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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 you're in Flash Catalyst and you're working really hard on a project. You've spent time designing all the elements for your project using an application for example like Illustrator and now you're at a stage in your project to actually have some functionality built-in. For example, take a look at this file right here. I have five different buttons that I've created. However, these aren't just regular plain static artwork buttons, they're actually functional. If I click on the first one here, for example, called GROWING, I'll see that this is currently a Button component. In fact, I'll double-click on that Button component to reveal the various states of that button.
For example, this is what the Up state looks like, but I currently have different artworks for the Over and for the Down and Disabled states. Well, let's say that right now your client is not happy with the way that button looks like in the Over state. Maybe they want to change some of the colors or some of the way that this artwork actually appears in this button. Well, at first blush that might sound like a lot of work. I mean after all you first created this artwork inside of Illustrator, but then you brought it into Flash Catalyst and you converted it to a component, you've added multiple states, but even more so, you've also defined certain transitions.
I'm going to double-click here on the Timelines panel and you'll see that there already are some transitions that are defined for this button. For example, let's see what happens when I go from the Up to the Over state. I'll go ahead and now and select that particular transition and I'll click the Play button. You can see that a sound effect plays and the button has a subtle fade as it goes from the black-and- white to the color version. I'll play it once more, and you'll even see that the white bar kind of animates outwards to show the text Growing. Now it took you some time to do that and you got it just right. Now just because you want to make some artwork change, you don't want to have to redo all that work again.
Well, the nice thing about Flash Catalyst is that you don't have to do. You also don't have to use the limited toolset that appears inside of Flash Catalyst for editing your artwork. Maybe you want to make this change inside of Illustrator directly. Well, Flash Catalyst allows you to do so without damaging the structure of your components. Let's take a look at how that works. I'm going to hit the Escape key just to get out of my editing mode here. So now I'm back to my regular document and I'll keep this button selected right now. I'd like to edit parts of this button inside of Illustrator.
I can do that in one of several ways. I can either go to the Modify menu and I choose Edit in Illustrator CS5 or directly on the artboard, I can simply select and right-click on the button and then choose Edit in Adobe Illustrator CS5. Let's see what happens when I do that. A dialog-box appears letting me know that I'm now switching over to Illustrator and a couple of things happens here inside of Illustrator. First of all, Flash Catalyst actually takes a screenshot of my entire project and displays it on a background layer inside of my document.
This allows me see the artwork that I want to work on in the context of my entire design. Notice that you can't actually click and select any of these elements. They all appear locked. What I can select and work with though is the actual artwork that I want to work with here, which is the button. But if you'll remember, the button that we created inside of Flash Catalyst actually has four different states. So let's open up the Layers panel here inside of Illustrator. I'll go to the Window menu and I'll choose Layers and I'll bring out the Layers panel here so we can take a better look at it.
Notice now that in my Layers panel, I actually have four separate layers that are inside of one button layer. I have a layer for each of my states: the Up, Over, Down, and Disabled states. Currently, only the Up state is visible. However, I can turn that off and make the Over state visible. Now this is the actual state that we want to make a change to. I can zoom in a little closer here to this button to see the details and I can see that one of these leaves is actually different color than the rest. So maybe I want to fix that problem.
I'll use my Direct Selection tool to select this one leaf right here and then I'll use my Eyedropper tool to click on another leaf to make it match. At this point I've completed the change, but I want to make sure now this goes back into Flash Catalyst without damaging the component that I've already created. Notice at the top of my screen I now see a gray bar. It's similar to regular isolation mode inside of Illustrator, although now it's letting me know that I'm currently editing a file from Flash Catalyst. I can either click on Done or Cancel.
Cancel would mean I don't want to make any changes, just bring me back to Flash Catalyst. Clicking Done would mean that I now want to accept this design change and update the artwork in Flash Catalyst as well. So now I'll click on Done and an FXG Options dialog box appears here inside of Illustrator. FXG is actually the file format that both Illustrator and Flash Catalyst use to communicate. The reason this dialog appears is because there may be times in Illustrator we'll create something that cannot be brought into Flash Catalyst.
For example, Illustrator allows you to create things in 3D, or you can use a feature called Gradient Mesh. These elements are converted on Export Adobe Illustrator so that they're compatible with Flash Catalyst. For example, the 3D effect may be expanded into regular objects, or the Gradient Mash might be turned into a raster image. However, for simple artwork changes like we just did here, I'm just going to go ahead now and click OK and use the default settings. Notice now that Illustrator automatically returns me back into Flash Catalyst, my items are now updated in place and I'm done.
In fact, let's take a look at this right now. I'm going to now open up the Over state by clicking on this button in the HUD, and by zooming in closer to the button, you can see that change has now been made here directly inside of the button. More importantly all the structure that we worked so hard to create is still intact. It's still a button. It still has all the transitions that I've applied, and even maintains the sound effect that I've applied to it. If you think you about it this is really a key concept for how we might think about using Flash Catalyst.
By having the ability to round-trip artwork between both Illustrator and Flash Catalyst, I can constantly iterate on a design and make changes without really spending that much time on it. Aside from the obvious benefit of making client requested changes in a much more efficient manner, I myself as a designer can experiment more with the artwork that I'm creating. It means that I won't have to sacrifice quality just because something might take too much time to do. By being able to update my artwork in Illustrator at almost any time, I can be sure that I'll always be happy with the projects that I create inside of Flash Catalyst.
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