Define: Actions Panel

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Actions Panel

The Actions Panel is the place that enables you to add, view and edit ActionScript within Flash:

The Actions Panel.

Note: The Actions Panel can look very different as it is possible to open and close the various sections of the Panel. Here is an a simplified version of the same panel:

The Actions Panel.

To open the Actions Panel go to: Window > Actions (F9)

Attaching ActionScript to Objects

In Flash you can attach Actionscript to:

Identifying which of these you are attaching your script to is important as the ActionScript will be different depending on the type of object that you are attaching the script to.

Common Error : In my experience the most common error for Flash beginners is that they attach the script to the wrong object. To avoid this keep a close eye on the title in the top left corner of the Panel. It tells you what type of object you are attaching your script to.

First select you object (Button, Movie Clip or Frame) then check the Actions Panel Title:

Actions Panel Title: Actions - Button

Attaching ActionScript to a Button.

Actions Panel Title: Actions - Movie Clip

Attaching ActionScript to a Move Clip.

Actions Panel Title: Actions - Frame

Attaching ActionScript to a Frame.

Note: In each of the above situations the ActionScript does the same thing. It takes you to this site's Home page. But in each case the event to get you to that page is different. This is because each type of object has different properties and so reacts to different types of events. The events for the above script are:

As each type of object has different properties it must also have slightly different ActionScript. If you attach one type of script to another type of object you will (when testing: Ctrl + Enter) get an error message similar to this:

A common error message displayed in the Output Window.

Flash Versions & the Actions Panel

With each update of Flash, Adobe change the Actions Panel. This means that the instructions for using the Actions Panel in one version of Flash can be quite different from that of another. Occasionally this may make following a tutorial confusing. To help clarify I have listed the important differences between the different versions of the Action Panel:

Flash MX/5: Window > Actions or F9 or Right Click > Actions (Mac: Ctrl Click)

The Actions Panel has two Modes:

  • Normal Mode: Use of Menus* and Options only. Menus give code with full syntax. Syntax errors are not possible!

    Actions Panel Flash MX02 - Normal Mode.

  • Expert Mode: Type, Copy (Ctrl C) & Paste (Ctrl V). Use of Menus* gives partial code only.

    Actions Panel Flash MX02 - Expert Mode.

    Note: In Flash 8 Normal Mode is now called Script Assist On and Expert Mode is Script Assist Off.

Flash MX 2004: Window > Development Panels > Actions or F9

Important: The Actions Panel in Flash MX 2004 does not have modes that can be changed (such as Expert/Normal - Flash MX/5 or Script Assist On/Off - Flash 8). In Flash MX04 you get a default typing mode only.

The use of the Actions Panel Menus* will only give partial code which is different to the code with complete syntax. You can type or copy (Ctrl C) and paste (Ctrl V) then edit the code.

Action Panel MX04

Flash 8: Window > Actions or F9 or Right Click > Actions (Mac: Ctrl Click)

In Flash 8 Adobe have brought back the old Flash MX Normal/Expert mode to the Actions Panel. Yeah!! (Not available in MX 2004). To make it seem like a new feature they have re-named it: Script Assist which is either switched on or off. Look for the new button in the Actions Panel:

  • Script Assist On: Use of Menus* and Options only. Menus give code with full syntax. Syntax errors not possible!

    Actions Panel Flash 8 - Script Assist On.

  • Script Assist Off: Type, Copy (Ctrl C) & Paste (Ctrl V). Use of Menus* gives partial code only.

    Actions Panel Flash 8 - Script Assist Off.

Switching Script Assist On & Off: Click the Script Assist button or go to the Side Menu Button:   

Script Assist is on if ticked :

* Action Panel Menus

All version of the Actions Panel have extensive menus which enable you to select the code that you want without having to type out all the syntax. This is very useful as it means that you do not need to remember all the ActionScript (thank heavens!!)!

Note: Use of the menus will give you different results depends on what Version of Flash you are using and what Mode you are in. See above: Flash Versions & the Actions Panel

You will get either Full Code with correct Syntax or Partial Code:


To Access the Menus:

  1. Click the Add New Item to Script button:
  2. Then navigate the menu:

Actions Panel Menus.

You will find that the Actions Panel Menu is extensive and takes some getting use to. If you wish open the Section on the left of the Panel and traverse the Menu that way:

Flash 8 Actions Panel.

Code Hints

Code hints are used when typing in the Actions Panel. These make life mush easier as you only have to remember the first few letters of what you want. Then Flash will give you a menu with various options. You can either ignore the menu or select the option.

To switch Code Hints on:

  1. Go to the Action Panel side Menu:
  2. Select: Show Code Hint (Ctrl Spacebar)

When you have typed a few letters you will see the hint:

Using Code Hints.

Check Syntax Button

My favorite little button (as I always make errors!!). This button checks your that you ActionScript syntax is correct. Alas it does not check that your script does what you want it to do only that the syntax is correct! To check that the script does what you want it to do you have to test your Movie (Ctrl + Enter).

To check your Syntax click the button:

Using the Check Syntax button.

Note: with Script Assist On (Flash 8) and in Normal Mode (Flash MX/5) it is not possible to make Syntax errors! Thus this button is not available. If you are a beginner use these modes as much as possible!

Happy coding !!


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