6 January 2009
This article applies to Adobe Flash CS4 Professional. For the latest information—and especially if you are using Flash Professional CS5—please refer to the updated version of this tutorial, Creating your first Flash Professional CS5 document.
Adobe Flash CS4 Professional is an authoring tool that designers and developers use to create presentations, applications, and other content that enables user interaction. Flash projects can include simple animations, video content, complex presentations, applications, and everything in between. In general, individual pieces of content made with Flash Professional are called applications (or SWF applications), even though they might only be a basic animation. You can make media-rich applications by including pictures, sound, video, and special effects.
The SWF format is extremely well suited for delivery over the Internet because its files are very small. This is due to its extensive use of vector graphics. Vector graphics require significantly less memory and storage space than bitmap graphics because they are represented by mathematical formulas instead of large data sets. Bitmap graphics are larger because each individual pixel in the image requires a separate piece of data to represent it.
To build an application in Flash CS4 Professional, you create vector graphics and design elements with the drawing tools, and import additional media elements like audio, video, and images into your document. Next, you define how and when you want to use each of the elements to create the application you have in mind.
When you author content in Flash Professional, you work in a document called a FLA file. FLA files have the file extension .fla (FLA). While viewing a FLA file, you'll notice the Flash CS4 Professional user interface (see Figure 1) is divided into five main parts:
ActionScript code allows you to add interactivity to the media elements in your document. For example, you can add code that causes a button to display a new image when the user clicks it. You can also use ActionScript to add logic to your applications. Logic enables your application to behave in different ways depending on the user's actions or other conditions. Flash CS4 Professional uses ActionScript 3.0 when an ActionScript 3.0 or Adobe AIR file is created, or ActionScript 1.0 and 2.0 when an ActionScript 2.0 file is created.
Flash includes many features that make it powerful but easy to use, such as prebuilt drag-and-drop user interface components, built-in motion effects which you can use to animate elements on the Timeline, and special effects that you can add to media objects.
When you have finished authoring your FLA file, you publish it using the File > Publish command (Shift+F12). This creates a compressed version of your file with the extension .swf (SWF). You can then use Flash Player to play the SWF file in a web browser or as a stand-alone application.
To illustrate the basic steps of creating any FLA document, this tutorial guides you through the process in a simple tutorial. This short tutorial is just a sample of the workflow you'll use while authoring in Flash Professional. The first step is to create a new document:
After you've created your document, you are ready to add some artwork for the document:
You can turn your new artwork into a reusable asset by converting it to a symbol. A symbol is a media asset that can be reused anywhere in your document without the need to re-create it. Symbols can contain images and animations along with other types of content.
Note: You can also convert a graphic into a symbol by selecting it and dragging it into the Library panel.
If the Library panel is not open, choose Window > Library. The new symbol appears in the Library panel.
Now that you have some artwork in your document, you can make it more interesting by animating it to move across the Stage:
When you finish your FLA file, you are ready to publish it so it can be viewed in a browser. When you publish the file, Flash Professional compresses it into the SWF file format. This is the format that you place in a web page. The Publish command can automatically generate an HTML file with the correct tags in it for you.
To publish the FLA file and view the SWF in a browser:
Congratulations! You have now completed your first FLA file.
There are many places you can go to learn more about working with Flash CS4 Professional: