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

Home > Articles > Design > Adobe Creative Suite

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

Complex Buttons

You can use a combination of invisible buttons, animated buttons, and movie clips to create objects with complex behaviors such as pulldown menus. The pull-down (or pop-up) menu is a kind of button that is common in operating systems and Web interfaces, and is useful for presenting several choices under a single heading. The functionality consists of a single button that expands to show more buttons and collapses when a selection has been made (Figure 4.28).

Figure 4.28

Figure 4.28 Typical pull-down menus: a Mac OS system menu (left) and a Web menu (right).

To build your own pull-down menu, the basic strategy is to nest symbols inside of each other. A simple way is to place buttons inside a movie clip. The buttons specify which frames within the movie clip timeline to play. Whether the menu is expanded or collapsed is determined within the movie clip. Placing an instance of this movie clip on the Stage allows you to access either the expanded or collapsed state independently of what’s happening in your main movie.

To create a simple pull-down menu:

  1. Create a button symbol that will be used for the top menu button as well as the choices in the expanded list.
  2. Add a filled rectangle to the Up, Over, Down, and Hit keyframes (Figure 4.29).

    Figure 4.29

    Figure 4.29 A generic button with the four keyframes defined.

  3. Create a new movie clip symbol.

    Enter symbol editing mode for the movie clip.

  4. Insert a new keyframe at a later point in the movie clip Timeline.

    You now have two keyframes inside your movie clip symbol. The first one will contain the collapsed state of your menu, and the second one will contain its expanded state (Figure 4.30).

    Figure 4.30

    Figure 4.30 The pull-down menu movie clip timeline contains two keyframes: one at frame 1 and another at frame 9.

  5. Drag one instance of your button symbol into the first keyframe, and add text over the instance to describe the button.

    This is the collapsed state of your menu.

  6. Drag several instances of your button symbol into the second keyframe, align them with one another, and add text over these instances to describe the buttons.

    This is the expanded state of your menu.

  7. Add a new layer, and place frame labels to mark the collapsed and expanded keyframes (Figure 4.31).

    Figure 4.31

    Figure 4.31 The two states of your pull-down menu. The collapsed state is in the first keyframe (top); the expanded state is in the second keyframe (bottom). The expanded state contains the initial button plus four button instances that represent the menu choices.

    In the Frame Label field of the Property inspector, enter collapsed for the first keyframe and expanded for the second keyframe.

    The frame labels let you see clearly the collapsed and expanded states of your movie clip, and let you use the gotoAndStop() action with frame labels instead of frame numbers.

  8. Select the button instance in the first keyframe, and give it an instance name.
  9. Add a new layer; select the first keyframe in that layer, and open the Actions panel.
  10. In the first line of the Script pane, add the action stop().

    Without this stop() in the first frame of your movie clip, the menu would open and close repeatedly because of the automatic cycling of movie clips. The stop() action ensures that the movie clip stays on frame 1 until you click the menu button (Figure 4.32).

    Figure 4.32

    Figure 4.32 The movie clip timeline for the pull-down menu. A stop action is assigned to the first frame in the top layer.

  11. On the next line of the Script pane, add an event listener for the button that is on the first keyframe of your movie clip:

    pick_btn.addEventListener (MouseEvent.CLICK, expandmenu);

    This listener listens for a mouse click on the button called pick_btn (Figure 4.33).

    Figure 4.33

    Figure 4.33 The stop action plus the event handler for the button in the first keyframe. When this button is clicked, Flash goes to the expanded keyframe.

  12. On the next available line of the Script pane, add a function that goes to the expanded keyframe of the movie clip, like so:

    function expandmenu(myevent:MouseEvent): void {

    When this function is called, the current timeline is targeted (with the keyword this) and the playhead goes to the frame labeled expanded. Make sure that the frame label is within quotation marks.

  13. Select the first button instance on the last keyframe, and give it an instance name.
  14. In the layer with your ActionScript, select the frame above the expanded keyframe, and add a new keyframe.

    In this keyframe, you’ll add the code for the buttons in the expanded menu.

    You have to put more code here because you can’t add event handler code to buttons until they’re present on the Stage. Otherwise, Flash won’t find the button instances and can’t reference them from the code (Figure 4.34).

    Figure 4.34

    Figure 4.34 When buttons appear on a later frame (frame number 9), add a new keyframe at the same frame number with event handler code for those buttons.

  15. With your new keyframe selected, open the Actions panel and add an event listener for the first button in the expanded keyframe:

    pick2_btn.addEventListener (MouseEvent.CLICK, collapsemenu);

    This listener listens for a mouse click on the button called pick2_btn.

  16. Next, add a function that goes back to the collapsed keyframe, like so:

    function collapsemenu(myevent:MouseEvent):void {
  17. Assign instance names to each of the remaining button instances on this keyframe, and repeat step 15 to add event handler code for each of them (Figure 4.35).

    Figure 4.35

    Figure 4.35 The ActionScript for the buttons in the expanded keyframe sends the Flash playhead to the frame labeled collapsed and stops there.

  18. Return to the main movie Timeline, and place an instance of your movie clip on the Stage.
  19. Choose Control > Test Movie to see how your pull-down menu works.

    When you click the first button, the buttons for your choices appear because you direct the playhead to go to the expanded keyframe on the movie clip timeline. When you click one of the buttons in the expanded state, the buttons disappear, returning you to the collapsed keyframe of the movie clip timeline. All this happens independently of the main movie Timeline, where the movie clip instance resides (Figure 4.36).

    Figure 4.36

    Figure 4.36 The two states of the pull-down menu work independently of the main Timeline.

    At this point, you’ve created a complex button that behaves like a pull-down menu but doesn’t actually do anything (except modify itself). In Chapter 5, “Controlling Multiple Timelines,” you’ll learn how to make timelines communicate with one another, which enables you to create complex navigation systems.

  • + 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.


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.


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.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email

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.


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


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


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 and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


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:

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

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.


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