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Creating a New Skin

The best way to create a skin SWF file is to copy one of the skin files that come with Flash 8 and use it as a starting point. You can find the FLA files for these skins in the Flash 8 application folder in en/Configuration/SkinFLA. See Figure 3.

Figure 3

Figure 3 Default FLA skin files in the Configuration/SkinFLA folder.

This is what I have done with the skin pictured in Figure 4. The buttons of an existing skin have been rearranged, the colors changed, and other minor changes made.

Figure 4

Figure 4 A custom skin created by modifying one of the Default skins.

To make your finished skin SWF file available as an option in the Select Skin dialog box (refer to Figure 2), publish the FLA file and put it in the /Configuration/Skins folder either in the Flash 8 application folder or in a user’s local Configuration/Skins folder.

Simple modifications, such as changing the appearance of a button or the chrome (background) of a button without changing the dimensions, are fairly easy. All the installed skins have the same buttons based on different-colored chromes, so you can make dramatic changes by simply changing this color. You can also make changes, such as rearranging controls in the layout movie clip, by simply moving the placeholder clips. Flash will display these changes on the stage exactly as they will appear in the finished SWF playback controller file.

When looking at the installed Flash 8 skin FLA files, it might seem that certain objects on the Stage are unnecessary. However, all these objects are indeed needed. Some are in guide layers or use something the Flash documentation calls 9-slice scaling, which is not in effect when you are authoring. To see what actually appears in the SWF file, press Ctl+Enter to test the movie. You will see the results of the guide layers and how 9-slice scaling affects certain controls.

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