By:Mark Angeletti, Published:2004-10-15

7. Use layers to separate elements that change over the course of the animation from those that don’t.

A nice feature of Flash is that, no matter how many layers you use, this won’t have any impact on the size of your Flash movie. Therefore, it’s good practice to place non-animated objects on their own layer, separating them from animated objects.

8. Limit the number of fonts and font styles.

The more fonts you use, the more fonts Flash has to save in your .swf — and the more fonts saved in your .swf, the bigger the file size will be. Pretty simple right?

Here’s a useful tip, though. Let’s say you just got this really nifty font, and you want to use it on a few buttons. In order for that font to be seen by people that don’t have the font installed, you’ll have to embed it. This is pretty easy — just go to the character options for that font, and there you’ll see the option to embed the entire font, uppercase characters, lowercase characters, numerals and punctuation.

If all you want is the button to say "home" or something this simple, then there’s no use in embedding the entire alphabet, just go to the input box that says, "and these characters" and type in "home" This way you’re only storing 4 characters in your .swf file.

9. Import text into your Flash movie.

You may decide to keep your text separate from your Flash movie. This allows you to easily make modifications without having to open up Flash — and can make it easy for someone who doesn’t have Flash or Flash knowledge to make changes. They can simply edit a .txt file. In addition, your .swf file will be smaller because Flash will no longer be responsible for storing your text.

How can you create the external text file and import it into Flash?

  1. Open up notepad and follow this pattern:


    The content is attached to each variable, and will soon be loaded into Flash.

    The "&" is the delimiter. Save your .txt file with the name "content.txt".

  2. Next, add this script to a keyframe in Flash:

    loadVariablesNum("content.txt", "0")

    This loads the content.txt file into level0 of your movie. You could also use:


    which would load the content into the MovieClip with the given instance name.

  3. Lastly, add your dynamic text fields to your scene, and assign them the variable names that you used in content.txt.

Because your text no longer resides in your Flash movie, you decrease the file size, and your main Flash movie will now load more quickly: instead of having to preload a 150K swf, you may only have to preload a 100K swf.

10. Optimizing Sound in Flash.

Use MP3 compression, the smallest sound form when possible.

Once you’ve imported in your MP3 file, open your library with CTRL+L and right-click to bring up properties. You may want to uncheck "use imported MP3 quality" — with this option unchecked, you can change both the Bit Rate and Quality. You may find that a lower Bit Rate and Quality reduces file size while producing a sound that’s still fine for use.

11. Use the Color Effects menu in the Instance properties dialog box to create many different colored Instances of a single symbol.

Every instance of a symbol has specific properties that can be modified. These properties apply only to the specific instance — not the original symbol.

You can, for instance, use the tint option in the color properties of the selected object to change its color, instead of creating another symbol. Other properties include brightness, and alpha. By using a single instance of an object multiple times, you again reduce the overall file size.

12. Modularize your movies.

Modularization is the process of breaking up a single large Flash movie into multiple smaller .swf files in an effort to decrease the load time, and make your movie easier to manage. You can learn more about modularization by reading the article Fast-Track Your Flash Site

Remember the words of Stan Lee: "With great power comes great responsibility." The responsible Flash user will take great steps to ensure that their Flash site loads as quickly as possible, even if that means sacrificing a little eye-candy.

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