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Chapter 1. Director MX 2004 Basics > Setting Preferences

Setting Preferences

You use Director's Preferences to configure your working environment the way you like it. Many settings are available in the various Preferences windows. We will look at some later on, when we need them. But let's see a few of them right now, because they affect the way you work.

Close Director. Don't save if prompted to do so. Once Director closes, relaunch it.

I had you close Director so that you could see how preference settings can affect your workspace. If you've been following to this point, your Cast window should be set to Thumbnail view. But the chances are, now that you closed and reopened Director, that the cast is being displayed in List view. This is because by default the cast preferences are set to display in List view.

On the top menu choose Edit > Preferences

You're presented with a list of the available Preference dialogs.

Choose Cast… from the list. The Cast Preferences dialog displays.

The dialog lists a bunch of information that lets you know how the cast is displayed. Look at the top section of the dialog, the section labeled Cast View. List is checked on.

Choose Thumbnail in the Cast View section of the dialog. Make sure that Apply to All Casts is also checked.

Before closing the dialog, let's change one more setting, to make it easier for you to identify members in your casts.

Under Label, choose Number:Name.

The Label setting determines how the member is displayed within the cast. Setting this to both number and name makes the member easier to identify as shown here:

As you grow accustomed to using the cast, you may decide to change the Label setting. Now you know where to do it.

For now, click the Save as Default button to have these settings apply each time you start Director.

After choosing Save as Default, click OK to close the dialog.

Now, each time you use Director, your cast members will be displayed the way you want them— as thumbnails and with both their name and member number showing.

Don't worry that we didn't cover all of the options in the dialog. We'll change any settings we need to as we go along. For now it's good just to know how to get to the Preferences menu when you need them.

From the top menu choose Edit > Preferences > Sprite. The Sprite Preferences dialog displays.

The Sprite Preferences dialog appears with various options to control how sprites are handled. You will recall that when you created a shape on the Stage, its span length defaulted to 30 frames, spanning frames 1 to 30. Did you wonder why it defaulted to 30 frames? You should see your answer now.


The default span length is 30 frames because Director's default tempo is 30 frames per second. So a span length of 30 frames makes a sprite one second long during playback.

By default, Span Starts is set to Previous Marker. This will work great in some projects, but for general interface building you will want the sprite you drag onto the Stage to begin at whichever frame the playhead is in, namely the current frame.

Within the Span Starts section, click Current Frame.

From now on, sprites you create directly on the Stage or ones you drag from the cast will begin their spans wherever the playhead happens to be.

Click OK to close the Sprite Preferences dialog.

The other settings in the dialog won't make sense for now, but we'll cover them in later lessons.

From the top menu choose Edit > Preferences > General

The General Preferences dialog appears.


This is the only Preferences dialog that you can access using a hot key: Ctrl+U in Windows machines, or Command+U on the Mac.

Within this dialog, set your name and company name, if you have one. This information is stored in the Director file in two different locations. There is both a Created by, and a Modified by, and where this information is stored depends on which part you play.

The information appears at the very bottom of the Property inspector. It's always good practice to be sure and set this information in case a question ever arises as to who actually created a given file.

After entering your information, dispatch the dialog by pressing OK.

For now, we don't need to set anything in the other Preferences dialogs. If you want to look through the preference options, however, I encourage you to do so. Director is a large program and exploring it by clicking through the various menus will do you good.



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