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Author: Helen Triolo | Website:

Actionscript Primer (con't)

Using associative arrays to address objects

One other way of addressing objects in Flash 5 needs to be noted before proceeding. It allows us to get rid of the need for "eval" as it was used in Flash 4 to evaluate the name of a variable. (Eval in Flash 5 is not the same as the javascript eval. It still functions the same as it did in Flash 4, to evaluate variable names made up of concatenated strings, but is only needed in rare situations like finding the address of a droptarget or when creating a new object that takes a movieclip specified in a variable as its argument).

Every object in Flash 5 has its own built-in array, which is a pointer to all of the objects it contains. This array, and thus, the object pointed to, may be addressed by using the object's name as the array name, and the string name of the object to be addressed as the array index. A simple case would be

_root["mcTarget"], which is equivalent to _root.mcTarget
Note: that the array pointer is a string and there is no dot between the name of the array and its index.

This method of addressing objects becomes important whenever the object to be addressed (a movieclip, in particular) is referred to with a variable, or a concatenation of variables, rather than with an instance name. For example, if a movieclip (mcMain) on the main timeline is duplicated several times in a loop (mcNew1, mcNew2, .. mcNew45), and then the user wishes to set the alpha of all movieclips to 50%, this mode of address comes in handy:

for (i=1; i <= 45; i++) {
_root["mcNew"+i]._alpha = 50;

There is no way this could be accomplished with dot syntax (unless eval is used; but array syntax is a much cleaner way to set up the code).

OK, now that we've noted how both dot syntax and associative array syntax work, on to set up the symbols we need in our Flash movie.

» Level Advanced

Added: 2000-12-15
Rating: 7 Votes: 79
(10 being the highest)
» Author
Helen Triolo started i-Technica, a web design shop in the Washington DC area, three years ago, after being an apps engineer for a Silicon Valley company and then a programmer for an uncountable number of years. She's been hooked on Flash since buying a copy last January.
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