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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.
As with any overall project that you build inside of Flash Catalyst, when you start to think about building a datalist component, it's always best to spend a few minutes in advance, planning how it's going to function, so that you can design and organize its parts accordingly. Now in this example, we want to create a repeating datalist that lists both the date and the city for a traveling olive tour. So we'll start here inside of Illustrator and talk about how we are going to build these components. First of all, I have a header across the top. It's not necessary, but I obviously want to identify what this is going to be.
So I have put that on a separate layer and I've also locked that layer. Next, any datalist is made up of at least two parts: a scrollbar and the actual element that repeats. It's important to realize that your repeating element could be made up of many, many other objects inside of that. In this example, we actually have two rectangles that are the gradients in the background and two text objects. By taking the time to put them into nice folders inside of Illustrator, I'll save myself a little bit of heartache later on in Flash Catalyst.
Remember that when I'm working on my design itself, I don't need to actually have many repeating elements here. I might do that when creating a static design to see how it's going to look. But when I'm ready to bring this into Flash Catalyst, all I need is one element or one entry of that repeating artwork. Of course, even though I am using Illustrator here, you can naturally build all these elements using Photoshop or Fireworks as well. So at this point I'm ready to actually start putting this together inside of Flash Catalyst. So once my file is saved as an Illustrator file, I am going to switch over now to Flash Catalyst.
I'm going to create a new project from a design file, and since I'm using Illustrator here, I'm going to choose to create one from an Illustrator file. In Chapter 08 of my Exercise Files folder, I'm going to choose the cities_datalist Illustrator file and click Open to now build this file out of my Illustrator document. In the Illustrator Import options dialog box, I am going to click OK, to accept the default settings and now Flash Catalyst will convert all that information into a project. Notice by the way, my Header layer was locked inside of Illustrator and it shows up locked here as well.
Now, the first thing I need to do when building a datalist is to actually create the components. This is going to be a two-step process. First, we'll create the scrollbar. Then we'll go ahead and create a datalist component itself. So here in the Layers panel, I'll actually start by clicking on the Scrollbar layer to select that entire layer. A scrollbar can be made up of four distinct parts, the Thumb, the Track, the Up Button and the Down Button, assuming that it's a vertical scrollbar. However, it is possible to create a scrollbar using only a thumb and a track.
The Up and Down buttons are optional. But with this artwork selected right now, I'll use the HUD to convert this artwork into a Vertical Scrollbar component. Now in order for me to complete the functional component, I need to let Flash Catalyst know about the different parts of that component. So I am going to choose Edit Parts and I'll use the Layers panel to make selections so it's easier to work with. I'll select the Thumb and then using the HUD, I am going to convert that artwork to the Thumb. Next I'll select the track and I'll convert that artwork to the track part of this component.
Finally, I'll do the same for the Up Button and for the Down Button as well. At this point I've now created a functional scrollbar component and I'll double-click on the artboard here to exit the Isolation mode. So at this point, I've now completed the first step of creating a functional datalist component. I've added a scrollbar to my project. Now I'm actually ready to create my datalist component and to do that, I'm going to select both the Scrollbar and also, all the elements that are going to be repeated within my datalist.
So I have all these elements here and my scrollbar both selected. Once again, I'll return to the HUD and I will now choose to convert this to a datalist component. Now Flash Catalyst is smart enough to figure out which part of my component is a scrollbar. But Flash Catalyst also needs to know which part of my artwork I'd like to see repeated within that component. So at this point, back in the HUD, I am going to click on the Edit Parts button. Now I am going to select just these elements right here and I'll choose to convert these elements to the specific repeated item part of the datalist.
When I do that, Flash Catalyst now has all it needs to generate multiple versions or repeated elements for the component. You can see though that it added some space in between each of these. I've actually designed this so that they should all be touching each other. So we'll take a look here at the Properties panel and I'll scroll down over here to where it says Layout. You can have these repeating elements repeat in a Vertical, Horizontal or Tile format and you can have them aligned to the Left, Center or Right.
Notice over here where it says Spacing, it's currently set to 6 pixels. Being that I don't want any space at all, I am going to click on the value here where it says 6 change it to 0 and press Return or Enter. With that change made, I'll now double-click on the artboard and I have successfully created a datalist component inside a Flash Catalyst. By default Flash Catalyst creates five repeating elements, and the data that appears inside of each of these repeating elements are all the same. In the next movie, we'll learn both how to add additional elements and also how to change the data within the component itself.
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