Publish Settings Flash

The Publish Settings command (File➪Publish Settings) is used to determine which file formats are exported when the File➪Publish command is invoked. By default, Flash 5 ships with Publish Settings that will export a Flash (.SWF) file and an HTML file with the proper markup tags to utilize the Flash plug-in or ActiveX control. If you want to customize the settings of the exported file types, you should familiarize yourself with the Publish Settings before you attempt to use the Publish command.

Selecting formats
Select File➪Publish Settings to access the Publish Settings dialog, which is nearly identical for both PC and Mac. The dialog opens to the Formats tab, which has checkboxes to select the formats in which your Flash movie will be published (see Figure below). For each Type that is checked, a tab appears in the Publish Settings dialog. Click each type’s tab to specify settings to control the particulars of the movie or file that will be generated in that format.

The Use default names checkbox either enables or disables default names (disabled means that the Filename entry boxes are unavailable or grayed out). For example, if your movie is named intro.fla, then, if Use default names is selected, this is the base from which the names are generated in publishing. Thus, intro.swf, intro.html, intro.gif, and so on would result.

The Formats tab of the Publish Settings dialog enables you to select the published file formats and to use default or custom names for these published files.

The Formats tab of the Publish Settings dialog enables you to select the published file formats and to use default or custom names for these published files

Using the Flash settings
The primary and default publishing format of Flash 5 movies is the Flash (.SWF) format. Only .SWF movies retain full support for Flash actions and animations.
Here are your options in the Flash tab:

  • Load Order: This option determines how Flash will draw the first frame of the Flash movie as it is downloaded to the plug-in or player. When Bottom up (the default) is chosen, the layers load in ascending order: The lowest layer displays first, then the second lowest, and so on, until all of the layers for the first frame have been displayed. When Top down is selected, the layers load in descending order: the top-most layer displays first, then the layer underneath it, and so on. Again, this option only affects the display of the first frame of a Flash movie. If the content of the first frame is downloaded or streamed quickly, you probably won’t notice the Load Order’s effect.
  • Generate size report: As discussed earlier, the size report for a Flash movie can be very useful in pinpointing problematic bandwidth-intensive elements, such as font characters. When this option is checked, the Publish command exports a SimpleText (Mac) or TXT file (PC) to view separately in a text-editor application.
  • Omit Trace Actions: When this option is selected, the Flash player ignores any trace actions used in Flash ActionScripting. Trace actions will open the Flash Output window for debugging purposes. In general, if you used Trace actions, you will want to omit them from the final .SWF file—they can’t be viewed in the Flash Player anyway.
  • Protect from import: This option safeguards your Flash .SWF files on the Internet. When enabled, the .SWF file cannot be imported back into the Flash 5 authoring environment, or altered in any way.
  • Debugging Permitted: If this option is checked, then you can access the Debugger Panel from in the Debug Movie environment, or from a Web browser that is using the Flash Debug Player plug-in or ActiveX control.
  • Password: If you checked the Debugging Permitted option, you can enter a password to access the Debugger Panel. Because you can now debug movies over a live Internet connection, you should always enter a password here if you intend to debug a remote Flash .SWF file. If you leave this field empty and check the Debugging Permitted option, Flash will still ask you for a password when you attempt to access the Debugger Panel remotely. Simply press the Enter key if you left this field blank.
  • JPEG Quality: This slider and text-field option specifies the level of JPEG compression applied to bitmapped artwork in the Flash movie. The value can be any value between (and including) 0 to 100. Higher values apply less compression and preserve more information of the original bitmap, whereas lower values apply more compression and keep less information. The value entered here applies to all bitmaps that enable the Use document default quality option, found in the Bitmap Properties dialog for each bitmap in the Flash Library. Unlike the audio settings discussed in a moment, no “override” option exists to disregard settings in the Flash Library.
  • Audio Stream: This option displays the current audio compression scheme for Stream audio. By clicking the Set button (see Figure below), you can control the compression applied to any sounds that use the Stream Sync setting in the Sound tab of the Frame Properties dialog. Like the JPEG Quality option discussed previously, this compression value is applied to any Stream sounds that use the Default compression in the Export Settings section of each audio file’s Sound Properties dialog in the Flash Library.
  • The Flash tab of the Publish Settings dialog controls the settings for a movie published in the Flash format.

    The Flash tab of the Publish Settings dialog controls the settings for a movie published in the Flash format.

  • Audio Event: This setting behaves exactly the same as the Audio Stream option, except that this compression setting applies to Default compressionenabled Event sounds.
  • Override sound settings: If you want the settings for Audio Stream and Audio Event to apply to all Stream and Event sounds, respectively, and to disregard any unique compression schemes specified in the Flash Library, then check this option. This is useful for creating multiple .SWF versions of the Flash movie (hi-fi, lo-fi, and so on) and enabling the Web visitor to decide which one to download.
  • Version: This drop-down menu provides the option to publish movies in any of the Flash .SWF formats. To ensure complete compatibility with all of the new Flash 5 features, select Flash 5. If you haven’t used any new Flash 5 ActionScript commands or Dots notation, then you can use Flash 4. Flash 1 and 2 support only basic animation and interactive functions. Flash 3 will support just about all animation and artwork created in Flash 5, but it doesn’t recognize any of the ActionScripts introduced with either Flash 4 or 5, editable text fields (such as form elements), or MP3 audio. If in doubt, you should test your choice of version in that version’s Flash Player.
  • Click the Set button for Audio Stream or Audio Event, and the Sound Settings dialog appears.

    Click the Set button for Audio Stream or Audio Event, and the Sound Settings dialog appears.

    When you are finished entering the settings for the .SWF movie, you can proceed to other file-type settings in the Publish Settings dialog. Or, you can click OK to return to the authoring environment of Flash 5 so that you can use the newly entered settings in the Test Movie or Scene environment. You can also export a .SWF file (and other file formats currently selected in Publish Settings) by clicking the Publish button in the Publish Settings dialog.

Using the HTML settings
HTML is the language in which the layout of most Web pages is written. The HTML tab of the Publish Settings dialog has a number of settings that control the way in which Flash will publish a movie into a complete Web page with the HTML format.

The HTML settings tab controls flexible Flash movie options you can change this options without permanently affecting the Flash .SWF movie.

HTML settings tab controls flexible Flash movie options you can change this options without permanently affecting the Flash .SWF movie.

The settings available in the HTML tab include:

  • Template: Perhaps the most important (and versatile) feature of all Publish Settings, the Template setting enables you to select a predefined set of HTML tags to display your Flash movies. To view the description of each template, click the Info button to the right of the drop-down list . All templates use the same options listed in the HTML dialog the template simply places the values of those settings into HTML tags scripted in the template.You can also create your own custom templates for your own unique implementation of Flash movies. The description for the Flash Only (Default) template shows below.
  • Clicking the Info button summons a brief description of the HTML template that has been specified in the Template drop-down list.

    Clicking the Info button summons a brief description of the HTML template that has been specified in the Template drop-down list.

    • Ad 3 Banner: With this template, Flash creates an HTML document that checks for the Flash 3 Player plug-in. If JavaScript or VBScript detects the plug-in, then the Flash .SWF file will be served. If there is no Flash Player, then a GIF or JPEG will be loaded into the page. You must choose either the GIF or JPEG option in the Format tab of the Publish Settings dialog. As the name of the template implies, this template is useful for serving Flash ad banners. You can, however, use any of the Ad templates for any Flash movie version checking. Make sure that you have selected Flash 3 as the .SWF version in the Flash tab.
    • Ad 4 Banner: Same as the Ad 3 Banner, except that the JavaScript and VBScript check for the Flash 4 Player plug-in. You need to change the .SWF Version option to Flash 4 in the Flash tab of the Publish Settings. Use this template only if you are using Flash 4-specific ActionScripts, such as variable declarations or loadVariable actions.
    • Ad 5 Banner: Same as the Ad 3 Banner, except that the JavaScript and VBScript check for the Flash 5 Player plug-in. Change the .SWF version option to Flash 5 in the Flash tab of the Publish Settings dialog. If you are serving Flash ad banners, you may not want to serve the Flash 5 format. Unless your Flash 5 movies use Flash 5-specific ActionScripts (Dots notation, XML data, and so on), choose one of the previous Banner templates.
    • Ad Any Banner: This template checks whether the Flash 3, 4, or 5 Player plug-in is installed. If any of these players is installed, then the published .SWF file will load into the HTML document. Otherwise, the published JPEG or GIF will be served. Use this option only if you are publishing Flash 3-compatible .SWF files, and want to serve a .SWF file to everyone who has a Flash 3, 4, or 5 Player plug-in.
    • Flash Only (Default): This template simply inserts the <OBJECT> and <EMBED> tags for a Flash 5 movie. It does not perform any browser or plug-in detection.
    • Flash with FSCommand: Use this template if you are using the FSCommand action in your Flash movies to communicate with JavaScript in the HTML page. The FSCommand is discussed. The necessary <OBJECT> and <EMBED> tags from the Flash Only (Default) template are also included.
    • Generator Ad Any Banner: This template is similar to the Ad Any Banner template. If you have used Generator Objects or Generator Environment variables to your Flash movie, then this template will create an HTML that checks for the Flash 3, 4, or 5 Player plug-in. If any of those versions are installed, then a request will be made for a dynamic .SWF file (?type=swf) from the Generator template (.SWT file). Otherwise, a JPEG, GIF, or PNG image will be made from the Generator template. You need to specify an image format (JPEG, GIF, or PNG) in the Formats tab for this template. However, you will not need to upload the published image file the Generator Server is responsible for creating the static image on the fly.
    • Generator Image Output: This template creates a simple <IMG> tag with a SRC attribute that contains the template’s filename and the desired image format, as in <IMG SRC=”templateFile.swt?type=gif”>, which will tell the Generator Server to create a GIF image from the templateFile.swt file. You need to check the desired image format in the Formats tab of the Publish Settings dialog. As with the Generator Ad Any Banner template, you will not need to upload the published image file.
    • Generator Only (Default): This template makes an HTML document that is similar to the Flash Only (Default) template. It will include <OBJECT> and <EMBED> tags that refer to the Generator template file (.SWT file) and a Flash output format (?type=swf).
    • Generator QuickTime: The HTML document published with this template will create an <EMBED> tag that references the Generator template file (.SWT file) and a QuickTime Flash output format, as in <EMBED SRC= ”template.swt?type=mov” . . .>. Note that this output format will require the QuickTime 4 (or higher) Player plug-in.
    • Image Map: This template does not use or display any .SWF movie. Instead, it uses a GIF, JPEG, or PNG image (as specified in the Publish Settings’ Format tab) as a client-side image map, via an <IMG> tag with a USEMAP attribute. Use a frame label of #map in the Flash editor document (.FLA file) to designate which frame is used as the map image.
    • Java Player: Instead of using the Flash Player or an image map, this template creates the necessary <APPLET> tags to use the Flash Java Player. To use this player, you must select the Publish Settings’ Flash tab and specify a version 2 .SWF format. The Flash Java Player needs to access Java class files (found in the Players folder of the Flash 4 application folder). Make sure that you have uploaded the class files to your Web server. You may need to add a CODEBASE=[URL of class files] to the <APPLET> tag created by this template.
    • QuickTime: This template creates an <EMBED> tag to display QuickTime Flash movies. You need to enable the QuickTime file type in the Publish Settings’ Format tab. A QuickTime Flash movie is a special type of QuickTime movie, playable with QuickTime 4 or higher. QuickTime 4 can only recognize Flash 3 features. You must choose Flash 3 as the Version option in the Flash tab. Depending on the options selected in the QuickTime tab of Publish Settings, the Flash movie may or may not be stored within the QuickTime movie file.
    • User Choice: Often the scripter’s testing tool, this template creates an HTML document with Flash 5 plug-in detection and a JavaScript cookie that enables you to choose three loading options for the Flash .SWF file: automatic plug-in detection, standard plug-in usage (via direct non- JavaScript–written <OBJECT> or <EMBED> tags), or substitute image (for example, GIF, JPEG, or PNG).
  • Dimensions: This setting controls the WIDTH and HEIGHT values of the <OBJECT> and <EMBED> tags. The dimension settings here do not change the original .SWF movie, they simply create the viewport through which your Flash movie is viewed on the Web page. The way that the Flash movie “fits” into this viewport is determined with the Scale option (discussed later). Three input areas exist: a drop-down menu and two text fields for width andheight.
    • Match Movie: If you want to keep the same width and height that you specified in the Modify➪Movie dialog, then use this option in the dropdown menu.
    • Pixels: You can change the viewing size (in pixel units) of the Flash movie window by selecting this option and entering new values in the Width and Height text fields.
    • Percent: By far one of the most popular options with Flash movies, Percent scales the movie to the size of the browser window or a portion of it. Using a value of 100 on both Width and Height expands the Flash movie to fit the entire browser window. If Percent is used with the proper Scale setting, then the aspect ratio of your Flash movie will not be distorted.
    • Width and Height: Enter the values for the Flash movie width and height here. If Match Movie is selected, you shouldn’t be able to enter any values. The unit of measurement is determined by selecting either Pixels or Percent from the drop-down menu.
  • Playback: These options control how the Flash movie plays when it is downloaded to the browser. Each of these options has an <OBJECT> and <EMBED> attribute if you want to control them outside of Publish Settings. Note that these attributes are not viewable within the Publish Settings dialog you need to load the published HTML document into a text editor to see the attributes.
    • Paused at Start: This is equivalent to adding a Stop action on the first frame of the first scene in the Flash movie. By default, this option is off movies play as soon as they stream into the player. A button with a Play action can start the movie, or the Play command can be executed from the Flash Player shortcut menu (by right-clicking or Control+clicking the movie). Attribute: PLAY=true or false. If PLAY=true, the movie will play as soon as it is loaded.
    • Loop: This option causes the Flash movie to repeat an infinite number of times. By default, this option is on. If it is not checked, the Flash movie stops on the last frame unless some other ActionScripted event is initiated on the last frame. Attribute: LOOP=true or false.
    • Display Menu: This option controls whether the person viewing the Flash movie in the Flash Player environment can access the shortcut menu via a right-click (PC) or Ctrl+click (Mac) anywhere within the movie area. If this option is checked, then the visitor can select Zoom In/Out, 100 percent, Show All, High Quality, Play, Loop, Rewind, Forward, and Back from the menu. If this option is not checked, then the visitor can only select About Flash Player from the menu. Attribute: MENU=true or false.
    • Device Font: This option only applies to Flash movie played in the Windows version of the Flash Player. When enabled, this option replaces fonts that are not installed on the Player’s system with antialiased system fonts. Attribute: DEVICEFONT=true or false.
  • Quality: This menu determines how the Flash artwork in a movie will render.While it would be ideal to play all Flash movies at high quality, slower processors may not be able to redraw antialiased artwork and keep up with the frame rate.
    • Low: This setting forces the Flash Player to turn off antialiasing (smooth edges) completely. On slower processors, this may improve playback performance. Attribute: QUALITY=LOW.
    • Auto Low: This setting starts in Low quality mode (no antialiasing), but will switch to High quality if the computer’s processor can handle the playback speed. Attribute: QUALITY=AUTOLOW.
    • Auto High: This setting is the opposite of Auto Low. The Flash Player starts playing the movie in High quality mode, but, if the processor cannot handle the playback demands, then it switches to Low quality mode. For most Web sites, this is the optimal setting to use because it favors higher quality first. Attribute: QUALITY=AUTOHIGH.
    • Medium: This quality produces antialiased vector graphics on a 2 × 2 grid (in other words, it will smooth edges over a 4-pixel square area), but does not smooth bitmap images. Artwork will appear slightly better than the Low quality, but not as smooth as the High setting. Attribute:
    • QUALITY=MEDIUM.
    • High: When this setting is used, the Flash Player dedicates more of the computer’s processor to rendering graphics (instead of playback). All vector artwork is antialiased on a 4 × 4 grid (16-pixel square area). Bitmaps are smoothed unless they are contained within an animation sequence such as a Motion Tween. By default, this setting is selected in the HTML tab of the Publish Settings dialog. Attribute: QUALITY=HIGH.
    • Best: This mode does everything that High quality does, with the addition of smoothing all bitmaps—regardless of whether they are in Motion Tweens. This mode is the most processor-intensive. Attribute: QUALITY=BEST.
  • Window Mode: The Window Mode setting only works with the Flash ActiveX control. Therefore, it only applies to 32-bit Windows versions of Internet Explorer. If you intend to deliver to this browser, then you can animate Flash content on top of DHTML content.
  • HTML Alignment: This setting works much like the ALIGN attribute of <IMG> tags in HTML documents, but it’s used with the ALIGN attribute of the <OBJECT> and <EMBED> tags for the Flash movie. Note that these settings may not have any effect when used within a table cell (<TD> tag) or a DHTML layer (<DIV> or <LAYER> tag).
    • Default: This option horizontally or vertically centers the Flash movie in the browser window. If the browser window is smaller than a Flash movie that uses a Pixel or Match Movie dimensions setting (see Dimensions setting earlier in this section), then the Flash movie will be cropped.
    • Left, Right, Top, and Bottom: These options align the Flash movie along the left, right, top, or bottom edge of the browser window, respectively.
  • Scale: This setting works in tandem with the Dimensions setting discussed earlier in this section, and determines how the Flash movie displays on the HTML page. Just as big screen movies must be cropped to fit the aspect ratio of a TV screen, Flash movies may need to be modified to fit the area prescribed by the Dimensions setting.
    • Default (Show all): This option fits the entire Flash movie into the area defined by the Dimensions setting without distorting the original aspect ratio of the Flash movie. However, borders may appear on two sides of the Flash movie. For example, if a 300 × 300-pixel window is specified in Dimensions and the Flash movie has an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 (for example, 400 × 300 pixels), then a border fills the remaining areas on top of and below the Flash movie. This is similar to the “letterbox” effect on widescreen video rentals. Attribute: SCALE=SHOWALL.
    • No border: This option forces the Flash movie to fill the area defined by the Dimensions setting without leaving borders. The Flash movie’s aspect ratio is not distorted or stretched. However, this may crop two sides of the Flash movie. Using the same example from Show All, the left and right sides of the Flash movie are cropped when No Border is selected. Attribute: SCALE=NOBORDER.
    • Exact fit: This option stretches a Flash movie to fill the entire area defined by the Dimensions setting. Using the same example from Show All, the 400 × 300 Flash movie is scrunched to fit a 300 × 300 window. If the original movie showed a perfect circle, it now appears as an oval.
    • Attribute: SCALE=EXACTFIT.
  • Flash Alignment: This setting adjusts the SALIGN attribute of the <OBJECT> and <EMBED> tags for the Flash movie. In contrast to the HTML Alignment setting, Flash Alignment works in conjunction with the Scale and Dimensions settings, and determines how a Flash movie is aligned within the Player window.
    • Horizontal: These options Left, Center, and Right determine whether the Flash movie is horizontally aligned to the left, center, or right of the Dimensions area, respectively. Using the same example from the Scale setting, a 400 × 300-pixel Flash movie (fit into a 300 × 300 Dimension window with SCALE=NOBORDER) with a Flash Horizontal Alignment setting of Left crops only the right side of the Flash movie.
    • Vertical: These options Top, Center, and Bottom determine whether the Flash movie is vertically aligned to the top, center, or bottom of the Dimensions area, respectively. If the previous example used a Show All Scale setting and had a Flash Vertical Alignment setting of Top, then the border only occurs below the bottom edge of the Flash movie.
  • Show Warning Messages: This useful feature alerts you to errors during the actual Publish process. For example, if you selected the Image Map template and didn’t specify a static GIF, JPEG, or PNG file in the Formats tab, then Flash returns an error. By default, this option is enabled. If it is disabled, then Flash suppresses any warnings during the Publish process.

Using the GIF settings
The GIF (Graphics Interchange File) format, developed by CompuServe, defined the first generation of Web graphics, and is still quite popular today, despite its 256- color limitation. In the context of the Flash Publish Settings, the GIF format is used to export a static or animated image that can be used in place of the Flash movie if the Flash Player or plug-in is not installed. Although the Flash and HTML tabs are specific to Flash movie display and playback, the settings of the GIF tab control the characteristics of a GIF animation (or still image) that Flash will publish.

Every subtle aspect of a GIF animation or still image can be finessed with these settings of the GIF tab of the Publish Settings dialog.

Every subtle aspect of a GIF animation or still image can be finessed with these settings of the GIF tab of the Publish Settings dialog.

The settings in the GIF tab include the following:

  • Dimensions: This setting has three options: Width, Height, and Match Movie.As you might surmise, Width and Height control the dimensions of the GIF image. These fields are enabled only when the Match Movie checkbox is unchecked. With Match Movie checked, the dimensions of the GIF match those of the Flash Movie that is being published.
  • Playback: These radio buttons control what type of GIF image is created and how it plays (if Animated is chosen).
    • Static: If this button is selected, then Flash exports the first frame of the Flash movie as a single still image in the GIF format. If you want to use a different frame other than the first frame, use a frame label of #Static on the desired frame. Alternatively, you could use the File➪Export Image command to export a GIF image from whatever frame the Current Frame Indicator is positioned over.
    • Animated: If this button is selected, then Flash exports the entire Flash movie as an animated GIF file (in the GIF89a format). If you don’t want to export the entire movie as an animated GIF (indeed, a GIF file for a Flash movie with over 100 frames would be most likely too large to download easily over the Web), you can designate a range of frames to export. Use a frame label of #First on the beginning frame of a given range of frames.
    • Next, add a frame label of #Last to the ending frame of the desired sequence of frames. Flash actually does a pretty good at optimizing animated GIFs by only saving areas that change over time in each frame instead of the entire frame.
    • Loop Continuously: When the Animated radio button is selected, you can specify that the animated GIF repeats an infinite number of times by selecting the Loop Continuously radio button.
    • Repeat times: This option can be used to set up an animated GIF that repeats a given number of times. If you don’t want the animated GIF to repeat continuously, then enter the number of repetitions here.
  • Options: The options in the Options settings control the creation of the GIF’s color table and how the browser displays the GIF.
    • Optimize Colors: When you are using any palette type other than Adaptive, this option removes any colors preexisting in the Web 216 or custom palettes that are not used by the GIF image. Enabling this option can only save you precious bytes used in file overhead it has no effect on the actual quality of the image. Most images do not use all 216 colors of the Web palette. For example, a black and white picture can only use between 3 and 10 colors from the 216-color palette.
    • Interlace: This option makes the GIF image download in incrementing resolutions. As the image downloads, the image becomes sharper with each successive “scan.” Use of this option is usually personal preference. Some people like to use it for image maps that can provide basic navigation information before the entire image downloads.
    • Smooth: This option antialiases the Flash artwork as it exports to the GIF image. Text may look better when it is antialiased, but may want to test this option for your particular use. If you need to make a transparent GIF, then smoothing may produce unsightly edges.
    • Dither Solids: This option determines if solid areas of color (such as fills) are dithered. In this context, this type of dithering would create a two-color pattern to mimic a solid color that doesn’t occur in the GIF’s color palette. See the discussion of dithering later in this section.
    • Remove Gradients: Flash gradients do not translate or display very well in 256 or less colors. Use this option to convert all Flash gradients to solid colors. The solid color is determined by the first color prescribed in the gradient. Unless you developed your gradients with this effect in mind, this option may produce undesirable results.
  • Transparent: This setting controls the appearance of the Flash movie background, as well as any Flash artwork that uses alpha settings. Because GIF images only support one level of transparency (that is, the transparent area cannot be antialiased), you need to exercise caution when using this setting. The Threshold option is only available if Alpha is selected.
    • Opaque: This option produces a GIF image with a solid background. The image has a rectangular shape.
    • Transparent: This option makes the Flash movie background appear transparent. If the Smooth option in the Options setting is enabled, then Flash artwork may display halos over the background HTML color.
    • Alpha and Threshold: When the Alpha option is selected in the dropdown menu, you can control at what alpha level Flash artwork becomesmtransparent by entering a value in the Threshold text field. For example, if you enter 128, then all alphas at 50 percent become completely transparent.If you are considering an animated GIF that has Flash artwork fading in or out, then you probably want to use the Opaque transparent option. If Alpha and Threshold were used, then the fade effect would be lost.
  • Dither: Dithering is the process of emulating a color by juxtaposing two colors in a pattern arrangement. Because GIF images are limited to 256 colors (or less), dithering can often produce better-looking images for continuous tone artwork such as gradients. However, Flash’s dithering seems to work best with the Web 216 palette. Dithering can increase the file size of a GIF image.
    • None: This option does not apply any dithering to the GIF image.
    • Ordered: This option applies an intermediate level of dithering with minimal file size overhead.
    • Diffusion: This option applies the best level of dithering to the GIF image, but with larger file size overhead. Diffusion dithering only has a noticeable effect when the Web 216 palette is chosen in Palette Type.
    • Palette Type: As mentioned earlier in this section, GIF images are limited to 256 or less colors. However, this grouping of 256 is arbitrary: Any set of 256 (or less) colors can be used for a given GIF image. This setting enables you to select predefined sets of colors to use on the GIF image.
    • Web 216: When this option is selected, the GIF image only uses colors from the limited 216 Web-color palette. For most Flash artwork, this should produce acceptable results. However, it may not render Flash gradients or photographic bitmaps very well.
    • Adaptive: With this option selected, Flash creates a unique set of 256 colors (or fewer, if specified in the Max Colors setting) for the GIF image. However, these adapted colors fall outside of the Web-Safe Color Palette. File sizes for adaptive GIFs are larger than Web 216 GIFs, unless few colors are chosen in the Max Colors setting. Adaptive GIFs look much better than Web 216 GIFs, but may not display very well with 8-bit video cards and monitors.
    • Web Snap Adaptive: This option tries to give the GIF image the best of both worlds. Flash converts any colors close to the 216 Web palette to Web-safe colors and uses adaptive colors for the rest. This palette produces better results than the Adaptive palette for older display systems that used 8-bit video cards.
    • Custom: When this option is selected, you can specify a palette that uses the .ACT file format to be used as the GIF image’s palette. Macromedia Fireworks and Adobe Photoshop can export color palettes (or color look-up tables) as .ACT files.
  • Max Colors: With this setting, you can specify exactly how many colors are in the GIF’s color table. This numeric entry field is only enabled when Adaptive or Web Snap Adaptive is selected in the Palette Type drop-down menu.
  • Palette: This text field and the “. . .” browse button are only enabled when Custom is selected in the Palette Type drop-down menu. When enabled, this dialog is used to locate and load a palette file from the hard drive.

Using the JPEG settings
The JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) format is just as popular as the GIF format on the Web. Unlike GIF images, though, JPEG images can use much more than 256 colors. In fact, JPEG files must be 24-bit color (or full-color RGB) images.

Although GIF files use lossless compression (within the actual file itself), JPEG images use lossy compression, which means that color information is discarded in order to save file space. However, JPEG compression is very good. Even at its lowest quality settings, JPEG images can preserve quite a bit of detail in photographic images.

Another significant difference between GIF and JPEG is that GIF images do not require nearly as much memory (for equivalent image dimensions) as JPEG images do. You need to remember that JPEG images “uncompress” when they are downloaded to your computer. While the file sizes may be small initially, they still open as full-color images in the computer’s memory. For example, even though you may get the file size of a 400×300-pixel JPEG image down to 10KB, it still requires nearly 352KB in memory when it is opened or displayed.

Flash publishes the first frame of the Flash movie as the JPEG image, unless a #Static frame label is given to another frame in the Flash movie. The limited settings of the JPEG tab of the Publish Settings dialog control the few variables of this still photoquality image format:

  • Dimensions: This setting behaves the same as the GIF Dimensions setting. Width and Height control the dimensions of the movie. But these fields are enabled only when the Match Movie checkbox is unchecked. With Match Movie checked, the dimensions of the JPEG match those of the Flash Movie.
  • Quality: This slider and text field work exactly the same way as the JPEG Quality setting in the Flash tab of Publish Settings. Higher values apply less compression and result in better quality, but create images with larger file sizes.
  • Progressive: This option is similar to the Interlaced option for GIF images. When enabled, the JPEG image loads in successive scans, becoming sharper with each pass.
  • The settings of the JPEG tab are limited because JPEGs are still images with relatively few variables to be addressed.

    The settings of the JPEG tab are limited because JPEGs are still images with relatively few variables to be addressed

Using the PNG settings
The PNG (Portable Network Graphic) format is another still-image format. It was developed quite recently and is an improvement over both the GIF and JPEG formats in several ways. Much like JPEG, it is excellent for transmission of photographic quality images. The primary advantages of PNG are variable bit-depths (images can be 256 colors or millions of colors), multilevel transparency, and lossless compression. However, most browsers do not offer full support for all PNG options without some kind of additional plug-in. When in doubt, test your PNG images in your preferred browser. The settings of the PNG tab control the characteristics of the PNG image that Flash will publish. The PNG tab options are:

  • Dimensions: This setting works just like the GIF and JPEG equivalents. When Match Movie is checked, you cannot alter the Width and Height of the PNG image.
  • The settings found on the PNG tab closely resemble those on the GIF tab. The PNG was engineered to have many of the advantages of both the GIF and JPEG formats.

    The settings found on the PNG tab closely resemble those on the GIF tab. The PNG was engineered to have many of the advantages of both the GIF and JPEG formats.

  • Bit Depth: This setting controls how many colors are created in the PNG image:
    • 8-bit: In this mode, the PNG image has a maximum color palette of 256 colors, similar to the palette function of GIF images. When this option is selected, the Options, Dither, Palette Type, Max Colors, and Palette settings can be altered.
    • 24-bit: When this option is selected, the PNG image can display any of the 16.7 million RGB colors. This option produces larger files than 8-bit PNG images, but renders the Flash artwork most faithfully.
    • 24-bit with Alpha: This option adds another 8-bit channel to the 24-bit PNG image for multilevel transparency support. This means that Flash will treat the Flash movie background as a transparent area, so that information behind the PNG image (such as HTML background colors) shows through. Note that, with proper browser support, PNG can render antialiased edges on top of other elements, such as HTML background images!
  • Options: These options behave the same as the equivalent GIF Publish Settings.
  • Dither, Palette Type, Max Colors, and Palette: These settings work the same as the equivalent GIF Publish Settings. Because PNG images can be either 8- or 24-bit, these options are only apply to 8-bit PNG images. If anything other than 8-bit is selected in the Bit Depth setting, then these options are disabled.
  • Filter Options: This drop-down menu controls what type of compression sampling or algorithm the PNG image uses. Note that this does not apply an art or graphic “filter effect” like the filters in Adobe Photoshop do, nor does it throw away any image information—all filters are lossless. It simply enables you to be the judge of what kind of compression to use on the image. You need to experiment with each of these filters on your Flash movie image to find the best filter-to-file size combination. Technically, the filters do not actually look at the pixel data. Rather, they look at the byte data of each pixel. Results vary depending on the image content, but here are some guidelines to keep in mind:
    • None: When this option is selected, no filtering is applied to the image. When no filter is applied, you usually have unnecessarily large file sizes.
    • Sub: This filter works best on images that have repeated information along the horizontal axis. For example, the stripes of a horizontal American flag filter nicely with the sub filter.
    • Up: The opposite of the sub filter, this filter works by looking for repeated information along the vertical axis. The stripes of a vertical American flag filter well with the up filter.
    • Average: Use this option when a mixture of vertical and horizontal information exists. When in doubt, try this filter first.
    • Paeth: This filter works like an advanced average filter. When in doubt, try this filter after you have experimented with the average filter.

Creating Windows and Macintosh projectors
To export a Mac standalone projector, check the Macintosh Projector option in the Formats tab. To publish a PC standalone projector, check the Windows Projector option in the Formats tab.

Using the QuickTime settings
Now that QuickTime 4 (and the forthcoming QuickTime 5) includes built-in support for Flash tracks and .SWF files, you may want to publish QuickTime 4 movies (.MOV files) in addition to your Flash movies (.SWF files).

Producing RealPlayer presentations
Flash 5 can now automatically create tuned .SWF files and RealAudio files from your Stream Sync audio used in your Flash movie file. To create the tuned .SWF, RealAudio, and .SMIL files necessary for playback in RealPlayer, check the RealPlayer option in the Formats tab of the Publish Settings dialog.



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