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Hour 5. Using the Library for Productivi... > Task: Create a Symbol by Converting ...

Task: Create a Symbol by Converting Selected Objects

In this task we'll create symbols the way I prefer to—that is, using the “Convert to Symbol” feature.

In a new file, draw a circle with the Oval tool. Select the Arrow tool and make sure the circle is entirely selected (you can double-click the center, marquee the whole thing, or do a Select All).

Select the Insert, Convert to Symbol… menu item (or press F8), and Flash will force you to specify the name and default behavior for this symbol (shown in Figure 5.1).

Figure 5.1. When you convert to symbol, you must specify a name and behavior.

You should always name your symbols logically (for example the default “Symbol 1” may seem logical, but when you have 35 symbols all named in this manner it can become unwieldy). So, let's name this one “Circle.” Regarding the default behavior, we'll look at all three types eventually, but for now just consider Movie Clip the best choice when you're not sure which behavior is best. Button is only necessary when you're creating buttons, and Graphic is primarily used for synchronization applications like lip synching. Leave it set to Movie Clip and click OK. By the way, it's possible your “convert to symbol” dialog box is set to Advanced so it looks much larger than the one in Figure 5.1. If this is the case, collapse it by clicking the “Basic” button (which toggles to read “Advanced”) as we won't be exploring those Advanced settings now.

Open your Library window using the Window, Library menu item, and you should notice one symbol, Circle, in the Library. When you selected Convert To Symbol… you did two things in one move: You took your selected shape and put it in the Library, and you caused the “object” remaining onstage to become an instance of the symbol. If you drag more instances from the Library window (by single-clicking and dragging the picture of the circle from the Library window onto the Stage), they will all be equivalent to the instance already onstage. (If you double-click by accident, you'll see “Scene 1: Circle” in your address bar, indicating you're editing the master version of the symbol. Simply click “Scene 1” to get back to the main Stage.)

After you've dragged a few instances of the Circle symbols onstage, it may look like you have several copies of the master, but actually you have multiple instances of the master. You're about to make a change to the master version (in the Library), and you'll see that change in each instance onstage.

You have several ways to edit the contents of the master version of your Circle symbol. One way is to single-click it in your Library window and then from the options menu of the Library, select Edit (see Figure 5.2).

Figure 5.2. The Library's options menu includes several choices, including Edit.

It may appear that nothing has happened, but behind the Library window the screen has changed—the best indication being the address bar, about which you learned last hour (see Figure 5.3). In addition, you'll only see one copy of your circle (the original) in the center of a stage that appears to have no borders. You are currently inside the master version of the Circle symbol, about to edit it.

Figure 5.3. You'll know you're editing the contents of a symbol from the address bar.

Now get out of the master version and re-enter another way. Click “Scene 1” from the address bar and you'll return to the main scene (with multiple instances of Circle). Now enter the master version of your symbol by double-clicking an instance. Do that and you should see the address bar change (which is always your best clue) and all the other instances dim slightly. This is similar to how you could edit the contents of a grouped shape last hour. This time we will edit the circle.

Take a “bite” out of the master graphic of the circle (using the marquee technique with the Arrow tool), as shown in Figure 5.4. This is a drastic edit (not something subtle such as changing the color).

Figure 5.4. The edits we make to this symbol will affect each instance.

Now you can go back to the main scene by clicking “Scene 1” in the address bar. You should notice that all the instances of the Circle symbol have the same bite taken out of them! Also, any new instances you drag from the Library will have the same effect.



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