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Understanding timelines

From: ActionScript 3.0 in Flash Professional CS5 Essential Training

Video: Understanding timelines

Timelines are somewhat infamous in Flash, and many programmers refuse to write code unless all assets can be contained within a single frame. While simultaneously working with ActionScript in Timelines can be tricky, with proper planning, you will be able to set up your Timelines and code to best work together. Let's take a look at some examples of why Timelines can be frustrating. I'll play the animation here. So we have some text on the screen, then it fades out, and a bear walks onto the Stage.

Understanding timelines

Timelines are somewhat infamous in Flash, and many programmers refuse to write code unless all assets can be contained within a single frame. While simultaneously working with ActionScript in Timelines can be tricky, with proper planning, you will be able to set up your Timelines and code to best work together. Let's take a look at some examples of why Timelines can be frustrating. I'll play the animation here. So we have some text on the screen, then it fades out, and a bear walks onto the Stage.

This is all controlled through motion tweens. Let's say we wanted to communicate with the bear through ActionScript. So we'll close the window and go to the first keyframe of the actions layer on the main Timeline and open up the Actions panel. Rather than navigating through my whole file, I can find the bear instance name, or give the bear an instance name, through the Insert Target Path button in the Actions panel. I'll click that button, click on main_mc, select BearWalking, and then it says, "Instance name required to use this object as a target." So I'll click Rename.

Now I will give it an instance name of 'bear.' I'll click OK, and now it has an instance name. If I click OK, then Flash will actually write the code to communicate with that object for me. I don't need object this there, so I'll just delete that, and I will have main_mc.bear. So let's say I want to put its x position at zero, so you can type .x = 0. Now I test the movie, and I get an error.

The reason why I get an error, it's because if you look at the Timeline, you'll see there is nothing on the main layer. And if I scroll to frame 100, you will see that the main layer is what contains main_mc. So I am trying to communicate with an object that doesn't exist. In order to communicate with that object, I need to put the Timeline code on a frame where the object exists. So I'll go to frame 1, open up the Actions panel, cut the code using Command+X or Ctrl+X, move to frame 100, select that keyframe of the actions layer, open up the Actions panel and paste the code with Command+V or Ctrl+V. Now when I test the movie, after the text fades out, you'll see the bear can be affected by ActionScript, and there he is, on the left side of the screen.

If you keep watching, you'll notice the bear moves over to the left and walks in again. Here is why that happens. Look at my keyframes in the Timeline. I have one keyframe on the main layer here, and then on frame 145, there is another keyframe on that same layer. So when that keyframe hits, that change that I made to the bear gets reset, and the bear then walks in.

Also notice that modifying the bear with ActionScript completely destroyed the animation that I created. So playing with Timelines, again, can be very tricky. You need to be very precise with how you set up your FLA files so that you can communicate effectively. One way you can do that is to keep objects that you are going to need to communicate with in one frame. So you have one keyframe, and you manipulate the object only with ActionScript.

If you have to have multiple keyframes, then maybe you can put different ActionScript for each keyframe and have the code reapply. In some instances, you are going to have to get really creative to pull it off. I don't say this to scare you away from working with Timelines, but you should know what you're dealing with. Now that you know potential problems of working with Timelines, make sure to set up all of your Timelines appropriately so you can best integrate interactivity.

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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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