop-up menu.

  3. For Name, select a name from the pop-up menu.

  4. Under Replace With, for Name select a name from the pop-up menu.

  5. Select Live Edit to select the next occurrence of the specified symbol on the Stage and edit it in place.
    NOTE : Only the next occurrence is selected for editing, even if you select Find All in step 5.

  6. To find a symbol, do one of the following:

    • Click Find Next to find the next occurrence of the specified symbol.

    • Click Find All to find all occurrences of the specified symbol.

  7. To replace a symbol, do one of the following:

    • Click Replace to replace the currently selected occurrence of the specified symbol.

    • Click Replace All to replace all occurrences of the specified symbol.

 

Finding and replacing sound, video, or bitmap files

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When you find and replace a sound, video, or bitmap file, you can search for the file by name. You can replace the file with another file of the same type. That is, you can replace a sound with a sound, a video with a video, or a bitmap with a bitmap.

To find and replace a sound, video, or bitmap:

  1. Select Edit > Find and Replace.

  2. Select Sound, Video, or Bitmap from the For pop-up menu.

  3. For Name, enter a sound, video, or bitmap filename or select a name from the pop-up menu.

  4. Under Replace With, for Name enter a sound, video, or bitmap filename or select a name from the pop-up menu.

  5. Select Live Edit to select the next occurrence of the specified sound, video, or bitmap on the Stage and edit it in place.
    NOTE : Only the next occurrence is selected for editing, even if you select Find All in step 5.

  6. To find a sound, video, or bitmap, do one of the following:

    • Click Find Next to find the next occurrence of the specified sound, video, or bitmap.

    • Click Find All to find all occurrences of the specified sound, video, or bitmap.

  7. To replace a sound, video, or bitmap, do one of the following:

    • Click Replace to replace the currently selected occurrence of the specified sound, video, or bitmap.

    • Click Replace All to replace all occurrences of the specified sound, video, or bitmap.

 

Using the Undo, Redo, and Repeat menu commands

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The Edit > Undo and Edit > Redo commands let you undo and redo steps as you work on Flash documents. The name of the command switches between Undo and Redo, depending on the action that was last performed.

Flash lets you specify either object-level or document-level Undo and Redo commands. This lets you undo or redo actions on individual objects, or all objects within the current document. The default behavior is document-level Undo and Redo. For more information, see Setting preferences in Flash in Getting Started with Flash.

You cannot undo the following actions when using object-level Undo:\

  • Enter Edit mode

  • Exit edit mode

  • Select unused library items

  • Select library items

  • Add library items

  • Delete library items

  • Duplicate library item

  • Modify library item

  • Modify library symbol behavior

  • Rename library items

  • Move library items

  • Edit library items

  • Import to library

  • Create font symbols

  • Create library folders

  • Expand all library folders

  • Create video stream symbols

  • Convert to compiled clip

  • JSFL library edits

  • Modify bitmap symbol properties

  • Modify sound symbol properties

  • Modify library item linkage

  • Convert to symbol

  • Create new symbol

  • Run JSFL command

  • Run JSFL file

  • Modify movie properties

  • Import

  • Create scene

  • Delete scene

  • Duplicate scene

  • Rename scene

  • Move scene

To remove deleted items from a document after using the Undo command, you use the Save and Compact command. See Saving documents when you undo steps.

You can use the Repeat command to reapply a step to the same object or to a different object. For example, if you move a shape named shape_A, you can select Edit > Repeat to
move the shape again, or you can select another shape, shape_B, and select Edit > Repeat to move the second shape by the same amount.

By default, Flash supports 100 levels of undo for the Undo menu command. You can select the number of undo and redo levels, from 2 to 9999, in Flash Preferences. For more information, see Setting preferences in Flash in Getting Started with Flash.

To undo a step:

  • Select Edit > Undo.\

To redo a step:

  • Select Edit > Redo.

To repeat a step:

  • With an object selected on the Stage, select Edit > Repeat.

Using the History panel

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The History panel shows a list of the steps you've performed in the active document since you created or opened that document, up to a specified maximum number of steps. (The History panel doesn't show steps you've performed in other documents.) The slider in the History panel initially points to the last step that you performed.

You can use the History panel to undo or redo individual steps or multiple steps at once. You can apply steps from the History panel to the same object or to a different object in the document. However, you cannot rearrange the order of steps in the History panel. The History panel is a record of steps in the order in which they were performed.

NOTE : If you undo a step or a series of steps and then do something new in the document, you can no longer redo the steps in the History panel; they disappear from the panel.

To remove deleted items from a document after you undo a step in the History panel, you use the Save and Compact command. For more information, see Saving documents when you undo steps.

By default, Flash supports 100 levels of undo for the History panel. You can select the number of undo and redo levels, from 2 to 9999, in Flash Preferences. For more information, see Setting preferences in Flash in Getting Started with Flash.

You can clear the History panel to erase the history list for the current document. After clearing the history list, you cannot undo the steps that are cleared. Clearing the history list does not undo steps; it merely removes the record of those steps from the current document's memory.

Closing a document clears its history. If you know you want to use steps from a document after that document is closed, copy the steps with the Copy Steps command or save the steps as a command. For more information, see Copying and pasting steps between documents or Automating tasks with the Commands menu.

To open the History panel:

  • Select Window > Other Panels > History.

To erase the history list for the current document:

  • In the History panel options menu, select Clear History.

  • Click Yes to confirm the Clear command.

 

Undoing steps with the History panel

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You can undo the last step or multiple steps with the History panel. When you undo a step, the step is dimmed in the History panel.

To undo the last step performed:

  • Drag the History panel slider up one step in the list.

To undo multiple steps at once, do one of the following:

  • Drag the slider to point to any step.

  • Click to the left of a step along the path of the slider; the slider scrolls automatically to that step, undoing all subsequent steps as it scrolls.
    NOTE : Scrolling to a step (and selecting the subsequent steps) is different from selecting an individual step. To scroll to a step, you must click to the left of the step.

 

Replaying steps with the History panel

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You can replay individual steps or multiple steps using the History panel.

When you replay steps with the History panel, the steps that play are the steps that are selected (highlighted) in the History panel, not necessarily the step currently indicated by the slider.

You can apply steps in the History panel to any selected object in the document.

To replay one step:

  • In the History panel, select a step and click the Replay button. The step replays and a copy of it appears in the History panel.

To replay a series of adjacent steps:

  1. Select steps in the History panel by doing one of the following:

    • Drag from one step to another. (Don't drag the slider; just drag from the text label of one step to the text label of another step.)

    • Select the first step, then Shift-click the last step; or select the last step and then Shift-click the first step.

  2. Click Replay.

    The steps replay in order, and a new step, labeled Replay Steps, appears in the History panel.

To replay nonadjacent steps:

  1. Select a step in the History panel, and Control-click (Windows) or Command-click (Macintosh) other steps.

    You can also Control-click or Command-click to deselect a selected step.

  2. Click Replay.

    The selected steps replay in order, and a new step, labeled Replay Steps, appears in the History panel.

 

Copying and pasting steps between documents

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Each open document has its own history of steps. You can copy steps from one document and paste them into another, using the Copy Steps command in the History panel options menu. If you copy steps into a text editor, the steps are pasted as JavaScript code.

To reuse steps from one document in another document:

  1. In the document containing the steps you want to reuse, select the steps in the History panel.

  2. In the History panel options menu, select Copy Steps.

  3. Open the document into which you want to paste the steps.

  4. Select an object to which you want to apply the steps.

  5. Select Edit > Paste to paste the steps.

The steps play back as they're pasted into the document's History panel. The History panel shows them as only one step, called Paste Steps.

 

 

Saving documents when you undo steps

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By default, when you undo a step using Edit > Undo or the History panel, the file size of the Flash document does not change, even if you delete an item in the document. For example, if you import a video file into a document, and then undo the import, the file size of the document still includes the size of the video file. This is because any items that you delete from a document when performing an Undo command are preserved in case you want to restore the items with a Redo command. You can permanently remove the deleted items from the document, and reduce the document file size, by using the Save and Compact command.

To permanently remove items deleted by the Undo command:

  • Select File > Save and Compact.

 

Automating tasks with the Commands menu

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When you create documents, you might want to perform the same task numerous times. You can create a new command in the Commands menu from steps in the History panel and reuse the command multiple times. Steps replay exactly as they were originally performed. You can't modify the steps as you replay them.

You should create and save a new command if there's a chance you might want to use a set of steps again, especially if you want to use those steps the next time you start Flash. Saved commands are retained permanently, unless you delete them. Steps that you copy using the History panel Copy Steps command are discarded when you copy something else. For more information, see Copying and pasting steps between documents.

 

 

About steps that can't be used in commands

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Some tasks in Flash can't be saved as commands or repeated using the Edit > Repeat menu item. These commands can be undone and redone, but they cannot be repeated.

Examples of actions that can't be saved as commands or repeated include selecting a frame or modifying a document size. If you attempt to save an unrepeatable action as a command, the command is not saved.

 

Creating and managing commands

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You can create a command from selected steps in the History panel. In the Manage Saved Commands dialog box, you can rename or delete commands.

To create a command:

  1. Select a step or set of steps in the History panel.

  2. Select Save As Command from the History panel options menu.

  3. Enter a name for the command and click OK.

    The command appears in the Commands menu.
    NOTE : The command is saved as a JavaScript file (with the extension .jsfl) in your Flash 8\language\First Run\Commands folder.

To edit the names of commands in the Commands menu:

  1. Select Commands > Edit Command List.

  2. Select a command to rename and enter a new name for it.

  3. Click Close.

To delete a name from the Commands menu:

  1. Select Commands > Edit Command List.

  2. Select a command.

  3. Click Delete, and click Close.

 

Running commands

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You can use the commands that you create by selecting the command name from the Commands menu.

You can also run commands that are available on your system as JavaScript or Flash JavaScript files.

To use a saved command:

  • Select the command from the Commands menu.

To run a JavaScript or Flash JavaScript command:

  1. Select Commands > Run Command.

  2. Navigate to the script that you want to run, and click Open.

 

Getting more commands

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You can use the Get More Commands option in the Commands menu to link to the Flash Exchange website at www.macromedia.com/cfusion/exchange/index.cfm and download commands that other Flash users have posted. For more information on the commands posted there, see Flash Exchange.

To get more commands:

  1. Make sure you are connected to the Internet.

  2. Select Commands > Get More Commands.

Creating custom keyboard shortcuts

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Use the Keyboard Shortcuts dialog box to create your own shortcut keys. You can also remove shortcuts, edit existing shortcuts, and select a predetermined set of shortcuts in the Keyboard Shortcuts dialog box.

To customize keyboard shortcuts:

  1. Select Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts.

    The Keyboard Shortcuts dialog box appears.

  2. Add, delete, or edit keyboard shortcuts using the following options:

    Current Set lets you choose a set of predetermined shortcuts included with Flash, or any custom set you've defined. The predetermined sets are listed at the top of the menu. For example, if you are familiar with the shortcuts found in Adobe Illustrator or Macromedia Freehand, you can use those shortcuts by choosing the corresponding predetermined set.

    Commands lets you select a category of commands to edit. For example, you can edit menu commands, such as the Open command.

    The command list displays the commands associated with the category you selected from the Commands pop-up menu, along with the assigned shortcuts. The Menu Commands category displays this list as a tree view that replicates the structure of the menus. The other categories list the commands by name (such as Quit Application), in a flat list.

    Shortcuts displays all shortcuts assigned to the selected command.

    Add Item (+) adds a new shortcut to the current command. Click this button to add a new blank line to the Shortcuts text box. Enter a new key combination and click Change to add a new keyboard shortcut for this command. You can assign two different keyboard shortcuts for each command; if there are already two shortcuts assigned to a command, the Add Item button does nothing.

    Remove Item (-) removes the selected shortcut from the list of shortcuts.

    Press Key displays the key combination you enter when you're adding or changing a shortcut.

    Change adds the key combination shown in the Press Key text box to the list of shortcuts, or changes the selected shortcut to the specified key combination.

    Duplicate duplicates the current set. Give the new set a name; the default name is the current set's name with the word copy appended to it.

    Rename renames the current set.

    Save as HTML File saves the current set in an HTML table format for easy viewing and printing. You can open the HTML file in your browser and print the shortcuts for easy reference.

    Delete deletes a set. (You cannot delete the active set.)

  3. Click OK to confirm your modifications to the keyboard shortcuts.

To remove a shortcut from a command:

  1. From the Commands pop-up menu, select a command category.

    The Commands list displays the commands in that category.

  2. Select a command from the Commands list.

    The shortcuts assigned to the command appear in the Shortcuts list.

  3. Select a shortcut.

  4. Click Remove Item (-).

To add a shortcut to a command:

  1. From the Commands pop-up menu, select a command category.

    The Commands list displays the commands in that category.

  2. Select a command from the Commands list.

    The shortcuts assigned to the command appear in the Shortcuts list.

  3. Prepare to add a shortcut by doing one of the following:

    • If there are fewer than two shortcuts already assigned to the command, click Add Item (+). A new blank line appears in the Shortcuts text box, and the insertion point moves to the Press Key text box.

    • If there are already two shortcuts assigned to the command, select one of them (that one will be replaced by the new shortcut), and then click in the Press Key text box.

  4. Press a key combination.

    The key combination appears in the Press Key text box.
    NOTE : If there is a problem with the key combination (for example, if the key combination is already assigned to another command), an explanatory message appears just below the Shortcuts text box and you may be unable to add or edit the shortcut.

  5. Click Change.

    The new key combination is assigned to the command.

To edit an existing shortcut:

  1. From the Commands pop-up menu, select a command category.

    The Commands list displays the commands in that category.

  2. Select a command from the Commands list.

    The shortcuts assigned to the command appear in the Shortcuts text box.

  3. Select a shortcut to change.

  4. Click in the Press Key text box and enter a new key combination.

  5. Click Change.
    NOTE : If there is a problem with the key combination (for example, if the key combination is already assigned to another command), an explanatory message appears just below the Shortcuts text box and you may be unable to add or edit the shortcut.

 

About customizing context menus in Flash documents

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You can customize the standard context menu and the text-editing context menu that appears with Flash documents in Flash Player 7 and later.

  • The standard context menu appears when a user right-clicks (Windows) or Control-clicks (Macintosh) on a document in Flash Player, in any area except an editable text field. You can add custom items to the menu, and hide any built-in items in the menu except Settings and Debugger.

  • The editing context menu appears when a user right-clicks (Windows) or Control-clicks (Macintosh) in an editable text field in a document in Flash Player. You can add custom items to this menu. You cannot hide any built-in items.

    NOTE : Flash Player also displays an error context menu when a user right-clicks (Windows) or Control-clicks (Macintosh) in Flash Player and no document is loaded. You cannot customize this menu.

You customize context menus in Flash Player 7 using the contextMenu and contextMenuItem objects in ActionScript. For more information on using these objects, see ContextMenu in the ActionScript 2.0 Language Reference.

Remember the following criteria when creating custom context menu items for Flash Player:

  • Custom items are added to a context menu in the order in which they are created. You cannot modify this order after the items are created.

  • You can specify the visibility and enabling of custom items.

  • Custom context menu items are automatically encoded using Unicode UTF-8 text encoding.

 

About the links menu in Flash Player

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If a user is using a Netscape browser or an Active X application to display Flash Player, the player displays a links menu for all Flash documents. If the user right-clicks (Windows) or Control-clicks (Macintosh) on a text link in the Flash document, the links menu appears with the following menu items:

Open opens the link.

Open in New Window opens the link in a new window.

Copy Link copies the link to the Clipboard.

 

Speeding up document display

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To speed up the document display, you can use commands in the View menu to turn off rendering-quality features that require extra computing and slow down document display.

None of these commands have any effect on how Flash exports a document. To specify the display quality of Flash documents in a web browser, you use the object and embed parameters. The Publish command can do this for you automatically. For more information, see Publishing Flash documents.

To change the document display speed:

  • Select View > Preview Mode, and select from the following options:

    Outlines displays only the outlines of the shapes in your scene and causes all lines to appear as thin lines. This makes it easier to reshape your graphic elements and to display complex scenes quickly.

    Fast turns off anti-aliasing and displays all the colors and line styles of your drawing.

    Antialias turns on anti-aliasing for lines, shapes, and bitmaps. It displays shapes and lines so that their edges appear smoother on the screen. This option draws more slowly than the Fast option. Anti-aliasing works best on video cards that provide thousands (16-bit) or millions (24-bit) of colors. In 16- or 256-color mode, black lines are smoothed, but colors might look better in Fast mode.

    Antialias Text smooths the edges of any text. This command works best with large font sizes and can be slow with large amounts of text. This is the most common mode in which to work.

    Full renders all content on the Stage fully. This setting may slow down display.

 

Optimizing Flash documents

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As your document file size increases, so does its download time and playback speed. You can take several steps to prepare your document for optimal playback. As part of the publishing process, Flash automatically performs some optimization on documents: for example, it detects duplicate shapes on export and places them in the file only once, and it converts nested groups into single groups.

Before exporting a document, you can optimize it further by using various strategies to reduce the file size. You can also compress a SWF file as you publish it. As you make changes, it's a good idea to test your document by running it on a variety of computers, operating systems, and Internet connections.

To optimize documents :

  • Use symbols, animated or otherwise, for every element that appears more than once.

  • When creating animation sequences, use tweened animations, whenever possible. These animations use less file space than a series of keyframes.

  • For animation sequences, use movie clips instead of graphic symbols.

  • Limit the area of change in each keyframe; make the action take place in as small an area as possible.

  • Avoid animating bitmap elements; use bitmap images as background or static elements.

  • For sound, use MP3, the smallest sound format, whenever possible.

To optimize elements and lines :

  • Group elements as much as possible.

  • Use layers to separate elements that change during the animation from those that do not.

  • Use Modify > Curves > Optimize to minimize the number of separate lines that are used to describe shapes.

  • Limit the number of special line types, such as dashed, dotted, ragged, and so on. Solid lines require less memory. Lines created with the Pencil tool require less memory than brush strokes.

To optimize text and fonts :

  • Limit the number of fonts and font styles. Use embedded fonts sparingly because they increase file size.

  • For Embed Fonts options, select only the characters needed instead of including the entire font.

To optimize colors :

  • Use the Color menu in the Symbol Property inspector to create many instances of a single symbol in different colors.

  • Use the Color Mixer (Window > Color Mixer) to match the color palette of the document to a browser-specific palette.

  • Use gradients sparingly. Filling an area with gradient color requires about 50 bytes more than filling it with solid color.

  • Use alpha transparency sparingly because it can slow playback.

 

Testing document download performance

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Flash Player attempts to meet the frame rate you set; the actual frame rate during playback can vary on different computers. If a document that is downloading reaches a particular frame before the frame's required data has downloaded, the document pauses until the data arrives.

To view downloading performance graphically, you can use the Bandwidth Profiler, which shows how much data is sent for each frame according to the modem speed you specify. The Bandwidth Profiler is divided into two panes. The left pane shows information about the document, the download settings, the state, and streams, if any are included. The right pane shows information about individual frames in the document.

In simulating the downloading speed, Flash uses estimates of typical Internet performance, not the exact modem speed. For example, if you select to simulate a modem speed of 28.8 Kbps, Flash sets the actual rate to 2.3 Kbps to reflect typical Internet performance. The profiler also compensates for the added compression support for SWF files, which reduces the file size and improves streaming performance.

When external SWF files, GIF and XML files, and variables are streamed into a player by using ActionScript calls such as loadMovie and getUrl, the data flows at the rate set for streaming. The stream rate for the main SWF file is reduced based on the reduction of bandwidth caused by the additional data requests. It's helpful to test your document at each speed and on each computer that you plan to support. This helps you ensure that the document doesn't overburden the slowest connection and computer for which it is designed.

You can also generate a report of frames that are slowing playback and then optimize or eliminate some of the content in those frames. For more information, see Optimizing Flash documents.

To change the settings for the SWF file created using the Test Movie and Test Scene commands, use File > Publish Settings. For more information, see Publishing Flash documents.

To test download performance:

  1. Do one of the following:

    • Select Control > Test Scene or Control > Test Movie.

      If you test a scene or document, Flash publishes the current selection as a SWF file using the settings in the Publish Settings dialog box. (See Publishing Flash documents.) The SWF file opens in a new window and begins playing immediately.

    • Select File > Open, and select a SWF file.

  2. Select View > Download Settings, and select a download speed to determine the streaming rate that Flash simulates: 14.4 Kbps, 28.8 Kbps, 56 Kbps, DSL, T1 or a user setting. To enter a custom user setting, select Customize.

  3. When viewing the SWF file, select View > Bandwidth Profiler to show a graph of the downloading performance.

    The left side of the profiler displays information about the document, its settings, its state, and streams, if any are included in the document.

    The right section of the profiler shows the Timeline header and graph. In the graph, each bar represents an individual frame of the document. The size of the bar corresponds to that frame's size in bytes. The red line beneath the Timeline header indicates whether a given frame streams in real time with the current modem speed set in the Control menu. If a bar extends above the red line, the document must wait for that frame to load.

  4. Select View > Simulate Download to turn streaming off or on.

    If you turn streaming off, the document starts over without simulating a web connection.

  5. Click a bar on the graph to show settings for the corresponding frame in the left window and stop the document.

  6. If necessary, adjust the view of the graph by taking one of the following actions:

    • Select View > Streaming Graph to show which frames cause pauses.

      This default view displays alternating light and dark gray blocks that represent each frame. The side of each block indicates its relative byte size. The first frame stores a symbol's contents, so it is often larger than other frames.

    • Select View > Frame by Frame Graph to display the size of each frame.

      This view helps you see which frames contribute to streaming delays. If any frame block extends above the red line in the graph, Flash Player stops playback until the entire frame downloads.

  7. Close the test window to return to the authoring environment.

After you set up a test environment using the Bandwidth Profiler, you can open any SWF file directly in test mode. The file opens in a Flash Player window, using the Bandwidth Profiler and other selected viewing options.

To generate a report listing the amount of data in the final Flash Player file:

  • Select File > Publish Settings, and click the Flash tab.

  • Select Generate Size Report.

  • Click Publish.

Flash generates a text file with the extension .txt. (If the document file is myMovie.fla, the text file is myMovie Report.txt.) The report lists the size of each frame, shape, text, sound, video and ActionScript script by frame.

 

Printing from the Flash authoring tool

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You can print frames from Flash documents as you work, to preview and edit your documents.

You can also specify frames to be printable from Flash Player by a viewer that shows the Flash document. See Printing from SWF Files.

When printing frames from a Flash document, you use the Print dialog box to specify the range of scenes or frames you want to print as well as the number of copies. In Windows, the Page Setup dialog box specifies paper size, orientation, and various print options--including margin settings and whether all frames are to be printed for each page. On the Macintosh, these options are divided between the Page Setup and the Print Margins dialog boxes.

The Print and Page Setup dialog boxes are standard within either operating system, and their appearance depends on the selected printer driver.

To set printing options:

  1. Select File > Page Setup (Windows) or File > Print Margins (Macintosh).

  2. Set page margins. Select both Center options to print the frame in the center of the page.

  3. In the Frames pop-up menu, select whether to print all frames in the document or only the first frame of each scene.

  4. In the Layout pop-up menu, select from the following options:

Actual Size prints the frame at full size. Enter a value for Scale to reduce or enlarge the printed frame.

Fit on One Page reduces or enlarges each frame so it fills the print area of the page.

Storyboard options print several thumbnails on one page. You can select from Boxes, Grid, or Blank. Enter the number of thumbnails per page in the Frames text box. Set the space between the thumbnails in the Story Margin text box. Select Label to print the frame label as a thumbnail.

To print frames:

  • Select File > Print.

 

Copyright ADOBE - All Rights Reserved Worldwide

 


More Topics:

Working with Flash Documents

How to work in Flash WorkSpace

Working with Projects in Flash

Process to Build your First Application in Flash

Using Symbols, Instances and Library Assets in Flash

How to Build Video Player in Flash

How to Work with Color, Strokes and Fills in Flash

How to Create Document in Flash

What is Vector and Bitmap Graphics in Flash

How to Create a Banner in Flash, Part 1

How to Work with Text in Flash

How to Create a Banner in Flash, Part 2

How to Use Imported Artwork in Flash

How to Create a Banner in Flash, Part 3

How to Work with Graphic Objects in Flash

How to Work with Layers in Flash

How to Use Filters and Blends

Working with Graphics in Flash

What is Accessibility Features in Flash

How to Create Motion (Shape Tween & Motion Tween) in Flash

How to Create an Application in Flash

What is Masking in Flash

How to Work with Video in Flash

How to Use Layout Tools in Flash

What are Behaviors in Flash

How to Work with Sound in Flash

How to Create Symbols and Instances in Flash

What is ActionScript in Flash

How to Write ActionScript With Script Assist in Flash

How to Add Button Animation and Navigation in Flash

What is Data Integration in Flash

How to Work with Screens

How to Create a Presentation with Screens

What is Extending Flash

How to Create Multilanguage Text in Flash

How to Create Graphics: Draw in Flash

What is Flash Lite

Ways of Data Integration

How to Create Graphics: Create a Timeline Animation in Flash

Getting Started with Flash Lite in Flash

How to Publish Flash Documents

How to Create Graphics: Making Animations with Easing

Learning Flash Lite 1.X ActionScript in Flash

How to Export Flash Content and Images from Flash

How to Create Graphics: Applying Gradients in Flash

Process of Writing and Editing ActionScript 2.0 in Flash

How to Create Accessible Content in Flash

How to Create Graphics: Apply Graphic Filters and Blends

What is Data and Data Types in Flash

Process of Printing from SWF Files in Flash

Using ActionScript: How to Use Script Assist mode in Flash

Learn Syntax and Language Fundamentals in Flash

How to Create E-learning Content in Flash

Using ActionScript: How to Write Scripts in Flash

Working with Functions and Methods in Flash

Process of Using Templates in Flash

Using ActionScript: Process of Adding Interactivity in Flash

What are Classes in Flash

Control Tag Summary of XML to UI in Flash

Using ActionScript: How to Create a Form with Conditional Logic and Send Data in Flash

What is Inheritance in Flash

What is Data Integration: Overview

Using ActionScript: How to Work with Objects and Classes in Flash

Overview on Interfaces in Flash

What is Data Integration: Using XML for a Timesheet

How to Work with Text and Strings in Flash

How to use Handling Events in Flash

What is Data Integration: Using XUpdate to Update the Timesheet

Learning Animation, Filters and Drawings in Flash

How to Work with Movie Clips in Flash

How to Create Interaction with ActionScript in Flash

How to Work with Images, Sound, and Video in Flash

How to Work with External Data in Flash

What is Security in Flash

How to Debug Applications in Flash

List of Error Messages in Flash

Using Object-Oriented Programming with ActionScript 1.0 in Flash

How to Write Scripts for Earlier Versions of Flash Player in Flash

List of all Keyboard Keys and Key Code Values for using in Flash

Terminology

Introduction to Components in Flash

What are Components in Flash

How to Create an Application with Components

How to Work with Components in Flash

How to Handle Component Events in Flash

How to Customize Components in Flash

How to Create Components in Flash

What is Collection Properties in Flash