Study On The Macromedia Flash Application Computer Science Essay

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Macromedia's popular application Flash has redefined the way web developers approach web design. With flash the web developers are now able to create a user experience that is rich in media and relatively quick loading, especially compared to traditional methods like GIF animations. Websites made up of music, videos, and custom, graphic intensive interfaces are all possible with Macromedia Flash. 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. Flash can be used to create interactive rich media content (including text, photos, music, video, vector graphics, voiceover, and a wide variety of motion graphic effects and animation) to be displayed in a browser. Flash can also be used to create executable files, to be played from a CD or from the desktop of either a PC or a Mac, without requiring any additional software.

Objectives

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

Generally you create and manipulate your documents and files using various elements such as panels, bars, and windows. Any arrangement of these elements is called a 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.

The Flash Professional 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 and file 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. As with a theater stage, the Stage in Flash is the area that you see when a movie is playing. It contains the text, images, and video that appear 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.

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 colour 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. Symbols are often-used graphics used for animation and for interactivity.

1.3.2 Panels

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. By default your window will show you panels as in the Figure 1.7.

Figure 1.7: The Default Panel Set

Activity 1:

You have to show a running windmill in flash, what process it will comprise to run in the Flash. 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 located below the Stage. The Timeline is the area you use to assemble your Flash movie. Like films, Flash documents measure time in frames. As the movie plays, the playhead, shown as a red vertical line, advances through the frames in the Timeline. You can change the content on the Stage for different frames. To display a frame's content on the Stage, move the playhead 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.

Self Assessment Questions

5. The Timeline 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 learned 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

The Property inspector provides easy access to the most commonly used attributes of the current selection, either on the Stage or in the Timeline. You can make changes to the object or document attributes in the Property inspector without accessing the menus or panels that also control these attributes. Depending on what is currently selected, the Property inspector displays information and settings for the current document, text, symbol, shape, bitmap, video, group, frame, or tool. When two or more different types of objects are selected, the Property inspector displays 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 display the Property inspector, Select Window > Properties, or press Control+F3.

1.5.2 Library panel

As you read above that the Library panel is where you store and organize symbols created in Flash, as well as imported files, including bitmap graphics, sound files, and video clips. The Library panel lets you 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 search the Library panel with the search field and set properties on most multiple-object selections. 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

The Actions panel lets you create and edit ActionScript code for an object or frame. Selecting a frame, button, or movie clip instance makes the Actions panel active. The Actions panel title changes to Button Actions, Movie Clip Actions, or Frame Actions, depending on what is selected, which is shown below in the 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. The Movie Explorer lets you view and organize the contents of a document and select elements in the document for modification. It contains a display list of currently used elements, arranged in a navigable hierarchical tree.

You can use the Movie Explorer to perform the following actions:

Filter which categories of items in the document appear in the Movie Explorer.

Display the selected categories as scenes, symbol definitions, or both.

Expand and collapse the navigation tree.

Search for an element in a document by name.

Familiarize yourself with the structure of a Flash document that another developer created.

Find all the instances of a particular symbol or action.

Print the navigable display list that appears in the Movie Explorer.

The Movie Explorer has a Panel menu and a context menu with options for performing operations on selected items or modifying the Movie Explorer display. A check mark with a triangle below it in the Movie Explorer panel indicates the Panel menu. (Note: The Movie Explorer has slightly different functionality when you are working with screens.)

1.5.5 Flash components and the components panel

A component in Flash is a reusable, packaged module that adds a particular capability to a Flash document. Components can include graphics as well as code, so they're pre-built functionality that you can easily include in your Flash projects. For example, a component can be a radio button, a dialog box, a preload bar, or even something that has no graphics at all, such as a timer, a server connection utility, or a custom XML parser.

If you are less experienced with writing ActionScript, you can add components to a document, set their parameters in the Property inspector or Component inspector, and use the Behaviors panel to handle their events. For example, you could attach a Go To Web Page behavior to a Button component that opens a URL in a web browser when the button is clicked without writing any ActionScript code.

If you are a programmer who wants to create more robust applications, you can create components dynamically, for that you can use ActionScript to set properties and call methods at run time, and use the event listener model to handle events.

Inserting a component using the component panel

When you first add a component to a document, Flash imports it as a movie clip into the Library panel. You can also drag a component from the Components panel directly to the Library panel and then add an instance of it to the Stage. In any case, you must add a component to the library before you can access its class elements. Follow the following steps:

1. Select Window > Component panel.

2. With help of your mouse's pointer select an instance of a component in the Component panel, and drag it to the Stage or Library panel. After a component is added to the library, you can drag multiple instances to the Stage.

3. You also can configure the component according to your need by using either the Property inspector or the Components inspector.

Entering parameters for a component using the component inspector

In order to enter parameters for a component using the component inspector you need to perform the following action:

1. Select Window > 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.

1.5.6 Web services panel

You can view a list of web services, refresh web services, and add or remove web services in the Web Services panel (Window > Other Panels > Web Services). When you add a web service to the Web Services panel, the web service is then available to any application you create. You can use the Web Services panel to refresh all your web services at once by clicking the Refresh Web Services button.

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

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, so that you can work with these interface elements without using the mouse. You can also customize the keyboard for accessibility in the authoring environment, for that the Workspace Accessibility Commands section of the Keyboard Shortcuts dialog box is used.

1.6.1 Select panels or the Property inspector with keyboard shortcuts

To select a panel or the Property inspector use the keyboard shortcut Control+F6. Apply focus to a panel or the Property inspector only when the panel or Property inspector is visible in the application window. This panel can also be expanded or collapsed.

When you use the keyboard shortcut to select panels, focus is applied to panels using the following criteria:

Docked panels are given focus first.

If the Timeline is showing and docked, the Timeline is given focus the first time you press Control+F6.

If the Timeline is not showing and docked, or if you press the keyboard shortcut again, focus moves to the rightmost and highest docked panel. Pressing the keyboard shortcut repeatedly then moves the focus through the other docked panels, from right to left and from top to bottom of the workspace.

If you move the focus through all the docked panels, or if no docked panels are showing, focus moves to the rightmost and highest floating panel. Pressing the keyboard shortcut repeatedly 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 currently displayed in the workspace, press Control+F6. A dotted line appears around the title of the currently focused panel.

To move the focus to the previously selected panel, press Control+Shift+F6.

To deselect a panel, press Escape, or move, dock, or undock the panel.

To move the focus to the panel above or below the current panel in a panel group, press Up Arrow or Down Arrow.

To hide all panels and the Property inspector, press F4. To display all panels and the Property inspector, press F4 again.

Using the keyboard shortcuts to expand or collapse panels or the Property inspector

To expand or collapse panels of the Property inspector you need to do the following steps:

1. Press Control+F6 until the panel to expand or collapse has focus. A dotted line appears around the title of the currently focused panel.

2. To expand or collapse the currently selected panel, press the Spacebar.

Move the focus from a panel title bar to a panel options menu

In order to move the focus from a panel bar to a panel options menu do one of the following:

First Press Tab.

Press Right Arrow. To return the focus to the panel title bar, press Left Arrow or Shift+Tab.

To move the focus to the Panel menu of the panel immediately above the panel with the current focus if the panel is in a group, press Up Arrow. To move the focus to the Panel menu of the panel immediately below the panel with the current focus, press Down Arrow.

Move the focus through the items in the Panel menu of a panel

1. To display the Panel menu items when the focus currently applied to the Panel menu, press the Spacebar.

2. To move through the items in the Panel menu, press Down Arrow.

3. To activate the currently selected Panel menu item, press Enter.

Move the focus through the controls in a panel

1. Press Tab when the focus is currently applied to the Panel menu. To move the focus through the controls in the panel, press Tab repeatedly.

2. To activate the currently selected panel control, press Enter.

1.6.2 Selecting the Stage or objects on the Stage using keyboard shortcuts

Selecting the Stage with a keyboard shortcut is equivalent to clicking on the Stage. Any other element currently selected becomes deselected when the Stage is selected. After the Stage is selected, 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. You cannot select shapes (such as rectangles) unless those shapes are instances of symbols. You cannot select more than one object at a time using keyboard shortcuts.

Note: If you are currently typing text in a box, you cannot select an object using the keyboard focus. You must first change the focus to the Stage and then select an object.

1.6.3 Working with the library items using keyboard shortcuts

1. To copy or paste a selected library item, 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 another library to set the insertion point, and press Control+V to paste in the center of the Stage; or press Control+Shift+V to paste in place (in the same location as the original).

To cut, copy, and paste items, use the following techniques:

Cut or copy one item or multiple items.

Cut or copy an item from the Library panel and paste it onto the Stage or into another library, or paste a folder into another library.

You cannot paste a shape from the Stage into the library.

You cannot paste a library item into a common library, because common libraries cannot be modified. However, you can create a common library.

When you paste a library item onto the Stage, the item is centered.

If you paste a folder, each item in the folder is included.

To paste a library item into a folder in the destination library, click the folder before pasting.

You can paste a library item into a different location in the same library where it originated.

If you attempt to paste a library item into a location containing another item by the same name, select whether to replace the existing item.

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

To undo or redo actions on individual objects, or all objects within the current document, specify either object-level or document-level Undo and Redo commands. The default behavior is document-level Undo and Redo.

You cannot undo some actions when using object-level Undo. Among these are entering and exiting Edit mode; selecting, editing, and moving library items; and creating, deleting, and moving scenes.

To remove deleted items from a document after using the Undo command, use the Save and Compact command.

To reapply a step to the same object or to a different object, use the Repeat command. For example, if you move a shape named shape_A, select Edit > Repeat to move the shape again, or select another shape, shape_B, and select Edit > Repeat to move the second shape by the same amount.

By default, Flash supports 100 levels of undo for the Undo menu command. Select the number of undo and redo levels, from 2 to 9999, in Flash Preferences.

By default, when you undo a step by using Edit > Undo or the History panel, the file size of the document does not change, even if you delete an item in the document. For example, if you import a video file into a document, and undo the import, the file size of the document still includes the size of the video file. Any items that you delete from a document when performing an Undo command are preserved to in order to be able to restore the items with a Redo command. To permanently remove the deleted items from the document, and reduce the document file size, select File > Save and Compact.

The History panel

The History panel shows a list of the steps you've performed in the active document since you created or opened that document, up to a specified maximum number of steps. The slider in the History panel initially points to the last step that you performed.

To undo or redo individual steps or multiple steps at once, use the History panel. Apply steps from the History panel to the same object or to a different object in the document. However, you cannot rearrange the order of steps in the History panel. The History panel is a record of steps in the order in which they are performed.

To remove deleted items from a document after you undo a step in the History panel, use the Save and Compact command. By default, Flash supports 100 levels of undo for the History panel. Select the number of undo and redo levels, from 2 to 9999, in Flash Preferences.

To erase the history list for the current document, clear the History panel. After clearing the history list, you cannot undo the steps that are cleared. Clearing the history list does not undo steps; it removes the record of those steps from the current document's memory.

Closing a document clears its history. To use steps from a document after that document is closed, copy the steps with the Copy Steps command or save the steps as a command.

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 command Menu.

1.8.1 Create and manage commands

To repeat the same task, create a command in the Commands menu from steps in the History panel and reuse the command. Steps replay exactly as they were originally performed. You can't modify the steps as you replay them. To use steps the next time you start Flash, create and save a command. Saved commands are retained permanently, unless you delete them. Steps that you copy using the History panel Copy Steps command are discarded when you copy something else. You can also Edit, Delete and the names of commands in the Commands menu.

1.8.2 Steps that can't be used in commands

Some tasks can't be saved as commands or repeated using the Edit > Repeat menu item. These commands can be undone and redone, but they cannot be repeated. Examples of actions that can't be saved as commands or repeated include selecting a frame or modifying a document size. If you attempt to save an unrepeatable action as a command, the command is not saved.

Activity 2:

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.

1.9 Summary

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.

1.10 Glossary

Accessibility: Making a project usable to people with disabilities.

ActionScript:: Based on the same standard as JavaScript, ActionScript is a simple programming language. Flash designers and developers can use it to customize the behavior of a movie and enhance it with interactivity.

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 Stage and the Timeline related?

3. Which are the authoring panels of the Flash?

4. What do you mean by accessibility in the flash workspace?

1.12 Answers

Self Assessment Questions

1. panels

2. workspace

3. stage

4. appear

5. movie

6. image

7. components

8. ActionScript

9. stage

10. arrow

11. specified

12. performed

13. replaying

14. discarded

Terminal 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

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