Macromedia Flash MX movies are graphics, text, animation, and applications for Web sites. They consist primarily of vector graphics, but they can also contain imported video, bitmap graphics, and sounds. Flash movies can incorporate interactivity to permit input from viewers, and you can create nonlinear movies that can interact with other Web applications. Web designers use Flash to create navigation controls, animated logos, long-form animations with synchronized sound, and even complete, sensory-rich Web sites. Flash movies use compact vector graphics, so they download rapidly and scale to the viewer's screen size.
You've probably watched and interacted with Flash movies on many Web sites. Millions of Web users have received the Flash Player with their computers, browsers, or system software; others have downloaded it from the Macromedia Web site. The Flash Player resides on the local computer, where it plays back movies in browsers or as stand-alone applications. Viewing a Flash movie on the Flash Player is similar to viewing a DVD on a DVD player—the Flash Player is the device used to display the movies you create in the Flash authoring application.
Flash documents, which have the .fla filename extension, contain all the information required to develop, design, and test interactive content. Flash documents are not the movies the Flash Player displays. Instead, you publish your FLA documents as Flash movies, which have the .swf filename extension and contain only the information needed to display the movie.
For an interactive introduction to Flash, choose Help > Lessons > Getting Started with Flash.
Artwork in Flash
Flash provides a variety of methods for creating original artwork and importing artwork from other applications. You can create objects with the drawing and painting tools, as well as modify the attributes of existing objects. See Drawing and Working with Color.
You can also import vector graphics, bitmap graphics, and video from other applications and modify the imported graphics in Flash. See Using Imported Artwork and Video.
Note: You can also import sound files, as described in Importing sounds.
Animation in Flash
Using Flash, you can animate objects to make them appear to move across the Stage and/or change their shape, size, color, opacity, rotation, and other properties. You can create frame-by-frame animation, in which you create a separate image for each frame. You can also create tweened animation, in which you create the first and last frames of an animation and direct Flash to create the frames in between. See Creating Animation.
You can also use ActionScript, an object-oriented programming language, to create animation in Flash. See Understanding the ActionScript Language.
Interactive movies in Flash
Flash lets you create interactive movies, in which your audience can use the keyboard or the mouse to jump to different parts of a movie, move objects, enter information in forms, and perform many other operations.
You create interactive movies by scripting actions using ActionScript. For more information, see Creating Interaction with ActionScript. For complete information on using ActionScript to create advanced interactivity, see the online ActionScript Dictionary in the Help menu.
Application development in Flash
Flash provides movie clips with defined parameters, called components, to aid in developing rich user experiences in Flash movies. Each built-in Flash component has its own unique set of ActionScript methods that allow you to set and change the authoring parameters and additional options at runtime. By combining the easy drop-in capabilities of the predefined components with the powerful capabilities of ActionScript, you can create fully functional applications on the Web. For more information on components, see Using Components.
For an interactive introduction to components, choose Help > Tutorials > Introduction to Components.
The Stage and workspace
Like films, Flash movies divide lengths of time into frames. The Stage is where you compose the content for individual frames in the movie, drawing artwork on it directly or arranging imported artwork on it. For more information on frames, see Using frames and keyframes.
The Stage is where you compose individual frames in a movie.
Viewing the Stage
You can change your view of the Stage by changing the magnification level or moving the Stage within the Flash work environment. You can also adjust your view of the Stage using the View commands.
To view the entire Stage on the screen, or to view just a particular area of your drawing at high magnification, you can change the magnification level. The maximum magnification depends on the resolution of your monitor and the document size.
To magnify or reduce your view of the Stage, do one of the following:
To zoom in on a certain element, select the Zoom tool and click the element. To switch the Zoom tool between zooming in or out, use the Enlarge or Reduce modifiers or Alt-click (Windows) or Option-click (Macintosh).
To zoom in on a specific area of your drawing, drag a rectangular selection marquee with the Zoom tool. Flash sets the magnification level so that the specified rectangle fills the window.
To zoom in on or out of the entire Stage, choose View > Zoom In or View > Zoom Out.
To zoom in or out by a specified percentage, choose View > Magnification and select a percentage from the submenu, or select a percentage from the Zoom control at the lower left corner of the application window.
To display the contents of the current frame, choose View > Magnification > Show All, or choose Show All from the Zoom control at the lower left corner of the application window. If the scene is empty, the entire Stage is displayed.
To display the entire Stage, choose View > Magnification > Show Frame or choose Show Frame from the Zoom control at the lower left corner of the application window.
To display the work area surrounding the Stage, choose View > Work Area. The work area is shown in light gray. Use the Work Area command to view elements in a scene that are partly or completely outside of the Stage. For example, to have a bird fly into a frame, you would initially position the bird outside of the Stage in the work area.
Moving the view of the Stage
When the Stage is magnified, you may not be able to see all of it. The Hand tool lets you move the Stage to change the view without having to change the magnification.
To move the Stage view:
1 In the toolbox, select the Hand tool. To temporarily switch between another tool and the Hand tool, hold down the Spacebar and click the tool in the toolbox.
2 Drag the Stage.
Using the grid, guides, and rulers
Flash comes with rulers and guides that help you draw and lay out objects precisely. You can place guides in a document and snap objects to those guides, or turn on the grid and snap objects to it.
Using the grid
When the grid is displayed in a document, it appears as a set of lines behind the artwork in all scenes. You can snap objects to the grid, and you can modify the grid size and grid line color.
To display or hide the drawing grid:
Choose View > Grid > Show Grid.
To turn snapping to grid lines on or off:
Choose View > Grid > Snap to Grid.
To set grid preferences:
1 Choose View > Grid > Edit Grid.
2 For Color, click the triangle in the color box and select a grid line color from the palette.
The default grid line color is gray.
3 Select or deselect Show Grid to display or hide the grid.
4 Select or deselect Snap to Grid to turn snapping to grid lines on or off.
5 For grid spacing, enter values in the text boxes to the right of the horizontal and vertical arrows.
6 For Snap Accuracy, select an option from the pop-up menu.
7 If you want to save the current settings as the default, click Save Default.
You can drag horizontal and vertical guides from the rulers onto the Stage when the rulers are displayed. You can move guides, lock guides, hide guides, and remove guides. You can also snap objects to guides, and change guide color and snap tolerance (how close objects must be to snap to a guide). Draggable guides appear only in the Timeline in which they were created.
To create custom guides or irregular guides, you use guide layers. See Using guide layers.
To display or hide the drawing guides:
Choose View > Guides > Show Guides.
Note: If the grid is visible and Snap to Grid is turned on when you create guides, guides will snap to the grid.
To turn snapping to guides on or off:
Choose View > Guides > Snap to Guides.
Note: Snapping to guides takes precedence over snapping to the grid in places where guides fall between grid lines.
To move a guide:
Use the Arrow tool to drag the guide.
To remove a guide:
With guides unlocked, use the Arrow tool to drag the guide to the horizontal or vertical ruler. For information on locking and unlocking guides, see the following procedure.
To set guide preferences:
1 Choose View > Guides > Edit Guides.
2 For Color, click the triangle in the color box and select a guide line color from the palette.
The default guide color is green.
3 Select or deselect Show Guides to display or hide guides.
4 Select or deselect Snap to Guides to turn snapping to guides on or off.
5 Select or deselect Lock Guides to lock or unlock guides.
6 For Snap Accuracy, select an option from the pop-up menu.
7 If you want to remove all guides, click Clear All.
Note: Clear All removes all guides from the current scene.
8 If you want to save the current settings as the default, click Save Default.
When rulers are displayed, they appear along the top and left sides of the document. You can change the unit of measure used in the rulers from the default of pixels. When you move an element on the Stage with the rulers displayed, lines indicating the element's dimensions appear on the rulers.
To display or hide rulers:
Choose View > Rulers.
To specify the rulers' unit of measure for a document:
Choose Modify > Document, and then select an option from the pop-up menu at the upper right.
Creating a new document
Each time you open Flash, the application creates a new file with the FLA extension. You can create additional new Flash documents as you work. To set the size, frame rate, background color, and other properties of a new document, you use the Document Properties dialog box.
You can also open a template as a new document. You can choose from standard templates that ship with Flash, or open a template you have saved previously. For information on saving a document file as a template, see Saving Flash documents.
To create a new document and set its properties:
1 Choose File > New.
2 Choose Modify > Document.
The Document Properties dialog box appears.
3 For Frame Rate, enter the number of animation frames to be displayed every second. For most computer-displayed animations, especially those playing from a Web site, 8 fps (frames per second) 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 movie 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 movie 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 movie, 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. See Using rulers. (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 these settings the default properties for all new documents, click Make Default.
To open a template as a new document:
1 Choose File > New from Template.
2 In the New Document dialog box, select a category from the Category list, and select a document from the Category Items list.
3 Click OK.
Setting preferences in Flash
Flash lets you set preferences for general application operations, editing operations, and Clipboard operations. See also Choosing drawing settings.
To set preferences:
1 Choose Edit > Preferences.
2 Click the General, Editing, Clipboard, Warning, or ActionScript Editor tab, and choose from the respective options as described in the procedures that follow. For more information on ActionScript Editor preferences, see Setting Actions panel preferences.
To set general preferences, choose from the following options:
For Undo Levels, enter a value from 0 to 200 to set the number of undo/redo levels. Undo levels require memory; the more undo levels you use, the more system memory is taken up. The default is 100.
For Printing Options (Windows only), select Disable PostScript to disable PostScript output when printing to a PostScript printer. By default, this option is deselected. Select this option if you have problems printing to a PostScript printer, but keep in mind that this will slow down printing.
For Selection Options, select or deselect Shift Select to control how Flash handles selection of multiple elements. When Shift Select is off, clicking additional elements adds them to the current selection. When Shift Select is on, clicking additional elements deselects other elements unless you hold down the Shift key.
Select Show Tooltips to display tooltips when the pointer pauses over a control. Deselect this option if you don't want to see the tooltips.
For Timeline Options, select Disable Timeline Docking to keep the Timeline from attaching itself to the application window once it has been separated into its own window. For more information, see Using the Timeline.
Select Span Based Selection to use span-based selection in the Timeline, rather than the default frame-based selection (Flash 5 used span-based selection). For more information on span-based and frame-based selection, see Working with frames in the Timeline.
Select Named Anchor on Scenes to have Flash make the first frame of each scene in a movie a named anchor. Named anchors let you use the Forward and Back buttons in a browser to jump from scene to scene in a movie. For more information, see Using named anchors.
For Highlight Color, select Use This Color and select a color from the palette, or select Use Layer Color to use the current layer's outline color.
For Font Mapping Default, select a font to use when substituting missing fonts in movies you open in Flash. See Substituting missing fonts.
To set editing preferences, choose from the following options:
For Pen Tool options, see Setting Pen tool preferences.
For Vertical Text options, select Default Text Orientation to make the default orientation of text vertical, which is useful for some Asian language fonts. By default, this option is deselected.
Select Right to Left Text Flow to reverse the default text display direction. This option is deselected by default.
Select No Kerning to turn off kerning for vertical text. This option is deselected by default, but is useful to improve spacing for some fonts that use kerning tables.
For Drawing Settings, see Choosing drawing settings.
To set Clipboard preferences, choose from the following options:
For Bitmaps (Windows only), select options for Color Depth and Resolution to specify these parameters for bitmaps copied to the Clipboard. Select Smooth to apply anti-aliasing. Enter a value in the Size Limit text box to specify the amount of RAM that is used when placing a bitmap image on the Clipboard. Increase this value when working with large or high-resolution bitmap images. If your computer has limited memory, choose None.
For Gradients (Windows only), choose an option to specify the quality of gradient fills placed in the Windows Metafile. Choosing a higher quality increases the time required to copy artwork. Use this setting to specify gradient quality when pasting items to a location outside of Flash. When you are pasting within Flash, the full gradient quality of the copied data is preserved regardless of the Gradients on Clipboard setting.
For PICT Settings (Macintosh only), for Type, select Objects to preserve data copied to the Clipboard as vector artwork, or select one of the bitmap formats to convert the copied artwork to a bitmap. Enter a value for Resolution. Select Include PostScript to include PostScript data. For Gradients, choose an option to specify gradient quality in the PICT. Choosing a higher quality increases the time required to copy artwork. Use the Gradients setting to specify gradient quality when pasting items to a location outside of Flash. When you are pasting within Flash, the full gradient quality of the copied data is preserved regardless of the Gradient setting.
For FreeHand Text, select Maintain Text as Blocks to keep text editable in a pasted FreeHand file.
To set warning preferences, choose one of the following options:
Select Warn on Save for Macromedia Flash 5 Compatibility to have Flash warn you when you try to save documents with Flash MX-specific content to a Flash 5 file. This option is selected by default.
Select Warn on Missing Fonts to have Flash warn you when you open a Flash document that uses fonts that are not installed on your computer. This option is selected by default.
Select Warn on Loss of Expert Mode Formatting to have Flash warn you of any expert mode formatting that will be lost when you switch to normal mode in the Actions panel. This option is selected by default.
Select Warn on Reading Generator Content to have Flash display a red "X" over any Generator objects, as a reminder that Generator objects are not supported in Flash MX.
Select Warn on Inserting Frames when Importing Content to have Flash alert you when it inserts frames in your document to accommodate audio or video files that you import.
Using the Property inspector to change document attributes
The Property inspector makes it easy to access and change the most commonly used attributes of a document. You can make changes to document attributes in the Property inspector without accessing the menus or panels that contain these features. For more information on the Property inspector, see Panels and the Property inspector.
To change document properties with the Property inspector:
1 Deselect all assets, then select the Pointer tool.
2 If the Property inspector is not visible, choose Window > Properties.
3 Click the Size control to display the Document Properties dialog box and access its settings. For more information on the Document Properties dialog box, see Creating a new document.
4 To choose 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 be displayed every second.
6 Click the Publish control 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.
Customizing keyboard shortcuts
You can choose keyboard shortcuts in Flash to match the shortcuts you use in other applications, or to streamline your Flash workflow. By default, Flash uses built-in keyboard shortcuts designed for the Flash application. You can also select a built-in keyboard shortcut set from one of several popular graphics applications, including Fireworks, Adobe Illustrator, and Adobe Photoshop.
To create a custom keyboard shortcut set, you duplicate an existing set, and then add or remove shortcuts from the new set. You can delete custom shortcut sets.
To select a keyboard shortcut set:
1 Choose Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts.
2 In the Keyboard Shortcuts dialog box, choose a shortcut set from the Current Set pop-up menu.
To create a new keyboard shortcut set:
1 Select a keyboard shortcut set as described above.
2 Click the Duplicate Set button.
3 Enter a name for the new shortcut set and click OK.
To rename a custom keyboard shortcut set:
1 In the Keyboard Shortcuts dialog box, choose a shortcut set from the Current Set pop-up menu.
2 Click the Rename Set button.
3 In the Rename dialog box, enter a new name and click OK.
To add or remove a keyboard shortcut:
1 Choose Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts and select the set that you want to modify.
2 From the Commands pop-up menu, select Drawing Menu Commands, Drawing Tools, or Test Movie Menu Commands to view shortcuts for the selected category.
3 In the Commands list, select the command for which you want to add or remove a shortcut.
An explanation of the selected command appears in the Description area in the dialog box.
4 Do one of the following:
To add a shortcut, click the Add Shortcut (+) button.
To remove a shortcut, click the Remove Shortcut (-) button and proceed to step 6.
5 If you are adding a shortcut, enter the new shortcut key combination in the Press Key text box.
Note: To enter the key combination, simply press the keys on the keyboard. You do not need to spell out key names, such as Control, Option, and so on.
6 Click Change.
7 Repeat this procedure to add or remove additional shortcuts.
8 Click OK.
To delete a keyboard shortcut set:
1 Choose Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts. In the Keyboard Shortcuts dialog box, click the Delete Set button.
2 In the Delete Set dialog box, choose a shortcut set and click Delete.
Note: You cannot delete the built-in keyboard shortcut sets that ship with Flash.
Using scenes and the Scene panel
To organize a movie thematically, you can use scenes. For example, you might use separate scenes for an introduction, a loading message, and credits.
When you publish a Flash movie that contains more than one scene, the scenes in the movie play back in the order they are listed in the Scene panel in the Flash document. Frames in the movie are numbered consecutively through scenes. For example, if a movie 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 movie after each scene, or to let users navigate the movie in a nonlinear fashion, you use actions. See Creating Interaction with ActionScript.
To display the Scene panel:
Choose Window > Scene.
To view a particular scene:
Choose View > Go To and then choose 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.
Choose Insert > Scene.
To delete a scene, do one of the following:
Click the Delete Scene button in the Scene panel.
Open the scene you want to delete and choose Insert > Remove Scene.
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 movie:
Drag the scene name to a different location in the Scene panel.
Using the Timeline
The Timeline organizes and controls a movie's content over time in layers and frames. Like films, Flash movies divide lengths of time into frames. Layers are like multiple film strips stacked on top of each other, each containing a different image that appears on the Stage. The major components of the Timeline are layers, frames, and the playhead.
Layers in a document are listed in a column on the left side of the Timeline. Frames contained in each layer appear in a row to the right of the layer name. The Timeline header at the top of the Timeline indicates frame numbers. The playhead indicates the current frame displayed on the Stage.
The Timeline status display at the bottom of the Timeline indicates the selected frame number, the current frame rate, and the elapsed time to the current frame.
Note: When an animation is played, the actual frame rate is displayed; this may differ from the movie frame rate if the computer can't display the animation quickly enough.
You can change the way frames are displayed, as well as display thumbnails of frame content in the Timeline. The Timeline shows where there is animation in a movie, including frame-by-frame animation, tweened animation, and motion paths. For more information on animation, see Creating Animation.
Controls in the layers section of the Timeline let you hide or show, lock, or unlock layers, as well as display layer contents as outlines. See Editing layers and layer folders.
You can insert, delete, select, and move frames in the Timeline. You can also drag frames to a new location on the same layer or to a different layer. See Working with frames in the Timeline.
Changing the appearance of the Timeline
By default, the Timeline appears at the top of the main application window, above the Stage. To change its position, you can dock the Timeline to the bottom or either side of the main application window, or display the Timeline as its own window. You can also hide the Timeline.
You can resize the Timeline to change the number of layers and frames that are visible. When there are more layers than can be displayed in the Timeline, you can view additional layers by using the scroll bars on the right side of the Timeline.
To move the Timeline:
Drag from the area above the Timeline header.
Drag the Timeline to the edge of the application window to dock it. Control-drag to prevent the Timeline from docking.
To lengthen or shorten layer name fields:
Drag the bar separating the layer names and the frames portion of the Timeline.
To resize the Timeline, do one of the following:
If the Timeline is docked to the main application window, drag the bar separating the Timeline from the application window.
If the Timeline is not docked to the main application window, drag the lower right corner (Windows) or the Size box in the lower right corner (Macintosh).
Moving the playhead
The playhead moves through the Timeline to indicate the current frame displayed on the Stage. The Timeline header shows the frame numbers of the animation. To display a frame on the Stage, you move the playhead to the frame in the Timeline.
When you're working with a large number of frames that can't all appear in the Timeline at once, you can move the playhead along the Timeline to easily locate the current frame.
To go to a frame:
Click the frame's location in the Timeline header, or drag the playhead to the desired position.
To center the Timeline on the current frame:
Click the Center Frame button at the bottom of the Timeline.
Changing the display of frames in the Timeline
You can change the size of frames in the Timeline, and display sequences of frames with tinted cells. You can also include thumbnail previews of frame content in the Timeline. These thumbnails are useful as an overview of the animation, but they require extra screen space.
To change the display of frames in the Timeline:
1 Click the Frame View button in the upper right corner of the Timeline to display the Frame View pop-up menu.
2 Choose from the following options:
To change the width of frame cells, choose Tiny, Small, Normal, Medium, or Large. (The Large frame-width setting is useful for viewing the details of sound waveforms.)
To decrease the height of frame cell rows, choose Short.
To turn tinting of frame sequences on or off, choose Tinted Frames.
To display thumbnails of the content of each frame scaled to fit the Timeline frames, choose Preview. This can cause the apparent content size to vary.
To display thumbnails of each full frame (including empty space), choose Preview in Context. This is useful for viewing the way elements move within their frames over the course of the animation, but previews are generally smaller than with the Preview option.
Frame View pop-up menu
Short and Normal frame view options
Using frames and keyframes
A keyframe is a frame in which you define a change in an animation or include frame actions to modify a movie. Flash can tween, or fill in, the frames between keyframes to produce fluid animations. Because keyframes let you produce animation without drawing each frame, they make creating movies easier. You can change the length of a tweened animation by dragging a keyframe in the Timeline.
The order in which frames and keyframes appear in the Timeline determines the order in which they are displayed in a movie. You can arrange keyframes in the Timeline to edit the sequence of events in a movie.
Working with frames in the Timeline
In the Timeline, you work with frames and keyframes, placing them in the order you want the objects in the frames to appear. You can change the length of a tweened animation by dragging a keyframe in the Timeline.
You can perform the following modifications on frames or keyframes:
Insert, select, delete, and move frames or keyframes
Drag frames and keyframes to a new location on the same layer or on a different layer
Copy and paste frames and keyframes
Convert keyframes to frames
Drag an item from the Library panel onto the Stage to add the item to the current keyframe
The Timeline provides a view of tweened frames in an animation. For information on editing tweened frames, see Creating Animation.
Flash offers two different methods for selecting frames in the Timeline. In frame-based selection (the default) you select individual frames in the Timeline. In span-based selection, the entire frame sequence, from one keyframe to the next, is selected when you click any frame in the sequence. For information on using span-based selection, see Setting preferences in Flash.
To insert frames in the Timeline, do one of the following:
To insert a new frame, choose Insert > Frame.
To create a new keyframe, choose Insert > Keyframe, or right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Macintosh) the frame where you want to place a keyframe, and choose Insert Keyframe from the context menu.
To create a new blank keyframe, choose Insert > Blank Keyframe, or right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Macintosh) the frame where you want to place the keyframe, and choose Insert Blank Keyframe from the context menu.
To delete or modify a frame or keyframe, do one of the following:
To delete a frame, keyframe, or frame sequence, select the frame, keyframe, or sequence and choose Insert > Remove Frame, or right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Macintosh) the frame, keyframe, or sequence and choose Remove Frame from the context menu. Surrounding frames remain unchanged.
To move a keyframe or frame sequence and its contents, drag the keyframe or sequence to the desired location.
To extend the duration of a keyframe, Alt-drag (Windows) or Option-drag (Macintosh) the keyframe to the final frame of the new sequence duration.
To copy a keyframe or frame sequence by dragging, Alt-click (Windows) or Option-click (Macintosh) and drag the keyframe to the new location.
To copy and paste a frame or frame sequence, select the frame or sequence and choose Edit > Copy Frames. Select a frame or sequence that you want to replace, and choose Edit > Paste Frames.
To convert a keyframe to a frame, select the keyframe and choose Insert > Clear Keyframe, or right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Macintosh) the keyframe and choose Clear Keyframe from the context menu. The cleared keyframe and all frames up to the subsequent keyframe are replaced with the contents of the frame preceding the cleared keyframe.
To change the length of a tweened sequence, drag the beginning or ending keyframe left or right. To change the length of a frame-by-frame sequence, see Creating frame-by-frame animations.
To add an item from the library to the current keyframe, drag the item from the Library panel onto the Stage.
Using the Property inspector to set frame attributes
The Property inspector simplifies document creation by making it easy to edit frame attributes. The contents of the Property inspector change to reflect the contents of the frame, letting you edit a frame without accessing the menus or panels that contain these features.
In addition to changing the name of a frame and making a keyframe a named anchor, you can use the Property inspector to set animation and sound attributes. To edit animation settings, you use the Tween, Scale, Ease, Rotate, Orient to Path, Sync, and Snap options in the Property inspector. For more information, see Tweening instances, groups, and type. You use the Sound, Effect, Edit, Sync, and Loop options to edit sound settings. See Adding sounds to a movie.
To edit the name of a frame:
1 If the Property inspector is not visible, choose Window > Properties.
2 Type a new name for the frame in the Frame text box in the Property inspector.
Creating frame labels and comments
Frame labels are useful for identifying keyframes in the Timeline and should be used instead of frame numbers when targeting frames in actions such as Go To. If you add or remove frames, the label moves with the frame it was originally attached to, whereas frame numbers can change. Frame labels are included when you publish a document as a Flash movie, so avoid long names to minimize file size.
Frame comments are useful for making notes to yourself and others working on the same document. Frame comments are not exported when you publish a document as a Flash movie, so you can make them as long as you want.
To create a frame label or comment:
1 Select a frame.
2 If the Property inspector is not visible, choose Window > Properties.
3 In the Property inspector, enter the frame label or comment in the Frame Label text box. To make the text a comment, enter two slashes (//) at the beginning of each line of the text.
Using named anchors
Named anchors simplify navigation in Flash movies by letting viewers use the Forward and Back buttons in a browser to jump from frame to frame or scene to scene. Named anchor keyframes are indicated in the Timeline by an anchor icon. If you prefer to have Flash automatically make the first keyframe of each scene a named anchor, see Setting preferences in Flash.
A named anchor keyframe in Scene 1
To take advantage of named anchor keyframes in your final Flash movie, select the Flash w/ Named Anchors option in the Template pop-up menu on the HTML tab of the Publish Settings dialog box. For more information on the Publish Settings dialog box, see Choosing publish settings Flash movie format.
To use Flash movies with named anchors, you must be running Flash Player 6 on your browser.
Note: If you save a document with named anchor keyframes as a Flash 5 document, the named anchor keyframes are converted to regular labeled frames.
To make a selected keyframe a named anchor:
1 If the Property inspector is not visible, choose Window > Properties.
2 Type a name for the keyframe in the text box in the Property inspector.
3 Select the Named Anchor option.
To make a named anchor keyframe to a regular keyframe:
1 Select the named anchor keyframe in the Timeline.
2 Deselect the Named Anchor option in the Property inspector.
Layers are like transparent sheets of acetate stacked on top of each other. Layers help you organize the artwork in your document. You can draw and edit objects on one layer without affecting objects on another layer. Where there is nothing on a layer, you can see through it to the layers below.
To draw, paint, or otherwise modify a layer or folder, you select the layer to make it active. A pencil icon next to a layer or folder name indicates that the layer or folder is active. Only one layer can be active at a time (although more than one layer can be selected at a time).
When you create a new Flash document, it contains one layer. You can add more layers to organize the artwork, animation, and other elements in your document. The number of layers you can create is limited only by your computer's memory, and layers do not increase the file size of your published movie. You can hide, lock, or rearrange layers.
You can also organize and manage layers by creating layer folders and placing layers in them. You can expand or collapse layers in the Timeline without affecting what you see on the Stage. It's a good idea to use separate layers or folders for sound files, actions, frame labels, and frame comments. This helps you find these items quickly when you need to edit them.
In addition, you can use special guide layers to make drawing and editing easier, and mask layers to help you create sophisticated effects.
For an interactive introduction to layers, choose Help > Lessons > Understanding Layers.
Creating layers and layer folders
When you create a new layer or folder, it appears above the selected layer. A newly added layer becomes the active layer.
To create a layer, do one of the following:
Click the Add Layer button at the bottom of the Timeline.
Choose Insert > Layer.
Right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Macintosh) a layer name in the Timeline and choose Insert Layer from the context menu.
To create a layer folder, do one of the following:
Select a layer or folder in the Timeline, then choose Insert > Layer Folder.
Right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Macintosh) a layer name in the Timeline, then choose Insert Folder from the context menu.
The new folder appears above the layer or folder you selected.
Viewing layers and layer folders
As you work, you may want to show or hide layers or folders. A red X next to a the name of layer or folder name indicates that it is hidden. Hidden layers are not preserved when a movie is published.
To help you distinguish which layer objects belong to, you can display all objects on a layer as colored outlines. You can change the outline color used by each layer.
You can change the height of layers in the Timeline in order to display more information (such as sound waveforms) in the Timeline. You can also change the number of layers displayed in the Timeline.
To show or hide a layer or folder, do one of the following:
Click in the Eye column to the right of the layer or folder name in the Timeline to hide that layer or folder. Click in it again to show the layer or folder.
Click the eye icon to hide all the layers and folders. Click it again to show all layers and folders.
Drag through the Eye column to show or hide multiple layers or folders.
Alt-click (Windows) or Option-click (Macintosh) in the Eye column to the right of a layer or folder name to hide all other layers and folders. Alt-click or Option-click it again to show all layers and folders.
To view the contents of a layer as outlines, do one of the following:
Click in the Outline column to the right of the layer's name to display all objects on that layer as outlines. Click in it again to turn off outline display.
Click the outline icon to display objects on all layers as outlines. Click it again to turn off outline display on all layers.
Alt-click (Windows) or Option-click (Macintosh) in the Outline column to the right of a layer's name to display objects on all other layers as outlines. Alt-click or Option-click in it again to turn off outline display for all layers.
To change a layer's outline color:
1 Do one of the following:
Double-click the layer's icon (the icon to the left of the layer name) in the Timeline.
Right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Macintosh) the layer name and choose Properties from the context menu.
Select the layer in the Timeline and choose Modify > Layer.
2 In the Layer Properties dialog box, click the Outline Color box and select a new color, enter the hexadecimal value for a color, or click the Color Picker button and choose a color.
3 Click OK.
To change layer height in the Timeline:
1 Do one of the following:
Double-click the layer's icon (the icon to the left of the layer name) in the Timeline.
Right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Macintosh) the layer name and choose Properties from the context menu.
Select the layer in the Timeline and choose Modify > Layer.
2 In the Layer Properties dialog box, choose an option for Layer Height and click OK.
To change the number of layers displayed in the Timeline:
Drag the bar that separates the Timeline from the Stage.
Editing layers and layer folders
You can rename, copy, and delete layers and folders. You can also lock layers and folders to prevent them from being edited.
By default, new layers are named by the order in which they are created: Layer 1, Layer 2, and so on. You can rename layers to better reflect their contents.
To select a layer or folder, do one of the following:
Click the name of a layer or folder in the Timeline.
Click a frame in the Timeline of the layer you want to select.
Select an object on the Stage that is located on the layer you want to select.
To select two or more layers or folders, do one of the following:
To select contiguous layers or folders, Shift-click their names in the Timeline.
To select discontiguous layers or folders, Control-click (Windows) or Command-click (Macintosh) their names in the Timeline.
To rename a layer or folder, do one of the following:
Double-click the name of a layer or folder and enter a new name.
Right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Macintosh) the name of a layer or folder and choose Properties from the context menu. Enter the new name in the Name text box and click OK.
Select the layer or folder in the Timeline and choose Modify > Layer. In the Layer Properties dialog box, enter the new name in the Name text box and click OK.
To lock or unlock one or more layers or folders, do one of the following:
Click in the Lock column to the right of the name of a layer or folder to lock it. Click in the Lock column again to unlock the layer or folder.
Click the padlock icon to lock all layers and folders. Click it again to unlock all layers and folders.
Drag through the Lock column to lock or unlock multiple layers or folders.
Alt-click (Windows) or Option-click (Macintosh) in the Lock column to the right of a layer or folder name to lock all other layers or folders. Alt-click or Option-click in the Lock column again to unlock all layers or folders.
To copy a layer:
1 Click the layer name to select the entire layer.
2 Choose Edit > Copy Frames.
3 Click the Add Layer button to create a new layer.
4 Click the new layer and choose Edit > Paste Frames.
To copy the contents of a layer folder:
1 Click the triangle to the left of the folder name to collapse it, if necessary.
2 Click the folder name to select the entire folder.
3 Choose Edit > Copy Frames.
4 Choose Insert > Layer Folder to create a new folder.
5 Click the new folder and choose Edit > Paste Frames.
To delete a layer or folder:
1 Select the layer or folder.
2 Do one of the following:
Click the Delete Layer button in the Timeline.
Drag the layer or folder to the Delete Layer button.
Right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Macintosh) the layer or folder name and choose Delete Layer from the context menu.
Note: When you delete a layer folder, all the enclosed layers and all their contents are also deleted.
Organizing layers and layer folders
You can rearrange layers and folders in the Timeline to organize your document.
Layer folders help organize your workflow by letting you place layers in a tree structure. You can expand or collapse a folder to see the layers it contains without affecting which layers are visible on the Stage. Folders can contain both layers and other folders, allowing you to organize layers in much the same way you organize files on your computer.
The layer controls in the Timeline affect all layers within a folder. For example, locking a layer folder locks all layers within that folder.
To move a layer or layer folder into a layer folder:
Drag the layer or layer folder name to the destination layer folder name.
The layer or layer folder appears inside the destination layer folder in the Timeline.
To change the order of layers or folders:
Drag one or more layers or folders in the Timeline to the desired position.
To expand or collapse a folder:
Click the triangle to the left of the folder name.
To expand or collapse all folders:
Right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Macintosh) and choose Expand All Folders or Collapse All Folders from the context menu.
Using guide layers
For help in aligning objects when drawing, you can create guide layers. You can then align objects on other layers to the objects you create on the guide layers. Guide layers do not appear in a published Flash movie. You can make any layer a guide layer. Guide layers are indicated by a guide icon to the left of the layer name.
You can also create a motion guide layer to control the movement of objects in a motion tweened animation. See Tweening motion along a path.
Note: Dragging a normal layer onto a guide layer converts the guide layer to a motion guide layer. To prevent accidentally converting a guide layer, place all guide layers at the bottom of the layer order.
To designate a layer as a guide layer:
Select the layer and right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Macintosh) and select Guide from the context menu. Select Guide again to change the layer back to a normal layer.
Previewing and testing movies
As you create a movie, you'll need to play it back to preview animation and test interactive controls. You can preview and test movies within the Flash authoring environment, in a separate test window in Flash, or in a Web browser.
Previewing movies in the authoring environment
To preview movies, you use commands in the Control menu, buttons on the Controller, or keyboard commands.
To preview the current scene, do one of the following:
Choose Control > Play.
Choose Window > Toolbars > Controller (Windows) or Window > Controller (Macintosh) and click Play.
Press Enter (Windows) or Return (Macintosh). The animation sequence plays at the frame rate you specified for the document.
To step through the frames of the animation, use the Step Forward and Step Backward buttons on the Controller, or choose those commands from the Control menu. You can also press the < and > keys on the keyboard.
To jump to the first or last frame in a movie using the Controller, use the First Frame or Last Frame button.
Note: You can also drag the playhead to view frames in a document. See Moving the playhead.
You can modify movie playback using commands in the Control menu. When using the following commands, you must also choose Control > Play to preview the movie.
To play the movie in a continuous loop:
Choose Control > Loop Playback.
To play all the scenes in a movie:
Choose Control > Play All Scenes.
To play a movie without sound:
Choose Control > Mute Sounds.
To enable frame actions or button actions:
Choose Control > Enable Simple Frame Actions or Enable Simple Buttons.
Previewing movies with the Test Movie command
Although Flash can play movies in the authoring environment, many animation and interactive functions cannot work unless the document is exported to its final Flash movie format. Using commands in the Control menu, you can export the current document as a Flash movie and immediately play it using the Test Movie command. The exported movie uses the options set in the Publish Settings dialog box. You can also use the Test Movie command to test downloading performance. See Testing movie download performance.
In addition, you can test actions in a movie using the Debugger. See Using the Debugger.
To test all interactive functions and animation:
Choose Control > Test Movie or Control > Test Scene.
Flash creates a Flash movie (a SWF file), opens it in a separate window, and plays it with the Flash Player. The SWF file is placed in the same folder as the FLA file
Previewing movies in a Web browser
For the most accurate representation of a Flash movie, you should preview it in your default Web browser.
To test the movie in a Web browser:
Choose File > Publish Preview > HTML.
Flash creates a Flash movie (a SWF file), opens it in your default Web browser, and plays it with the Flash Player. The SWF file is placed in the same folder as the FLA file. For more information, see About HTML publishing templates.
Using the Movie Explorer
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 are displayed in the Movie Explorer, choosing from text, graphics, buttons, movie clips, actions, and imported files. You can display the selected categories as movie elements (scenes), symbol definitions, or both. You can expand and collapse the navigation tree.
The Movie Explorer offers many features to streamline the workflow for creating movies. For example, you can use the Movie Explorer to do the following:
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
Replace all occurrences of a font in a document with another font
Copy all text to the Clipboard to paste into an external text editor for spell checking
Print the navigable display list currently displayed 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.
To view the Movie Explorer:
Choose Window > Movie Explorer.
To filter the categories of items displayed in the Movie Explorer:
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, choose Show Movie Elements to display items in scenes, and choose Show Symbol Definitions to display information about symbols. (Both options 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 currently displayed 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 displays 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 Do 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 option definition below.)
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 displays the elements in your movie, organized into scenes.
Show Symbol Definitions displays 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 element in the movie.
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 currently displayed in the Movie Explorer.
Speeding up movie display
To speed up the movie display, you can use commands in the View menu to turn off rendering-quality features that require extra computing and slow down movies.
None of these commands have any effect on how Flash exports a movie. To specify the display quality of Flash movies 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 movie display speed:
Choose View 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 faster.
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.
Saving Flash documents
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 MX content as a Flash 5 document.
You can save a document as a template, in order to 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 a new document.
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.
To save a Flash document:
1 Do one of the following:
To overwrite the current version on the disk, choose File > Save.
To save the document in a different location and/or with a different name, or to compress the document, choose File > Save As.
2 If you chose the Save As command, or if the document has never been saved before, enter the file name and location.
3 To save the document in Flash MX format, choose Flash MX Document from the Format pop-up menu. If an alert message indicates that content will be deleted if you save in Flash MX format, click Save As Flash MX if you wish to continue.
4 Click Save.
To revert to the last saved version of a document:
Choose File > Revert.
To save a document as a template:
1 Choose File > Save As Template.
2 In the Save As Template dialog box, enter a name for the template in the Name text box.
3 Choose 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 (up to 255 characters). The description will be displayed when the template is selected in the New Document dialog box (see Previewing and testing movies).
5 Click OK.
To save as a Flash 5 document:
1 Choose File > Save As.
2 Enter the file name and location.
3 Choose Flash 5 Document from the Format pop-up menu. If an alert message indicates that content will be deleted if you save in Flash 5 format, click Save As Flash 5 to continue.
4 Click Save.
Configuring a server for the Flash Player
For a user to view your Flash movie on the Web, the Web server must be properly configured to recognize the SWF file as a Flash movie.
Your server may already be configured properly. To test server configuration, see Flash TechNote 4151 on the Macromedia Flash Support Center. If your server is not properly configured, follow the procedure below to configure it.
Configuring a server establishes the appropriate Multipart Internet Mail Extension (MIME) types for the server to identify files with the SWF suffix as Shockwave Flash files.
A browser that receives the correct MIME type can load the appropriate plug-in, control, or helper application to process and properly display the incoming data. If the MIME type is missing or not properly delivered by the server, the browser might display an error message or a blank window with a puzzle piece icon.
Note: When you publish a Flash movie, you must configure the movie for the Flash Player in order for users to view the movie. See Publishing.
To configure a server for the Flash Player, do one of the following:
If your site is established through an Internet service provider, contact them and request that the MIME type application/x-shockwave-flash with the SWF suffix be added to the server.
If you are administering your own server, consult the documentation for your Web server software for instructions on adding or configuring MIME types.
Printing Flash documents as you edit
You can print frames from Flash documents as you work, to preview and edit your movies.
You can also specify frames to be printable from the Flash Player by a viewer displaying the Flash movie. See Creating Printable Movies.
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 printer driver selected.
To set printing options:
1 Choose 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, choose to print all frames in the movie or only the first frame of each scene.
4 In the Layout pop-up menu, choose 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. 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 preview how your scene is arranged on the printer paper:
Choose File > Print Preview.
To print frames:
Choose File > Print.