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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.
One of the nice things about Flash Catalyst is that it's very similar to other design applications, like Photoshop or Illustrator. In fact, when it comes to actually creating some artwork inside of Illustrator, you'll find that many of the same tools, for example, your Selection tools and even some Drawing tools like creating rectangles and circles, all work in very much the same way. So I'm working on this project and I have two pages currently existing in this project. One is called MainMap and one is called Growing. Basically, I have a button over here, which when I click on it I want to activate or transition to this Growing page.
I want to show information about the Growing phase at the olive farm. If I take a look at my Layers panel, I'll see that in the Panels layer, I have a whole separate layer here called Growing. I have two text elements here. Notice that right now I have my Selection tool selected, I can now click on these different text elements to select them on the artboard. If I want to make it easier to move these two elements around as a single unit, I can create a Group. I can do that by holding down the Shift key and selecting both text objects, going to the Modify menu and then on the bottom here choosing Group.
Of course, you may be more familiar with using the keyboard shortcut, Ctrl+G on Windows or Command+G on a Mac. Now I want to group these two together because I want to show you a difference here with the way the Selection tools work inside of Flash Catalyst. I'm going to deselect my artwork by clicking on an empty space in my artboard, and I'm going to use my Selection tool to select the Group. Notice now that both elements become selected. In fact, they appear as if they're one object now. If I look at the Layers panel, I'll see that right now I have a Group selected.
Only by clicking on this triangle, will I reveal the contents of that Group, the two different text objects. If I wanted to adjust the position of just one of these objects without moving the entire group, I wouldn't be able to do that with the Selection tool. So I'll deselect my artwork and I'll switch now to the Direct Selection tool, which you can get by clicking and holding your mouse button down on the Selection tool. The keyboard shortcut is very similar to how it is inside of Illustrator: A for Direct Select and V for the Selection tool.
By the way, here is a little tip: If you want to memorize what the keyboard shortcuts are, the V is the shortcut for the Selection tool, because if you turn it upside down, it looks very much like an arrow. Some people also refer to these two arrow tools as the Black arrow or the White arrow or the Solid and Hollow arrows. The A key also looks a little bit like a pointer, but it has a hollow center representing the Hollow arrow or the White arrow. In any case, if you're familiar with Illustrator, you know that the Select tool is used to select entire objects or entire groups, while the Direct Select tool is used to select parts of objects, like individual anchor points, or parts of groups.
So here in Flash Catalyst, I'm going to use the Direct Select tool to move over to the artboard and select each of these text objects individually by clicking on them. As we'll learn later on in this video training title, there are many benefits to creating groups. So you might find yourself switching back and forth between the Selection tool and the Direct Selection tool. However, more often than not, I find myself using the Selection tool all the time, because I prefer to actually make selections of my artwork directly to the Layers panel. You see while I can go ahead now and select the entire group in this way, If I need to select just one of those objects, I can do so directly through the Layers panel.
In fact, I notice that over time, as I use Flash Catalyst more and more, I keep returning to the Layers panel to make my selections rather than use the Selection tools. But besides just making selections in Flash Catalyst, I also have the ability to create shapes. For example, you can see over here that I have a Rectangle tool. If I click and hold my mouse button down, I can also access the Rounded Rectangle tool and the Ellipse tool. There are also various polygon tools such as one that creates Triangles, Hexagons, Octagons and Stars.
Finally, Flash Catalyst also offers a simple Line tool when you want to just create lines across your artboard. In fact, let's create a Rectangle right now. As you can see, the white text here is not very visible on this background. So what I'd like to do is create some kind of a dark rectangle here that will appear behind this, to make the text and any other content that I add to this page, that much more visible. If I scroll down here in my Layers panel, you'll see that I've created a separate folder here called Screen where I'm going to put this object.
Since I know exactly where I want to place it, I'm going to click on this layer right here, that way when I draw the shape, it's going to automatically go into this layer. Next, I'll select my Rectangle tool. I'll position my cursor just about over here on the artboard and I'll click-and-drag to draw a rectangle. There is one thing that I do want to point out that's very different about Flash Catalyst, if you compare it to the behavior of something like Illustrator, for example. You see, if I were in Illustrator, I'd be able to switch to my Direct Select tool and click-and-drag on just one anchor point.
But if I try to do that here instead of Flash Catalyst, I'll find that it's not possible. Even if I use my Direct Select tool, I can't just click on one little anchor point and move it. For the most part, I can work with vector objects by moving it around, resizing it or using the Rotate tool over here to actually transform it, but I can't really make edits to the vectors itself. But that's totally fine because as we'll see later in this chapter, we can always take artwork and bring it back into Illustrator to make some edits. Speaking of editing, what if I want to take this Rectangle which right now is colored white, and change it to a different color or let's say I want to give it a Stroke attribute? These are things which we'll do through the Properties panel, something that we'll cover in the next movie.
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