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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.
In Flash Catalyst, the things that make your project functional are Interactions. These are the rules you apply which specify exactly what happens when a user clicks on certain elements or when certain things happen in your project. For example, what I have open on my screen right now is a project called olive_tour_interactions and you can see that I already have my pages set up in my project. If I click on this button here, you can see that I already have converted this and created my button components. However, I need to tell Flash Catalyst that when someone clicks on this button, it should trigger some kind of an action.
That action is called an Interaction and in this case it would transition that person to the Growing page. The way that we define interactions are through the Interactions panel here inside of Flash Catalyst. Notice that right now I already have a transition. It says Play Transition to Growing. Remember, I've named all of my pages with real names, so it's telling me that when I click on this button, that will trigger this action to actually move to the Growing page. Notice if I click on this button here, it will Play Transition to the Picking page.
So that you can see how you can apply this type of interaction, I'm actually going to select it here in the Interactions panel and I'll click on the Trash Can to delete it. Notice now for this button, there are no interactions defined. Again, I have one button selected, so all of the settings that I'm about to apply only apply to this one button. I would click on the Add Interaction button and I would specify what type of interaction I want to apply. There are different options here called On Click, On Mouse Down, On Mouse Up, On Roll Out and On Roll Over.
In this case, I want someone to actually click on the button, so I'm going to choose an On Click option right here. Next, I can choose what happens when that person clicks on the button. The default setting, which is probably the one you'll use most often, is called Play Transition to State. But if I click over here, you'll see I have other options as well. I can choose Play Action Sequence. We'll talk about that specifically in another movie. I can choose Go To URL, and if I choose that option, I can type in here a full web address. For example, if this were a button where I wanted someone to send me an email, I can start by typing in mail to: and then enter my email address, or I can type in a full web address like www.lynda.com, for example.
If I am pointing people to a different web address, I can choose whether that opens up in the current window or if it opens up in a new window or a parent or a top window. In addition to Go To URL setting, I also have the ability to Play, Pause or Stop a video. We'll talk more about integrating video into your projects in another chapter. For now though, I simply want it so that when someone clicks on this button, it plays a transition to the Picking state. So I'm going to choose Play Transition to State and now I can choose which state I want to move to when someone clicks on that button.
And again, here it's important to note that because I've named my pages, I can now see the names of my pages, so it makes it that much easier for me to choose what I'm doing here. So I'll choose Picking here. So it's pretty simple and straightforward. It almost reads like English. On click. Play Transition to State. Which state? The Picking state. Then I'll click OK and that now applies the Interaction. In fact, I believe that most of the work that you'll be doing, you'll find you'll be creating these buttons. Then when someone clicks on that button, you're going to add an interaction to specify which page that person should now navigate to.
It's one of the most common types of interactions that you'll add in Flash Catalyst. There is also one other kind of interaction. Notice that right now I have a button selected, so in my Interactions panel, I'm dealing with an interaction for that specific button. However, I'm going to click on the artboard here to deselect that button. Now notice that I have absolutely nothing selected on my artboard. If I look at the Interactions panel, I now see a setting here called Application, and you'll note that when you have nothing selected and you click on the Add Interaction button, you have the ability to add a different type of interaction.
It's called On Application Start. You can see that I only have one choice right here, but I can choose to play a transition to a state. Let's talk about this for a moment. One of the most important concepts to really understand about Flash Catalyst is that in order for things to move or change in my project, I need to define interactions. But interactions always happen between two points. There is a start point and an end point. There is never a case in Flash Catalyst where a single object itself performs some kind of an animation.
For example, if I have an object, and I want that object to fade in, I want it to start with none and then end up at 100% visibility. To perform that, I'm going to need at least two pages or states. I need to have one where my object is set at zero Opacity and one where my object is set to 100 Opacity. I would then define an interaction that takes me from 0% opacity to the 100% Opacity. So we always have to be thinking about start points and end points when we think about planning the interactivity in our projects.
So let's talk about what I have going on here inside of this particular project. You see when somebody loads this application in their browser, I don't want the page to just appear as it is. I want the page to actually build. I want the map to fade in from 0% to 100%. I want the Two Trees logo to slide into place. Then for an added dramatic effect, I also want each of the buttons to kind of slide in from the left. If I have just a single page right now called the MainMap page, I'd have no way to define that. I need to first have a point inside of my Flash Catalyst project, where the map itself is set to 0% Opacity, where the Two Trees logo and where the buttons themselves are off the artboard.
So let's take a look at what I've created here. I'm going to press Cancel here inside of the Interactions panel and you'll see that in addition to the MainMap page in this project, if I slide all the way to the right here, I have another page here called Start page. If I click on it, you'll see that right now, the buttons all appear off of the artboard on the left. The map is here but it's currently set to 0% Opacity. If I scroll upwards just a little bit here, you can see that the Two Trees logo also appears here positioned off of the artboard. You'll also notice that even though my Start page appears all the way at the end of this list here in the Pages and States panel, the little dot here indicates that this is currently set as the default page.
That means, this is the first page that's going to load in the web browser. Remember that at anytime you can always just right-click on any page and set it as the default state. So that's what I did in this case here. I duplicated the MainMap page. I renamed it Start and set it as my default page and then I positioned the elements of where I want this to be before it starts. We'll go into detail about this in another movie. But the point I want to make here though, is that with nothing at all selected, I created an Application Interaction.
Notice now it says that On Application Start, Flash Catalyst will automatically play a transition to the MainMap page. That means without any interaction from the user perspective, just by opening this up in a web browser, Flash Catalyst will automatically trigger a transition from the Start page to the MainMap page. In fact, let's see how that works. I'm going to go to the File menu here and I'm going to choose Run Project. You'll notice that now when this loads in a web browser, instead of the map simply appearing with all the elements there, first the map will fade in, then the Two Trees logo will slide into place, and finally, each of the buttons will slide in one at a time from the left.
That's because I've defined this Application Interaction. The interaction was automatically triggered simply by loading this into the browser. At this point, now as a user, when I mouse over these buttons and I start to click on these buttons, this is now doing the interaction that I've defined, specifically for when I click on a button, it transitions me to the Picking page. It's important to realize that for any application, you can only have one Application Interaction. After all, your application only loads once in your browser. Still, by understanding that you always have to have both the Start and an End point for any type of interaction, you can plan your projects correctly from the start.
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