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Flash 101 (part 2): Lights, Camera, Flash!
Export and embed your Flash movies to the Web.

| Speaking In Symbols |

One of the most interesting things about Flash is its use of "symbols".

In Flash jargon, a symbol is an object which can be re-used over and over again at different points in your movie. Each "instance" of the symbol can be manipulated independent of the original symbol, and of other instances of the same symbol in the movie - however, since you're using instances of the same symbol over and over again, the size of your Flash file remains unaffected.

In other words, symbols are a Good Thing and should be used wherever possible - especially if you find yourself using the same object(s) over and over again in a single movie.

A symbol can be of three types - graphic, button or movie clip. For the moment, I'll be dealing only with graphic symbols - the others will be covered as we progress through this tutorial.

Once a symbol is created (I'll be showing you how to do that as well in a bit), you can edit it, just as you would any other object, or create multiple instances of it for use in your movie. You can manipulate instances of a particular symbol without affecting the parent symbol; however, changes made to the parent symbol will affect child instances.

You can create as many symbols as you like for a single Flash movie - and Flash even offers you a mechanism to store and view all the symbols available in the current movie through its Library tool. The Library can be activated via the Window->Library menu, or with the keyboard shortcut Ctrl-L.

Output image

The Library allows you to preview each symbol, and can provide you with information on the symbol name and type, the number of times the symbol has been used so far, and the date on which it was last edited. It also allows you to categorize symbols into folders for easy access, in a manner similar to the Windows Explorer. Libraries can be shared between different Flash movies, and Flash also comes with a number of built-in libraries containing frequently-used symbols.


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