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Fireworks Flash Buttons in a Flash

Fireworks Flash Buttons in a Flash

It ever ceases to amaze me, whenever I am speaking at a conference or hanging out with the "Flashies" at various user groups, to hear them tell me how they create their really "cool" buttons in that behemoth from a company named after a building material. When I ask them if they have the Studio, the answer is an inevitable: "Well 'duh,' of course I do!" Somehow, it seems, the message still hasn't gotten out that Fireworks MX 2004 is one serious "button creating behemoth" when it comes to Flash.

Here's how to create a button in Fireworks MX 2004 that also functions as a button in Flash MX 2004.

A Simple 3-State Button

  1. Open a new Fireworks MX 2004 document.
  2. Select the rounded rectangle tool from the Fireworks Tool bar and draw a rectangle that is 100 pixels wide by 40 pixels high. You can also enter these dimensions in the Fireworks Property inspector.
  3. Select the object and, using the Property inspector, change the Fill color of the button. I used #CCCC99.
  4. Select the text tool and add some text to the button. Group the text and the button object (see Figure 1).
  5. Select the object on the canvas and press the F8 key which opens the Symbol Properties box (see Figure 2). Coincidentally, this is the same key you would press in Flash to convert a selected object to a Symbol.
  6. Name the symbol and select the "Button" property. Click OK.

    The button will now appear behind a green Slice Guide (see Figure 3). Don't worry about it, but it is critical to this technique so don't remove it.

  7. Double-click the target on the Slice Guide to open the Button Symbol Editor.
  8. Click the "Up" tab, select both objects, and select Effects>Bevel and Emboss> Inner Bevel on the Property inspector.
  9. Change the flatness setting from 10 to 5 as shown in Figure 4.
  10. Click the Over tab and when the blank screen appears, click the "Copy Up Graphic" button. Select the object in this window, and click the "i" symbol beside the Live Effect in the Property inspector. Select Inset from the button presets at the bottom of the Inner Bevel dialog box that will open (see Figure 5).
  11. Repeat the previous step for the "Down" button, but select "Inverted" from the button presets. Click "Done" when you are finished. You will return to the Fireworks canvas.
Though I am showing a basic button here, don't forget you can apply textures and other effects to the button. If you have Alien Skin's "Eye Candy 4000" or "Splat" you can create some amazing effects, such as a button that looks like a "squashed bottle cap." Apply a texture to a circle, apply an Inner bevel, and then apply Splat's Edges filter and Eye Candy's Shadowlab. The techniques are the same, but the creativity I'll leave to you.

Fireworks-to-Flash in a Flash
Importing Fireworks images into Flash MX 2004 can be somewhat complicated and requires a number of decisions. It doesn't have to be, though. You can "end run" the entire process and still have the same results. Here's how:

  1. Leave Fireworks open but open a new Flash document.
  2. Return to Fireworks.
  3. Click and drag the green Slice Guide from Fireworks onto the Flash stage. When you see a dotted outline of the button beside your mouse on the Flash stage, release the mouse.
  4. The "button" will appear on the Flash stage. In actual fact it isn't the "button". It is a flattened bitmap of the button.
  5. Open the Flash Library and you will see:
    - Six bitmaps - Three for the button shape and three for the text, and
    - One folder named Fireworks Objects containing a Movie Clip and a Button Symbol
  6. Delete the bitmap on the Flash stage and feel free to delete the Movie Clip in the Fireworks Objects Folder. You don't need either one (see Figure 6).
  7. Drag the Button symbol onto the Flash stage and, if you select Control> Enable Simple buttons, you will discover your Fireworks button functions exactly like a Flash button.
For those of you wondering if six bitmaps is a lot of baggage to be bringing into Flash, you can cut it back. Simply create the three-buttons states in Fireworks and then, before leaving the Fireworks Button editor, click the state tab, select the button, and "Flatten" it by selecting "Flatten Selection" from the Fireworks Layer Options pop-down menu. When you drop the Layer slice into Flash, you will get three bitmaps - one for each state - instead of six.

The movie clip arrives because Flash automatically creates one for .png images - the native Fireworks file format- brought into Flash.

Summary
There you have it. Create the button, drag the Fireworks Slice Guide into Flash and the button is automatically added to the Flash Library. That's how you build Flash buttons in Fireworks.

You don't have to be conservative. Figure 7 is a Fireworks button that squashes the image when the cursor rolls over it.

More Stories By Tom Green

Tom Green describes himself as 'teacher, author, chief cook and bottle washer.' He is an instructor at Humber College's School of Media Studies in Toronto, and is also the author of 'Building Web Sites with Macromedia Studio MX' and 'Building Dynamic Web Sites with Macromedia Studio MX 2004,' both published by New Riders.

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