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Detecting and navigating frame labels with ActionScript

From: ActionScript 3.0 in Flash Professional CS5 Essential Training

Video: Detecting and navigating frame labels with ActionScript

One recurring theme in this title, and many other titles for that matter, is staying organized. Making a project scalable is often a crucial part in building a solid app, and scalability is usually easiest to maintain when using frame labels instead of frame numbers. Let's take a look at our file here. On the main Timeline, I have this movie clip, and if I double-click, it you can see its Timeline. I have some actions telling the main Timeline to jump to a specific frame so that we can change the angle of the view of this animation.

Detecting and navigating frame labels with ActionScript

One recurring theme in this title, and many other titles for that matter, is staying organized. Making a project scalable is often a crucial part in building a solid app, and scalability is usually easiest to maintain when using frame labels instead of frame numbers. Let's take a look at our file here. On the main Timeline, I have this movie clip, and if I double-click, it you can see its Timeline. I have some actions telling the main Timeline to jump to a specific frame so that we can change the angle of the view of this animation.

So I have this code here MovieClip.(parent).gotoAndStop(20) and if I test the movie, you can see an example of that. When the bear gets to the basket the camera sort of zooms in on the bear. Really, what's happening is the movie clip is scaling up. I set that all up in keyframes on the main Timeline. If you are not familiar with frame labels, frame labels enable you to actually name a frame. So, instead of saying go to frame 20, I could say go to the frame where the bear is eating out of the basket.

That way if I move around the frame label, it doesn't matter. So let's close this and return the main Timeline. Now, I am going to go to frame 20, and I am going to create a new layer above the frame layer. I'll call this new layer 'labels.' In the labels layers, I am going to create a keyframe at frame 20. I'll do that by pressing F7 to insert a blank keyframe. When you're working with labels, you should always have them on their own layer, and use blank keyframes.

So, no art on the labels layer, only blank keyframes. Select frame 20 of the labels layer, and in the Properties panel, click in the Name field. Here, you don't want any spaces or special characters, so type bear_eating and then press Enter to commit the change. You should see bear_eating in the Timeline. Now, let's go back and change our code to the label instead of the number.

Go to frame 1 on the main Timeline, double-click the movie clip, move the playhead to where the ActionScript is, which is on line 103. Select that keyframe of the actions layer and open up the Actions panel. Select 20 and delete it. Now if you just type bear_eating right here, just like you typed in the frame label, you are going to get an error, because there is no variable in Flash that's called bear_eating.

It's not built-in to Flash, and you don't create a variable when you create a frame label. So, you need to refer to frame labels as Strings. So you should put them in quotes. Just think of this bear_eating thing as text. So, when you get a frame label, you're assigning text to a frame. Whenever you refer to an ActionScript, you need to use a String because it's text. So let's test the movie and see what we get. So you can see that it works just the same.

Let's go through the rest of our frame labels and repeat this change to get some practice. Return to the main Timeline, and above each keyframe in the main layer, create a keyframe for the labels layer. So on frame 41 in the labels layer, I am going to select that frame, go to the Name area in the Properties panel, and type basket. This is the view of just the basket.

Note, there are different types of frame labels, so if you click that dropdown menu, you'll see Name, Comment, and Anchor. Names allow you to navigate with ActionScript, like we've been doing. Comments allow you to write comments, just like you would in ActionScript, except for they're in the Timeline. So you can explain what's happening in that part of the Timeline. That's makes it actually really easy to navigate around the Timeline. Then finally, anchors allow you to communicate with the back button in the browser. Now, the feature does sound really exciting, but it doesn't work with all browsers, so I usually don't use it.

So we'll select the Name and then go to the last frame of the labels layer that we created, on frame 71, click in the Name field, and type bear_reaching. Press Enter or Return to accept the change. You should see three named labels there. Now, just for good measure, we can go to the first frame, click on the first keyframe of the labels layer, and then click in the label field and type normal. Now frame 1 is pretty much always going to be the frame 1, but just in case if ever you want to move it around, it's wise to give it a name anyway.

So we have normal, bear_eating, basket, and bear_reaching. So, let's go to frame 1 and double- click the main_mc movie clip and select the first keyframe of the actions layer and open up the Actions panel. We are going to tell the main Timeline to go to the normal frame here. So MovieClip, in parenthesis put parent - remember, that solves any errors that may occur from using parent, because Flash looks at parent as a display object container.

So you are telling Flash to treat it as a MovieClip. .gotoAndStop, capital A, capital S. Then instead of passing in 1, I'm going to pass in normal in quotes. Close out the parentheses and add a semicolon. Now, we'll close the Actions panel, and we'll make all the rest of the changes for our navigation in the actions layer of the main movie clip. We've already made the change at 103, so I'll go to 196, select that actions keyframe, open up the Actions panel, replace 41 with a String called basket.

Then we'll go to the next keyframe, which is of the basket going up. That's going to take us back to the beginning. So I'll open up the Actions panel and change 1 to the string normal. And moving on, the last one is the bear_reaching. So I'll open up the Actions panel on that frame and change 71 to bear_reaching.

Now you should be able to test the movie, and it should work just the same. So the bear walks in. When he starts eating the food, it zooms in on him, then zooms out, just shows us the container by itself. The container goes up into the tree on the rope, and the bear tries to reach at it. So now we've replaced our numbers with frame labels. Let's take a look at the advantage of doing that.

Go to Scene 1, and let's say we were to move around our keyframes for some reason. So, I'll select frame 20 on the main layer, so that keyframe is selected, and I'll move it. So I am moving it to frame 25. Now all I have to do is move that bear_ eating label, and I don't have to change the code. So, I'll test the movie, and you'll see that I'll still go to the bear_eating at the appropriate time. There it is! So with frame labels your app can withstand animation and design changes without requiring any code modification.

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This video is part of

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  1. 3m 22s
    1. Welcome
      1m 23s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 17s
    3. Using the function keys
      42s
  2. 23m 38s
    1. Adjusting preferences for ActionScript fonts, colors, and formatting
      3m 25s
    2. Changing Flash Player and ActionScript versions in the Publish settings
      1m 35s
    3. Reading and solving errors through the Compiler Errors window
      2m 49s
    4. Using the Actions panel buttons to add and remove comments
      2m 33s
    5. Using the Actions panel to format code
      1m 49s
    6. Using the Actions panel Toolbox
      2m 4s
    7. Seldom-used but helpful functions of the Actions panel
      3m 14s
    8. Understanding code hinting
      2m 3s
    9. Reviewing the Code Snippets panel
      3m 7s
    10. Using help
      59s
  3. 45m 50s
    1. Understanding how ActionScript 3.0 code is processed in the Flash Player
      3m 22s
    2. Understanding variables
      4m 56s
    3. Understanding functions
      9m 1s
    4. Understanding events and event listeners
      5m 47s
    5. Working with conditional statements
      9m 49s
    6. Creating arrays and vectors
      6m 50s
    7. Using the For command to create a loop
      6m 5s
  4. 49m 9s
    1. Reviewing the display list
      3m 0s
    2. Understanding instances referenced through ActionScript
      2m 27s
    3. Using dot syntax to modify properties in an instance
      3m 25s
    4. Placing objects at the center of the stage
      4m 2s
    5. Placing objects at the edges of the stage
      5m 53s
    6. Using the methods of an instance
      3m 44s
    7. Accessing the parents, children, and grandchildren of objects
      5m 50s
    8. Creating instances from Library movie clips using ActionScript
      4m 23s
    9. Adding objects to the stage and changing parents with the addChild method
      5m 45s
    10. Removing objects from the stage with the removeChild method
      4m 17s
    11. Using the numChildren property to loop through a container's child objects
      3m 17s
    12. Using the getChildByName method
      3m 6s
  5. 56m 20s
    1. Understanding timelines
      4m 15s
    2. Using common timeline navigation methods
      5m 34s
    3. Using the currentFrame and totalFrames properties
      8m 2s
    4. Controlling the timeline of an instance
      6m 41s
    5. Detecting and navigating frame labels with ActionScript
      7m 57s
    6. Solving problems when timelines and ActionScript animation collide
      4m 16s
    7. Condensing a multi-frame timeline into one frame
      8m 33s
    8. Creating a simple slide presentation app in the timeline
      7m 51s
    9. Using one event handler with multiple buttons
      3m 11s
  6. 36m 5s
    1. Creating a class using Flash templates
      4m 43s
    2. Setting a document class
      6m 51s
    3. Preparing a class to be connected to a symbol
      4m 31s
    4. Using the Symbol Properties menu to connect a symbol to a class
      4m 55s
    5. Resolving problems with instances in a linked class
      7m 53s
    6. Understanding packages
      3m 17s
    7. Working with ActionScript source paths
      3m 55s
  7. 44m 32s
    1. Viewing the finished game
      51s
    2. Viewing the FLA file
      2m 9s
    3. Creating the DragDrop and Map classes
      2m 51s
    4. Linking the draggable class to Library symbols
      2m 47s
    5. Adding drag-and-drop functionality
      3m 38s
    6. Saving and resetting an object's position
      3m 33s
    7. Giving a target drop object to the draggable objects
      13m 16s
    8. Showing a Win screen
      7m 3s
    9. Resetting the game
      8m 24s
  8. 29m 6s
    1. Loading bitmap images from the Library
      4m 6s
    2. Loading bitmap images from external files
      5m 22s
    3. Adding mouse functionality to bitmap images
      3m 31s
    4. Using a loop to load multiple images
      6m 14s
    5. Creating a simple slideshow
      8m 37s
    6. Using Flash Player 10 color management
      1m 16s
  9. 27m 13s
    1. Loading an external SWF
      4m 14s
    2. Running ActionScript code in an external SWF from its parent
      5m 30s
    3. Running parent code in a child SWF
      5m 7s
    4. Creating a timeline-based preloader to load an external SWF file
      5m 3s
    5. Displaying playback progress of a loaded SWF file
      7m 19s
  10. 40m 10s
    1. Creating plain text files
      2m 8s
    2. Loading text from an external text file
      6m 26s
    3. Loading multiple text files
      6m 43s
    4. Rendering simple HTML in a text field
      5m 51s
    5. Creating a scroll bar for a text field
      5m 29s
    6. Scrolling a text field
      4m 59s
    7. Scrolling movie clips and other objects using masks
      5m 42s
    8. Modifying TLF text properties through ActionScript
      2m 52s
  11. 23m 40s
    1. Reviewing XML and E4X syntax
      3m 29s
    2. Loading an XML file
      3m 26s
    3. Using dot syntax to access XML data
      4m 2s
    4. Using XML data to populate a DataGrid component
      7m 4s
    5. Using XML data to load image files
      5m 39s
  12. 23m 33s
    1. Loading audio from the Library
      1m 41s
    2. Loading audio from external files
      3m 41s
    3. Playing, pausing, and stopping sounds
      5m 39s
    4. Muting all audio with the SoundMixer.stopAll method
      1m 28s
    5. Tracking load progress
      2m 38s
    6. Displaying sound position
      5m 5s
    7. Adjusting volume
      3m 21s
  13. 19m 54s
    1. Touring the FLA file
      5m 57s
    2. Controlling video playing and pausing with ActionScript
      1m 56s
    3. Working with ActionScript cue points to add closed captioning
      3m 35s
    4. Displaying video playback position
      3m 44s
    5. Adjusting video volume
      4m 42s
  14. 5m 32s
    1. Using new code snippets for AIR and mobile
      1m 13s
    2. Viewing the new code snippets HUD
      1m 17s
    3. Loading assets with the new ProLoader class
      1m 8s
    4. Understanding Flash Player premium features
      1m 54s
  15. 16s
    1. Goodbye
      16s

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