TextMate for ActionScript

Wow! I’ve been exploring the various features of TextMate and how it’s use relates to Flash / ActionScript development. There are some great built in features and lively communities offering excellent bundles for extending TextMate.

Here’s how I set it all up.

Essentially you install the ActionScript bundle and use the Bundle Editor to point everything in the proper direction.

class test {
function test() {
// Empty constructor
// Hook for MTASC. This method will be called to start the application
static function main() {
var myVar:String;
myVar=” Patrick”
_root.hello_txt.text = “Hello, World!”+myVar;
_root.Button1.onRelease = function(){
trace(“Hello World!”);

I copied the above .as file from the one that’s automatically generated by selecting file>New from template>ActionScript>MTASC sample and fiddled with it.

If you stick a .yaml file in the same directory as your .as and .swf file you can pass parameters to your preview like, trace, in my case through console, and the SWF header.


# Name of your output file:
swf: test.swf

# Name of your main class:
app: test.as

# Folder/URL/file to open when compilation succeeds. Use ‘textmate’ to preview in TextMate:
preview: textmate

# SWF Header:
player: 8
width: 800
height: 600
fps: 31
bgcolor: 000000

# Optional, use it to send additional MTASC parameters (i.e: -strict)
params: -main -mx

# If you want to use Console.app (see )
trace: console


Blogging from TextMate

This is my first Blog, posted directly from within TextMate.

Wow! What a cool feature. It’s easy to set up, simply, do the following:

Bundles>Blogging>Setup Blogs

Enter your blogs URL, username and password and that’s it. Then all you need to do is write your post and publish.

Bundles>Blogging>Post to Blog

TextMate will prompt you to enter a post title and your username, then publish whatever you’ve written.

How cool is that?

Apparently you can even add images.

Exporting Flash Movies to other formats

Just a quick one for those of you pulling your hair out. Movie clip animations don’t work when exporting Flash to other formats or importing .swfs into external applications, like Quick Time, After Effects or image sequences.

Movie clips themselves are fine, but they only display the first frame. The secret is to convert all your movie clips to graphic symbols! They work just fine. If you scrub the play head through your timeline, whatever you see will probably render okay elsewhere.

If you are creating a Flash Banner and want to export frames to animated gifs it is a good idea to build your animation entirely on the root timeline, or use graphic symbols. It will save you a lot of hassle later.

Managing bitmap compositions in Flash.

Imagine you have a Flash website that makes use of hundreds of images that need to be regularly updated. Picture a virtual shop with a range of garments that need to updated seasonally. There are essentially three ways to help us manage these updates. That may be combined, extended and varied according to the needs of the specific project.

  1. Content management system that allows administrators to select a garment from a list of thumbnails and upload another image to replace it,
  2. Manually enter the Flash movie and import each new image and swap the old bitmaps for the new ones.
  3. Externally loaded images that can be switched by swapping the old images with the new in a central image repository directory.

At first glance most developers would rule out option 2 but when combined with bitmap fills, a very powerful means of organising, exactly positioned, multiple bitmaps is revealed.

Take the following PNGs


So we can load one image into Flash that contains all the data of any number of separate bitmaps. Select the bitmap on the stage in Flash and Modify>Break Apart. You may now use the lasso tool to select regions of the bitmap and save them off as individual symbols. Positioning them within your “virtual shop” as required.

So what? Well the clever bit comes when you need to update the images. All you need to do is open the main bitmap .psd in photoshop and edit away, hundred of images may be swapped out and replaced etc. If you’re sensible and set up your original document with crop marks and guides, you can maintain absolute control over each symbol in Flash when you come to update the bitmap in the Library.

Once you’ve saved off your new image, select your bitmap in the Flash Library > right click >select Properties>Update. Flash with automatically replace the main image with the new one (if saved with the exact name and in the same location as the original) or allow you to navigate to another location to select the new bitmap.

Once this is done, not only will the main bitmap be updated, but so too with all the 100s of symbols you created with the lasso tool earlier. Magic!


There is a variation of this idea which may be a possible combination of options 2 and 3, using the beginBitmapFill function. The idea being, you import your original image lasso it into multiple symbols, position itcorrectly on your stage, then import the latest version of the bitmap via actionscript to replace the bitmapFill dymanically, meaning you don’t even need to open Flash anymore.

Note to self – when you have a moment check this out.

Random News Flash Module in Joomla

Do you want a module to display the first sentence of a random news article every time you refresh your Joomla based website? Fear not help is on the way.

1) Write your news article and note the Read More button located at the very bottom of the text edit panel. Basically you write a brief intro at the beginning of your article and hit the Read More button to separate it from the main content of your website.


2) In the paramenters panel on the right of your screen find Intro Text and select Hide from the drop down list.


3) Go to the Newsflash module in the Module Manager, copy it and rename the copy with a suitably logical name. eg: myNewsFlashModule

4) Edit myNewsFlashModule and add the following settings to the Advanced Parameters Panel

5) Note the option to Randomly Change one at a time and the blank No of Articles field.


Flash Video from After Effects

Noticed something rather odd, the other day. If I export an flv from After Effects, then embed it on the timeline, the quality is rubbish as compared to exporting a Quicktime movie first and converting that to .flv as you embed it in Flash. It appears that the Flash authoring tool has a better at .flv conversion than After Effects.


I’m fairly new to XML in Flash and certainly have a lot to learn about best practices. I’ve recently been hand editing some pretty massive XML files in various languages. These XML files are single line documents with no line breaks – this makes editing them a real headache.

I thought wouldn’t it be great if I could open the XML up in an editor and have it rendered on screen in a more visually pleasing way ? similar to the way Firefox renders a single line XML document with collapsable nodes. Well I finally managed to download the perfect tool.

XMLmind! Hurray.

Simply download the Freeware editor and set the Preferrences. Preferrences>Save> uncheck all the radio buttons relating to indenting and formatting. Open your document, edit and save off.

Also note if you didn’t know already that line breaks in the middle of node names do not show up as new nodes (especially important in Flash).

For example, instead of :

<menu1>menu1</menu1> <menu2> menu2</menu2>

how about..





> etc…

Much easier to read but still only one line as far as Flash is concerned.

Download XMLmind here: