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Lesson 9. Creating a Flash Movie > Introducing Flash's Workspace

Introducing Flash's Workspace

Though much of Flash's interface is similar to that of Fireworks or Freehand—a Document window, Property inspector, Tools panel, and a group of panels on the right. Some new Flash users complain that Flash's interface overwhelms them. Taking a moment now to glance over the interface can help clarify what each part does.

Open Macromedia Flash MX 2004.

Flash opens, and the Start page appears by default.

In the Start page's Create New category, click the Flash Document link.

A blank document with an empty timeline opens.

Take a few moments to explore the interface.

Notice that clicking a panel name (for example, Actions or Components) expands or collapses that panel. Notice also that as you roll the mouse over certain elements, a white Tooltip pops up after a moment, indicating the name of the element (for example, if you roll over a tool in the Tools panel, you'll see “Text Tool (T)” appear in a Tooltip).

The following list summarizes the main components of the Flash authoring environment.

  • Main menu: Located across the top in the workspace, the main menu contains most of the commands used in Flash.

  • Tools panel: The Tools panel contains a set of tools used to create and edit vector art and other screen elements. Located on the left side of the workspace, the Tools panel is in four sections: Tools, View, Color, and Options.

  • Property inspector: The Property inspector provides context-sensitive information and options for the active tool or interface element. You can access and change the most commonly used attributes of a document in the Property inspector.

  • Timeline: The timeline is a vital organizational tool in Flash. The timeline organizes and controls a movie's content over time. The passage of time is measured in frames (the small rectangles that fill the timeline), while the stacking order of screen objects is controlled by the layers within the timeline (only one layer appears in the timeline in the screenshot).

  • Stage: All the graphic elements that make up the movie are placed and displayed on the stage. The stage represents the appearance of the movie within a given frame. You can control the size and the color of the stage using the Property inspector.

  • Panels: Located by default on the right side of the workspace, panels provide interfaces for handling specific tasks, such as mixing colors or aligning screen elements. You can find a complete list of panels in the Window menu.



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