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Author: Tim Murray | Website: http://www.gmg.com.au

What should an intro do?

All right, if we are going to build a real site intro what should we do and not do? Here's a list:

  1. Life is short: intros should be too.
    Don't waste other people's lives by making them wait for site intros to download.
  2. Start showing real content as soon as possible.
    Don't download video, large audio or images first: animate in some text or vector art first (possibly accompanied by small sounds) while downloading larger media. Preloaders are not counted as real content.
  3. Entertain with what you have.
    A good entertainer can amuse audiences with a simple coin, spinning it across fingers or pulling it from unsuspecting kids' ears. Similarly, we may build animations from available resources while we wait for the next piece of media to arrive.
  4. Reuse resources.
    If we are going to make people wait for our intro, we should try to use some of those elements (vector art, bitmap images, or sounds) within the site proper, so that those resources won't have to be downloaded again.
  5. Give people an out.
    Do provide a "skip intro" button for visitors that have seen the intro before.

Points one through three will be obvious to many readers, but points four and five may be new ground. Sharing resources is a great way to download once and reuse over and over again. This is more fully discussed in our "Yet Another Flash MX Loader" tutorial elsewhere on this site, but here's a quick primer.

Any resource in your library may be shared with other Flash MX files. Shared resources do not have to be downloaded more than once, no matter how many SWF files you include them in. This makes sharing perfect for interface sounds, logos, and style elements that are repeated across multiple SWF files.

Open your Library (F11). Right click on a resource and choose Linkage… from the context menu. This will open the Linkage Properties dialog box.

This dialog lets you define how you want a resource to be shared. In a site intro, never "Export in first frame". This will force the resource to be loaded before any animation starts, negating the cool streaming of content that Flash MX does so well and instead leaving visitors with plenty of nothing to look at until the loading has completed.

The "Yet Another Flash MX Loader" tutorial discusses how to use these resources in other Flash movies. Also check out "Using Flash > Using Symbols, Instances, and Library Assets > Using shared library assets" in your help file for more info.

If you are going to spend time downloading resources, you may as well put the elements into a site intro and do some funky moves while you are waiting. Try to load the smallest elements first then do cool stuff with them while you load the larger resources.

Not sure about the sizes of your resources? Use your Bandwidth Profiler. See "Using Flash > Testing a movie > Testing movie download performance" in your help file for more info.

And because you have shared the resources, your intro will not be wasting anybody's precious seconds on this planet!

Time to look at some ActionScript coding ‘cos we still have to add in a clever "skip intro" button.

» Level Intermediate

Added: 2004-01-08
Rating: 8 Votes: 15
(10 being the highest)
» Author
Tim is a co-director of the Glasson Murray Group, providing quality graphic design, illustration, 3D visualisation, interactive environments, virtual reality, multimedia and website services.
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