While symbols let you reuse images and series of
let you reuse entire Flash documents.
Templates are useful when you find yourself cranking out animations that look and behave similarly. For example, say you create marketing animations for display on your corporate Web site. You may find that your animations share a lot of the same elements: your company's logo somewhere on the background, a copyright notice, the same sound clips of your CEO speaking, the same
palette, the same
Stage, and the same intro and credit scenes.
Using a template, you can create all these basic elements just once. Then, the
time you're tapped to do a marketing spot, you can load the template and just add the new content you need. You've not only saved yourself a lot of time, but you've also ensured consistency among your animations (highly important in certain corporate circles).
In this section, you see how to create and use your own templates. You also see how to take advantage of Flash's prebuilt templates.
7.2.1. Using a Prebuilt Template
Flash comes with a bunch of templates all ready for you to customize. While they're obviously not specific to your particular company or project, they
save you time on a lot of basic animations, including banner ads, slideshows, and presentations. Here's a quick rundown of the templates you find in Flash (Figure 7-23):
. Pop-up, skyscraper (skinny vertical), banner (skinny horizontal), and full-page ads.
. Data input forms that you need to hook up to a server on the back end.
for certain (Symbian) phones.
. Stages targeted for Japanese phones.
. Stages targeted for Nokia, Motorola, Sony, and other personal digital assistants (handhelds).
. For Flash animations showing drawings or bitmaps overlaid with Forward and Back controls.
. Automatic (
) slideshows, similar to PowerPoint presentations.
. Simplified data input forms that let your audience page through multiple screens and answer yes/no questions.
. Similar to Photo Slideshows, but with nontraditional
Flash's templates are useful
you can figure out what they're supposed to do and how to customize them. To see what few hints the Help system offers, select Help
Flash Help, and then, in the window that appears, type
and click Search. A better option: Check out one of the Flash developer support sites listed in the Appendix.
To use one of the prebuilt templates that come with Flash:
The New Document window appears.
In the New Document window, click the Templates tab
The New from Template window in Figure 7-23 appears.
Figure 7-23. Flash offers a ton of templates you can use to jump-start the animation process. They don't come with descriptions or instructions, but hints are included in each template file itself. In this section, you see how to customize the Photo Slideshow template to create a spiffy slideshow in just a couple of minutes.
In the Category box, click to select Photo Slideshows
Modern Photo Slideshow appears selected in the Templates box. You see a thumbnail of the first keyframe in the preview window and, below the preview window, a short description of this template.
Flash opens the Modern Photo Slideshow (Figure 7-24).
Figure 7-24. Clicking the bottom of the Timeline and dragging downward expands the Timeline so you can see all the
. Other than a few vague hints in the Flash Help, these layer
are your only clues for understanding what you need to do to customize this template.
Test Movie to preview the template. Its always a good idea to preview a template before you begin to customize it
A test window similar to the one in Figure 7-25 appears.
Figure 7-25. Notice the title (My Photo Album), the screen number (1 of 4), the photo itself (an ocean cliff), and the caption ("The elegant seashore"). You can customize all these items while keeping the nifty controller that lets you scroll forward and back through the photos.
In the test window, select File
The test file
, and Flash returns you to the template workspace.
Next, change the title of the slideshow.
Change the title of the slideshow. To do so
On the Timeline, click to select the first keyframe in the Title, Date layer
On the Stage, you see a selection box around the text "My Photo Album" (Figure 7-26).
Click the text box, and then replace "My Photo Album" by typing
Next, replace the photos that appear in the slideshow.
Click the first keyframe in the layer named "picture layer". On the Stage, click the photo to select it and then choose Edit
The photo disappears.
Click the Oval tool; then click the Stage and drag your cursor to create a red circle
This example shows a circle for simplicity's sake in demonstrating the Modern Photo Slideshow template, but after reading Chapter 8 you may prefer to add a scanned-in photo of your own to the Stage (Section 8.1).
Figure 7-26. This template was set up to make customization easy: Its
placed every element you can editfrom the slideshow title to the caption for each pictureon its own separate, appropriately named layer.
Repeat the previous step for the second and third keyframes of the picture layer
Insert a square and a star, respectively. There's one more keyframe, which you're going to remove.
Click the fourth keyframe of the picture layer. On the Stage, right-click the photo and then, from the pop-up menu that appears, select Cut
the solid black dot that indicates a filled keyframe and
it with a hollow dot that indicates an empty keyframe.
Next, change the captions for your three new images.
Click the first keyframe in the layer named Captions
On the Stage, a selection box appears around the text "The elegant seashore". (You may need to scroll down the Stage to see the text.)
Click the text box and then replace "The elegant seashore" by typing
Repeat Steps 10 and 11 for the second and third keyframes of the Captions layer, replacing the existing captions with
On the Timeline, click to select the fourth frame in the "_actions layer". Then Shift-click in the fourth frame of the "picture layer"
Flash highlights the fourth frame of all seven layers, as shown in Figure 7-27.
Right-click the selected frames and then, from the pop-up menu that appears, select Remove Frames
Flash deletes the fourth frame of every layer.
Test your customized template by selecting Control
You should see something similar to Figure 7-28.
Figure 7-27. This template displays the slide number (1 of 4, 2 of 4, 3 of 4, and so on) based on how many frames the Timeline contains. So because in this example you're only replacing content for three of the frames, you want to remove the fourth frame of each layer so that the template (technically, the template's ActionScript code) can calculate and display the correct number of frames.
Figure 7-28. Note the changes you made: the title (now Custom Slideshow), the number of pages (now 1 of 3), the content of the frame itself (a basic circle), and the caption (Circle). When you click the Next button, you step through your remaining frames containing the square and the star. You've got a professional-looking, fully functional, completely customized slideshowall for just a few minutes' effort. That is the power of templates.
7.2.2. Creating and Using Your Own Custom Template
You create a custom template the same way you create a regular Flash document with one exception, as you see in the steps below.
To create a custom template:
Create a new Flash document. Add to it the images, frames, and layers you want your template to have
Because you know you (or your colleagues) will be reusing this template, you need to think about reuse as you're deciding which graphic elements and effects to add. The box on Section 7.2.2 gives you some ideas.
Building a Better Template
Sometimes, you'll find yourself creating a template almost by
. For example, imagine that you're hard at work on one animation when your boss comes in, peeks over your shoulder, and
you to create another one "just like that one" for another client. Choose File
Save As Template, continue with the instructions you find on Section 7.2.2, and youre on your way.
But if you know
that you're creating a template, you can plan for reuse. And planning always results in a more useful template. Here are a few planning tips for creating a template you'll use over and over again:
Include only reusable stuff
. If you save a working animation as a template (complete with company-specific elements), you'll need to delete any unusable elements each time you reuse the template. Consider up front which elements apply across the board, and include only those in your template.
. Giving your layers meaningful names that describe what each layer contains (such as actions, sounds, background, buttons, and so on) is always a good idea. But it's even more important when you're creating a template, because it gives you (or your colleague, or whoever's reusing the template two weeks from now) an easy way to find and change the elements that need to be changed.
Document, document, document
. Have pity on the person who
to reuse your template a month from now, and tell him up front what the template's for (a product demonstration combined with an order form, for example) and what needs to be changed (the company logo, demo movie clip, and three form fields). The quickie description you type when you create your template (below) is rarely enough. Instead, attach a script to the first frame and use ActionScript comments to document the template. Orbetter yetadd documentation text to the first frame, where the person reusing your template can't
it (but can easily delete it before
the template into action).
Save your template. To do so, choose File
Save As Template
The Save As Template window in Figure 7-29 appears, complete with a thumbnail preview of the first keyframe of your template.
In the Name field, type a short, descriptive name for your template. Then, from the Category pop-up menu, choose a category
The categories listed are the same categories you see when you use one of Flash's built-in templates: Advertising, Form Applications, Global Phones, Japanese Phones, PDAs, Photo Slideshows, Presentations, Quiz, and Slide Presentations. If none of these categories seems appropriate for your template, you can type your own category into the Category box.
In the Description box, type a complete,
description of your template and then click Save
Flash saves your document as a template.
You use a custom template the same way you use one of Flash's prebuilt templates. To use (
) a custom template:
The New Document window appears.
Figure 7-29. Choosing File
Save As Template displays the window you see here, which lets you type a name (not a file name, but an actual
name), a category (to let you
your templates), and a description (to help
you which features you added to this template and which situations its most appropriate for). Be sure to add as complete a description as you can in the 255
Flash gives you. The few minutes you
now will pay off in the future, when you don't have to keep opening the template over and over again just to remind yourself what it does.
In the New Document window, click the Templates tab
Your custom template appears in the "New from Template" window listed in the category you selected for it in step 5 above. Figure 7-30 shows you an example.
Figure 7-30. The next time you go to open a template, you see your template listed in the category you selected for it, complete with a preview and the description you typed in when you saved it. Click OK to create a document from this template just as though it were one of Flash's prebuilt templates.