Creating common Flash elements like playback controls (Play and Pause buttons), text fields, checkboxes, and menus can add up to a lot of grunt work. Since they pretty much look the same in every animation, some kind Flash developers did the grunt work for you and put ready-made versions of these Flash bits and pieces—called components—right in the program.
A component is a compiled, prebuilt movie clip that you can drag onto the Stage and customize (Figure 12-1). Flash Professional 8 comes with some three dozen components, and Flash Basic 8 has about half that number.
If you do a lot of work in Flash, you'll appreciate the time that components can save you. But another great thing about components is the consistency they offer. For example, say you're creating three Web sites in Flash for a single corporate client: one site for their employees, one for their customers, and one for their business partners. Your client wants the sites to have a slightly different look and feel based on their intended audiences, but also wants the sites to be similar when it comes to navigation and usability.
If you're ActionScript-savvy, you can create the menus you'll need from scratch. But if you use the prebuilt MenuBar component that comes with Flash, you not only save time, you also ensure that the strip of menu buttons you display at the top of each page of each site looks and behaves predictably. From a design perspective, this consistency can mean the ...