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The Visual QuickProject Guide that you hold in your hands offers a unique way to learn about new technologies. Instead of drowning you in theoretical possibilities and lengthy explanations, this Visual QuickProject Guide uses big, color illustrations coupled with clear, concise step-by-step instructions to show you how to complete one specific project in a matter of hours.

Our project in this book is to create a beautiful, engaging Web site using Macromedia Flash. Our Web site showcases a small, home-based business, but since the project covers all the basic techniques, you'll be able to use what you learn to create your own Flash-based Web sites—perhaps to promote your own business, showcase a hobby or collection, or provide a site for your neighborhood association.

What You'll Create

This is the home page of the Timeless Blooms Web site, the project you'll create. In the process, you'll learn the following useful techniques:

How This Book Works

The extra bits section at the end of each chapter contains additional tips and tricks that you might like to know but that aren't absolutely necessary for creating the Web page.

Companion Web Site

You can find this book's companion site at http://www.peachpit.com/vqj/flash.

In the Support Files section of the site, you'll find all of the files you need to complete the project in this book.You can also download the intermediate files created in each chapter and the files that make up the final project site.

Visit the Project Site section to see a completed example of the site you're building in this book.

You can also find any updated material in the Corrections section of the site.

Explore Flash

At first glance the Flash interface can be overwhelming with its many panels and controls, but don't be concerned. As you progress through this project, you'll learn how to access the important stuff and how to harness all the power of Flash. When you finish the project, you'll have the knowledge and skills needed to create a professional-quality Web site to suit your business, organization, or personal needs.

Flash borrows many of its conventions and terms from film production. The presentation you create for viewers is a movie, the distinct parts of the movie are scenes, the players (your content) are on the Stage, and movement through time is accomplished via the Timeline. Thinking about the Flash interface in the context of this film metaphor will help you quickly grasp the way we work in Flash. We are producing a movie that features your content and tells the story you want Web viewers to see. (See extra bits on Page xx.)

In Flash, you'll often find yourself drilled down multiple levels within elements, such as editing text that is inside a button symbol inside a movie placed in a particular scene. The Edit bar at the top of the window displays those levels to help keep you oriented and to let you quickly backtrack when your edit is complete. Additionally, you can use it to navigate between scenes, to locate and modify symbols, and to change view magnification.

The Timeline controls the order, timing and flow of your movie. The panel contains three primary sections: frames, layers, and the Playhead.

The Next Step

Extra Bits

explore flash p.xiii

  • Avoid the temptation to “store” unused objects offstage in the work area; they'll still be export-ed in the final movie and will add to the file size, prolonging download times.

  • Clicking the small triangle-shaped icon in the bottom-right corner of the Property Inspector toggles visibility of the bottom half of the panel, which contains controls that are considered secondary. Hiding these controls is not recommended for the novice so that you don't wasted time hunting around the application when you do need them.

  • The Library panel in Flash differs from other panels because you can have multiple instances of it open at the same time—one for each Flash document you have open. While handy, it can also be confusing when you want to access a symbol but are looking at another document's library. For easy identification, the name of the file is appended to the panel title.

  • Need a custom user interface element that's not included in Flash installed components? Many custom components can be found on the Macromedia Exchange for you to download and install. The Exchange is located at: http://www.macromedia.com/exchange

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