Once you have finished a project in Flash, you will probably need to distribute it – for example by uploading it to a website, sending it by e-mail, showcasing it as a projection, or installing it on a computer for an interactive installation. In order to do that, you need to publish your project. In this lesson, we will see how this can be done, taking again our “Hello world!” exercise as a starting point.
1. First, some thoughts on electronic distribution and Flash formats. As we have seen, when you use the Control > Test Movie command, Flash generates an .swf file. That file format is appropriate for distribution (provided the target audience has the Flash player installed), but not for uploading, by itself, to a website. For that, a HTML file that embeds the .swf is needed, and we will see how to generate one with Flash.
Another aspect to take into consideration when uploading a Flash site to a web server (or distributing it on any other way) is file/folder structure. As we have been seeing in the past exercises, your Flash project may rely on external files. In order for these files to be loaded properly, you will need to maintain the same file/folder structure you had locally. You will need an FTP client, such as FileZilla, to upload the files to a server. Wikipedia provides a nice comparison of FTP clients: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_FTP_client_software. Don’t forget that you don’t need to upload you .fla file – this is an authoring file, that the user does not have access to, therefore it should be kept locally.
2. Let’s now see how you can publish your project, including an HTML file that embeds the .swf. Choose “Publish Settings…” from the File menu. The following window appears:
Flash and HTML are selected by default.
3. Press the “Publish” button. You will now have a .html file in your project folder. You can open that .html file with a browser, and it should look like this:
You might want to change the layout of your HTML file, and how your .swf is displayed there. To do so, depending on your knowledge of HTML, you will possibly need an HTML editor such as Adobe Dreamweaver. More on HTML editors: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTML_editor
HTML editors also usually allow you to embed elements such as .swf files, and in that case you might choose to do it from the editor instead of generating an HTML file from Flash.
4. Flash provides also a means to create “stand alone” executable files for your project (the “Windows Projector” or “Macintosh Projector” options on the Publish Settings window). Stand alone in this case means that the resulting files run on the user’s computer (and not on the browser), without the need for a Flash player. The executable will include the player technology (and therefore will produce a larger file than an .swf). The development of Adobe’s AIR platform has been occupying the territory of stand-alone applications built with Flash. More on AIR: http://www.adobe.com/products/air/