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3 Quick Efficiency Tips When Working with ActionScript in Flash

Flash is known for being an interactive animation program, but unlike animation, adding interactivity means making things happen within a movie, like creating links so that your viewers can explore your movie, controlling audio or video, or having a certain event trigger when your movie reaches a certain point.

Flash handles this interactivity with something called ActionScript. ActionScript is Flash's native scripting language, which allows developers to create highly interactive movies. Flash gives us multiple ways to work with ActionScript, from a simple point-and-click interface (for us visual designer types) to full on scripting mode (for programmer folks). So in other words, Flash will let you work with ActionScript in a way that works for you.

In this short tutorial, we'll take a look at a few basic efficiency techniques when working with ActionScript. Before we go any further though, make sure you've created a symbol and dropped an instance of the symbol onto the Stage. Also, make sure you've given the symbol instance a name at the top of the Properties panel.

Also, it's considered best practices for Flash developers to create a separate layer in the Timeline for their ActionScript -- in other words, keeping the ActionScript isolated from all the other content in their movie. So, go ahead and create a new layer and name it Actions.

Tip 1 - Applying ActionScript with Ease via Code Snippets

You certainly don't have to hand-code your ActionScript. The Code Snippets panel provides pre-created bits of ActionScript that are ready to be applied to your movies. Pop open the panel by choosing Window > Code Snippets.


Expand the category that contains the ActionScript snippet that you'd like to apply, then double-click on the action you'd like to apply. Flash's Actions panel springs to life, and loads in the necessary ActionScript code. Inside the Actions panel, you can make whatever adjustments you want to your code. Easy!

Tip 2 - Make it a Snap with Script Assist

Once you have some ActionScript happening inside the Actions panel, you can adjust various components of your code by making use of Script Assist. In the top-right of the Actions panel, click the Script Assist button (the magic wand icon). Next, click within  your ActionScript code in the main area of the Actions panel. Notice how the top portion of the panel displays various components of your code? You can adjust settings and parameters via the fields at the top of the panel. Nice, huh?

Tip 3 - Build your Code with the Add Actions Menu

Across the top of the Actions panel, you'll find a row of very handy icons and commands, starting off with the Add Actions menu. Use the menu whenever you'd like to add items to your script. In fact, you can either use the menu at the top or you can always use the column of ActionScript elements on the left side of the Actions panel, too. This area is called the Actions Toolbox. Either way, you can easily add onto your script in a fast and easy way -- sure beats hand coding!


So as you can see, there are lots of different ways to go about working with ActionScript. Flash allows us to work in a way that's most comfortable for us -- yet whether we hand-code everything from scratch or make use of the point-and-click interface of the Code Snippets panel, we're still able to add lots of rich interactivity to our Flash movies.

Want to learn more? Check out this video tutorial below:

Geoff Blake

Geoff Blake | Articles by this author

Geoff Blake is a book author, video presenter, designer, and visual artist. As an in demand live-on-stage software educator since 1997, Geoff has taught desktop publishing, web design and graphics courses all over North America and is regarded as an expert in Adobe's Creative Suite applications, as well as in HTML, CSS, WordPress, and related technologies. With his humorous, non-jargonny approach, Geoff produces highly regarded articles, video training and DVDs, and regularly contributes to top industry magazines and websites.

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