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Tip: Sometimes Flash 5/Mac OS X variables can confuse the issue (Flash 5)

  • If you use certain words as variables, Flash gets confused.  Since these words are reserved for use in ActionScript, you should try to avoid using these words when possible.  You can use them in text strings; just avoid them when naming your variables.  Words that may cause confusion include the following:
    • break
    • continue
    • delete
    • else
    • false
    • for
    • function
    • if
    • in
    • new
    • return
    • this
    • true
    • typeof
    • var
    • void
    • while
    • with

Tip: Discovering file size and bandwidth requirements (Flash 5/MX/MX 2004)

  • So how do you go about determining the file size of your Flash movie before you export it?  That depends on the file type and what you're looking for.  If you just want to find out what elements are being included in the file and their size, save the file and then choose File > Publish Settings.  Next, click on the Flash tab on the Publish Settings dialog box and select the Generate Size Report check box in the Options section.  Then, click the Publish button.  Flash automatically creates a report in the same directory of the Flash file.  In that text file, you'll find that it lists each element included in the exported file as well as its size.
  • If you've designed the file to be streamed, you'll probably be more concerned with the bandwidth itself than the size of each individual element.  To monitor the download characteristics of a streamed (or at best, multi-framed) movie, save the file and then choose Control > Test Movie.  When the SWF File appears and begins playing, choose Control > Stop (just to avoid the distraction).  Now, choose View > Bandwidth Profiler to display an additional section in the stage that displays everything you could want to know about the download and its effect on the viewer's bandwidth.

Tip: Creating perfect spheres (Flash MX/MX 2004)

  • Flash provides you with tools to create standard gradient fills for spheres.  But to create truly professional-looking spheres, follow these simple steps:
    • In a new movie, choose the Oval tool and set the stroke color to none.
    • Choose a linear gradient fill and hold down the [shift] key as you draw a circle.
    • Now, choose the Fill Transform tool and click once on the sphere to display the Transform handles. 
    • Then, click and drag on the center handle to the upper-left section of the circle.
    • Finally, if you want to lighten the sphere a bit, click and drag the middle handle along the circumference of the path to resize the sphere.
    • The result is a perfect sphere!

Tip: Determine the size of your movies before you export them (Flash 5/MX/MX 2004)

  • Ever wonder how large your Flash movie is before you export it?  To find out what elements are being included in the file and their size, save the file and then choose File > Publish Settings.  Next, click on the Flash tab on the Publish Settings dialog box and select the Generate Size Report check box in the Options section.  Then, click the Publish button.  Flash automatically creates a report in the same directory of the Flash file.  In that text file, you'll find that it list each element included in the exported file as well as its size.

Tip: Test your movies using your slowest denominator (Flash 5/MX/MX 2004)

  • If you're designing a relatively complex Flash movie, you want to make sure you've optimized both the download requirements and the processor requirements.  For example, you don't want a file to begin playing and then include an action that requires increased processor power.  That might cause the movie to stutter or stop playing altogether.
  • Although you can get a good idea of how long it will take to download a file, it's difficult to determine how it will play on an older computer.  So, what's the solution?  Test your Flash movies on that old computer sitting in your closet.  That way, you can make sure you won't be taxing the computers of your targeted audience.

Tip: Changing history in Dreamweaver 4/MX

  • Dreamweaver tracks all of the actions you perform in your Web document.  To view these saved actions, select Window > History (Window > Others > History in MX), which opens the all-knowing History panel.  Dreamweaver saves each action as a separate step.  Sorting through the steps is made easier when you view the icons shown at the beginning of the listing.  The icons usually correspond to the action icon in the Toolbox, so it's easy to find an inset Table action and tell it apart from a Font Color action.
  • The History panel gives you the ability to undo certain steps or repeat a series of steps on a new object.  Every open Web page has its own unique history.  However, you can share histories between documents, as we'll show you.  Closing a Web page or quitting Dreamweaver clears the history lists from the document.
  • There's a limit to how many actions the History panel records.  By default, Dreamweaver tracks up to 50 steps--once you exceed this limit, Dreamweaver deletes the oldest steps.  The number of steps you need to save depends on how you like to work, but remember that saving these actions takes up memory.  If you'd like to increase or decrease the number of steps saved in the History panel, select Edit > Preferences and click on General in the Category list box.  In the Maximum Number Of History Steps text box, you can increase or decrease the number of steps to suit your needs.  When you're done, click OK to apply your changes.

Tip: Copying and pasting data from Microsoft Excel or Word into Dreamweaver MX 2004

  • Although you've always been able to paste information from Microsoft Office products into a Dreamweaver document, the HTML editor always lost the formatting.  However, in Dreamweaver MX 2004, you can maintain the formatting by using the Edit > Paste Formatted menu option.  Doing so not only inserts the formatted text but also creates a Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) style for the text.  This option even builds HTML tables from formatted Excel data.

Tip: Create quality images for the web

  • Images add flair and color to every site, but they can slow load times and hurt the overall appearance site if they're not optimized correctly. Here are a few tips for making better use of images on the web:
    • -Use the Optimize To Size function in Fireworks to automatically optimize an image; this will meet a target file size.
    • -Limit your use of dithering since it increases file size.
    • -GIFs are best for flat colors, such as logos. JPEGs are good for photo images. Keep in mind that you can use GIFs as thumbnails for JPEGs.
    • -Avoid ant aliasing text since this can increase file size and actually make text harder to read. Ant aliased edges add extra colors and make the image's size harder to reduce.
    • -Reduce an image's dimensions to decrease file size. Keep an image's resolution at 72 DPI, as the onscreen quality doesn't necessarily improve at higher resolutions.

Tip: Create a motion tween (Flash MX)

  • Motion tweens are simple effects that are fundamental to most Flash movies. They move objects in a given layer from one place to another and can display a surprising number of effects along the way. To create a motion tween:
    • 1. Create an object on a new layer.
    • 2. Select a later frame in the Timeline, right-click on it, and choose Insert Frame.
    • 3. Right-click on the last frame again and choose Create Motion Tween.
    • 4. Select the Selection Arrow tool, and then click and drag the object to its final position.
    • 5. Click [Enter] to test your work and watch the object move.

Tip: Moving a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation into Flash 5/MX

  • Although you can't import a PowerPoint presentation directly into Flash, it's possible to move it indirectly.  First, open the presentation in PowerPoint and choose File > Save As.  From the Save As Type pop-up menu, select Windows Metafile (*.WMF) (which saves the file in vector format).  Save all the slides and then open a Flash movie.  Click in the keyframe where you want the presentation to begin and choose file > Import.  Locate the first slide and click Open.  Flash then asks you if you'd like to import the entire sequence.  Click Yes and all the slides appear in your movie.  As an added bonus, you'll be able to edit all of the slide elements, since you imported them in vector format.

Tip: Keep your color scheme intact (Dreamweaver 4/MX)

  • When working on your site in Dreamweaver, it's a good idea to always have the Assets panel handy, if not for the convenience of having all of your common elements available, then simply to make sure you aren't straying away from your designed color scheme.
  • The colors tab, available when you choose Window > Assets and select the Colors palette by clicking the Colors button, stores only the colors currently used on your site.  As long as you define the color of elements only from this panel, you can always make sure you aren't introducing in variations that will mess up the color scheme that you worked so hard to get right.
  • If you want to create a set of colors specifically for a particular section of the site, you can add them to the Favorites section of the Assets panel.  Just select the color and click the Add To Favorites button at the bottom of the palette.

Tip: Customize your keyboard commands (Dreamweaver 4/MX)

  • Dreamweaver is a very extensible application, allowing you to customize menu items and adding commands and functions with just a little programming.  But you can save yourself time and make the application work for you better by crating your own custom key commands.  To do so, choose Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts.  Once the commands have loaded, you'll quickly see that you can not only create custom keyboard shortcuts but also complete sets of commands.  Furthermore, once you've created a set of key commands that you're satisfied with, you can share it with a friend or coworker.  Just go to the desktop and perform a search on the name of the keyboard shortcut list.  Once your operating system locates the file, which will have an .xml extension added to it, note the location of the file and have your friend copy the file to that location on his computer.  Also, to get a nicely formatted chart of the new commands, click the export Set As html button in  the keyboard Shortcuts dialog box.  The resulting file then displays all of your new commands.

Tip: Optimizing your tweens in Flash (5/MX)

  • When your creating tweens in Flash, you'll save yourself development and download time by using symbols rather than groups.  You must reference groups every time they play in the timeline, while you only need to download symbols once.  You also have the added benefit of being able to apply alpha and tint effects to symbols.

Tip: Get quick access to your Flash MX tools

  • Saving time is what it's all about when you're working in Flash.  After all, the more time you save doing routine things, the more time you have for designing cool stuff!  One of the simplest ways to save yourself a bit of time within Flash MX is to use keyboard shortcuts to select items from the Toolbox.  The shortcuts are visible in the ToolTips when you have the selection pointer over the tool, but for convenience sake, we've listed them here:
    • Arrow tool: V
    • Subselection tool: A
    • Line tool: N
    • Lasso tool: L
    • Pen tool: P
    • Text tool: T
    • Oval tool: O
    • Rectangle tool: R
    • Pencil tool: Y
    • Brush tool: B
    • Free Transform tool: Q
    • Fill Transform tool: F
    • Ink Bottle tool: S
    • Paint Bucket tool: K
    • Eyedropper tool: I
    • Eraser tool: E
    • Hand tool: H
    • Zoom tool: M,Z

Tip: Easy imports (Fireworks 4/MX)

  • When you choose File > Import, find the image you want, and click the Open button, the import pointer appears.  Normally, you'd just click anywhere on the canvas to import the picture.  However, if you do so, you may have to resize it.  To resize it automatically, just click and drag the area that you wish for the image to fill.  The area will be constrained proportionally with the image.  Once you've determined the correct size, Fireworks will instantly resize the image and place it on your canvas.

Tip: Save time editing within Studio MX

  • When you're working within any of the Studio MX applications and decide you need to alter something that came from another Studio MX application, just right-click on it ([control]-click on the Mac) and choose the appropriate Edit command from the contextual pop-up menu.  The application you chose opens with the element already in a window.  Just edit it and then click Done to return to the original Studio MX Application.  The newly edited element then appears in that application.

Tip: Fixing fuzzy fonts (Flash 5/MX)

  • If you've ever had problems with your fonts looking fuzzy when you export them, you know how their appearance can ruin an otherwise awe-inspiring Flash presentation.  To make sure they export correctly, choose View > Antialias Text when you're working in the Flash editor.  If the font appears jagged after, you'll know that it won't export properly.  In that case, you should consider another font.

Tip: Keep your movies lean by reusing symbols (Flash 5/MX)

  • When working in Flash, don't get in the habit of re-creating shapes whenever you need a variant of a current graphical symbol.  Instead, try to recycle the element whenever possible, thereby keeping the file size as small as possible.  Remember that you can use the symbol as many times as you like--even across movies.  If you need a different look for the item, simply alter the alpha, tint, and advance properties.

Tip: Quickly evaluate the bandwidth used by your movies (Flash 5/MX)

  • Before you pat yourself on the back for creating such a wonderful, energizing Flash movie, you better check the bandwidth.  After all, anyone can create a fabulous multimedia extravaganza if bandwidth isn't a concern.  To test the bandwidth needed for your file, save the movie, and then choose Control > Text Movie.  Then, once the movie's loaded choose View > Bandwidth Profiler.  Flash then displays the movie, along with a graphical representation of the bandwidth used (along with some other informative details).

Tip: Saving time by using the History panel (Dreamweaver 4/MX)

  • As a designer, it's important to use your time as efficiently as possible.  After all, you have many more fun things to do than push around pixels all day.  One of the best ways to save time is to reduce the amount of time you spend doing repetitive tasks.  If you're using Dreamweaver, you'll find that there's no better way to speed up these tasks than to use the History panel and its ability to save actions.
  • To display the history panel in Dreamweaver MX, choose Window > Others > History.  (In version 4, you display itby simply choosing Window > History.)  Once the panel is open, you'll notice all of your steps being recorded.  To repeat a series of steps, click on the step you wish to begin with and then [shift]-click on the last step.  Next, click the Replay button.  to play non-sequential steps, select the first step and then [command]-click ([Ctrl]-click in Windows) all the steps you wish to include.  Then, click the Replay button.
  • If you want to save the series of steps for later use, select the steps, click the Save Steps As A Command button, and name the group.  Once you click the OK button in the Save As Command dialog box, the steps will appear in the Commands menu.  Unfortunately, there are some actions, such as dragging and clicking, that you can't record.

Tip: Judiciously remove symbols (Flash 5/MX)

  • Normally, when working on a Flash presentation, you try several different graphic symbols along the way.  Problem is, you probably never remove the unused symbols from the file fearing that you'll accidentally delete a symbol that you have used.  to avoid this Flash faux pas, simply choose Select Unused Items from the Library palette's pop-up menu.  It will select only those symbols that weren't used so you can quickly delete them.

Tip: Display the values of a variable with the trace command (Flash 5/MX)

  • When you're working with Flash and expressions, you may find it necessary to follow along throughout the movie's progress.  To do so, use the trace command.  This simple yet powerful command allows you to display a variable, string, or  number whenever you need to determine its current value.  It also allows you to display a messages to other developers in the Output window when viewing the movie via the Test Movie command.  Since the command is internal, it doesn't make your SWF movie any larger and it doesn't appear in the completed results--just the development file.
  • For instance, if you want to determine the value of a variable you've named finalvalue, just use the following syntax within your script:
    • trace("The calculated value for the variable named finalvalue is"+finalvalue);
  • Since you can include text strings within the command, as the expression, you can also leave messages or status notices along the way.  For example, if you wanted to taunt your fellow developer, you could use the trace command in the following manner:
    • trace("Hey bozo....have I amazed you with my Flash prowess yet?")

Tip: Read the reference in Dreamweaver 4/MX

  • As a nice addition to Dreamweaver since version 4, Macromedia added the complete collection of O'Reilly Reference guides.  However, for those of us with old eyes, the type in the reference is pretty small.  Fortunately, you can enlarge both the palette and the text itself.  to enlarge the palette, all you have to do is drag it open as you would any other window.  Then, to enlarge the text, choose Large Font from the palette's pop-up menu.

Tip: Use Shortcut sets from other applications in Fireworks (4/MX)

  • Did you know that you can use the shortcut sets from other applications in Fireworks?  This is very handy for anyone who uses multiple image-editing applications and has become frustrated with trying to remember the nuances of each application.  By matching the keyboard shortcuts for an application you're comfortable with, you can work faster and more efficiently.  To change your shortcut set, select Edit > keyboard Shortcuts.  The current Set will be macromedia Standard, but you can change it to the shortcut sets of Illustrator, Photoshop, or FreeHand.  Once you've made your selection, click OK to apply it.

Tip: Make your animations match the Timeline in Flash (5/MX)

  • If you want your animations to synchronize with the main Timeline in your Flash movie, select the Sync check box on the Property inspector in MX (Synchronize check box on the Frame panel in version 5).  This option causes Flash to match the number of frames used in a tween to the space available in the Timeline and can help ensure proper playback for looping animations.

Tip: Tricks for duplicating your layers in Fireworks (4/MX)

  • Duplicating a layer in Fireworks is an easy way to re-create content without having to rebuild it.  There are three ways to copy a layer.  First, you can select the layer and choose Duplicate Layer from the Layers panel's menu to produce the Duplicate Layer dialog box.  here you can designate where Fireworks places the copied layer once it's created and how many copies to make.  Another quick way to duplicate a layer is to hold down [Alt] ([option] on the Mac) while dragging a layer, which keeps the original where it is while placing the duplicate wherever you choose.  The last way to duplicate a file is to drag it to the New/Duplicate Layer button on the Layers panel, which simply creates the copy and places it below the original.

Tip: Make a placeholder for your optional regions in Dreaweaver (MX)

  • When working with templates and optional regions in Dreamweaver, you may want to include an image placeholder to help the designers replace the content that matches the correct size and shape.  You can do this by placing your insertion point in the space you'd like the placeholder and select Insert > Image Placeholder.  The Image Placeholder dialog box opens, where you can enter a descriptive name, set your size requirements, give your placeholder a color, and set alternate text for those working in a coding environment.  Now your designers know exactly where to place images, and you maintain control over the presentation of your content.

Tip: Fireworks 4 users never fear! You can bring back your striped border in Fireworks MX!

  • While the integration of bitmap objects into the same editing environment was a big improvement in Fireworks MX, some users found it hard to differentiate between their imported bitmap images and what they created in Fireworks.  To help make the transition between versions, Macromedia provided a setting that brings the striped border back.  to activate it, select Edit > Preferences and click on the Editing tab.  Then, select the Display Striped Borders check box, click OK, and it will be just like old times.

Tip: Make a quick frame in Fireworks (4/MX)

  • Here's a way to make a quick frame border in Fireworks.  With the Marquee tool, draw a box to represent the inside edge of your frame.  Then, choose Select > Border marquee (Modify > Marquee > Border in version 4) and enter a value in pixels for the thickness of your frame in the Width text box.  After you click OK, you'll notice your frame in your workspace, but without any type of fill.  Select the fill of your choice, apply it to the new marquee, and you have a quick frame!

Tip: Checking for accessibility in your Fireworks files (MX)

  • One way to help make your Web files accessible to all users is to include ALT tag information.  An ALT tag provides descriptive textual information for images and should be included with most images you create in Fireworks.  To see if you've set the ALT tags in your Fireworks file, select Commands > Web > Set ALT Tags.  If Fireworks finds any, it will select the object and open a dialog box where you can assign your ALT text.  If it doesn't find any, Fireworks will give you a warning box with that message.  It's quick and easy and helps ensure that your files will be useful to everyone.

Tip: Adjust your spelling dictionary in Fireworks (MX)

  • Did you know that there's a dictionary and spell check feature in Fireworks?  You can check your work for spelling errors by selecting Text > Check Spelling, but what if the Fireworks dictionary isn't cutting if for you?  First, select Text > Spelling Setup to open the Spelling Setup dialog box.  Here you can change the dictionary being used, set spell check options, and add words to your personal dictionary.  If Fireworks thinks a word is spelled incorrectly but you know better, click the Edit Personal Dictionary button and enter the word in the Edit Personal Dictionary dialog box.  When you're done, click OK to educate Fireworks for future checks.

Tip: Erasing the entire Stage with two clicks in Flash (5/MX)

  • Sometimes, the shortest tips are the most valuable.  If you want to erase the entire Stage in Flash, simply double-click on the Eraser tool.  This erases all visible objects on the Stage, but keeps objects on hidden layers intact.

Tip: Improve your integration between Flash MX and FreeHand 10

  • Anyone who has used the Text Movie and SWF Preview features in FreeHand 10 can tell you that they weren't always reliable--causing frequent returns to Freehand to tweak a file after the the file was previewed in Flash.  Or, even worse, FreeHand would crash in the middle of an export, ruining both the exported version and the original.  Macromedia has released an updater that solves these problems and also adds the ability to save Tiled Fills in SWF files, a feature that could be useful for creating interesting vector art.  To get this updater, go to www.macromedia.com/support/frehand/updaters.html and download the Flash Export Xtra Update for Macromedia FreeHand 10.  Once downloaded, open the file to find the ReadMe file that explains the download procedure and goes into more detail about the benefits of the update.

Tip: Nothing's more pleasing than a motion tween with easing in Flash (5/MX)

  • In Flash, easing is the rate of change between tweened frames.  It's important because it can make your animations look more natural.  Imagine you have an animation of a rock rolling down a hill.  To make the rock move slower at first and then accelerate at the end of the animation, for your motion tween you'd enter a negative value in the Easing text box in the Frame panel.  If your rock was rolling uphill, you'd enter a positive number to make the animation start fast but slow down at the end.

Tip: Use distribution to organize your Flash MX objects

  • You can easily organize multiple objects in your Flash file into individual layers by using the Distribute To Layers feature in Flash MX.  To do so, select the multiple objects you'd like to distribute on the Stage and then choose Modify > Distribute To Layers.  Your objects then separate into layers named for the content they contain,  For instance, a text block containing the word "Online" would yield a layer name Online.  this helps you further organize the layers in your Flash movie.

Tip: Resizing on the smallest scale in Dreamweaver (MX)

  • Dreamweaver only allows you to resize an image visually to 8 pixels by 8 pixels.  If you need something smaller than that, perhaps for a 1-x1-pixel placeholder, you have to use the Properties inspector to enter a numeric value.  If you've resized an image beyond the limit and want to start over, click the Reset Size button in the Properties inspector to return it to its normal size.

Tip: Save space with a smaller Timeline in Flash (MX for Windows)

  • If you use a lot of ActionScript and don't need to see the entire expanse of the Timeline, here's a configuration idea for you.  Click on the Timeline's control bar and drag it into the Stage area.  The Timeline compacts into a single column, but it's still attached to the Stage area.  Now you can compact the size of both the Stage and the Timeline and make more space for your line of script.

Tip: Set your Connection Speed to better gauge download times in Dreamweaver (4/MX)

  • Dreamweaver can estimate the download times for your Web pages, but the default connection value is the quickly fleeting standard of 28.8 Kbps.  To adjust this value to reflect faster connections, you'll need to set the connection speed to suit your needs.  To do this, open the Preferences dialog box by selecting File > Preferences (Dreamweaver > Preferences on Mac OS X), and then select the Status Bar option from the Category list box on the left.  next, select the appropriate value from the Connection Speed dropdown list and click OK.  Now Dreamweaver can calculate information that's more useful to you as you design your Web pages.

Tip: Save space with a smaller Timeline in Flash (MX for Windows)

  • If you use a lot of ActionScript and don't need to see the entire expanse of the Timeline, here's a configuration idea for you.  Click on the Timeline's control bar and drag it into the Stage area.  the Timeline compacts into a single column, but it's still attached to the Stage area.  Now you can compact the size of both the Stage and the Timeline and make more space for your line of script.

Tip: Stop sounds in their tracks in Flash (5/MX)

  • While you may have taken a great deal of time planning the perfect soundtrack for your Flash movie, your users might want to skip the music and concentrate on your visual content.  This is why it's always good practice to allow the user to stop the sounds in the movie.  To accomplish this, create a button and open the Actions panel (Object Actions on the Mac).  Then, select Stop All Sounds from the Movie Control collection (select Stop All Sounds from the Basic Actions collection in version 50.  Next, select your mouse event and save your file.  The nice thing about this technique is that it stops all sounds currently playing in a movie without stopping the playhead, so your movie continues to play normally.

Tip: Give your layers a new look in Flash (5/MX)

  • Flash makes it easy to change the appearance of your layers and help you organize them according to your own style.  First, you need to access the layer Properties dialog box by selecting your layer and choosing Modify > Layer.  Here you can change the Outline Color of your layer, have Flash display it as an outline only, or change the height to better fit your content.  The latter option is useful when working with audio files, as you can make the layer taller and better see your waveform.

Tip: Bookmark Flash content in an IE browser (5/MX)

  • Book marking Flash content can be tricky.  However, if you ask for a little user intervention, you can add this feature easily.  Create a button that will be used as your trigger for the bookmark and add this script to the button symbol:
    • on(release){
    • getURL("javascript:window.external.AddFavorite=> ('http://www.businesswebsitelinks.com',=>'Business Website Links Home Page');");
    • }
  • This script brings up the Add Favorite window in Microsoft Internet Explorer 4+.  You can customize the script by changing the URL and page title contained in the parentheses.

Tip: Correctly orienting your symbols in Flash (5/MX)

  • When you convert an object to a symbol in Flash, you have the option to adjust the orientation by using the Registration option.  This sets the registration point--where your symbol will line up when you place it on the Stage.  The position of your registration point determines your options for transforming, aligning, and rotating your symbol.  The default is a center registration, but you can select from nine total registration points using the boxes in the Registration square when you first create the symbol.  If you need to change your registration point after you produce the symbol, open the symbol in Edit mode and then drag your symbol to position the crosshairs in the location of your new registration point.

Tip: Three ways to edit symbols in Flash (5/MX)

  • There are three ways you can edit symbols in Flash.  First, you can edit the symbol where Flash placed it by selecting it and choosing Edit > Edit In Place.  this is your best bet for making minor changes in your symbol design.  Your next option is to edit the symbol in a separate window by right-clicking ([control]-clicking on the Mac), and choosing Edit in New Window from the shortcut menu.  This is useful if you want to avoid the clutter of your main Flash movie.  Finally, you can edit your symbol in symbol-editing mode by selecting it on the Stage and choosing Edit > Edit Symbols.  This is your best choice for editing interactive elements such as buttons or navigation bars.

Tip: It takes two to break apart your text in Flash (5/MX)

  • When breaking apart a line of text, it's best to break it up twice if your goal is vector shapes.  Select your text and choose Modify > Break Apart.  Applying this command once only breaks up the letters into individual text blocks, so to complete the process you'll need to select the Break Apart command once more.  But here's the tricky part:  You can only reliably break apart True Type fonts in Windows and PostScript fonts on the Mac.  Bitmap fonts have a tendency to disappear if you break them apart, so you'll have to stick to the font outlines in that case.

Tip: Optimize your Library items in Flash

  • Here's a quick way to trim your Flash file of unused Library items.  Open the Library (Window > Library) and access its dropdown option menu.  Choose Select Unused Items to highlight the offenders and then delete them by pressing [Delete].  If you want to view how many times your active Library items are used, open the menu again and select Update Use Counts now.  This can be very useful when trying to optimize your file to see areas where you can combine Library items to produce a more streamlined Flash movie.

Tip: Make your cursors precise for drawing in Flash (5/MX)

  • Most people think of Flash as a scripting environment, but it's also a decent vector illustration tool.  If you plan on doing a lot of drawing in Flash, you'll want to consider changing your cursor preference to Show Precise Cursors.  This changes the cursor to crosshairs when you select the Pen tool, which makes it easier to draw and edit precise points in your vector illustrations.  To change this preference, select Edit > Preferences and select the Show Precise Cursors check box on the Editing tab.

Tip: Altering an existing style in Fireworks 4/MX

  • If you generally like a style in Fireworks but want to alter it to match your own taste, there's a way to change it without losing the original.  Create an object and apply the original style to it.   Then, alter the style to suit your needs.  When you're done, click the New Style button in the Styles panel and give it a new name.  Click OK and both the old and the new styles are now saved.

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