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Understanding Symbols

Symbols are the cornerstones of Macromedia Flash, the building blocks of your movies. Any time you draw a shape, place an imported bitmap, or animate an object, Flash must store the information required to render these elements in your published movie. As with any Web-delivered content, minimizing file size while maximizing content is crucial, and is a tightrope that must continually be negotiated. Symbols are archetypes—objects that are stored and can be used repeatedly.

Symbols are stored in the Library, and instances are dragged from the Library to the Stage. Each individual symbol instance on the Stage is a copy that is independent of its original and any other instances, and can be manipulated freely without changing the original. Because the original is stored and reused with each instance, you can create as many instances as you want with minimal impact on file size. Symbols also enhance playback because the Flash Player needs to download a symbol only once.


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