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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 know that in Flash Catalyst, when we think about interactivity, meaning what happens when one state moves to another state, the triggers that specify when those things happen are called Interactions. Now there's another term called Transitions, which define exactly the process of how one page or state transitions into the next. If we look at this button as an example, I know that when I click on this button I have an interaction that says Play Transition to Growing.
That means when a user clicks on this button, he is now going to be taking to the Growing page. But how exactly, does my MainMap page now turn into that Growing page? Does it suddenly just appear? Do elements slide into place? Do things fade in? That's where transitions all come into play. Now we control these transitions with the Timelines panel in Flash Catalyst. I'll come here to the bottom left of my screen, and I'll double-click on the Timelines tab to open the panel. Now before we actually learn how to control transitions, we have to become familiar with the Timelines panel itself.
Remember every time that we think about an interaction or a transition from one state to another, there's always a start point and an end point. That's an important concept to note because especially here inside of Flash Catalyst, the Timelines panel is a little bit different than what you might be familiar with, inside of other applications. For example, things like Flash Professional or even Adobe After Effects. Those applications use frame-based animation or time-based animation. Those timelines display all of your layers and all of your content at any one particular point of time in your project.
However here in Flash Catalyst, the timeline only displays one interaction at a time. So let's focus on this one example right here. I have one button, when I'm currently in the MainMap state, I'd like that when I click on that one button I transition or I move to the Growing page. So let's first look at the Timelines panel on the left-side here, where it lists all of the state transitions. Notice there's something here called MainMap to Growing. Then I have another one here MainMap to Picking, MainMap to Extracting, MainMap to Bottling, and if I scroll down here, I also have one that goes from MainMap to Testing.
That's because I have five buttons in my project here and I have to specify exactly what happens when a user clicks on these buttons and gets moved or transitioned to one of those pages. You'll notice that right now MainMap Growing is currently selected and that means that all of the information that I see on the rest of this Timelines panel right here, only applies to this specific transition. We'll talk more about what this actually represents in just a moment. Let's say that I am a user and I'm viewing this interactive tour in my browser.
I click on the first button and I am now transitioned from the MainMap page to the Growing page. What happens now if I am on the Growing page and I click on another button? For example, the Picking button because I want to go to the next step in the tour. That would mean that my project would now be making a transition from the Growing page to the Picking page. If you scroll down the list over here, you'll see that there's an interaction listed for that as well, from Growing to Picking. In fact, every possible interaction is shown here inside the Timelines panel.
Depending on how complex your project is, this can be a very long list and again it's because the Timelines panel treats each specific interaction with it's own settings. To make it easier to navigate within the Timelines panel, you can see over here that at the top of this area this little magnifying glass, where I can actually search for specific states, or to make things easier, I can just click on this pop-up here and view only transitions that reference the MainMap page. Notice now my list is much shorter, because I am only viewing transitions that involve the MainMap page.
It's important to note that you don't need to actually create any of these. Flash Catalyst does this for you automatically. When I create a new project and I have only one page, there are obviously no transitions. There is no where for that one page to go to. But as soon as I add a second page, I now have page 1 and page 2 in my project. At that time in my Timelines panel, I'll see a setting for page 1 to page 2 and from page 2 back to page 1. So it's important to realize that Flash Catalyst will automatically create these transitions, so that it will always work when users interact with it.
Also note that on the left side little dots appear. That means that I've gone ahead and made some kind of adjustment to that specific transition. So we understand right now that the Timelines panel only shows me one transition at a time. In this case, I'm viewing the settings for MainMap to Growing. What happens when my application moves from the MainMap page specifically to the Growing page. Now let's take a look over here at the rest of the Timelines panel. I have three main sections over here, 1, 2 and 3. The first section here on the left and the third section on the right, represent the start and the end points.
In this case, the start over here would be my MainMap page and the end point would be the Growing page. Remember that every transition inside of Flash Catalyst always has a start and an end point. The part in the middle defines exactly how the elements from one page turn into the elements from the second page. For example on the MainMap page, if I scroll down here, you'll see that I have this rectangle positioned at just off the bottom of the artboard. In the Growing page that exact rectangle appears right here behind the photo and a text.
So you can see over here that I have a Rectangle in the MainMap page, that same rectangle appears in the Growing page, but as I move from the start to the end state, I now see that that rectangle is going to move. If I look at the time here, at the top of the Timelines panel, I can see that that move lasts for a duration of exactly a half a second. In other words, I have a rectangle that appears on the MainMap page and over the course of a half a second it moves into the state as it appears on the Growing page. Now you'll notice another difference between the two pages as well.
If I look at the MainMap page there is no text here and no photograph, and there is no button here on the bottom. However, if I go to the Growing page, I can see now that besides that black background, I have some text, I have a photograph here and there is a button here that I can click on to close this page. So you can see that on the MainMap page, the elements on the Growing layer and the button are not visible, but they are visible on the Growing page. How do they go from non-visible to visible? Well, they fade in over the course of time, but I've specified it to that right now the Growing layer, meaning the text and the photograph appear immediately after the panel slides in.
Once that text sides in, and again it takes exactly half a second for that to happen, I then have the button appear towards the bottom. Let me close the Pages/States panel for just a second here, so that we can actually preview how this looks. You see when working inside of Flash Catalyst, you don't need to actually run this project in a browser just to see how it's going to interact. I can preview this one specific transition by clicking on the Play button right here. So now you can see that that background slides in, then the text and photo fades in and then finally the button appears.
Notice that the animation itself is very smooth and clean. It's really easy to apply those types of smooth transitions, something that we'll cover in the next movie.
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