Read an Excerpt
Chapter 1: Getting Around Backstage
In This Chapter
- Meet the Flash environment
- Controlling panels
- Setting up your movie
- Editing frames
- Managing what you see
Much of what you need to know about the Flash environment will be covered as you explore what Flash does. So don't spend any time trying to memorize the name of everything on the screen. I'll remind you as we go along.
Meet the Flash EnvironmentPart of what makes the Flash environment somewhat, shall we say overstocked, is that Flash 5 marks a transition from an older environment to a new one that matches other Macromedia products like Dreamweaver. So, in many cases, there are two or three ways to accomplish something in Flash. Throughout the book, I'll stick with the simplest way to get something done. In this chapter, however, I'll introduce you to alternate ways to organize your Flash environment so you are aware of what is available and can set things up in the way most convenient for your work methods.
If you're familiar with file menus, toolbars, and tools in a Macintosh/Windows environment, the Flash menu and toolbar will look familiar to you. But Flash has it's own unique elements as well.
When you launch Flash 5, a new movie opens. The big white area in the middle of the screen is called the Stage (get it-a movie analogy). The rows on top (Layer 1) are called Layers. And the small rectangles with numbers at 1, 5, 10, 15, and so on are frames. The strip thatholds frames is called the Timeline. Flash 5 has added a status bar in the lower left corner of the Flash window.
That's pretty much the Flash environment. Figure 2.1 shows the Flash environment with key elements identified.
You do all your drawing on the Stage. The Timeline controls animation, and Layers allow you to stack images on top of one another, while editing them one at a time.
Toolbar Versus ToolsYou can do a majority of what needs to be done in Flash by choosing features from the toolbar at the top of the Flash window, or the Toolbox. The Toolbox is normally docked at the left side of your screen, but you can drag on the word "Tools" and move the window anywhere on your screen.
The options in the toolbar and the Toolbox duplicate features that can be accessed from the File menu. Which is a better way to choose features? In general, you'll save time and focus better on your movie by relying on tools in the toolbar and Toolbox when they are available, as opposed to hunting around for file options.
Have a Seat at the Tool BarTools? Toolbar? They sound similar. Let's start with the main toolbar. It has standard Macintosh/Windows tools like Save and Print. Figure 2.2 identifies the tools in the Flash toolbar. New, Open, Save, Print, and so on are typical to most Macintosh/Windows applications.
The standard toolbar also includes some unique Flash icons. The Snap to Objects button toggles attraction between objects to one another (as if they were magnetized). The Smooth and Straighten tools change the way you edit lines-a feature you'll explore in Chapter 3, "Ready, Set, Draw!"
The Rotate tool adds rotation handles to a selected object so you can rotate it, and the Scale tool allows you to resize objects interactively. The Alignment tool allows you to arrange objects in relation to one another. Alignment, resizing and scaling are explained in Chapter 6, "Snip, Snap, Stick."