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Chapter 4. Flash and Generator > The Generator Interface

The Generator Interface

If you’re already familiar with the Flash 5 interface, you’re ready to roll with Generator. You just need to become familiar with the Generator-specific add-ons for Flash:

  • Generator Objects palette

  • Generator panel

  • Generator Environment Variable button

You explore each of the Generator add-ons in the following sections.

The Generator Objects Palette

The Generator Objects palette (Window > Generator Objects) displays all the predefined Generator objects that are available for you to use. (See Figure 4.2.) Generator comes with a nice selection of predefined objects, including objects that simplify the creation of a variety of charts, scrolling lists, and graphics.

Figure 4.2. The Generator Objects palette enables you to drag and drop Generator’s predefined objects onto the Stage.


For additional Generator objects, visit the Flash Exchange at http://exchange.macromedia.com.

The Generator Panel

The Generator panel (see Figure 4.3) shows all the settings for a particular Generator object. This panel opens automatically when you drag a Generator object onto the Stage. Double-clicking a Generator object currently on the Stage also causes the Generator panel to open.

Figure 4.3. You can use the Generator panel to change the settings for any object.

The Generator Environment Variable Button

One quick way to see if you have the Generator authoring templates installed is to verify whether you have the Generator Environment Variable button. The Generator Environment Variable button is the left-most button in the upper-right corner of the screen, just above the timeline. (See Figure 4.4.) Clicking this button opens the Set Environment dialog box. You can enter data for your template directly into the Set Environment dialog box or you can enter the path to a data source.

Figure 4.4. The Generator Environment Variable button is used to launch the Set Environment dialog box. In this dialog box, you can enter data or assign a path to another data source.


If you are running Generator 2 Enterprise Edition or Generator 2 Developer Edition and your Flash help files don’t have a Generator section, visit http://www.macromedia.com/ support/generator/ to get the Generator 2/Flash 5 update. You also can find the help files under Start > Programs > Generator 2 > Generator Readme.

As you work with the different Generator objects, you’ll notice that several of the objects can have their own independent data sources. Thus, for any given Generator template, you might be using information from more than one data source.

The Output Window

Although not specific to Generator, the Output window is extremely helpful when it comes time to debug Generator templates. The Output window opens every time you test your template. There are four debug levels you can set for the Output window:

  • None. The window opens, but is empty. This is not very useful.

  • Errors. You get the time the file was generated, the filename, and simple errors (such as Data Source Not Found).

  • Warnings. You get the time the file was generated, the filename, and simple errors (such as Data Source Not Found).

  • Verbose. You get a dump of the data source(s), as well as specific information about anything that is wrong with the file. This is the most useful level.

For the most helpful information about what is going on with your Generator template, set the debug level to Verbose. You can do that now if you like; just follow these steps:

Open the Output window, if it is not already open (Window > Output).

Choose Options > Debug Level in the Output window.

Select the debug level you prefer from the submenu. (See Figure 4.5.)

Figure 4.5. The Output window with the Debug Level options.

Remember that Verbose gives you the most useful information.

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