Timelines and ActionScript

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With ActionScript®, you can control the Timeline at runtime. Using ActionScript allows you to create interaction and other capabilities in your FLA files that is not possible with the Timeline alone.

With ActionScript®, you can control the Timeline at runtime. Using ActionScript allows you to create interaction and other capabilities in your FLA files that is not possible with the Timeline alone.

See the discussion of timelines and ActionScript in web Help to learn about controlling the Timeline with ActionScript.

Absolute paths

An absolute path starts with the name of the level into which the document is loaded and continues through the display list until it reaches the target instance. You can also use the alias _root to refer to the topmost Timeline of the current level. For example, an action in the movie clip california that refers to the movie clip oregon could use the absolute path _root.westCoast.oregon.

The first document to open in Flash Player is loaded at level 0. You must assign each additional loaded document a level number. When you use an absolute reference in ActionScript to reference a loaded document, use the form _levelX, where X is the level number into which the document is loaded. For example, the first document that opens in Flash Player is called _level0; a document loaded into level 3 is called _level3.

To communicate between documents on different levels, you must use the level name in the target path. The following example shows how the portland instance would address the atlanta instance located in a movie clip called georgia (georgia is at the same level as oregon):

_level5.georgia.atlanta

You can use the _root alias to refer to the main Timeline of the current level. For the main Timeline, the _root alias stands for _level0 when targeted by a movie clip also on _level0. For a document loaded into _level5, _root is equal to _level5 when targeted by a movie clip also on level 5. For example, if the movie clips southcarolina and florida are both loaded into the same level, an action called from the instance southcarolina could use the following absolute path to target the instance florida:

_root.eastCoast.florida

Relative paths

A relative path depends on the relationship between the controlling Timeline and the target Timeline. Relative paths can address targets only within their own level of Flash Player. For example, you can’t use a relative path in an action on _level0 that targets a Timeline on _level5.

In a relative path, use the keyword this to refer to the current Timeline in the current level; use the _parent alias to indicate the parent Timeline of the current Timeline. You can use the _parent alias repeatedly to go up one level in the movie clip hierarchy within the same level of Flash Player. For example, _parent._parent controls a movie clip up two levels in the hierarchy. The topmost Timeline at any level in Flash Player is the only Timeline with a _parent value that is undefined.

An action in the Timeline of the instance charleston, located one level below southcarolina, could use the following target path to target the instance southcarolina:

_parent

To target the instance eastCoast (one level up) from an action in charleston, you could use the following relative path:

_parent._parent

To target the instance atlanta from an action in the Timeline of charleston, you could use the following relative path:

_parent._parent.georgia.atlanta

Relative paths are useful for reusing scripts. For example, you could attach the following script to a movie clip that magnifies its parent by 150%:

onClipEvent (load) {    _parent._xscale 
= 150;    _parent._yscale = 150; 
}

You can reuse this script by attaching it to any movie clip instance.

Note:

Flash Lite 1.0 and 1.1 support attaching scripts only to buttons. Attaching scripts to movie clips is not supported.

Whether you use an absolute or a relative path, you identify a variable in a Timeline or a property of an object with a dot (.) followed by the name of the variable or property. For example, the following statement sets the variable name in the instance form to the value "Gilbert":

_root.form.name = "Gilbert";

Using absolute and relative target paths

You can use ActionScript to send messages from one timeline to another. The timeline that contains the action is called the controlling timeline, and the timeline that receives the action is called the target timeline. For example, there could be an action on the last frame of one timeline that tells another timeline to play. To refer to a target timeline, you must use a target path, which indicates the location of a movie clip in the display list.

The following example shows the hierarchy of a document named westCoast on level 0, which contains three movie clips: california, oregon, and washington. Each of these movie clips in turn contains two movie clips.

_level0 
        westCoast 
                california 
                        sanfrancisco 
                        bakersfield 
                oregon 
                        portland 
                        ashland 
                washington 
                        olympia 
                        ellensburg

As on a web server, each timeline in Animate can be addressed in two ways: with an absolute path or with a relative path. The absolute path of an instance is always a full path from a level name, regardless of which timeline calls the action; for example, the absolute path to the instance california is _level0.westCoast.california. A relative path is different when called from different locations; for example, the relative path to california from sanfrancisco is _parent, but from portland, it’s _parent._parent.california.

Specify target paths

To control a movie clip, loaded SWF file, or button, you must specify a target path. You can specify it manually, or by using the Insert Target Path dialog box, or by creating an expression that evaluates to a target path. To specify a target path for a movie clip or button, you must assign an instance name to the movie clip or button. A loaded document doesn’t require an instance name, because you use its level number as an instance name (for example, _level5).

Assign an instance name to a movie clip or button

  1. Select a movie clip or button on the Stage.
  2. Enter an instance name in the Property inspector.

Specify a target path using the Insert Target Path dialog box

  1. Select the movie clip, frame, or button instance to which you want to assign the action.

    This becomes the controlling Timeline.

  2. In the Actions panel (Window > Actions), go to the Actions toolbox on the left, and select an action or method that requires a target path.
  3. Click the parameter box or location in the script where you want to insert the target path.
  4. Click the Insert Target Path button  above the Script pane.
  5. Select Absolute or Relative for the target path mode.
  6. Select a movie clip in the Insert Target Path display list, and click OK.

Specify a target path manually

  1. Select the movie clip, frame, or button instance to which you want to assign the action.

    This becomes the controlling Timeline.

  2. In the Actions panel (Window > Actions), go to the Actions toolbox on the left, and select an action or method that requires a target path.
  3. Click the parameter box or location in the script where you want to insert the target path.
  4. Enter an absolute or relative target path in the Actions panel.

Use an expression as a target path

  1. Select the movie clip, frame, or button instance to which you want to assign the action.

    This becomes the controlling Timeline.

  2. In the Actions panel (Window > Actions), go to the Actions toolbox on the left, and select an action or method that requires a target path.
  3. Do one of the following:
    • Enter an expression that evaluates to a target path in a parameter box.

    • Click to place the insertion point in the script. Then, in the Functions category of the Actions toolbox, double-click the targetPath function. The targetPath function converts a reference to a movie clip into a string.

    • Click to place the insertion point in the script. Then, in the Functions category of the Actions toolbox, select the eval function. The eval function converts a string to a movie clip reference that can be used to call methods such as play.

      The following script assigns the value 1 to the variable i. It then uses the eval function to create a reference to a movie clip instance and assigns it to the variable x. The variable x is now a reference to a movie clip instance and can call the MovieClip object methods.

      i = 1; x = eval("mc"+i); x.play(); // this is equivalent to mc1.play();

      You can also use the eval function to call methods directly, as shown in the following example:

      eval("mc" + i).play();
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