Uncovering some Gems within Flash

The Flash Team is in the middle of doing a lot of customer visits, getting information and feedback for the next version of Flash (we are currently in New York City). As part of this process we actually watch users for about an hour working on a project in Flash. This has been really interesting, and aside from learning how we can improve Flash, I have been learning a ton about Flash itself (and I thought I knew it pretty well).

Another thing we have discovered is that a lot of users ask us for features that Flash already has. Basically, a lot of users don’t know about all of the features, functionality or shortcuts in Flash (including myself).

So, I am going to try to start to post some of these little items that come up from day to day. Either things that I didn’t realize Flash could do, or features / workflows other users didn’t know about. Some of them may seem simple and mundane, but I think on the whole it will help turn up some gems.

Look for the posts to start in the coming days and weeks. Also, if there are any little gems in Flash that you know about, but don’t think others do, make sure to post it in the comments.

17 Responses to Uncovering some Gems within Flash

  1. philip says:

    I had been working daily in Flash 4 for 6 months and finally discovered right click on a movie clip and ‘Edit in Place’.The little things can make a big difference 🙂

  2. darron says:

    Two little gems that I only found out recently:If you draw a shape on the stage, you can click once inside to select the fill. If you double click inside you will select both the fill and the stroke.If you click once on the stroke, you will select that segment of the stroke. If you double click on the stroke you will select the entire stroke for the shape.I know those seem simple, but they’re very “desgner” things. Just goes to show I’m more developer than designer.. some of the little design things like that surprised me because I don’t do a lot of drawing in Flash.

  3. Brajeshwar says:

    Mike, please remember to give a links to all these nifty titbits of flash on the TMM blog too, so that we can give links to that while answering repetitive questions. I mean we can just look up there to look for links to answers.Also, when was the date that you said you are visiting India.;-)

  4. Abdul Qabiz says:

    Ok, This is simple one but many new comers dont know.1) How to create an transparent or invisible button?A: Button has four state frames “up”, “over”, “down” and “hit”. Keep first three frames empty and only define hitarea to make the button invisible on runtime, though it would be clickable.2) If you are working in a nested movieclip and want to come one level up, double click in offstage area to come one level up.I will be posting more….cheers,Abdul

  5. Flashaddict says:

    I think the most important one for every developer is the build-in actionscript dictionary. A lot of times people ask me very basic simple questions, just because they don;t know about the dictionary.When you script in AS1.0 use the prefixes for symbols. myMovie_mc, myButton_btn etc. Within the IDE of Flash you will get code hinting. The same goes for AS2.0, but because of the strong-typing you don’t need to use de prefixes anymore.But, the other day I was using SubEthaEdit with a friend of mine. (SubEthaEdit is a multiuser texteditor) We were working on the same class at the same time, when he suddenly starts to correct my syntax. He told me to use the standard JAVA syntax, likevar myMovie : MovieClip = new MovieClip ();But, when you do this, the IDE won’t recognise myMovie as a movieclip and won’t give you code hinting. Instead usevar myMove:MovieClip = new MovieClip();Well, I can go on for hours, but I give some other people the change 😉

  6. Sachin Shinde says:

    one of the very useful gem I found in flash is how to use movie clip as a button.Just creat a movie clip with three frames and label these frames as _up, _over, _down. Also, give stop() command on the first frame. Now, define any of the event of the button for the movieclip using script( i.e. onRelease). bingo, your movie clip will now work as a button.Hope this will be useful….

  7. [m] says:

    What I find very useful is the fact that button functions also work on movieclips. Beats hitTest(x,y) , everytime.And a lot of people don’t now all the panels and what they do. The info panel (ctrl + i) is very handy and known by almost everyone (I recon it is the panel I use the most) as is the transform panel (ctrl + t).But the Reference panel (shift + F1, explanation of all things actionscript) and the Movie explorer (alt + F3) aren’t that well known but equally useful. The Movie Explorer gives you an instand tree view of your whole movie (labels, actionscript, symbols, video, sounds), wich really helps to see where problems occur.P.S. if you are doing anything with actionscript beyond gotoAndPlay(), forget scenes. The make life harder than neccessairy. I haven’t checked out mx2004, so maybe those slides don’t suffer from the same problems.

  8. Marshall says:

    one of the more elusive gems i’ve come across is the rounded rectangle shortucut. If you select the rectangle tool, and click and drag on the stage to create your rectangle, before you lift you finger you can press the up and down button on the keyboard to round the edges of the rectangle.neato!

  9. TCS says:

    Quick invisible button: just draw out the shape of your desired hit area on stage; F8 -button; then go into the button and drag your shape over to the hit frame. doneOne quite obscure functionality is the “Track as”selector in the property inspector. Usage could use some clearing up for me I know.

  10. Flashaddict says:

    Agree on TCS. I never understood that option in Flash. In fact it was a question on the Flash designer exam, and it was one of the two questions which I didn’t filled in correctly! Anyone?

  11. Arindam Biswas says:

    Track as Button : — > makes button events independent of other buttons on stage.Track as Menu Item : — > present state of button event can be transferred to another button on stage.If I am not clear, i wont blame you if you end up mailing me at arindam-residingat-arindambiswas.com

  12. Phillip Kerman says:

    I’m sure it’s great having someone watching over your shoulder.Anyway, here’s my list:http://www.phillipkerman.com/ddw04/handout2.pdf

  13. Bob says:

    This is one trick I found a while back, quite usefull:http://www.flashvacuum.net/users/stimpson/cgi-bin/mt-tb.cgi/2

  14. John Dwight says:

    It was great to see you at FF2k4 in NYC, Mike. I was really impressed with the Town Meeting, and I’m happy to hear about all this user testing.I think this post and the Distribute to Layers post above points to the documentation available in Flash. It’s has gotten so wide that you almost have to go out and buy three books just to learn the basics. It’s no wonder common features miss the user.For ex., I ran right out and got FlashMX2k4 Pro (purchaser no. 448!), and didn’t know that Flash Pro has separate code editor available only in Pro until I went to FF2k4 (or was the speaker misinformed?). I’m still looking for it.

  15. af says:

    I have only one question:how many years need Macromedia fittings the RIA, Webservice, streaming Integrations needs like this:http://www.dreamfactory.com/salesforce/sforcedesktop.htmlClick om Magic …! :)Best Regards

  16. Srinivas says:

    anyone pls clear me this doubtHow do I define the clickable area of a MovieClip?