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Using Symbols and the Library in Adobe Flash CS4

#24. Editing Symbols

There are two ways to edit a symbol. The first is to find the symbol in the library and double-click either its name in the list or its image in the viewing pane. When you do so, everything on the stage disappears, and the symbol you’re editing becomes the only visible object. This is a good way to edit if you don’t want to be distracted, but it prevents you from seeing the symbol in context with the other items on the stage.

The second way to edit a symbol, called editing in place, is to double-click any instance of a symbol on the stage. Flash goes into a symbol-editing mode that looks just like the group-editing mode described in #17: Everything other than the selected instance is dimmed, and the elements of the symbol become the only objects you can select and edit (Figure 24a). What’s unusual about editing in place is that when you double-click the instance, the master symbol temporarily takes its place. Any changes you make to the symbol will affect not only the instance you double-clicked, but all other instances as well.

Figure 24a

Figure 24a Flash is in editing-in-place mode for a graphic symbol called g_fish, which is inside a movie clip called m_fishbowl. The breadcrumb trail leads back to the original contents of the stage.

While you’re in symbol-editing mode, using either editing method, you’ll see a small white circle with crosshairs. That circle represents the symbol’s registration point. The crosshairs can’t be moved, but if you want to change the symbol’s registration point, you can drag the contents of the symbol to a different position relative to the crosshairs.

If you have symbols nested within symbols, you can drill down one level at a time by editing the outermost symbol, then double-clicking a symbol embedded in it, and so on. You can return to any earlier level by clicking the appropriate link in the breadcrumb trail (see #17). Clicking the leftmost link, called Scene 1 by default, takes you back to the main stage and exits symbol-editing mode.

Any changes you make to a symbol affect not only the symbol in the library, but all instances of that symbol, even if they were placed on the stage before you edited the symbol (Figure 24b).

Figure 24b

Figure 24b Editing a symbol affects all instances of that symbol, even if they’ve been transformed or had color effects applied to them. (To see how these instances have changed, compare this screenshot to Figure 23b.)

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