FOTD 12: Flash 8 – Enhanced Strokes

Flash has made some significant strides to become more expressive with version 8, and both today and Friday’s FOTD will look at two specific features in this category- todays focus on updates to Strokes that should make Flash 8 much more flexible in the design department.
(Note- these enhanced stroke features are only available when publishing to Flash Player 8.)


The first little enhancement is called ‘stroke hinting’ which means, in a nutshell, you won’t see blurry vertical or horizontal lines anymore, as Flash now does a much better job of seeing when an anchor point is positioned at a subpixel level and adjusting for it accordingly. Just check this feature ‘on’ in the Property Inspector for your selected stroke (if you’re publishing to Flash Player 8), and it’ll take care of the rest.You can also now control how your strokes scale via a popup menu in the Property Inspector- there are certainly cases when you wouldn’t want a stroke to scale relatively when the container movie clip is scaled (for example, a user interface that, when expanded, needs to grow horizontally but keep a consistent height vertically). Flash 8 supports 4 different modes to control how and when your strokes are resized:

  • Normal
    Scales vertically/horizontally with your movie clip.
  • Horizontal
    Scales horizontally as your movie clip is resized, but not vertically.
  • Vertical
    Scales vertically as your movie clip is resized, but not horizontally.
  • None
    Stroke does not resize with the container movie clip.

JoinsAlong with the default round join available in Flash MX 2004 and earlier, you can now specify bevelled and mitered joins in your Flash 8 strokes. Also, you can specify the miter size to further customize stroke corners. Sharp corners – something you couldn’t really achieve without trickery in previous versions of Flash – are now available. Here’s a visual example of the differences between the join styles:

joins_diagram.jpg

CapsRound caps, Square caps (as well as No caps) are available for your stroke ends in Flash 8- which will make stroke (and more importantly, dashed stroke) endpoints look a whole lot better. Here’s how these styles differ visually:

caps_diagram.jpg

You can access these features within the Properties Inspector, for any selected stroke- the settings are located over on the right:

property_inspector_strokes.jpg
The new Stroke property controls (highlighted)

The combined result of these updates is significant, affording you far more control over strokes in your Flash movies and applications than ever before. And they represent just one of many ‘expressive’ features in Flash 8 that will help you get a lot more work done directly in the Flash authoring environment, without needing to downshift to external illustration applications. Enjoy!