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10 Minutes with Flash: Quick Tricks, Part 2

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Didn't get enough tips and tricks in the last "10 Minutes with Flash" article? Fret not. Robert Hoekman, Jr. has a few other tricks in his arsenal, and each can help you work more efficiently and make you a happier Flash geek.
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In part 1 of this two-part article about quick tricks in Flash, I showed you how to relocate or remove the Edit bar, delete everything from the Stage in one click, and compress bitmaps on a per-image basis—but I'm nowhere near done. I've got a few other tricks in my arsenal, and each can help you work more efficiently and make you a happier Flash geek.

All the tricks discussed in this article are exclusive to Flash MX 2004 and Flash Pro. If you're still using Flash MX (or an older version), this article just may convince you to finally whip out your credit card and upgrade.

Close Those Pesky Libraries

One of my favorite new features in Flash MX 2004 is also one of the most insignificant in the grand scheme of Flash development. But it did take care of a pet peeve of mine.

If you read my 10 Minutes with Flash article "The World According to Shared Libraries," you've probably been happily dancing around the room over your newfound ability to share assets between movies and making everything run faster. Okay ...perhaps not. Odds are that you've run into the same problem everyone else has had with Flash MX: Shared libraries are kind of a pain in the neck. Not because of the "shared" part, but because of the "library" part.

Typically, you start a project, open up a library from an external Flash document (using File > Import > Open External Library), pull some assets into the new project, and set up the linkage properties. But then you realize that you need to open the actual Flash document that the external library came from, so you can edit one of its symbols before dumping it into the new project. You press File > Open and locate the file, and Flash tells you that it's already open. Why? Because to Flash, the library is the document. This is when you discover that the only way you can close the external library is to undock it from a panel set and press the Close Panel button. So then you open the other document, and its library docks in the panel set again. Now you have two libraries in the panel set, and the only way to tell which is which is by the panel's title bar.

This whole process can be quite annoying. Flash does not remember where the Library panel was left the last time you used it, so it gets docked by default. Every time you want to close an external library, you have to undock it first.

TIP

Tip: To close all open libraries and documents, choose File > Close All (see Figure 1). It's as simple as that. Any library or document that is open will close immediately. This is not the perfect solution because you can't selectively close libraries while leaving others open, but it's a start. Hopefully, the next version of Flash will have a better one.

Figure 1Figure 1 Close it. Close it all.

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