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In Flash Catalyst CS5 Essential Training, author Mordy Golding demonstrates how to create and publish fully interactive Flash (SWF) micro sites, widgets, portfolios, and applications from static Photoshop, Illustrator, and Fireworks artwork—all without writing code. The course covers planning a project, importing and organizing assets, creating interactive components, defining repeating data lists, and publishing final projects. Exercise files are included with the course.
So we've been able to use Flash Catalyst to create an interactive widget, a really cool game that we can add to our web site. Users can click on a bottle, it navigates them between different pages, and they can submit information and learn more by going to our web site. However, from a designer perspective, when a user moves from one page to another, the change is somewhat sudden or harsh. I would like to soften that by adding some really cool smooth animated effects. So, to make that happen, we're going to create something called Transitions inside of Flash Catalyst.
These are controlled through the Timelines panel. I'm going to double-click on the word Timelines here to reveal it. But before we add any Transitions, let's talk for a moment about the Timelines panel itself. This is something that's very different from other Timelines panels that might appear inside of other applications, for example, Adobe After Effects or Adobe Flash Professional. You see those Timelines focus on things like frames or time. However, inside of Flash Catalyst, we care about each individual interaction.
For example, what happens when I click on one button and it takes me to another page? So, the first thing to note is that the Timelines panel is split up into separate sections. On the far left, you'll find a list of all the Transitions that currently exist inside of your document. Now in this specific project, we've only specified three different interactions. One that takes you from the PlayGame state to the Winner state, one that goes from the PlayGame state to the Loser state and one that returns you from the Loser state back to the PlayGame state if you wanted to play again.
But if you look to the far left of the Timelines panel, you'll actually see six different Transitions. That's because Flash Catalyst automatically adds one to go in the reverse direction. Using your mouse, you can click on any of these Transitions to select them. For example by clicking right here, I can set the Timelines panel to display the settings for what happens when I move from the PlayGame state to the Winner state. The remainder of the Timeline is split into three separate sections. The left side will display any elements that are going to move when I start my transition.
The right side here will display all the elements that are visible when I end my transition. The middle area will identify how those elements actually appear when they perform that transition. So, let's take a look at exactly what happens here when we move from one page to another. For example, when we're in the PlayGame state right now and I move over to the Winner state, this panel here appears. Rather than just have it appear suddenly, wouldn't it be cool if it would kind of slide into place? Well, let's make that happen. I'll start by coming back here to the PlayGame state.
I'm actually going to add that dark panel to this state. To do that, I'm going to come over to my Results layer. I'll choose to reveal that layer by clicking on the Eyeball here. I'll make sure the Eyeball is also visible for that Rectangle layer. However, I don't want to see this Rectangle right now when I'm inside my PlayGame state because it covers over the buttons. So, what I'd like to do is position it, so it's just located off the bottom of my file. Now I can click-and-drag on it to move it physically. However, I can also move it numerically through the Properties panel.
I'll want to change the Y value, and because my project is 400 pixels deep, I'm going to change the Y value to 400 pixels and click Enter or Return. Notice now if I scroll down, that rectangle right now was just off the bottom of my page. Let's take a look now at our Timelines panel. It lets me know that right now for the PlayGame to Winner transition, I have a Rectangle that is going to Move into a different position in the Winner state. However, at the top of my Timelines panel, I see where it says 0s which stands for zero seconds.
All the way over here, I have something called 1s, which means one second. The Move itself right now takes exactly zero seconds, which means it just changes from one state to the next. However, I'm going to come down to the bottom the Timelines panel where it says Smooth Transition and I'll click on it. Notice that right now, the Move itself is now wider. That means that it has some kind of duration. I'm going to move my mouse over here to scroll it up just a little bit here, just so we can see the bottom part of my project. To preview what this transition is going to look like, I can click on the Play button right here inside of the Timelines panel.
So by clicking on it, I now see that that Rectangle slides in from the bottom instead of simply appearing. Notice also, I have something called Winner (Group) which is currently not visible now in this state. That's because in the PlayGame state, it's not visible. However, in the Winner state where I end up, that Winner (Group) is visible. That Fade In happens right over here after my Move has already been completed. Let's say I want that bar to kind of slide up a lot slower than it does right now. I can click on this button right over here at the end of where it says Move and drag that out to extend the duration.
For example, now it's going to take a half a second for that rectangle to slide in. I also want to make sure that the Fade happens later also. So, I'll move that out. To preview what that looks like, once again I'll click on this Play button and I can see right now that it slides in and it appears. Let's do the same thing when I move from the PlayGame state to the Loser state. In the Timelines panel, I'll click on the specific transition for going from PlayGame to Loser and I'll choose Smooth Transition and once again, I'll take my Move here and extend that out to half a second and pull the Fade to go after that Move has been completed.
To preview that, I can now see that happens as well. Notice by the way that in this case here, the Fade In also has some kind of duration for it. For example, if I want something a little bit more dramatic, I can move the Fade In to happen a little bit after the Move has already been completed and extend that Fade as well. Now when I Play that, the rectangle slides. It pauses for a second and then the Sorry text slowly fades in. Let's actually do that right now for the PlayGame to Winner transition. I'll come here to the Fade In. I'll actually extend it by pulling over here some duration and Play that to preview it as well.
Let's save our file and see what it looks like inside of the browser, I'll go to the File menu here and I'll choose Save As. I'll name this one olive_game5. Click Save. Then let's go to the File menu and choose Run Project. Now inside of our browser, we have our completed game. I can mouse over the different elements. I can click on them to play. The elements slide in and let me know that I've lost the game. I'll try to play again. Now I'll choose a different bottle and I'll see now that I've won.
You don't have to know any code at all in order to create some really cool functional Flash content. So, in a short amount of time, you've been able to start with graphics inside of Illustrator, transform that artwork into functional components, use pages and interactions to add functionality, and use Transitions to add really cool animated effects without writing a single line of code. The best part about it is that it was fun to do. In our next movie, we'll learn how to create a SWF file that we can then publish to our web site.
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