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8 Tasks in Flash MX

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Flash's newest version, Flash MX, offers many new features and techniques, from asset sharing to video streaming. Perform the exercises in the "Try It" sections to see how eight common Flash MX tasks can save you time and labor, and help solve some old problems.
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Product marketing is a curious activity, often aimed at hyping how much time/labor using the latest upgrade will save. In the case of Flash MX, this new version can actually save you a good deal of effort and solve some old problems to boot. You just need to know where to look.

I've put together a list of eight common Flash MX tasks. Each one showcases a particular new feature or technique that wasn't available (or at least, as refined) before, from asset sharing to video streaming. For an example of each task, follow the instructions in the "Try It" section.

Task 1: Organizing Movie Content

Because of the way Flash is designed, I'm often left wondering which layer or key frame a particular object is located on. (Was Layer 2 selected when I drew the circle, or Layer 10? Dig, search.) The problem is that each key frame can contain many different objects, and they can get lost fairly quickly. But put each object on its own layer, and pretty soon there are too many to count.

Flash MX Solution

Layer Folders reduce the issue of having too many layers visible on a timeline. You can find the "New Layer Folder" button towards the bottom left of the Timeline panel. Once a new folder is created, drag layers into it. Then you can collapse or expand the folder to hide/show the layers within.

Sometimes it isn't possible to anticipate all the layers you'll need before starting work. The Distribute to Layers command can take any selection of objects and place each one on its own layer. Shapes and groups get the anonymous "Layer #" treatment, but layers containing Movie Clips, Graphics, or Buttons are given the proper name of the symbol. Static text can be broken up into individual letters, and those letters distributed to individual layers as well.

Try It

To distribute some text to layers, complete the following steps:

  1. Open a new document, and switch to the Text Tool.

  2. Draw out a new static text box, and type in "InformIT".

  3. Switch to the Arrow Tool, then right-click/ctrl-click the text and select Break Apart from the context menu.

  4. From the Modify menu, choose Distribute to Layers. Each letter should now appear on its own named layer.

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