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Chapter 7. Symbols > Understanding Symbols and Instances

Understanding Symbols and Instances

Simply put, a symbol is a master element, such as a button, that you create once in Flash. Instances, in contrast, are copies of this master element that you use throughout your movie. Symbols can range from a graphic you've drawn to an animation of a bird in flight. Any symbol you create automatically becomes part of the your project's library—which is where your movie's various elements are organized (see Chapter 13, "Using the Library to Manage Your Assets" ). To place an instance of a symbol in your project, simply drag the symbol from the library window. If, for example, you wished to create a scene with a flock of birds, you would create a symbol of a flying bird, then drag as many instances of it as you desired from the library onto the stage (Figure 7.1). You'll learn more about this in Chapter 13. You can have as many instances of your flying bird as you want—each of which is only a reference to, rather than a re-creation of, your original, which is stored just once in your final Flash file. Referencing a symbol has very little impact on file size—regardless of the number of instances you use. Therefore, if the element you made into a symbol initially added 25 KB (25,000 bytes) to your movie's overall file size, adding 10, 20, or even more instances of that symbol would add less than 100 bytes to the file's overall size—regardless of symbol size. The real magic of symbols stems from the fact that individual instances don't have to look and act just like the master symbol. Each symbol instance can have its own tint, transparency, rotation, size, or interactive function (Figure 7.2).

Figure 7.1. Instances on the stage are references of the master symbol in the library.



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