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By: Ashton Sanders

ActionScript – this

Apr 15 2007

Filed under: Flash ActionScript

This ActionScript/Flash Tutorial is like all of my tutorials, quick and to the point. I hope I don’t type too fast for you. ;)

Using “this” in Flash/ActionScript

The “this” command/function is an extremely useful one. It makes it easy to use relative paths (as opposed to absolute).

Here is what the Adobe Dictionary says about “this”:

Keyword; references an object or movie clip instance. When a script executes, this references the movie clip instance that contains the script. When a method is called, this contains a reference to the object that contains the called method.

Inside an on event handler action attached to a button, this refers to the Timeline that contains the button. Inside an onClipEvent event handler action attached to a movie clip, this refers to the Timeline of the movie clip itself.

To put that into English:

If you have a movie clip, and your “on (press)” statement is:

//On Press, the button will disappear.
on (press){
this._visible = 0

This will work no matter how many levels deep into the movie you move this movie clip. “This” calls the path to that movie clip. So if your movie clip is named “mcbutton”, and it’s placed on the root of your movie:

on (press){
// Returns: “_level0.mcbutton”

That is a very useful piece of ActionScript to know, as you will end up using that in every movie you make. basically the same thing as _root. A more extensive definition will come soon.

Another Note about “this”

If the above example was done with a button instead of a movie clip, the trace(); would return “_level0″

-”Flash is by far my favorite computer program.”
-Ashton Sanders

By: Ashton Sanders

ActionScript Basics – Structure

Apr 13 2007

Filed under: Flash ActionScript

My Last Post discussed ActionScript Variables. Now I’m going to do a quick run down about ActionScript Structure.

You will notice that many different programming languages have a similar format. PHP and ActionScript, for example, have a very similar syntax. A lot of functions are written exactly the same for both of them. There is one very unique thing about ActionScript: Symbols can be inside Symbols inside Symbols inside Symbols. (A symbol is either a Graphic, Movie Clip or Button. F8 will turn the selected items into a symbol of your choice.)

This structure is very useful for animating in Flash (and a lot more). You can also store variables within movie clips. Lets say you had a movie clip called “ball”.

//This is programmed onto the first frame of your movie.

x = 3;
ball.x = 4;

That code will store two different variables. Even though the variables have the same name, they are located in different places, so the second variable wouldn’t overwrite the first one.

-Yes, this is very basic.
-Ashton Sanders

By: Ashton Sanders

ActionScript Basics – Variables

Apr 13 2007

Filed under: Flash ActionScript

This post is about variables in AcrionScript (the programming language for Macromedia/Adobe Flash).

ActionScript Basics

Some very quick basics

// <- These two slashes are a comment.
// Everything after a comment on that line
// will not be processed by Flash


Varbiable Basics

What is a variable? A variable is group of numbers and letters or one letter that will store an amount, a string or a true/false statement. A variable cannot start with a number.

// This Creates the variable “x” and
// gives it the numeric value of 4
x = 4;

// trace() will display whatever you put
// between the “(” and “)”.

// That will display: 4

In this example, the numeric value of “4″ was stored in the variable “x”. Here is another example:

number = “4″;

// 4

These last two examples were very similar, but notice that the variable (number) was given the value of “4″ (with quotes around it). The quotes changed the value of the variable from a numeric value to a string. A string is just a group of number, letters, symbols, etc. defined with quotes.

statement = “Here’s a statement for you”;

// Here’s a statement for you

As I mentioned above, you can give a variable a numeric, string or true/false value. This third value type is called a Boolean value. A boolean value is either yes/no, true/false, 1/0, on/off, etc. In Action Script, you can assign them with either true/false or 1/0.

go = true;

// true

That is a quick summary of how to declare variables the shorthand way in ActionScript. My next posts will be along these same lines, so if you are hungry for more, check out my other ActionScript Posts them out.

If you have any questions, or if I was unclear at any part, feel free to leave a comment, and I’ll get it fixed up for you.

-Until Then,
-Ashton Sanders

By: Ashton Sanders

Tutorial – Flash ActionScript – Advanced Path

Mar 19 2007

Filed under: Flash ActionScript

Yesterday, I learned how to do two advanced things with paths in Flash ActionScript.

For an introduction, I’m creating a flash animation that will calculate a loan. What many people don’t know about loans is that someone can choose to decrease the rate on their loan in exchange for increased closing costs. I’m making a Flash Animation that will allow you to do that. It will also allow you to select different types of loans, (which will change your interest rate, and closing costs).

In this Flash Animation, I had an ActionScript function that was called from many different movies, and I need to use a lot of variables to make sure it reacted differently to every request.

Here are the things I learned:

Creating Variables From Paths

My ActionScript Function call was simple.

On (rollover) {

Then all I needed to to was take the path to “this” and break it up into variables so that my Flash ActionScript will be able to do different things for each request. This seemed simple enough, I thought I could use the ActionScript Function split(.) to break apart the path into 4 different variables and thus allow me to do different things for each request. Unfortunately, what is returned by “this” is not a string so you can’t split it… or do anything else that would work on a string. But you can do this:

path2 = path._parent._parent._name;
path3 = path._parent._name;
path4 = path._name;

And that will give you the name of every Flash Movie Clip in your path in the form of a string! That is a very useful Flash Action Script technique, but it lead me to the next problem:

Using Variables in Paths:

Lets say that within your Flash Animation you have movieClipB inside of movieClipA. You also have a variable in movieClipB called “num”;

The ActionScript path to reach var num from the root is:


But what if you need to use a variable in a path. (This could occur if you have multiple movies all using the same function.)I thought this would work.. but it doesn’t:

path1 = “movieClipA”;

But the above ActionScript does NOT work. However this does work:

movieroot = “_root”;
path1 = “movieClipA”;

That is how you use variables in a path!

By: Ashton Sanders

Tutorial – Flash ActionScript – Path

Mar 17 2007

Filed under: Flash ActionScript

Animating with Flash is great! It’s the most fun you can have while making a website. But a flash animation doesn’t become interactive without ActionScript.

ActionScript Allows you to send orders to many different sections of your flash animation. Any Flash Animation can have hundreds of different movie clips graphics and buttons. A Flash Movie Clip, Flash graphic or Flash button can be within other Flash Movie Clips or graphics. This Can create a very complicated system of Flash Graphics, Movie Clips and Buttons.

If you look at it like a folder system, it becomes easier to understand. Lets Say movieClipA and movieClipB are inside movieClipC (And those are their names respectively.) This is what the hierarchy would look like:

  • movieClipC
    • movieClipA
    • movieClipB

To send an order to movieClipB (like to stop) this would be your command:


What is this “_root.” thing?
This first section is where you are starting the command at. “_root.” tells the command to go to the very first level of your flash movie. To compare this to a Windows machine, this is like telling your computer to go all the way back to “C:\”. Then we have the name of the first movie (movieClipC), and then the name of the second movie (movieClipB). Then Finally we have the command to stop (stop();).

More to come soon,
-Ashton Sanders

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