Before you can begin to use any application, you need to understand the application's workspace area. Flash is no different. When you first launch Flas h, it opens into a new blank document. The Flash workspace is divided into various features with their own functionality.
In this unit you will be introduced to the Flash workspace, the Flash file formats and the process to set up a new Flash project.
After studying this unit, you should be able to:
explain the workflow and workspace in the Flash
demonstrate how to use the stage and tools panel
define timeline and its uses
explain using flash authoring panels
identify how to get accessibility in the Flash workspace
explain about the automating of tasks with the commands menu
1.2 Flash Workflow and Workspace
When you start to work in Flash you create and manipulate your documents and files with the help of several different types of elements like panels, bars, and windows. Any arrangement of these elements is known as "workspace". When you first start an Adobe Creative Suite component, you see the default workspace, which you can customize for the tasks you perform there. For instance, you can create one workspace for editing and another for viewing, save them, and switch between them as you work.
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The Flash Professional CS5 work area includes the command menus at the top of the screen and a variety of tools and panels for editing and adding elements to your movie. You can create all the objects for your animation in Flash, or you can import elements you've created in Illustrator, Photoshop, Adobe After Effects, and other compatible applications. By default, Flash displays the menu bar, Timeline, Stage, Tools panel, Properties inspector, and a few other panels. As you work in Flash, you can open, close, dock, undock, and move panels around the screen to fit your work style or your screen resolution. It is described graphically in Figure 1.1.
Figure 1.1: Choosing Workspace
1.2.1 How to choose a new workspace?
Following are the steps to choose a new workspace:
1. Click the Essentials button at the top right of the Flash workspace and choose a new workspace. The various panels are rearranged and resized according to their importance to the particular user. For example, the Animator and Designer workspaces put the Timeline at the top for easy and frequent access.
2. If you've moved some of the panels around and want to return to one of the prearranged workspaces, choose Window > Workspace > Reset and the name of the preset workspace.
3. To return to the default workspace, choose Window > Workspace > Essentials. For example, for our purpose we'll be using the Essentials workspace. It will appear like the Figure 1.2.
Figure 1.2: Choosing a New Workspace
1.2.2 Saving your workspace
After choosing your workspace and creating any design, you need to save your document. If you find an arrangement of panels comfortable for your style of work, you can save the custom workspace to return to it at a later date.
1. In order to save your file click the Workspace button at the top-right corner of the Flash workspace and choose New Workspace. The New Workspace dialog box appears like shown in Figure 1.3.
Figure 1.3: Saving Workspace
2. Here in the dialog box you can enter a name for your new workspace then click OK. The current arrangement of panels is saved. Your workspace is added to the options in the Workspace pull-down menu, which you can access at any time.
Self Assessment Questions
1. In Flash documents files can be manipulated using various elements such as ........................., bars, and windows.
2. The arrangement of the elements like panels, bars and windows is called..........................
1.3 Using the Stage and Tools Panel
After learning about the workspace, choosing workspace and saving the file you need to know about the stage and the tools panel used in the flash. The big white rectangle in the middle of your screen is called the Stage. This is where the Flash files are created using either image(s) that is imported in various formats. Basically, the Stage is the canvas that you work on. It contains the text, images, and video that appears on the screen. You can move elements on and off the Stage to move them in and out of view. You can use the rulers or grids to help you position items on the Stage. Additionally, you can use the Align panel and other tools. The figure 1.4 shows you a blank stage.
Always on Time
Marked to Standard
Figure 1.4: The Stage
In general by the default setting of the Flash, you'll see the grey area off the Stage where you can place elements that won't be visible to your audience. The grey area is known as the Pasteboard. To just see the Stage, choose View > Pasteboard to deselect the option. Your window will appear as in the Figure 1.5:
Figure 1.5: Adjusting the Pasteboard
1.3.1 Changing the stage properties
You can customize the stage as per your requirement. If you want to set the color and the dimensions of the Stage, these options are available in the Properties inspector, which is the vertical panel just to the right of the Stage. The Properties inspector panel will appear like the image in Figure 1.6.
Figure 1.6: Properties Inspector Panel
You can change the resolution and area of your image from the properties panel. At the bottom of the Properties inspector, you can change the desired resolution and size. (Note that the dimensions of the current Stage are set at 550 x 400 pixels). You can also choose a new color for the background of your stage from here. The next tab in the same panel is Library where you can where you store and organize symbols created in Flash, as well as imported files, including bitmaps, graphics, sound files, and video clips.
Panels contain controls for the most commonly used functions in Flash. As you learn Flash, you'll find that you can manipulate the content you create in many ways. Panels make the properties for modifying content you develop quickly available, so that you can make changes rapidly. By default, there are four Panel sets, each containing a collection of multiple Panels in each set. Flash panels serve different purposes such as the positioning and alignment of objects on the stage, the control and selection of color, a library of the objects and symbols used in the project. The Info panel shows you the sizes of images, and the work area in use. The mixer panel is used when you have to change the color of a graphic or text or you need to use a combination of different colors. Character panel is used to change the fonts type and their sizes. Instance panel is used to add instances in your document, which makes your work a little easy. You will learn about the instance further in this book.
By default your window will show you panels as in the Figure 1.7.
Figure 1.7: The Default Panel Set
You have to make a project using dimension 440 x 300. How will you change the stage size? Write down step by step.
Self Assessment Questions
3. The big white rectangle in the middle of the screen is called the ..........................
4. The stage contains the text, images, and video that ......................... on the screen.
1.4 The Timeline
The timeline is the area on the screen where you will be working with layers and frames to alter your movie's content and animation. The Timeline is located below the Stage. You can change the content on the Stage for different frames. To display a frame's content on the Stage, move the play head to that frame in the Timeline. At the bottom of the Timeline, Flash indicates the selected frame number, the current frame rate (how many frames play per second), and the time that has elapsed so far in the movie. You will stage a sequence of events over time, just as a director stages a sequence of events over time in a movie. In addition, because you can build interactive Flash movies, you can let the user select what part of the movie they wish to view. Furthermore, you use the Timeline to fine-tune or tweak your Flash movie, much like the editing process in traditional film where the editor assembles various pieces of the movie together, using time code to bring the pieces together at the right point in time. The Timeline bar in the Flash appears as in the Figure 1.8.
Figure 1.8: The Timeline Bar
The Timeline also contains layers, which help you organize the artwork in your document. Think of layers as multiple film strips stacked on top of each other. Each layer contains a different image that appears on the Stage, and you can draw and edit objects on one layer without affecting objects on another layer. The layers are stacked in the order in which they overlap each other, so that objects on the bottom layer in the Timeline are on the bottom of the stack on the Stage. You can hide, show, lock, or unlock layers. Each layer's frames are unique, but you can drag them to a new location on the same layer or copy or move them to another layer.
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Self Assessment Questions
5. The TimelineÂ is the area which is used to assemble the Flash ..........................
6. Each layer contains a different ......................... that appears on the Stage.
1.5 Using Flash Authoring Panels
Till now you explored about the workflow and workspace, using the stage and tools panel and the timeline. But this is not the end. There are many more things to know. Now you will learn about using the authoring panels. The authoring panel consists Property Inspector, Library panel, components panel and web services panel.
1.5.1 Property inspector
Property Inspector is the newly expanded primary location for adjusting values for such object properties as size, location, orientation, and color effects. You can make alterations to the object or document attributes in the Property inspector even without getting at the menus or panels those control these attributes. On the basis of what is presently selected, the Property inspector shows information and settings for the present document, text, symbol, shape, bitmap, video, group, frame, or tool. When two or more varied objects are selected, the Property inspector shows the total number of objects selected.
The Figure 1.9 shows you the properties of the text and the size of the fonts.
Figure 1.9: The Property Inspector showing the Properties for the Text Tool
Shortcut: To see the Property inspector, Select WindowÂ > Properties, or press Control+F3.
1.5.2 Library panel
As you read above that in the Library panel you can store and organize symbols made as well as imported files, comprising bitmap graphics, sound files, and video clips. With the help of Library panel you can organize library items in folders, see how often an item is used in a document, and sort items by name, type, date, use count, or ActionScript linkage identifier. You can also lookup the Library panel with the search field and set properties on most multiple-object choices. Figure 1.10 shows you a sample movie clip symbol.
Figure 1.10: The Library Panel showing a Movie Clip Symbol
1.5.3 Actions panel
With the help of Actions panel you can create and edit ActionScript code for an object or frame. The actions Panel gets active when you select a frame, button, or movie clip instance. The Actions panel title changes to Button Actions, , Frame Actions, or Movie Clip Actions depending upon what you have selected, which is shown in Figure 1.11.
Figure 1.11: The Actions Panel showing a stop() Action in a Frame
1.5.4 Movie explorer
After knowing the actions panel let's see the movie explorer panel as it is also a part of authoring tools. With the help of Movie Explorer you can view and organize the contents of a document and select elements in the document for alterations. It comprises a display list of recently used elements, in the form of a navigable hierarchical tree.
With help of the Movie Explorer you can perform the actions as follows:
Filter the items categories in the document to be displayed in the Movie Explorer.
Exhibit the selected categories as scenes, symbol definitions, or both.
Expand and collapse the navigation tree.
Look out by the name for an element.
Get familiar with the structure of a Flash document created by someone else.
Search for all the instances of a particular symbol or action.
Print the navigable display list that is displayed in the Movie Explorer.
The Movie Explorer has a Panel menu and a context menu having options for executing operations on selected items or changing the Movie Explorer display.
1.5.5 Flash components and the components panel
A component in Flash is a, packaged and reusable module which adds a special potentiality to the document created in Flash. Components can comprise graphics as well as code, which you can include in your Flash projects conveniently. Components include user interface controls, data access and connectivity mechanisms, and media-related elements. For instance, a component can be a radio button, a dialog box, a preload bar, or even something that has no graphics at all, for instance as a timer, , a custom XML parser or a server connection utility.
If you are new with writing ActionScript, you can use components to a document, as well as set their parameters in the Component inspector or Property inspector, and use the Behaviors panel to handle their effects.
Inserting a component using the component panel
Flash imports a component as a movie clip into the Library panel when you add a component in a document. You also can drag a component from the Components panel right away and put it into the Library panel and then add an instance of it to the Stage.
Entering parameters for a component using the component inspector
In order to enter parameters for a component using the component inspector you will have to do the following steps:
1. Select WindowÂ > Component Inspector.
2. Select an instance of a component on the Stage.
3. Click the Parameters tab and enter values for any of the listed parameters.
Self Assessment Questions
7. The authoring panel consists Property Inspector, Library panel, ......................... panel and web services panel.
8. The Actions panel helps you create and edit ......................... code for an object or frame.
1.6 Accessibility in the Flash Workspace
With the help of accessibility support in the authoring environment you can use the keyboard shortcuts to navigate and use interface controls, comprising panels, the Property inspector, dialog boxes, the Stage, and objects on the Stage, and thus you can work with these interface elements even without using the mouse. Workspace Accessibility Commands section of the Keyboard Shortcuts dialog box is used, in order to customize the keyboard for accessibility in the authoring environment..
1.6.1 Select panels or the Property inspector with keyboard shortcuts
By pressing Control+6 you can select a panel or the Property inspector. You should apply focus to a panel or the Property inspector only when the panel or Property inspector is seeable in the application window.
When you use the keyboard shortcut (Control +6) in order to select panels, the focus is put on to panels using the following standards:
Docked panels are given focus first.
If the Timeline is pointing and docked, the Timeline is given focus.
If the Timeline is not indicating and docked, or if you press the keyboard shortcut (Control+6) again, focus moves automatically to the rightmost and highest docked panel.
If you move the focus through with all the docked panels, or if no docked panels are indicating, focus moves to the extreme right and highest floating panel. Pressing out the keyboard shortcut again and again then moves the focus through the other floating panels, from right to left and from top to bottom of the workspace.
Using the keyboard shortcuts to select or deselect, expand, or collapse panels or the Property inspector
You need to perform the following tasks in order to do that:
To move the focus through the panels presently exhibited in the workspace, press Control+F6. A dotted line comes out around the title of the presently focused panel.
By pressing Control+Shift+F6 you can move the focus to the previously selected panel.
Press Escape, or move, dock, or undock the panel to deselect a panel.
Press Up Arrow or Down Arrow, to move the focus to the panel above or below the present showing panel in a panel group..
Press F4, to hide all panels and the Property inspector. press F4 again to show all panels and the Property inspector..
1.6.2 Selecting the Stage or objects on the Stage using keyboard shortcuts
Choosing the Stage with a keyboard shortcut is similar to clicking on the Stage. Any other element presently which is presently chosen gets deselected automatically when the Stage is selected. After the Stage is selected, you can use the Tab key to navigate through all objects on all layers, one at a time. You can select instances (including graphic symbols, buttons, movie clips, bitmaps, videos, or sounds), groups, or boxes. But remember that you cannot select shapes (such as rectangles) unless those shapes are instances of symbols. More than one object cannot be selected at a time using keyboard shortcuts.
1.6.3 Working with the library items using keyboard shortcuts
You also can work with the library items using the keyboard shortcuts. The keyboard shortcuts are as follows:
1. Press Control+X to cut the item, or press Control+C to copy the item.
2. To paste a cut or copied item, click the Stage or in some other library to set the insertion space, and press Control+V to paste in the middle of the Stage; or press Control+Shift+V to paste in place (in the same place as the original).
To cut, copy, and paste items, use the techniques as given below:
You can cut or copy an item from the Library panel and paste it onto the Stage or into another library, or can also paste a folder into another library.
A shape cannot be pasted from the Stage into the library.
As the common libraries cannot be modified, you cannot paste a library item into a common library. Nevertheless, you can create a common library.
The item is centered automatically when you paste a library item onto the Stage.
Whole contents of the folder are pasted if you paste a folder.
Click the folder before pasting, to paste a library item into a folder in the destination library.
You can paste a library item into another location in the same library where it initiated.
Select your choice whether you want to replace the existing item, if you are attempting to paste a library item into a location containing another item by the same name..
Self Assessment Questions
9. Selecting the Stage with a keyboard shortcut is equivalent to clicking on the ..........................
10. To move the focus to the Panel menu of the panel ......................... keys are used.
1.7 Undo, Redo and Repeat Commands
You can use the undo, redo and repeat commands in the Flash similarly as you use in the word processor. To undo or redo actions on single objects, or all objects within the present document, you should assign whether you want to use either object-level or document-level Undo and Redo commands. However, in Flash the default behavior is document-level Undo and Redo.
But, remember that you cannot undo some actions when you are using object-level Undo command set by you, like entering and exiting Edit mode; selecting, editing, and moving library items; and creating, deleting, and moving the scenes.
Use the Save and Compact command, to remove deleted items from a document after using the Undo command..
Use the Repeat command, to reapply a step to the same object or to a different object.
Flash by default supports only 100 levels of undo for the Undo menu command. But you can customize it by selecting the number of undo and redo levels, from 2 to 9999, in Flash Preferences.
When you undo a step by using EditÂ > Undo or the History panel, the document's file size does not vary, even if you delete an item in the document by default settings of the Flash. For instance, if you import a video file into a document, and undo the import, the file size of the document still comprises the size of the video file. Similarly when you delete any items from a document when performing an Undo command they are preserved in order to be able to restore the items with a Redo command. Select FileÂ > Save and Compact, if you want to remove an item permanently the deleted items from the document, and cut down the document file size.
The History panel
The History panel displays a list of the steps you've executed in the current document since you created or opened that document, up to a stipulated maximum number of steps. The slider in the History panel initially indicates to the last step that you performed.
Use the History panel to undo or redo individual steps or multiple steps at once. Apply steps (undo or redo) from the History panel to the same object or to any other object in the document. Nonetheless, you cannot rearrange the arrangement of steps in the History panel. The History panel is a record of steps in the order in which they were executed.
Clear the History panel to erase the history list for the current document. You cannot undo the steps that are cleared after clearing the history list.
Closing a document clears its history. You should copy the steps with the Copy Steps command or save the steps as a command, to use steps from a document after that document is closed, if you feel that you might need to perform undo later on.
Self Assessment Questions
11. To undo or redo actions on individual objects, or all objects either object-level or document-level Undo and Redo commands are ..........................
12. The slider in the History panel initially points to the last ......................... step.
1.8 Automating Tasks with the Commands Menu
You can also automate the tasks with the Commands Menu.
1.8.1 Create and manage commands
If you want to repeat the same task, create a command in the Commands menu from steps in the History panel so that you can reuse the command. Steps replay just as they were earlier performed. You can't alter the steps as you replay them. Saved commands are held back permanently by the Flash, unless you delete them. But remember that the steps that you copy using the Copy Steps command of the History panel are disposed when you copy or cut something else.
1.8.2 Steps that can't be used in commands
Some tasks can't be repeated or saved as commands using the EditÂ > Repeat menu item. These commands can be undone and redone, but they cannot be repeated. For instance, actions performed for selecting a frame or modifying a document size.
You read this unit now can you suggest what advantages does the Adobe Flash have over other softwares used for animation.
Self Assessment Questions
13. Steps can't be modified while ......................... them.
14. Steps that are copied using the History panel Copy Steps command are ......................... when something else is copied.
In flash you can create unique text, animations, movies, web applications, games and more. Although flash is somewhat more complex than traditional web development technologies like HTML and CSS. In this unit you learned about the main elements of the Flash interface, dock, resize, and customize the Flash workspace, Restore default Panel layouts, access Preferences, authoring tools and panels. This unit explained you to make your animations, editing, deleting and saving the animated movie.
Accessibility: Making a project usable to people with disabilities.
Color change: Color change changes the color of an object.
Layer: A layer is a section where you can include a specific portion of an animation such as just a background, or a face, or eyes.
Work area: The area used to create Flash art. It includes the areas adjacent to the Stage.
1.11 Terminal Questions
1. What are the main areas of the Flash workspace?
2. How are the StageÂ and the TimelineÂ related?
3. Which are the authoring panels of the Flash?
4. What do you mean by accessibility in the flash workspace?
Self Assessment Questions
1. The menu bar, Timeline, Stage, Tools panel, Properties inspector, and a few other panels. Refer section 1.2
2. Timeline shows the sequence and time of the images on the stage. Refer section 1.3 & 1.4
3. Property panel, Library panel, actions panel, movie explorer panel, Flash components panel and, web services panel. Refer section 1.5
4. Accessibility support in the authoring environment provides keyboard shortcuts for navigating and using interface controls, including panels, the Property inspector, dialog boxes, the Stage, and objects on the Stage. Refer section 1.6