When used well, Flash adds an element of entertainment and interaction that can make your site more enjoyable and intuitive to use, as well as helping to create a strong visual identity. But used badly, it will send your visitors running away.
Fortunately, our colleagues over on .net magazine and Computer Arts magazine know how to get the very best from Flash without wasting time and effort.
Here are 10 Flash guides from .net and Computer Arts that we reckon will improve a wide range of sites - whether it's a home page hobby or a corporate project.
The full tutorials, along with all the support files, are available from the links below.
1. Styling with CSS and Flash
In Flash Player 7 and above you can embed a variety of image formats such as JPEG, GIF and PNG, plus SWF files and movie clips. Text will even wrap around images in the same way it does on a regular HTML page. The crisp, clean and elegantly styled text that Flash produces can now be dynamically loaded into Flash, formatted with HTML, then styled with an external Cascading Style Sheet (CSS). The latter can be used to group style rules, which can be applied to HTML or XML elements.
Read Styling with CSS and Flash
2. Create user-activated animations
Flash comes equipped with a set of powerful filters that can add excitement and an animated punch to your Flash work. In this tutorial you'll learn how to use filters to create animated Flash neon-style graphics. You'll then add some code to make them user-initiated. Finally, a very simple masking technique will create an effective site opener.
Read Create user-activated animations
3. Create interactive characters in Flash
Flash makes it possible to take your characters to the next level, with fluid animation and interactivity that enables you to fully engage with your characters and really grab the attention of your audience. This guide takes one the author's Swinging Seesaw characters and uses the power of Flash to create a small animated scene in which the character's gaze reacts to your cursor movement.
Read Create Interactive characters in Flash
4. Create a Cover Flow-style menu
Create a cool menu for your website in under half an hour using Flash's clever IgalleryX component. The component is called IgalleryX and there are two versions of it: a pure component version for AS2 - available from Flash Den for only a tenner - and a completely open source version for AS3. This guide uses AS2.
Read Create a Cover Flow-style menu
5. Create a video chapter menu
Avoid clumsy YouTube content by adding a DVD-style chapter navigation system to your site. This Flash tutorial will show you how to create a DVD-style chapter navigation system for streaming FLVs. It uses a simple bit of code, some ingenuity for creating buttons and an interface that will appeal to visitors and really help to sell your content.
Read Create a video chapter menu
6. Add music to your website
Looking to add audio to a site? The problem with audio and Flash is that if you simply embed a sound file into your output SWF, it will bloat enormously. But don't worry, there's a great way to get around this. You take a WAV audio file, turn it into an MP3, and make sure it loads in and plays by using ActionScript to link it to a Flash movie.
Read Add music to your website
7. Build a Flash MP3 interface
Using a bit of ActionScript and XML you can create a stereophonic playground. These MP3s can be safely left to their own devices without screaming too loud, getting out of order or losing their name tags. You can even choose to stop them in their tracks should you feel the urge.
This guide shows you how to set up a file that provides the basis for a whole host of updatable Flash solutions and use old favourites like 'startDrag' to make a tactile and efficient volume slider.
Read Build a Flash MP3 interface
8. Build an animated viral game
Flash games are easy to build and are particularly effective as pieces of viral marketing. A good interactive game with a high-score board will spread round an office quickly, before being emailed to groups of friends or highlighted on social networking sites such as Facebook. This tutorial shows you how to create a Flash game, called Cover Creator, where you can create a fantasy magazine cover using a number of different graphical elements.
Read Create an animated viral game
9. Create quirky banner ads
This project demonstrates the techniques needed for making an ad that moves across the three standard advertising units found on the internet: the leader board, skyscraper and MPU (Message Plus Unit or Mid Page Unit).
Read Create quirky banner ads
10. Make animated Flash stickers
In the real world, people put stickers on things to send out messages and to grab the attention of passers-by, so why not try doing something similar using Flash animation? In this short tutorial you'll be creating an animation that features a vector graphic (which can be replaced with one of your own choice) that's peeled off the screen just like a vinyl sticker.
Read Make animated Flash stickers
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