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Developer’s Solution to Printing in Flash

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Printing in Flash can be a little tricky. Bront Davis shows you how to get a well-formatted printout from a Flash application, regardless of the size of the on-screen textbox. ActionScript included.
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Recently, I ran into a printing difficulty in a Flash application I was developing. It was a decision-tree application, and I needed to build a document, based on user choices, that could be viewed onscreen as well as printed. I realized that although Flash has wonderful print capabilities, to get a nice printout of the scrollable online pages I had to write a bit of code. Though I understand there are multiple ways to solve this problem, this article is a distillation of the techniques I used to solve it. I hope it might be of some help to you.

Setting the Stage

With a new Flash document open, click in the current layer and name it "vars" (or something along those lines). Now click the first frame of that layer, and in the Actions window (Windows>Actions) paste the following code snippet. This defines a long text string for the variable textValue. It happens to be the famous opening from Franz Kafka’s, The Metamorphosis. It could, of course, be whatever you like.

textValue= "<html>"+
"from \"The Metamorphosis\" by Franz Kafka "+
"<br /><br />"+
"One morning, when Gregor Samsa woke from troubled dreams, he found "+
"himself transformed in his bed into a horrible vermin. He lay on "+
"his armour-like back, and if he lifted his head a little he could "+
"see his brown belly, slightly domed and divided by arches into stiff "+
"sections. The bedding was hardly able to cover it and seemed ready "+
"to slide off any moment. His many legs, pitifully thin compared "+
"with the size of the rest of him, waved about helplessly as he "+
"looked. "+
"<br /><br /> "+
"\"What’s happened to me?\" he thought. It wasn’t a dream. His room, "+
"a proper human room although a little too small, lay peacefully "+
"between its four familiar walls. A collection of textile samples "+
"lay spread out on the table - Samsa was a travelling salesman - and "+
"above it there hung a picture that he had recently cut out of an "+
"illustrated magazine and housed in a nice, gilded frame. It showed "+
"a lady fitted out with a fur hat and fur boa who sat upright, "+
"raising a heavy fur muff that covered the whole of her lower arm "+
"towards the viewer. "+
"<br /><br /> "+
"Gregor then turned to look out the window at the dull weather. "+
"Drops of rain could be heard hitting the pane, which made him feel "+
"quite sad. \"How about if I sleep a little bit longer and forget all "+
"this nonsense\", he thought, but that was something he was unable to "+
"do because he was used to sleeping on his right, and in his present "+
"state couldn’t get into that position. However hard he threw "+
"himself onto his right, he always rolled back to where he was. He "+
"must have tried it a hundred times, shut his eyes so that he "+
"wouldn’t have to look at the floundering legs, and only stopped when "+
"he began to feel a mild, dull pain there that he had never felt "+
"before. "+
"<br /><br /> "+
"\"Oh, God\", he thought, \"what a strenuous career it is that I’ve "+
"chosen! Travelling day in and day out. Doing business like this "+
"takes much more effort than doing your own business at home, and on "+
"top of that there’s the curse of travelling, worries about making "+
"train connections, bad and irregular food, contact with different "+
"people all the time so that you can never get to know anyone or "+
"become friendly with them. It can all go to Hell!\" He felt a "+
"slight itch up on his belly; pushed himself slowly up on his back "+
"towards the headboard so that he could lift his head better; found "+
"where the itch was, and saw that it was covered with lots of little "+
"white spots which he didn’t know what to make of; and when he tried "+
"to feel the place with one of his legs he drew it quickly back "+
"because as soon as he touched it he was overcome by a cold shudder. "+
"<br /><br /> "+
"He slid back into his former position. \"Getting up early all the "+
"time\", he thought, \"it makes you stupid. You’ve got to get enough "+
"sleep. Other travelling salesmen live a life of luxury. For "+
"instance, whenever I go back to the guest house during the morning "+
"to copy out the contract, these gentlemen are always still sitting "+
"there eating their breakfasts. I ought to just try that with my "+
"boss; I’d get kicked out on the spot. But who knows, maybe that "+
"would be the best thing for me. If I didn’t have my parents to "+
"think about I’d have given in my notice a long time ago, I’d have "+
"gone up to the boss and told him just what I think, tell him "+
"everything I would, let him know just what I feel. He’d fall right "+
"off his desk! And it’s a funny sort of business to be sitting up "+
"there at your desk, talking down at your subordinates from up there, "+
"especially when you have to go right up close because the boss is "+
"hard of hearing. Well, there’s still some hope; once I’ve got the "+
"money together to pay off my parents’ debt to him - another five or "+
"six years I suppose - that’s definitely what I’ll do. That’s when "+
"I’ll make the big change. First of all though, I’ve got to get up, "+
"my train leaves at five.\" "+
"<br /><br /> "+
"And he looked over at the alarm clock, ticking on the chest of "+
"drawers. \"God in Heaven!\" he thought. It was half past six and the "+
"hands were quietly moving forwards, it was even later than half "+
"past, more like quarter to seven. Had the alarm clock not rung? He "+
"could see from the bed that it had been set for four o’clock as it "+
"should have been; it certainly must have rung. Yes, but was it "+
"possible to quietly sleep through that furniture-rattling noise? "+
"True, he had not slept peacefully, but probably all the more deeply "+
"because of that. What should he do now? The next train went at "+
"seven; if he were to catch that he would have to rush like mad and "+
"the collection of samples was still not packed, and he did not at "+
"all feel particularly fresh and lively. And even if he did catch "+
"the train he would not avoid his boss’s anger as the office "+
"assistant would have been there to see the five o’clock train go, he "+
"would have put in his report about Gregor’s not being there a long "+
"time ago. The office assistant was the boss’s man, spineless, and "+
"with no understanding. What about if he reported sick? But that "+
"would be extremely strained and suspicious as in fifteen years of "+
"service Gregor had never once yet been ill. His boss would "+
"certainly come round with the doctor from the medical insurance "+
"company, accuse his parents of having a lazy son, and accept the "+
"doctor’s recommendation not to make any claim as the doctor believed "+
"that no-one was ever ill but that many were workshy. And what’s "+
"more, would he have been entirely wrong in this case? Gregor did in "+
"fact, apart from excessive sleepiness after sleeping for so long, "+
"feel completely well and even felt much hungrier than usual. "+

Next, create another layer and name it button. Feel free to create your own button or borrow one from the Window>Common Libraries>Buttons window.

Once the button is in your library, make sure that the button layer is selected and then drag it onto the stage.

Now, click the button instance and choose Window>Properties>Properties. In the Properties window, name the button instance print_btn.

Finally, select Window>Components and drag the TextArea component into the Library.

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