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How It Works

Smart Clips are a great way to streamline the creation of Flash content. Commonly used components, such as this Calendar Control, can be built once and then reused in a number of scenarios. The customization is achieved with the help of parameters that can be set using custom Flash interfaces to simplify the process.

Other examples of Smart Clips include various interface elements, such as drop-down menus and scrolling lists, as well as more sophisticated examples such as animation controllers or interactive learning components (such as test questions). Although all this functionality could previously have been achieved with regular movie clip symbols, Smart Clips allow other developers to make use of your components without wasting time digging around inside and deciphering how they work to customize them for their needs.

The calendar (see Figure 15) makes extensive use of the Date object and its methods to populate a grid of date fields. ActionScript is used to calculate the number of days in each month and lay out the information across the grid of text fields. The end user can then just click a date. That date is then invisibly passed to a function specified in the Clip parameters. In this way, the calendar is a lot like a regular button because the user can just point and click. But it also does the job of a text field, whereas previously the user might've had to type the date he wanted to use.

Figure 15 The calendar is now an editable Smart Clip.

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