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Part II: Technology > Presenting Data

Chapter 5. Presenting Data

If your data is structured well, you will find it’s easy to present it however you want. In Chapter 4, “Working with Complex Data,” a lot of time was spent designing data structures so that the data was easy to access. In this chapter, you’ll see how that work pays off. I think it makes perfect sense that Chapter 4 discussed only how to design and structure data, and this chapter deals with data presentation. That’s because a key concept you’ll learn is that keeping the formatting separate from the actual content makes your code more transferable. You should be able to modify and change either the content or the layout without one affecting the other.



The idea of going through a large set of data and only extracting the pieces you need is called parsing. Parsing can include restructuring data from one format to another (for example, taking a long string of words and making it an array with each word in a different index). I don’t use the word parsing much in this chapter, but feel free to throw it around when discussing the topic with others— it’s a common term.

This chapter begins where Chapter 4 ended. That is, each example here starts with nicely structured data. Then, it’s necessary to figure out ways to turn that raw data into something presentable for the user. Primarily, the examples focus on displaying text; however, you’ll also learn how to use movie clips and dynamically drawn shapes to make visual presentations. Specifically, this chapter covers the following topics:

  • How to display text, images, and hyperlinks using standard Hypertext Markup Language (HTML)

  • How to use the new Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) support in Macromedia Flash MX 2004

  • How Flash’s built-in TextFormat and TextField objects fit into this picture

  • Other options, including runtime drawing and clip creation

At the end of the chapter, you’ll see the code for an example that combines nearly everything covered in this chapter.



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