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How to Use Text in Flash 8

Chapter Description

Text is an important part of most Web sites, particularly informational or commercial sites. In this lesson, you'll add and format the properties of many text fields in Flash. You'll learn how to add a Filter effect to a static text field. You'll also spell check the entire document before you finish the lesson. This lesson gives you a foundation in the way text and fonts work and a good basis for using increasingly complex methods of working with text and components.

Understanding Static Text and Device Fonts

When you use static text in a FLA file, Flash creates outlines of each character and uses them to display the text. It doesn’t matter what font you select; the characters are visible, no matter who views the file. You can also be sure the fonts display the same way you see them on the Stage. A pitfall of this feature, and therefore of using static text, is that using it does increase the SWF file. Fortunately, there is a way around this: You can choose to use device fonts, which use the font installed in the end user’s computer, rather than using an outline created by Flash.

Device fonts can be used for horizontal static text fields and are the default for input and dynamic text fields. If the end user doesn’t have the font you selected installed on the computer, the SWF file uses the browser default: the sans font. There are also three default device fonts in Flash: _sans, _serif, and _typewriter. The _sans font is similar to Arial or Helvetica, _serif appears like Times New Roman, and _typewriter is similar to Courier.

Flash 8 Basic includes tools to assist with font legibility at any font size. One of the features in Flash that can make font choices problematic is anti-aliasing. Static text in Flash is anti-aliased by default, which can make smaller font sizes look blurry and difficult to read. In the past, the only way to defeat anti-aliasing was to either shut it off altogether, use a device font, or use a dynamic text field to display text. Now you can select several different rendering types in the Font Rendering Method drop-down list: Bitmap text, which is not anti-aliased; Anti-alias for animation; Anti-alias for readability; and Custom anti-alias, which controls the smoothing of the font. Custom anti-alias is available only in Flash 8 Professional.

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