Modify > Timeline > Distribute to Layers

Here is the first little gem I wanted to post about. We were watching a user working on a project in Flash, and they had imported about 20 images which all got imported to the same layer on the stage. They then began to manually move each image to its own layer (a very tedious process). Of course, Flash has a “Distribute to Layers” command that does exactly this. Basically, select all of the items / objects on your stage that you want to distribute to their own layers and select Modify > Timeline > Distribute to Layers (SHIFT-COMMAND-D on Mac). This will place each item on its own layer of the timeline.

The user was really excited to learn about this and used it to distribute the images to their own layers. However, they then used the command in a way that surprised me. They had accidentally placed two items on the same layer. I do this all of the time, and usually cut the item (Edit > Cut), create a new frame, and then paste it in place (Edit > Paste in Place) on the new frame, a really tedious / annoying process. The user just used the Distribute to Layers command to automatically place the item on its own layer. Something really simple, that I had never thought of, but will save me a lot of hassle in the future.

11 Responses to Modify > Timeline > Distribute to Layers

  1. Greg Burch says:

    Hey thats cool I do the same thing as you and never thought to do that in normal work, just when I would import stuff or get assets from a designer.

  2. You know what..i recently rediscovered this same feature, when i got a bunch of flash animations that contained a lot of ‘typewriter’ text done in a different language. Writing a component for this was out of the question and “Distribute to Layers” saved me a lot of time there. 🙂

  3. nuno mira says:

    I’ve always used this!(Crtl+Shift + D on pc) :)When you do this with movie clips and or buttons after selecting everything you want, or even the keyframes, if the objects already have instance names assigned to them, the layers are named after them; if they don’t have instance names they get the names the objects have in the library.In case of text fields, the first charaters of the text content are used.For some reason, this automatically naming layers doesn’t work when you aplly it to a component.I find this technique an easy, fast and wonderful way of organizing your work!

  4. PIX8 says:

    wicked….what a time saver for flash slaves 😉

  5. DanD says:

    Does anyone else have a problem with Distributing to Layers shifting the distributed symbols a few tenths of a pixel one way or another in MX 2004? Especially text fields. I used to love to use this method just to autoatically name all my layers, but i noticed it started moving stuff slightly in MX 2004 on the Mac.

  6. Sean McKibben says:

    The only problem here is that, at least on the mac, the distribute to layers command actually takes over your clipboard. For example, you have two symbols on a layer: “Circle” and “Square”, you cut (Command-x) “Circle”, then you select “Square” and do a “Distribute to Layers”, then you paste (Command-v). Unfortunately, you paste a square, even though you’ve never intentionally modified your clipboard. Your “Circle” is now gone. Boo.Maybe in 7.0.2… oh yeah, it’s Macromedia policy never to fix bugs, especially for the mac. (Sorry for the complaint, but distribute to layers should definitely not eat my homework, er, clipboard)

  7. mike chambers says:

    >oh yeah, it’s Macromedia policy never to fix bugsUmm… we have already released one update to 2004, and are about to release another one (with over 120 new bugs fixed).See: more info.mike

  8. Sean McKibben says:

    Ok, I’ll stick my foot in my mouth about bug fixes, but only once its released. Now that I’m aware that the next update even has a code name, there’s a glimmer of hope.Now if I could just see a bit more of a return on my DevNet subscription…My issue here is what I haven’t gotten from my $1300 DevNet investment…compared to what I got from Microsoft for my $1100 Universal Subscription. The difference is staggering: 8 kinda neat but not so useful CDs from Macromedia vs. 30 or so DVDs with everything under the sun on them from microsoft. Would it kill macromedia to throw us a bone, or RoboDemo or something? My renewal is coming up, and I have to find some reason to drop $600… I consider properly working panels to be a bug fix – regardless of how much rewriting the flash team has to do.

  9. Jim Richards says:

    I actually use this in order to create video segments by importing jpg sequence format and distributing it into layers and exporting it as flash or video, I learned it from one of the articles at about Macromedia Flash.

  10. Mads says:

    I know this post may be long dead, but I did a search for this and it turned out on top.PIX8, I have the same annoying problem with symbols being shifted slightly after the Distribute to Layers command. Has anyone found a solution for this? Mike?

  11. tom schreiber says:

    DISTRIBUTE TO LAYERS PIXEL SHIFT BUGsame here. the use of “Distribute to Layers” is breaking my tight layouts by shifting object a fraction of a pixel. -afterall, the command is named ‘distribute to layers’ not ‘throw stuff around randomly’please let me know when we can expect a fix on this. would be very much appreciated.-tom