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Using Components

There are times when you’ll create an interface element, like a check box or a pull-down menu, which you’ll want to use in multiple projects but in slightly varying ways. For one movie, you may want your pull-down menu to have three choices, but for another movie, you may want it to have four. Or you may want to hand off your pull-down menu to a designer or animator for their own use, but you want to provide them with easy guidelines so they can customize the pull-down menu without recoding any of your ActionScript. How do you develop this modular piece of interactivity that can be easily customized, even by non-ActionScript coders? The solution is to use components. Components are a special kind of symbol called a compiled clip that have been programmed by one developer to be used by other developers who can easily modify some of the component’s functionality or appearance.

If this sounds very general, it’s because components are meant to tackle any sort of task—not just the creation of pull-down menus, check boxes, and other user-interface elements, but data handling, graphics behaviors, sound manipulation, and many other kinds of interactivity as well. Components are like templates. They provide the general functionality as well as the parameters to help you make them fit your particular needs.


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