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Testing Flash Movies

As you turn your attention from the look of the movie in a given frame to the behavior of the movie across frames, you need to be able to see how Flash will play the movie. Flash provides a couple different means of testing the movie, both of which you'll try in this task.

Open organic_farming.fla from the end of the last lesson or from the Lesson10/Start folder on the CD. In the frame numbers just above the timeline, click Frame 1.

This step moves the frame indicator to Frame 1, without selecting any particular layers. The screen also updates to show the frame on the stage as it appears in Frame 1.

Make sure you can see the entire stage (drag the bar between the timeline and Document window, if necessary). From the main menu, choose Control > Play.

The frame indicator plays through the frames at the designated frame rate, which as you'll recall is 12 frames per second. The stage updates as the frame indicator moves past the keyframes that change it.

During the playback, you'll see the three screens appear in succession. The first screen shows for nearly four seconds; the second and third screens show for less than two seconds each. None of these durations should be surprising, given the location of the keyframes in the timeline.

From the main menu, choose Control > Test Movie.

Flash opens a new window with a different menu bar and no timeline. The movie plays through, much as it did when you chose Control > Play in the previous step.

Close the test movie document to return to the main movie in the authoring environment.

So what's the difference between the two ways of testing a movie? The first way (Control > Play) previews the playback of the main timeline within the Flash authoring environment. It is a quick and convenient way to test the main timeline, which works fine with simple movies like this one.

The other way, Control > Test Movie actually generates a Flash SWF file; it creates the file the end user would see if you published the movie as it current stands. While slightly more time-consuming than Control > Play, the Control > Test Movie approach has its own benefits. Whereas Control > Play only previews animation in the main timeline, Control > Test Movie previews every feature of Flash, including all ActionScript (most ActionScript is not executed with the Control > Play approach) and nested animations. This movie has neither ActionScript nor nested animations, so at this point there is no benefit to testing the SWF using Control > Test Movie. But once you get beyond the basics, you'll probably use Control > Test Movie exclusively.



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