Symbol Editor

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When you insert new symbol, Flash changes the screen and switches to the symbol editor. Now this can be confusing to Flash novices, but once you understand where you are and how to operate there, creating symbols in the symbol editor will be easier. You tackled making a text animation on the main stage previously. Now we will venture into the symbol editor to make the hyperlinked button at that will occupy the last frame of our text animation on the stage.

Then we will explore another way to accomplish the same task and we will create the button using a movieclip symbol. These tutorials will give you some basic knowledge on creating buttons and movieclips, but most importantly this section should help clear up some of the confusion that exists when Flash newcomers get into the symbol editor.

Make a Linked Button for the Splash Page

Buttons are symbols. We learned before that symbols reside in the library after they are created and then are placed on the stage when they are called into action. Bitmaps, shapes, and type can be arranged on the stage and then selected and converted to a grouped symbol or separate symbols. Making symbols by conversion on the stage is not a very good strategy for develop- ment. The best method for creating symbols is to make a new symbol — Insert>New Symbol.

Make a Button Symbol

The button symbol must be created in the symbol editor. When we Insert>New Symbol>Button, the Flash interface takes us to the button symbol editor. The button symbol editor does not look the same as the symbol editor that shows up for movieclip and graphic symbols. Inside the button symbol editor you will see four states. Buttons maintain an up state, an over state, a down state, and a hit state.

The first three states can be animated. Let’s examine the states to understand what a state is and what each state does. Insert > Figure > button symbol editor A button state is literally the position the button is in at a given point in time. The up state of the button is when the button is up or on top. This means there is no mouse over the button or there is no mouse pressing down on the button. The other states are responsible for those situations. Over and down are based on the user’s mouse control. Is the user rolling the mouseOver or is the user pressing the mouseDown? The individual states occupy one frame each.

There is no need for extra frames because the event (over or down) triggers the state. Each state of the button can be unique. For example, we make a button that is a red ci rcle with a grey border (stroke) when the button is static (up) it is exactly the same as when we made it, red with grey border. When the user rolls over the button the over state is triggered and in that state you change the red button to all grey. The visual feed back conveyed by the mouseOver lets the user know that this is an active button and that it should be clicked. Graphic rollovers provide feedback just as text links with color rollovers alert the user that there is more on if the link is clicked.

The mouseDown state occurs when the user clicks the mouse. Here is another case where visual feedback can be used to guide or entertain the user. In the down state a new graphic or even a sound effect can be place. The first three button states can hold text, images, movieclip symbol animations, and sound files. All of these multimedia elements can be exist in the button in any state.

To summarize; you can create interactive multimedia buttons in the button symbol editor. Now we have to discuss the most important function state, the hit state. The hit state in the button symbol editor is an important part of Flash. This state is the hotspot that makes the button programmable and interactive. A button can be made with the hit state missing. When the button is on the stage, it will only execute the first three stages of the button symbol. If there was an ActionScript attached to it, it will not execute because the hit state is missing.

Making the hit state is easy. We will do it shortly. Here is a quick fact about the hit state. By using only the hit state, you can make invisible buttons that are programmable. Invisible buttons do not contain an up, over, or down state, thus making them invisible. Invisible buttons can be used to quickly and easily program movieclip symbols. Programming invisible buttons are easier in simple ActionScript cases because they allow the novice to attach the script to the invisible button, instead of the movieclip symbol.

The ActionScript coding for the invisible button does not require reference to the movieclip object, which becomes a more complex task. The only requirement is that the invisible button is laid on top of the movieclip symbol and then actions are set to the invisible button symbol instead of the movieclip symbol.

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