Learning Flash Tool Basics - Flash

Terminology: A book about a software program must be clear and consistent in the terms and names that are used to describe the various thingamajigs and doohickeys that make the program work. As with the last edition of the Flash Bible, we considered carefully before we settled upon the terminology that has we hope been applied consistently throughout. So, here’s our logic: Wherever possible, we use terms derived from the Flash interface and Macromedia’s documentation. When we’ve discovered inconsistencies, we’ve tried to choose terminology that’s most consistent with other Macromedia products.

The Toolbox
The default location for the Flash Drawing Toolbox is in the upper-left corner of the Flash Program window. However, if you haven’t just installed Flash, or if someone else has changed the defaults in Flash, you may not be able to find the Drawing Toolbox.

The Toolbox consists of four main sections. The top section contains all 14 Flash Tools, from left to right and top to bottom: Arrow, Subselect, Line, Lasso, Pen, Text, Oval, Rectangle, Pencil, Brush, Ink Bottle, Paint Bucket, Dropper, and Eraser. The second section contains the Flash View Tools: the Hand and Magnifier. Beneath the View Tools is the Color Tray, and beneath that is the Options Tray.

Using Tool options
Depending on the tool selected, the Options Tray may display some of the options, or properties, that control the functionality of each particular tool while other controls may appear in the new Flash 5 panels. Of the options that are located in the Options Tray, some appear as a pop up or drop-down menus with multiple options, while others are simple buttons that toggle a property on or off. Thus, if an option turns a property on or off, then it’s a button. (For example, if the Lasso is selected, the Magic Wand option can be turned on or off by clicking its button in the Options Tray.) But if an option has more than two options, then it’s a menu.

Most of the options that appear within the Options Tray of the Toolbox can also be accessed from menus on the Menu Bar, or with keyboard combinations. However, all of the controls for the Line, Pen, Text, Oval, Rectangle, Pencil, and Ink Bottle Tools are now located in the new panels system. The new Subselect Tool has no options or controls.

Making the Drawing Toolbox visible
If the Drawing Toolbox is not visible on the PC Flash screen, it can be opened from the Flash Menu Bar by choosing Window➪Tools. Conversely, when the Toolbox is visible, unchecking the Tool menu item hides it. On the Mac, the Drawing Toolbox is always a floating panel that can be dragged anywhere in the screen.

Docking the Flash Drawing Toolbox on the PC
On the PC only, the Drawing Toolbox can be deployed as either a floating panel or as a panel that’s docked to either edge of the Flash program window. Docking means that a floating panel is dragged to the edge of the program window, where it then melds to the border of the window. It remains docked there until it is either moved to another docked position, floated off to resume usage as a panel, or is closed. You can drag the panel anywhere around the screen, or you can drag it to the edge of the Flash program window, which docks it there.

Quick work with keyboard shortcuts
All of the tools that are accessed from the Drawing Toolbox have keyboard equivalents, or shortcuts, that are single keystrokes . For example, to access the Arrow Tool which is the tool with the black arrow icon, located in the upperleft corner of the Drawing Toolbox you can simply press the V key when the Stage or timeline is in focus. Thus, the V key is the keyboard shortcut for the Arrow Tool on both the Mac and the PC. This is easier than moving the mouse up to the Drawing Toolbox to click the Arrow Tool, and it saves mouse miles, besides. Henceforth, throughout this book, when we mention a new tool, the keyboard shortcut for that tool follows in parentheses, as follows: Arrow (V).

The PC Drawing Toolbox is shown

The PC Drawing Toolbox is shown

Using tooltips
On both PC and Mac platforms, each tool has a cursor icon that resembles the tool’s icon in the Toolbox. For example, when you select the Brush by clicking the Brush button on the Toolbox, the cursor (or mouse pointer) turns into an icon similar to the Brush icon in the Toolbox. In most other programs, these cursor icons are referred to as tooltips: When you are working with a particular tool, the cursor icon for that tool appears on screen. In Flash, this kind of tooltip cannot be turned off. That’s because Flash uses the term tooltip to refer to a text label that appears onscreen, adjacent to the cursor, when the cursor is paused over a tool button in the Toolbox. These text labels Flash Tooltips tell you the name of the tool and its keyboard shortcut. You can personalize Flash so that these Flash Tooltips are either visible or hidden.

  • To change the Tooltips setting on the PC, choose Edit➪Preferences to open the Preferences dialog; then, on the General Tab, in the Selection Options area, either check or uncheck Show Tooltips.
  • To change the Tooltips setting on the Mac, choose Edit➪Preferences to open the Preferences dialog; then, on the General Tab, in the Selection area, either check or uncheck Show Tooltips.

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