The Timeline/Stage Relationship Flash

So far, we have focused on the features of the timeline and we have shown how the timeline offers detailed control of Flash functionality, especially as regards its ordering of time from left to right. Now we are going to look at the manner in which timeline relates to the depth of a Flash movie, or the arrangement of items from the front to the back of the Stage.

Stacking order
Within a single layer, Flash stacks like items in the order in which they are placed or created, with the most recent item on top, subject to the kind of item. The rules that control the stacking order of various kinds of items are simple:

  • Within a layer, ungrouped, drawn lines and shapes are always at the bottom level, with the most recently drawn shape or line at the top of that layer’s stack. Furthermore, unless you take precautions, drawn items either compound with, or cut into, the drawing beneath them.
  • Groups and symbols (including bitmaps) stack above lines and shapes in the overlay level. To change the stacking order of several drawings, it’s often advisable to group them first. To change the stacking order within a layer, first select the item that you want to move. Then, do one of the following:
  • Select Modify➪Arrange➪Bring to Front or Send to Back to move the item to the top or bottom of the stacking order.
  • Select Modify➪Arrange➪Move Ahead or Move Behind to move the item ahead or back one position in the stacking order.

Remember the stacking order rules: You won’t be able to bring an ungrouped drawing above a group or symbolif you need that drawing on top, group it and then move it. Layers are another factor in the stacking order. To stack an item in a lower layer above an item in a higher layer you simply change the order of the layer among the other layers: First activate the layer, and then drag the Layer Bar to the desired position in the layer stack of the timeline.

Grouping drawings makes them easier to handle. Rather than manipulating a single drawing, group several drawings to work with them as a single item. Grouping also prevents shapes from being altered by other shapes. Furthermore, the stacking of groups is more easily controlled than ungrouped drawings. Here’s how to create groups:

  1. Use Shift+click to select everything that you want to group any combination of items: shapes, lines, and symbols even other groups.
  2. Select Modify➪Group (Ctrl+G or Command+G). The selected elements are now grouped.
  3. To ungroup everything, select the group then use Modify➪Ungroup (Ctrl+Shift+G or Command+ Shift+ G).

Editing groups
To edit a group:

  1. Either select the group and then choose Edit➪Edit Selected, or double-click the group.
  2. Everything on stage except for the parts of the group is dimmed, indicating that only the group is editable.
  3. Make the changes in the same way you would edit any items.
  4. To stop editing the group, choose Edit➪Edit All (or double-click an empty part of the stage). Items on stage return to normal color.

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