Macromedia Flash

Published Date
01 - Feb - 2005
| Last Updated
01 - Feb - 2005
 
Macromedia Flash
Suppose you have to post an 11.8 MB Flash document (the .FLA) to a Web server. Although you have a high-speed connection, there still has to be a better way. And there is:

Open any Flash file in Flash MX 2004, and choose File > Save and Compact. This feature can compact the 11.8 MB monster FLA file to about 2.3 MB. Especially useful for those with slower connections.

Find And Replace
If you've ever been in the situation where you have to find every instance of something in Flash and replace it with another, you know what a nightmare it can be. If you have not experienced this yet, trust us, you don't want to. There is a simple way to find and replace. Go to Edit > Find and Replace, to open the Find and Replace dialog box. From here, you can locate and replace text, fonts, symbols, sounds, video clips, bitmaps, and even colour. Yes, even colour can be replaced.

Here's an example: Draw a circle and a box on the 'Stage', and convert them to symbols called 'circle' and 'box'. Leave them both there.

Go to Edit>Find and Replace.

In the dialog box, choose 'Current Scene' from the 'Search In' menu.
Choose 'Symbol' from the 'For' menu.

Choose 'Box' from the 'Name' menu. This command will locate all instances of the box symbol.

Choose 'circle' from the 'Replace With' menu.

Click Replace All.
 
Erase Your Mistakes
You have filled up your stage with what you thought was creative. Unfortunately, the layout is all wrong, the custom scrollbar is the worst ever, and the text seems to have been written by a three-year-old. It's clean up time!

To erase everything on the Stage, double-click the 'Eraser' tool in the toolbar. Problem solved! Note, however, that this works only one frame at a time.

When the playhead is at frame 10, you can erase everything on the Stage at frame 10, but nothing else.

To erase other frames, you have to move the playhead to those frames manually before you can go ahead with erasing.

Lower File Sizes
When you are using a lot of bitmap images in a Flash movie, file size can add up fast. You can use the 'Publish' settings to set the JPEG quality for the entire movie, but that can lead to inconsistency. One image may look great, while another, grainy and smudgy.

To customise the 'Publish' settings for individual bitmap images, right-click on the image's name in the Library and choose 'Properties'. In the 'Bitmap Properties' dialog box, deselect 'Use document default quality' and change the number in the 'Quality' field. A higher number yields higher-quality images with a larger file size, and vice-versa.

Once you hae set the number, click 'Test'. The dialog box reports the starting file size and the new file size for the image. Typically, setting the quality to 50 can make a 700 KB image publish at less than 20 KB.

You can also use the mouse to drag the image around in the preview pane of the dialog box to see how it would look. If it's grainy, increase the number in the 'Quality' field.

Flash Text And Search Engines
When you create text in Flash MX 2004, you need to remember that unlike HTML, Flash MX 2004 text will not be picked up by search engine bots. So, you need to add Meta Tags to the HTML document that the SWF file will reside in.

Static Text And Device Fonts
Static text is display text that doesn't change onscreen, such as the information displayed in an interface, or for button labels, forms, and navigation.

When you add static text to your movie, by default, Flash MX 2004 will embed the font outlines in the SWF file for the font you are using. Depending on the font you choose, and how much text you use, this can add considerably to the overall file size.

If you want smaller file sizes, use a device font. A device font is a font that won't be embedded in the SWF file. Instead, you choose a device font for the end users' machines to display-_serif, _sans, or _typewriter-and the end users' machines will display that device font for the Static text.

This will help keep your file size small.
Small Type And Alias Text
When working with small type (10 points or smaller), the text might become difficult to read because of the anti-aliasing that is automatically applied to vector shapes in Flash MX 2004. Anti-aliasing is a blurring, or 'smoothening', of the edges of vector shapes and text. Often, anti-aliasing adds to the quality of the shape, but small text may become unreadable.

In Flash MX 2004, Macromedia has added a new 'Alias Text' button that allows you to alias blocks of type, thereby increasing readability.

The alias text feature can be applied to Static, Dynamic, and Input text fields. However, if a visitor to your Web site does not have version 7 (or higher) of the Flash plug-in, they will only see aliased Static text. If you are using any Dynamic or Input text fields with the Alias text feature, viewers with older versions of the Flash plug-in will still see that text as anti-aliased.

Improve Bitmap Quality
To improve the image quality of bitmaps before and after importing them to Flash:

Don't scale imported bitmaps within Flash. This greatly reduces image quality. Instead, use an external image editor such as Macromedia Fireworks to scale the image to the desired pixel dimensions before import.

After importing an image into Flash, break it apart and convert it to a graphic symbol. To do this, first, select the image and go to Modify>Break Apart. Now, with the image still selected, go to Insert>Convert to Symbol, and select the 'Graphic' option for the behaviour.

In the HTML tab of the Publish Settings (File>Publish Settings>HTML) set the 'Quality' to 'Best'. Disable the 'Allow Smoothing' option for the bitmap. In the 'Library' window, right-click on the bitmap and select 'Properties'. Uncheck 'Allow Smoothing' in the 'Properties' dialog and click 'OK'.

Use lossless compression for the bitmap. In the 'Library' window, right-click on the bitmap and select 'Properties'. Choose 'Lossless' from the 'Compression' pop-up menu and click 'OK'. This will cause Flash to render the image at the original imported quality, but will probably cause the .SWF file size to increase considerably.

_root.goto!
Here's the code for a button placed inside a movie clip, which will give the instruction 'Go to and play' a certain frame in the root movie, and not the clip the button resides in.

_root.gotoAndPlay(frame);
eg:
on (release) {
_root.gotoAndStop(10);
}

Disable The Hand Cursor
Create your button as you normally would.

Give your button an instance name like "digit" in the 'Properties' panel.
In the timeline, click on the first frame your button is placed on and open the Actions panel ([F9])
Enter this ActionScript:
digit.useHandCursor = false;

Disable A Button
Create a button normally. Name the button in the 'Properties' panel, say, "digit". Left-click on the button to select it, and open the Actions panel ([F9])
Enter this ActionScript:
on (release) {
digit.enabled = false;
}
If you want to enable the button later, change "false" to "true".

Here Comes The Easter Bunny!
Here's how you can see an Easter Egg in Flash MX 2004:
Go to "Help/About Flash Professional...", and click on the tiny "TM" symbol near the number 2004. Enjoy!

Matching The Size Of The Object
To fit the background/stage to the selected object, place the object on the top left hand corner of the stage. Now, go to Modify>Document Properties>Match>Contents. Remember, this will work only if the object is placed on the top left hand corner of the stage.

Customising commands
Flash 2004 Professional has a History panel (Window>Other panels>History), which documents the history of your previous actions. To save particular actions as a new command, select the desired action, right-click on the action and choose 'Save As Command'. You can also name the new command and view it in the Commands menu. These new commands can be repeated, as and when required. Commands can directly be accessed from the Command menu as well.

Dreamweaver MX
Indent Text Without Using Blockquotes
Thus far, there have been two methods used to indent text-using the <BLOCKQUOTE> tag or by placing text in the second cell of a two-column table. Using cascading-style sheets, you now have a better alternative:

Cascading style sheets allow you to specify the exact indentation for your text. For example, to indent all text using the <P> tag, choose Text> Custom Style>Edit Style Sheet. In the dialog box that pops up, choose 'New'. Now, select 'Redefine HTML Tag', choose 'P' from the list and click 'OK'.

In the 'Style Definition' dialog box, choose 'Box' and enter the desired indent span (in pixels) in the left text field of the 'Margin' section. Finally, click 'OK' and then 'Done' to return to your HTML document. As you will see, any text wrapped in the paragraph tag (<p>) is set to an indent. The definition of the new Paragraph style will look like:

<STYLE TYPE="TEXT/CSS">
<!--
p { margin-left: 25px}
-->
</STYLE>

Clean Up Word HTML Documents
Microsoft Word can save documents in HTML format. However, the HTML, XML, and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) code that Word generates is geared more to format and display documents in Word than in a Web browser. Because of its complexity, it's a good idea to clean up Word-generated HTML code.

Fortunately, Dreamweaver can instantly remove the unnecessary Word-generated HTML code. To do so, launch Dreamweaver and choose File>Import>Import Word HTML. In the dialog box that pops up, select the Word-generated file and click 'OK'.

Now, you can customise the clean-up process by selecting options from a series of checkboxes that Dreamweaver displays in the 'Clean Up Word HTML' dialog box. After you have selected the parameters to cleanse, click 'OK'.

Dreamweaver will clean the document of excess code. It also generates an 'HTML Corrections' log of its clean-up actions. The preferences you entered are automatically saved as the default 'Clean Up Word HTML' settings.
Using The Tag Inspector
As you work in Dreamweaver MX, you will notice that a list of tags appear at the bottom of the window. These tags represent the tree location of where your cursor is in the document. For instance, the 'Tag' inspector might display: <body>

. This shows you where you are, and what code is being generated behind the scenes.

You can select each tag by clicking on it. By right-clicking on the tag you can edit it in the 'Quick Tag Editor', apply styles to that specific tag instance, or remove it altogether. You can also modify tag attributes in the Tag Inspector panel (Window>Tag Inspector) as shown in the screenshot.

In the screenshot, you can see from the tag that the cursor is in a <tr> tag set within a

tag set within a tag set within another
tag set nested within another
tag set in the document tag set. From there you can select any of the parents of the tag set.

By right-clicking the <tr> tag, you can add
a CSS style to the parent tag of the <td> tag where the cursor is. If you have a complex table and are having trouble figuring out what the structure of the table is, this tool is indispensable.

Set Multiple Panels In Dreamweaver MX2004
Many developers find it easier to set up a workspace with all the panels in one specific location. Some of us just can't get used to this. Sometimes the 'Floating Panels' can be in the way of what you are trying to view.

By setting your preferences according to your needs and learning a handy keyboard shortcut, you can improve you workflow tremendously.
You can toggle Panels on and off by pressing [F4] or Edit>View Panels to view hidden panels, and Edit>Hide Panels to hide currently displayed panels.

You can also set 'Panel Viewing Preferences'. This is where you determine how the Panel and Property Inspector will be displayed.

Panels which are checked off will always appear in front of the 'Document and Site' windows. If a panel is not checked off, it may be obscurred. In the lower half of the dialog box, you can choose which panels appear in the 'Launcher' option.

Reload Additional Extensions Without Rebooting Dreamweaver
Myth: When you install a new 'Object Extension', you need to restart Dreamweaver.

Fact: You can reload object extensions while Dreamweaver is open. This simple trick can save a lot of time, especially if you develop your own extensions. With the 'Objects Panel' open, click on the arrow in the upper right of the panel. The contextual menu will appear with a new option called 'Reload Extensions'. Clicking on 'Reload Extensions' will usually bring up a timer icon. Once the timer disappears, your new object is ready for use.

Rounding Corners Using Simple CSS
You can shave off those sharp table edges with a little bit of CSS. However, the code is proprietary for Mozilla and Netscape 6.x and higher-IE will still display normal, sharp tables. You can use Dreamweaver's 'CSS Editor' for everything but the snippet of code that does the rounding.

Create a new style using the 'Redefine HTML Tag' option, and select 'Table' from the list of tags. Proceed as usual to the 'CSS Style Definition' dialog.

Here, you can choose a background colour, a border size, and a colour for the table. When satisfied, click 'OK'. Here's the line of code you need to enter manually at the end of the table style rule you just defined: -moz-border-radius: 12px;

Don't forget to add that starting dash, or the code won't work! In design view, you won't see anything unusual. It's not until you look at the page in a supporting browser that you'll see the rounded corners.

Convert Layers Into Tables
The positioning of elements on a page is easier using layers than tables. But it is better to use tables to allow older browsers to view these pages correctly. You don't need to start working with tables from scratch. You can create your page normally, by using layers and then convert them to tables later.

Create your page and click on Modify>Layout Mode> Convert Layers to Table. Select the appropriate layout options and click 'OK'.

You could also click on File>Convert>3.0 Browser Compatible to achieve the same result.

Switch To External Image Editor?
If your images are nested deep within your site, finding and editing them can be quite frustrating.

Instead, open the image in Dreamweaver. Click on Edit>Preferences>External Editors. Select the file extension you need to edit and add the editor for it by clicking on the ' ' button. The next time you edit an image of that file extension, it is automatically opened within the specified editor and is updated within Dreamweaver once all the changes are made.

Microsoft Word
Assigning Heading Styles To Subheads
The 'Document Map' is a useful tool for navigating within large documents. To create the Map, Word needs to recognise which the headings in your document are; the Document Map is, therefore, more helpful if you use subject headings to organise your long document.

If you assign a heading style to your subheads, Word can recognise that text as headings and create a logical Document Map. For instance, you might assign the 'Heading 1' style to your document's headline or chapter titles, the 'Heading 2' to first-level sub-heads, 'Heading 3' to second-level subheads and so on.

To assign a style, click anywhere inside your heading and choose Format>Styles and Formatting. Word will display the 'Styles and Formatting' task pane. Now, just click one of the heading styles in the 'Pick Formatting To Apply' window. Once you've applied styles to the subheads in your document, Word can generate a useful Document Map.

Using The Document Map
The document map makes documents act like Web sites formatted with frames. The left side of your screen turns into a navigation tool you can use to quickly jump to something in the right side of the screen.

To display the Document Map, choose View>Document Map. Word will open a new window on the left side of the screen.

This window displays your document's headings (or other text that Word interprets to be headings, if you haven't assigned styles). Click any of those headings, and Word takes you to that location in your document. To expand or contract subheads, click the plus or minus boxes in the document map.
Customising Bullets
If you are tired of the same, boring bullets in your bulleted lists, it's simple to customise the bullets you use in Word. After creating your list of items, select Format>Bullets and Numbering. Click the 'Bullet' tab in the dialog. The dialog box contains several bullets to choose from. Click the bullet you want to use, then click OK to lock in your change. If none of these selections appeal to you, you can change the character that makes up any bullet set.

Select any of the bullet choices, then click 'Customise'. In the 'Customise Bulleted List' dialog, you can pick a character from any font on your system. Click the 'Bullet' button, select a new character to use as a bullet using the 'Character' button, then click 'OK' to make the change.

The default font from where the characters is either Symbol or Wingdings.

To pick characters from another font set, click the 'Font' button. After selecting the source, click 'Character' again, make your selection, and just click 'OK'.

Making Pictures In Word Behave Properly
When you insert a picture into Word, you get a picture that flows in line with the text. Word treats in-line pictures the same way it treats big characters.

If you type in front of an in-line picture, it will get pushed out on the same line, as if it were text. If you centre the line that includes an in-line picture, the image will appear centred on that line.

If you don't want your picture to act like a character, and want text to flow around the image, the simplest way to tell Word to flow text around a picture is to make it float.

When a picture floats, Word removes it from the text on the page and places it in an imaginary plane, commonly called the 'drawing layer', above or below the text.

To make a picture float, right-click it and choose 'Format Picture'. On the 'Layout' tab, select either 'Square' or 'Tight' under 'Wrapping Style' and click 'OK'. Word will stick the picture in the drawing layer and wrap text around it.

Now when you move the picture in the drawing layer, Word will reflow the text, making way for the picture. You may also want to experiment with the 'horizontal alignment' and see what works best for you.

Turning Off Automatic Hyperlinking
When there's a URL or e-mail address in your document, Word turns it into a hyperlink. To turn off the automatic hyperlinking, choose 'AutoCorrect Options' (or 'AutoCorrect') from the 'Tools' menu, then click on the 'AutoFormat As You Type' tab. Under 'Replace As You Type', clear the 'Internet and network paths with hyperlink' checkbox.

If you didn't turn off AutoCorrect before you started typing, and now you have a document full of hyperlinks that you don't want, you can turn them all off. Choose Select All from the Edit menu or press [Ctrl] [A], and press [Ctrl] [6] to remove all the existing hyperlinks

Creating Your Own Toolbars
To create your own toolbar, choose 'Toolbars' from the 'View' menu, and select 'Customise'. Click on the 'Toolbars' tab, then on the 'New' button. Give the toolbar a name.

Here, you also need to select whether this toolbar will be available to all documents (the 'Normal' template), or only to the current document. Now, a small toolbar palette will appear on the screen. Click on the 'Commands' tab, select a category, then drag the commands you want onto your new toolbar.

Comparing Documents
Word 2003 makes comparing two documents easier with its 'Compare Side by Side' feature. Open the two document versions you want to compare and select Window> Compare Side by Side. Word makes each document fit in one half of the screen. When you scroll through one document, the other scrolls with it, making it possible to browse through the two documents simultaneously.

Tracking With Versions
To keep track of a document as you work on it, next time you save a document, don't just use File>Save. Instead, select File>Versions. In the 'Versions' dialog box, click the 'Save Now' button. In the dialog box that appears next, enter any comments that help identify the document in progress. Click 'OK', type in the document name, and click 'Save'.

Now, the next time you reach an important milestone, say, just before sending the document out for review, click File>Versions, enter your comments and click 'OK'.

A new version will be stored inside the document file and listed in the 'Versions' dialog box.

To review an earlier saved version, open the document file, click File> Versions, select the version you want in the 'Versions' window, and click 'Open'.

'Permanentise' A Frequently-used File
Office displays the most recently accessed files under the 'File' menu for quick access. But did you know that you can assign files to be permanently accessed directly from the menu? Select Tools>Customise, and click the 'Commands' tab in the Customise dialog box. Scroll through the 'Categories' list, select the 'Built-in Menus' item, then scroll down to the bottom of the 'Commands' window and select the 'Work' item. Drag the 'Work' item into the toolbar area. A new 'Work' menu item will appear. Click 'OK' in the dialog box. Now add a file to your new 'Work' menu.

First go to File>Open to open the file you want. Once it is open, choose Work>Add To Work Menu. The open file's name now appears in the drop-down list when you click 'Work'.

The next time you need to work on or access this particular file, just open the Work menu and click on the file name.

Password Protection Using Templates
Protect documents by password-protecting the Word and Excel templates you use to create them. That way, every new document or spreadsheet you open that's based on these templates will also be protected by the password.

To create a password-protected template in Word or Excel, open a new document, click File>Save As, and choose 'Document Template' (just Template in Excel) in the 'Save As Type' dialog box near the bottom ('Files of Type' in Word 97 or 2000).

Type a name for your new template, and click 'OK'. To set a password in the 97 and 2000 editions of Word and Excel, click Tools>Options> Save; in XP and 2003 versions, click Tools>Options>Security (see figure 4). Enter a password to open the file (and if you like, enter another password to modify it); then click 'OK'.

The next time you want to make a new password-protected document or spreadsheet, click File>Open and choose your protected template. The new document will inherit the template's password. If you want to change the password of the document in Word 97 or 2000, click Tools>Options> Save and change the entry in the password boxes. In Word XP or 2003, click Tools> Options>Security to access your password settings.
Microsoft Excel
Hiding And Unhiding Rows And Columns

To hide a row(s), select a cell(s) and press [Ctrl] [9]. To unhide a row(s), select the cells containing the range of the hidden row(s) and press [Ctrl] [Shift] [(].

To hide a column(s), select a cell(s) and press [Ctrl] [0]. To unhide a column(s), select the cells containing the range of the hidden column(s) and press [Ctrl] [Shift] [)].

To unhide rows and columns in a sheet, click 'Select All' at the top-left intersection of the rows and columns. Then press [Ctrl] [Shift] [(] and then [Ctrl] [Shift] [)].

Adding A Menu Item To The Excel Menu Bar
Right-click one of the toolbars, and then select 'Customise' from the shortcut menu. In the 'Commands' tab, select 'File' from the 'Category'. From the 'Commands', drag the 'Page Setup' icon (or any other icon you want) onto the menu bar.

To remove the icon at any time, repeat the above steps and drag the icon back.

Increasing The Recently Accessed Files List
For this simple addition, go to Tools>Options, and select the 'General' tab. In the 'Recently Used File List' box, change the number to the maximum, 9, and click 'OK'.

Grouping Sheets
Grouping sheets has the following advantages:
  • It allows setting the print options for a number of sheets at once.
  • Allows changing an item from the View tab in the Options dialog box.
  • Allows applying formats to many sheets.
  • Allows unhiding of rows and/or columns simultaneously.
  • Allows typing/inserting text or formulas for the same address in grouped sheets.
To group all sheets in the workbook, select the first sheet in the workbook, hold [Shift], and click the last sheet tab in the workbook. Alternatively, from a sheet tab shortcut menu, select 'Select All Sheets'.

To group continuous sheets, hold [Shift] and click a different sheet tab.
To group non-continuous sheets, hold [Ctrl], click a different sheet tab and add it to the group.

To ungroup sheets, hold [Shift] and click the active sheet tab.

Reducing The Size Of A Workbook
For sending a Workbook by e-mail, you might want to reduce its size first. Press [Ctrl] [End] to find the last cell in the used area within the sheet. Find the last cell containing data in the sheet. Delete all rows between the cells containing data to the row of the last cell in the used area. Delete all columns to the right of the column of the last cell containing data, up to the column of the last cell in the area used.

To quickly delete the rows, select the first row to delete, press [Ctrl] [Shift] [Down Arrow]. To quickly delete the columns, select the first column to delete, and press [Ctrl] [Shift] [Right Arrow], press [Shift] [F10], and from the menu, press 'Delete'. Repeat these steps for each sheet in the workbook. Now save your file.

Replacing Zeroes With Dashes
Press [Ctrl] [1] to open the 'Format Cells' dialog box. Select the 'Number' tab, and from 'Category', select 'Custom'. In the 'Type' box, enter the following Custom Formatting syntax exactly as printed here:
#,##0 ;[Red](#,##0);- ;

Selecting Cells That Contain Only Text
By selecting cells that only contain text, you can distinguish between cells containing different types of data, which allows you to delete, fill or lock cells by type. Press F5, or go to Edit>Go To. In the 'Go To' dialog box, click 'Special', and in the 'Go To Special' dialog box, select 'Constants' and click 'OK'.

Counting The Number Of Words In A Cell
Enter the following text in cell A1: "Digit is a great magazine".
Now, in cell A2, enter the following function:
=IF(LEN(A1)=0,0,LEN(TRIM(A1))-LEN(SUBSTITUTE(TRIM(A1)," ","")) 1)
The result will be 5.

Rounding Numbers To Thousands
Press [Ctrl] [1] to open the 'Format Cells' dialog box. Select the 'Number' tab, and from 'Category', select 'Custom'. In the 'Type' box, enter the following 'Custom Formatting' syntax exactly as printed here:
#,##0, ;[Red](#,##0,);- ;

Now, If your cell contains the number 2345678 it will be displayed as '2,346'.

Copying Styles From One Workbook To Another
To use your saved styles in a different workbook, you can use the 'Merge' option. First, open the new workbook. From the 'Format' menu, select 'Style'. Click 'Merge'. Now in the 'Merge Styles' dialog box, select the workbook where the styles to be merge are saved and click 'OK'. Finally, in the 'Style' dialog box, click 'OK'.

Conditional Formatting
It's easy to overlook important data in a very large spreadsheet. You can use the 'Conditional Formatting' feature to make critical data jump off the screen.

Let's say you're tracking household expenses, and want to keep an eye out for anything that cost more than Rs 10,000. Select the column in your spreadsheet with the currency amount, and select Format> Conditional Formatting. In the resulting dialog box, make sure the 'Condition 1' drop-down list control is set to 'Cell Value Is'. Then, set the second drop-down list box to 'greater than or equal to'. Finally, enter the number 10000 in the box on the right.

Click the 'Format' button to open a dialog box where you can set the Font, Border and Patterns. Click 'OK' twice.

Repeating Column Headings In Printouts
Excel users frequently need to set up multi-page printouts that repeat the same column headings on each page. If the headings you want to print are also the column headings in the first few rows of your spreadsheet, it's easy to get them to show up on each printed page.

First, make sure that at least one row in your spreadsheet contains the headings you want to see on the printout. Then go to File> Page Setup>Sheet, and click the 'Collapse Dialog' icon on the right side of the box marked 'Rows to repeat at top'. Back in your spread-sheet, you'll see that your pointer has become a right-pointing arrow.

Click and drag that arrow over the rows containing the text that you want to appear as headings on the printout. After you make your selection, click the 'Expand Dialog' icon located on the right of the collapsed dialog box. Click 'Print Preview' to make sure that your headings look right. If everything appears to be in order, print!

Prevent A Chart From Being Printed
There are often times when you do not want a chart to be printed. Select the chart, and right-click on it. From the menu, select 'Format Chart Area'. Select the 'Properties' tab, and clear the checkbox beside 'Print Object'. Click OK to finish.

The Current Date In A Cell
To automatically insert the current date into a cell, select the cell and press [Ctrl] [;]. 



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