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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.
If you're familiar with a vector-based application, something like Illustrator or even Fireworks, you know that each object on your screen has certain attributes, for example, a Fill Color or a Stroke setting. Well, the same applies here inside of Flash Catalyst, but we control these attributes through something called the Properties panel. You can find the Properties panel in the lower right-hand corner of your screen. To make it easier to work with, I'm actually going to double-click on my Layers panel to collapse it and I'll do the same for the Interactions panel. This way I have much more space now allocated for the Properties panel.
If you've used Flash Professional, you're already familiar with something called the Properties panel. But if you're coming from Illustrator or Photoshop, the Properties panel closely matches what the Control panel or the tool Options Bar presents. It's context-sensitive, meaning it shows you options depending on what you have selected at any one time. In this case, I have a rectangle selected, so I'm seeing the settings for the rectangle. I'm seeing X and Y values for the coordinates of this object. By the way, the coordinates that I'm seeing here are for the upper left-hand corner of that rectangle.
I'm also seeing Width and Height values. These are values that I could change at any time by just clicking-and-dragging on them, dragging to the left and to the right, something called scrubby sliders. When I release the mouse, I'll see the new setting applied. I actually want to make this rectangle of a specific size, and you can enter exact numbers by just taking your mouse and clicking once on the number. That will highlight it. I'm going to make the Width here 530 pixels. I'm going to hit Tab to drop down to the Height setting. I'm going to type in 340 pixels.
Once again, I'll hit Tab to accept that value. Currently, there is no Stroke applied to this object, but if I wanted to I can specify a color by clicking on this, specifying a color and a weight or the thickness of the Stroke. But in this case, I really don't want to have a Stroke on this rectangle at all. So I'm going to click on None. However, I do want this to have a Fill attribute. I want the color not to be white, but to be black. So I'll click on the color pop-up here and I'll choose this color right here. Notice that immediately, you can now read the text that appears on this page.
However, to add a little bit more of a subtle effect, I want to have some transparency applied to this object so that I can see a little bit of the background behind it. So you'll see that I have now an Opacity value here. I'll enter a value of 85%. Notice by the way that even though I used the Rectangle tool to create this object, the Corners setting here is set to 0. If I wanted to, I could create rounded corners by just changing the value here. Now for a rectangle shape, I can also control the blend mode and I can even add a Filter or a special effect, for example something like a Glow or a Drop Shadow.
To do that, I would click on the Plus sign and then choose which type of effect I'd like to apply. Now, I don't want to add an effect to this object, but let's try applying effects to other objects in this project. So I'm going to deselect this shape right here. I'll double-click on the Layers panel to reveal these settings here. I'll scroll to reveal the Navigation layer. This is the layer that contains all the buttons. I'll click on the first button here, which is this button that actually triggers the move to the Growing page. By looking at the Properties panel, I already see that some things have changed.
For example, there is now a field for Label. This button doesn't have a Label on it but, of course, buttons can have labels. I'm going to scroll down here towards the bottom of the Properties panel. In fact, you'll see a setting here called Tooltip. By entering a value in here, when viewing this project in a web browser, as I run my mouse over that button, a little text tooltip will appear. For example, it could say Click Here, or it could say Growing. It's just a way for you to help identify your users how to use the application that you're creating.
But if I scroll down further in the Properties panel, I'll see that I can add a Filter. I'm going to click on the Plus sign and I'll add a Drop Shadow. Notice that the settings that you see here are very similar to the settings that you might find in your favorite design application. If you've applied a Filter and you now want to remove it from an object, just click on this little circle with the X inside of it to remove that filter. So you can probably see that you're going to be spending a lot of time in the Properties panel here in Flash Catalyst. As a little tip, I found that when I'm working inside of Flash Catalyst and I'm trying to find a setting for something that I want to do, that setting usually is inside of the Properties panel.
So I find myself looking there pretty often. However, while the Properties panel is great, there are, of course, many times when I want to do my editing directly in the artboard. For example, if I want to take this rectangle that I've created and I want to nudge it right into position, I can select it on the artboard and then use the Arrow keys of my keyboard, to just move it right into the position that I want. I can either use precise values in my Properties panel or I can eyeball it right on my screen.
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