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Macromedia Flash 5  

Macromedia Flash 5

What's new in Flash 5

The new features in Flash 5 provide enhanced capabilities for creating artwork, streamlining your workflow, and creating interactivity. Flash 5 also includes greatly expanded capabilities for creating actions with ActionScript. See "What's New in ActionScript" in ActionScript Help.

Creating artwork

Enhanced color controls, including the Mixer panel, Fill and Stroke panels, Swatches panel, and Fill and Stroke toolbox controls, provide expanded capabilities for painting artwork. See Working with color overview.

New selection highlights make it easy to identify selected lines, fills, and groups as well as the color of selected objects. See Selecting objects.

Draggable guides aid you in arranging objects on the Stage. See Using the grid, guides, and rulers.

The Pen tool lets you create precise paths; it works like the Pen tool in Macromedia FreeHand or Macromedia Fireworks. See Using the Pen tool.


New panels for working with color, type, actions, frames, instances, and entire movies make it easy to access options for modifying elements in Flash movies. See Flash basics overview.

Shared libraries let you link to library items as external assets. You can create font symbols to include in shared libraries, as well as buttons, graphics, movie clips, and sounds. See Using shared libraries.

The Macromedia Dashboard provides a way for you to easily keep up with the latest information on using Flash. See Macromedia Dashboard for Flash.

Custom shortcut keys allow you to create your own shortcuts for Flash commands and functions to customize your workflow. See Customizing keyboard shortcuts.

Support for importing MP3 sound files lets you import sounds into Flash that are already compressed. This reduces the time required for publishing and exporting a movie with sound, since you don't have to compress the sounds during export. Using compressed sounds reduces the file size of completed movies and reduces memory requirements during authoring. See Adding sound overview.


Expanded ActionScript provides greatly enhanced capabilities for creating interactivity in Flash using ActionScript. See ActionScript Help.

The Movie Explorer lets you easily view the complete contents of the current movie and view the Properties panel for a selected item to modify it. See Using the Movie Explorer.

The Print action lets you assign actions for printing Flash movie frames from the Flash Player as vector or bitmap graphics. See ActionScript Help.

Flash basics overview

Flash movies are graphics and animation for Web sites. They consist primarily of vector graphics, but they can also contain imported 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 are compact, vector graphics, so they download rapidly and scale to the viewer's screen size.

The Flash workflow

As you work in Flash, you create a movie by drawing or importing artwork, arranging it on the Stage, and animating it with the Timeline. You make the movie interactive by using actions to make the movie respond to events in specified ways.
When the movie is complete, you export it as a Flash Player movie to be viewed in the Flash Player, or as a Flash stand-alone projector to be viewed with a self-contained Flash Player included within the movie itself.

You can play a Flash movie in the following ways:
  • In Internet browsers, such as Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer, that are equipped with the Flash Player
  • With the Flash ActiveX control in Microsoft Office, Microsoft Internet Explorer for Windows, and other ActiveX host environments
  • In the Flash Player, a stand-alone application similar in operation to the Flash Player plug-in
  • As a stand-alone projector, a movie file that can be played without the Flash Player software

About vector and bitmap graphics

Computers display graphics in either vector or bitmap format. Understanding the difference between the two formats can help you work more efficiently. Flash lets you create and animate compact vector graphics. It also lets you import and manipulate vector and bitmap graphics that have been created in other applications.

Vector graphics

Vector graphics describe images using lines and curves, called vectors, that also include color and position properties. For example, the image of a leaf is described by points through which lines pass, creating the shape of the leaf's outline. The color of the leaf is determined by the color of the outline and the color of the area enclosed by the outline.

When you edit a vector graphic, you modify the properties of the lines and curves that describe its shape. You can move, resize, reshape, and change the color of a vector graphic without changing the quality of its appearance. Vector graphics are resolution-independent, meaning they can be displayed on output devices of varying resolutions without losing any quality.

Bitmap graphics

Bitmap graphics describe images using colored dots, called pixels, arranged within a grid. For example, the image of a leaf is described by the specific location and color value of each pixel in the grid, creating an image much in the same manner as a mosaic.

When you edit a bitmap graphic, you modify pixels, rather than lines and curves. Bitmap graphics are resolution-dependent, because the data describing the image is fixed to a grid of a particular size. Editing a bitmap graphic can change the quality of its appearance. In particular, resizing a bitmap graphic can make the edges of the image ragged as pixels are redistributed within the grid. Displaying a bitmap graphic on an output device that has a lower resolution than the image itself also degrades the quality of its appearance.

The Flash work environment

When creating and editing movies, you typically work with these key features:

  • The Stage, the rectangular area where the movie plays
  • The Timeline, where graphics are animated over time
  • Symbols, the reusable media assets of a movie
  • The Library window, where symbols are organized
  • The Movie Explorer, which gives an overview of a movie and its structure
  • Floating, dockable panels, which enable you to modify various elements in the movie and configure the Flash authoring environment to best suit your workflow

Symbols and instances

Symbols are reusable elements that you use with a movie. Symbols can be graphics, buttons, movie clips, sound files, or fonts. When you create a symbol, the symbol is stored in the file's library. When you place a symbol on the Stage, you create an instance of that symbol.

Symbols reduce file size because, regardless of how many instances of a symbol you create, Flash stores the symbol in the file only once. It is a good idea to use symbols, animated or otherwise, for every element that appears more than once in a movie. You can modify the properties of an instance without affecting the master symbol, and you can edit the master symbol to change all instances.

Creating a new movie and setting its properties

Each time you open Flash, the application creates a new file, with the FLA extension. You can create additional new movies as you work. To set the size, frame rate, background color, and other properties of a new movie, you use the Movie Properties dialog box.

To create a new movie and set its properties:

1 Choose File > New.
2 Choose Modify > Movie. The Movie 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, choose one of the following options:
  • To specify the Stage size in pixels, enter values for Width and Height. The default movie size is 550 x 400 pixels. The minimum size is 18 pixels by 18 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 Match Contents. To minimize movie size, align all elements to the upper left corner of the Stage before using Match Contents.
  • To set the Stage size to the maximum available print area, click Match 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).
5 To set the background color of your movie, choose a color from the Background color swatch.
6 Select the unit of measure from the Ruler Units pop-up menu for rulers that you can display along the top and side of the application window. See Using the grid, guides, and rulers. (The Ruler Units option also determines the units used in the Info panel.)
7 Click OK.


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