FOTD 05: Flash 8 – Script Assist

In Flash MX 2004, the ‘Normal’ mode for Actionscript was removed in favor of behaviors, and the Flash community arose to let the Flash team know how exactly much it was missed. And they listened. Now, I can’t say that Normal Mode is back, per se- but I can say that Flash 8′s Script Assist feature is a logical evolution of Normal Mode (in my opinion) you’ll find welcome if you missed the functionality last time around.


Now what’s the difference between Normal Mode and Flash 8′s new “Script Assist” feature, you say?On opening the Flash 8 Actions panel, there’s a new button in the upper right labelled (as you’d guess) ‘Script Assist’- which when clicked, actually looks an awful lot like the old tried-and-true Normal mode. When entering Script Assist mode, your code will be compiled- and unless there are pre-existing bugs in your code, you should be presented with the Script Assist user interface.Tip: you can also enter Script Assist mode by the keyboard shortcut control-shift-E (Win) or command-shift-E (Mac).

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Script Assist Interface

Now you may be thinking this could be the shortest Feature of the Day, given the familiarity of that screenshot to Flash MX (and earlier) veterans- but there are a few slight changes and updates between Flash MX Normal Mode and Flash 8 Script Assist to note. First, editing your AS code does not generate the familiar “Your script will be reformatted�? dialog box that Normal mode AS used to.Secondly (and in my opinion, far more importantly), parameters now have their own edit fields (no more entering parameters as a comma-delimited list into a single input field!), which will greatly help less technical scripters get things right the first time. Note in the screenshot above that the loadSound() method is highlighted, and there are edit fields for both the ‘URL’ and ‘isStreaming’ parameters. Far more intuitive an experience for those who don’t have the Actionscript Dictionary imprinted on their cerebral cortexes, or care to.Although error messages/highlighting were removed, the bottom ‘status bar’ area of the UI will now show errors and/or player version mismatches quite clearly as so:

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Script Assist Error Messages

For those who love to modify their experience- method/AS editing dialogs, which were fixed and static in the old Normal Mode, are now driven by an XML file, so developers can create custom method editing UIs as necessary. This lets you tweak the UI as you like- as noted earlier, no more comma-delimited parameters in a single entry box. You can provide a separate entry field for each method/parameter and cut down on the probability of annoying bugs based on incorrectly ordered params, etc. Handy AND flexible- definitely two qualities of a feature I love to see. :)So yes- this may just be the shortest Feature of the Day I post, as if you’re one of those folks who’ve been missing Normal Mode during Flash MX 2004′s reign then most of what you’ll find in Script Assist will take little explanation. It’s true – Normal Mode Actionscript isn’t just back in it’s old form, Script Assist is Normal Mode and then some. Hope you find it even more useful than before! And as always, make sure to check Greg Rewis’ blog today for a Captivate simulation of this feature, to provide some audiovisual depth to my text-and-image ramblings here. See you again on Monday for Studio 8 Feature of the Day #5!Enjoy!