Tip of the Day – Using interactive assets from Flash in Flex

So for the most part… up to this point I haven’t really needed to use extensive Flash animations within Flex. I mean like most people, I’ve embedded swf assets into my Flex application by using the [Embed] metadata tag. However, using the Embed metadata tag, in my opinion, is for static assets or simple animations… you know… images, animation only swfs, fonts, etc…

Today I found a cool button that I wanted to use in my Flex application.

The button (roll your mouse over me):

Get Adobe Flash player

The thing about this button is that it has complex roll over and roll out animations. Of course we could create the same thing within Flex using an ActionScript tween class… but some things are better left to the Flash timeline.

So how do we get our button into Flex, with all of its animation and interactivity intact? The answer, my friends, is to use Adobe’s Flex Component Kit.

Doing some research online, it’s not really clear where to get it, or how to use it. According to labs, it’s released within Flex 3… but I don’t have a clue where. So we’re going to do this my way…

Step 1 : Install Adobe Extension Manager 2.1

Obviously, you can skip this step if you already have Extension Manager 2.1 installed.

If you didn’t install the Adobe Extension Manager when you installed your copy of CS4, you can download it here —> Download Adobe Extension Manager

If you already had Adobe Extension Manager installed… just be sure it has been updated to version 2.1.

Download and open up Setup.app
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Click Next
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Let it run
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You’re welcome Adobe
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Extension Manager > About Extension Manager
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Says 2.1… cool, we’re ready to move on to step 2.

Step 2 : Install the Flex Component Kit

Now we need to go download the extension —> Download the Flex Component Kit (you need an adobe.com account)

All the way at the bottom you’ll find the extension we’re looking for… Flex Component Kit for Flash CS3 Professional (I know it says CS3 and we’re working in CS4, don’t worry)
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Once downloaded, unzip and double-click FlexComponentKit.mxp
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Read this whole agreement and only if you agree the terms click “Accept”
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…how many of you read that?

Okay, you should see this now.
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Documentation for this component can be found here —> FCK Docs

Onward!

Step 3 : The Flash Side

Let’s take our button and load it into Flash. We’re going to name it “MyButton”.
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Create an AS3 class to handle all of the button interactions we need
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package {
	// MyButton
	import mx.flash.UIMovieClip;
	import flash.events.MouseEvent;
 
	public class MyButton extends UIMovieClip
	{
		public function MyButton()
		{
			super();
 
			buttonMode = true;
			useHandCursor = true;
 
			addEventListener(MouseEvent.MOUSE_OVER, onOver);
			addEventListener(MouseEvent.MOUSE_OUT, onOut);
		}
 
		public function onOver(event:MouseEvent):void
		{
			gotoAndPlay(1);
		}
 
		public function onOut(event:MouseEvent):void
		{
			gotoAndPlay("end");
		}
 
	}
}

Make sure you have MyButton selected in the Library, and then use Commands > Convert Symbol to Flex Component.
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Your output panel will let you know the command worked properly.
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Test the movie by pressing Γ’Ε’Λœ + enter (ctrl + enter on the PC).
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Publish the movie, which creates both a SWF and a SWC file.
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Now that we have our SWC file, we’re ready to move into Flex Builder.

Step 4 : The Flex Side

Copy our newly create SWC file into our libs directory.
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With the SWC in our libs directory, it will automatically be included in the classpath of our Flex application (see this tip for more information on the libs directory).

The SWC file includes the MyButton class, so we can now write our code:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<mx:Application xmlns:mx="http://www.adobe.com/2006/mxml" 
	xmlns:local="*" 
	layout="absolute" backgroundColor="0x000000" backgroundGradientAlphas="[0,0]" 
	creationComplete="onReady()">
	<mx:Script>
		<![CDATA[
			private function onReady():void
			{
				// How to use the custom button in ActionScript 
				/*
				var button:MyButton = new MyButton();
				button.x = 35;
				button.y = -10;
 
				addChild(button);
				*/
 
				// And just for fun				
				makeGrid();
			}
 
			private function makeGrid():void
			{
				var pad:int = 35;
				var gridWidth:int = 10;
				var gridHeight:int = 10;
				var yOffset:int = -45;
				var xOffset:int = -25;
 
				for(var h:int=1; h<=gridHeight; h++) {
					for(var w:int=1; w<=gridWidth; w++) {
						var button:MyButton = new MyButton();
						button.x = w*pad+xOffset;
						button.y = h*pad+yOffset;
						myPanel.addChild(button);
					}
				}
 
			}
		]]>
	</mx:Script>
	<mx:Panel id="myPanel"
		layout="absolute" left="10" right="10" top="10" bottom="10" 
		backgroundColor="#1D1D1D" title="Hey look, I'm a Flex Panel"/>
 
	<!-- How to use the custom button in MXML -->
	<!--<local:MyButton x="-5" y="-10" />-->
</mx:Application>

And here’s what it looks like:

Get Adobe Flash player

Weeeeee…. that’s fun, you can download the source here.

The source there is an Archived Flex project, all you need to do is Import it into Flex Builder and you’re good to go.

That was a long tip, any questions please post them.

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