Publishers of technology books, eBooks, and videos for creative people

Home > Articles > Digital Audio, Video > Adobe Flash

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

Creating a Chat Room in Flash MX 2004

We have been quite consistent to this point in the book. Being firm believers in "let the software do the work," we are constantly looking for ways that make the production process more efficient.

In the case of inter-team communication, the easy way is to simply rely on email. The problem with that is there is simply no way of adding immediacy to the communication process. The only way of doing this is to pick up the phone, yell across a divider, or jump in your car and have a face-to-face meeting. The use of the Chat component in Flash adds a distinct measure of "cool," but, most important of all, it provides a sense of immediacy and, unlike instant messaging, focuses solely around the task at hand.

This final section of the chapter, therefore, injects immediacy into the production process, and it revolves around a new feature of Flash MX Professional 2004 and an "old" feature of Flash MX. The new feature is the Project panel in Flash MX Professional 2004. The old one is the use of the Chat component in Flash MX.

The Flash MX Professional 2004 Project Panel

Until this version of Flash, the capability to share a file around a work group involved servers, "sneaker Net," or email. This version of Flash further cements the integration of the Studio and web development workflow.

In the previous chapter, we discussed a work group aspect of Dreamweaver MX 2004—Check In/Check Out. For some very odd reason, Flash has always been regarded as a single-user product. That may have been true when it was first introduced, but the dynamic and coding features added to the application in subsequent revisions have served to make it far more complex than its VectorWorks roots. When the MX Studio was introduced, we found it odd that the new Flash workflow integration capabilities—Check In/Check Out for example—were simply not there. This has all changed. Sort of.

There are now two versions of Flash on the market. The version packaged with the Studio is Flash MX 2004. Flash MX Professional 2004 is aimed squarely at the high-end application developer market, such as those building e-commerce solutions in Flash. The feature sets between the two versions are not radically different, apart from the addition of some very powerful components, video tools, streaming media components, and the Project panel in the Pro Edition.

We include the Project panel because it is such an important addition to the application, and it is beyond us why it is not included in Flash MX 2004.

Defining a Site in Flash MX Professional 2004

Flash now includes version control capabilities on par with Dreamweaver. This includes Local/Network and FTP access protocols, as well as a plugin interface to allow for integration with version control systems like SourceSafe, WebDAV, and RDS. To get started, you need to define a site. Here's how:

  1. Open the Project panel. If the panel isn't in your panel grouping, select Window, Project. The panel is then activated by selecting either Create a New Project or Open an Existing Project. When the panel activates, you will see two buttons. The first one, which looks like a box with a Flash icon leaning against it, is the Project button. The one beside it with the arrows is the Version Control button.

  2. Click the Version Control button to open the Version Control pop-down menu. Select Edit Sites to open the Edit Sites dialog box.

TIP

The Edit Site dialog box may already contain a number of sites. Flash MX Professional 2004 now shares the Site Definitions created in Dreamweaver MX 2004.

  1. Click the New button to open the Site Definitions dialog box, as shown in Figure 3.2. Name the site and set the root folder. Add your email address and the name that will be used to indicate you have checked out a file. Determine your connection from the pop-down list. Depending on your selection, the Connection area will expand and present you with a series of input boxes to determine the appropriate connection information.

  2. When you are finished, click OK. This will return you to the Edit Sites dialog box. Your new site will now be included on the list. Click OK.

Figure 3.2Figure 3.2 Flash shares Site Definitions with Dreamweaver, which permits easy Check In and Check Out of files among members of the team.

Defining and Working with a Project in Flash MX 2004

For the purpose of simplicity, a project is simply all the Flash files used in that particular project. Here's how to define a new project:

  1. Click the Project Button on the Project panel. Select New Project, as shown in Figure 3.3, from the pop-down menu. The New Project window will open, and you will be prompted to name the project and select a location for it to be stored. Note the new file format for a Flash project, .flp.

Figure 3.3Figure 3.3 A new project is created by selecting New Project in the pop-down menu.

  1. When you click OK in the New Project dialog box, the project file is created in the location chosen, and it also appears in the Project panel. Both the .flp file and the project in the panel will have the new Project Icon mentioned earlier.

  2. With the project defined, you can now add files and folders containing files to the project. Select the project in the panel and either right-click (PC) or Control-click (Mac) to open the Context pop-down menu. Select Add File to open the Add Files to Project dialog box. Navigate to the file, select it, and click the Open button. The dialog box will close, and the file will appear under the Project File in the Project panel, as shown in Figure 3.4.

Figure 3.4Figure 3.4 Files can be added to Flash Projects.

  1. Checking files in and out follows the same procedures as those used in Dreamweaver. You select the file in the Project panel, click the Version Control button to open the Context menu, and select Check Out or Check In, as shown in Figure 3.5.

Figure 3.5Figure 3.5 The Version Tracking menu is a key file management and versioning control tool in Flash MX 2004.

Two people can't check out the file at the same time. In case you try to check out a file already in use, you will be asked if you want to override the other person's check out. However, two people may not have the same file checked out at the same time.

The members of the team can see the status of files at all times. The green check mark indicates the file is checked out. The red check mark means that someone other than you has the file checked out. The lock indicates that the file is "in" version control but is not currently checked out by anyone, and the yellow exclamation point indicates that there is a later version of the file available in version control.

NOTE

One of the version control menus is Update. Update was added to help users of Flash Projects working on teams to be aware of changes made to files by other members of the team. When a file in version control has an older version on the local system, the update status icon will appear to inform the user that there is a newer file available in the version control system.

Setting Up a Chat Room in Flash MX 2004

The decision has been made to give the team an area to talk through their plans, problems, and issues. Though instant messaging and other technologies are readily available, it is decided to build a simple chat room using Flash MX 2004.

If this is your first exposure to using Flash MX 2004 and the Flash Communication Server MX, this decision could be a bit overwhelming. In fact, it is easier than you may think. Essentially, it involves three steps:

  1. Write a script that connects the chat room to the Flash Communication Server.

  2. Build the facility using simple Drag and Drop Components provided by Flash.

  3. Test and tweak.

NOTE

Before proceeding, you should have Flash Communication Server MX installed on your PC. A free version is available to download at http://www.macromedia.com/software/flashcom/. You should also have IIS 5 up and running on your PC.

Connecting to the Flash Communication server is not terribly difficult. You simply have to create a folder called an application folder on the server that holds the files. Our example assumes you are using your PC as the testing server. If you are using your ISP's server, you can create a subdirectory on the server in your FlashCommMX area that will be made available by your provider.

Follow these steps to create the application folder:

  1. On your PC, double-click My Computer and follow this path: c:\inetpub\ wwwroot\flashcomm\applications. This takes you to the applications folder for the Flash Communications server on your PC.

  2. Create a new folder named OccChat, as shown in Figure 3.6.

    Having created the folder, you now have to create the script that will make the Flash Chat Room function. This can be done in Dreamweaver.

Figure 3.6Figure 3.6 The "hook" to the Flash Communication Server is provided by the OccChat folder placed in the Comm Server's Admin folder.

  1. Open Dreamweaver MX 2004. When Dreamweaver opens, select File, New to open the New Document Window. Select Other from the list of choices in the Categories column. Select ActionScript Communications document from this document list and click Create.

  2. A script document opens. Click once in line 2 and enter the following code, as shown in Figure 3.7.

  3. Select File, Save As. When the Save As dialog box opens, browse to your OccChat folder and name the file main. Select ActionScript Communication Files from the Save As Type pop-down list. Click Save. Quit Dreamweaver.

Figure 3.7Figure 3.7 The chat room connection script can be created in Dreamweaver.

NOTE

The previous technique was met with the usual "That ain't the way I would do it" from one of the coauthors. Here's how he would do it:

  1. Open the OccChat folder and right-click inside the folder.

  2. Select New, Text Document from the pop-down list and name it main.asc.

  3. Open a new Notepad document and enter the code.

  4. Save the file and quit.

Building the Chat Room in Flash MX 2004

The chat room is to be constructed using the Flash MX 2004 Communication UI Components. The beauty of these items is the fact that they are prebuilt Flash movies requiring, at least initially, no deep understanding of ActionScript. Components are quick and simple to use. Before you start construction, be sure that you have installed the Flash Communication Server MX Components into Flash. Here's how to construct a simple chat room in Flash MX 2004.

  1. Open Flash MX 2004 and create new document. When the document opens, open your Components panel. If it isn't visible in the panel grouping, select Window, Development Panels, Components, or press Control-F7 (PC) or Command-F7 (Mac).

NOTE

Though this may seem relatively basic, Flash MX 2004 has moved things around from Flash MX. One change is the move of the Components Menu Item to the Window menu.

  1. Drag the Chat component to the stage. In the Property Inspector, provide an instance name, such as ch3_chat, as shown in Figure 3.8.

Figure 3.8Figure 3.8 The Chat component is dragged onto the stage from the Components panel and given an instance name in the Property Inspector.

  1. Drag the UserColor component to the stage. In the Property Inspector, provide an instance name, such as ch3_color. This component is really interesting. It is a combo box that color-codes all the users.

  2. For fun, we added a ConnectionLight component that will tell us if we have connected to the Flash Comm server. Drag this component to the stage, and, in the property Inspector, give it a name, such as ch3_led.

  3. Drag a SimpleConnect component to stage. This is an important component with a rather deceiving name. This is the component that will manage all the communications between the Flash Communication Server and the Flash Player.

  4. This component won't need an instance name, but you will need to point it to your OccChat directory. In the Property Inspector, click once on the Application Directory and enter the URL for your chat on your Flash Comm Server. For our local server, we entered rtmp://10.0.1.21/OccChat, as shown in Figure 3.9. Your values may be quite different from ours. For example, one of our tech editors tested the exercise on his computer using rtmp://localhost/flascom/samples OccHat.

    If you don't want to go through all the hunting and pecking for rtmp addresses, do what one of our tech editors suggests: use rtmp://OccChat.

NOTE

RTMP stands for Real Time Messaging Protocol. It is a proprietary standard developed by Macromedia to transfer data and messages between the Flash Player and the Communications server. It has no effect on the way the HTTP protocol is handled by the server.

  1. Having told the SimpleConnect component where the directory is located, we also have to tell it what other components are being used. In the Property Inspector, click the [] beside the Communications Component to open the Values dialog box. This is where you will connect your SimpleConnect component to our other components that are on the stage.

  2. Click the (+) sign in the Values dialog box to add a value. Enter ch3_chat.

  3. Click the (+) sign. Enter ch3_color.

  4. Click the (+) sign to add a value. Enter ch3_led. Click OK to close the dialog box. Your chat room should resemble Figure 3.9.

  5. Save movie and test!

Figure 3.9Figure 3.9 The SimpleConnect component is configured and the chat room is "good to go."

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

Peachpit Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Peachpit and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Peachpit products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email ask@peachpit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Adobe Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.peachpit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020