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Top Techniques for Creating Animation in Adobe Flash CS3 Professional

#35 Testing the Movie

In #32, you learned several ways to preview your movie in Flash. All of these techniques have a drawback, however: They don't show you what the users' experience will be when they watch your movie. When you watch the movie in the Flash authoring environment, it usually runs more slowly than it would outside, because Flash has to do so many other things at the same time (such as animating the playhead as it moves across the Timeline). Also, you see things in the Flash environment that your users can't see, such as where objects go when they leave the Stage.

In contrast, the people who see your movie most likely won't even own Flash; they'll be playing it in their Web browsers using the Flash Player plug-in. To see the movie the way your users will see it, you too will have to preview it in the Flash Player. There are two ways to do this—one is more convenient, the other is more authentic.

The more convenient way is to choose Control > Test Movie, or press Control-Enter (Windows) or Command-Return (Mac). Flash generates a SWF file and opens it in a separate window representing the Flash Player. It's not really the Flash Player—it's actually a Flash Player module that's built into your Flash application—but it still gives you a reasonably good idea of what your users will see.

The more authentic way is to choose File > Publish Preview > Default. As with Test Movie, Flash generates a SWF file, but then it opens it in your computer's default Web browser and plays it with the Flash Player plug-in. In this case, you're seeing the same SWF file your users will see, under basically the same conditions.

Because the Test Movie command is so much quicker, you'll probably want to use it when you're first developing a movie. It's only when you bring your movie into its final stages, and begin to refine and polish it, that the difference between Test Movie and Publish Preview becomes important.

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