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The Two Types of Flash Movie Files

There are two types of FlashR movie files. The first type of file you will encounter is the default Flash document file which has the .fla file extension. This type of file cannot be viewed outside the Flash authoring environment because it hasn't been "processed" yet. A Flash movie needs to be compiled before it can be viewed on the web or any other device. It is like making a cake. When you build your Flash movie inside the Flash program, you will add the elements of your movie onto the Stage, much like adding the ingredients of a cake into the baking dish. But before you can eat the cake, you must first bake it. Before you can view your Flash movie, it needs to be compiled.

Once your Flash movie has been baked, or compiled, it becomes the second type of Flash movie file which has the .swf file extension. This file can now be viewed outside of the Flash program with the Flash Player. But alas, it cannot be edited within the Flash program anymore. In order to work on a Flash file that has been compiled into a .swf file, you must use a SWF decompiler to reverse the file back into the Flash document .fla format.

The moral of this story is to always keep a .fla version of your Flash movie after you have compiled it into a .swf file just in case you need to make changes or improvements to the original movie.

Now all we need to do is put this into practice by making a very simple Flash movie, compiling it and viewing it in the Flash Player. Open Flash and let's get started.

1. Start Page. We want to create a new Flash document. Click on Flash Document under the Create New column on the Start Page.

2. Draw a circle. We will draw a circle on the Stage in order to have something to see when we watch our movie in the Flash Player. Click on the Oval Tool in the Tools Panel. Now, click and drag on the Stage to draw a circle.

3. Save your movie. First we will save our movie in the .fla format. Click File, Save from the Menu Bar. This will open the Save As dialog box. It is a good idea to have a special folder to hold your Flash files. Create a new folder or navigate to a folder you have already made. By default, Flash will name your new movie file Untitled-1.fla. Give the file a new name and click Save.

4. Test your movie. Now, we want to view our movie in the Flash Player. Click Control, Test Movie from the Menu Bar. You will see the default player open and your movie will begin playing. If all went well, you should see the circle that you drew.

Where are your .fla and .swf Files?

Go to the folder that you saved your movie into and you will see both an .fla and .swf file. The .swf file was automatically created when we tested our movie. Now we have two files for one movie. The .fla file can be opened into the Flash program and edited further. The .swf file can be viewed in the Flash Player.

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Content copyright © 2015 by Diane Cipollo. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Diane Cipollo. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Diane Cipollo for details.


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