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The Flash timeline = interactive data visualization

I've taken on a commercial writing project, to help pay for the trip to Oxford, and it's got me rethinking some of the basics of Flash--things I've taken for granted for years.

In particular, the timeline has re-impressed me. The timeline gets a lot of criticism from coders new to Flash, and can confound Flash newbies in general. But when you think about it, it's a really great tool. The Flash timeline is interactive data visualization in high style!

It's a representation of dynamic data arranged in a two dimensional grid, with time in one axis and space in the second. Each frame of each layer is accessible from this visualization. When you click on a particular frame in a particular layer, you get immediate access to those assets. Additionally, it folds and expands data navigation on direct selection.

OK, maybe I'm working too hard these days, and I'm getting a bit punchy, but I just had to share.


The flash timeline is the worst thing ever in an animation program. The way the handle each keyframe as a separate entity is horrible. There is no easy way of moving a whole animation to some other part of the screen. There is no way of streching an animation either. They should use the director timeline which is much easier to use.

It can be easely solved with nested animations. Ever used the Movieclip ?

A friend of mine that work with Director misses Movieclips a lot...

Take the Timeline off...and Flash will be not Flash anymore.

Movieclips on a Timeline on different Levels:
this is Flash!
I wonder how many Flashers have started to use the Flash-Forms introduced by Flash MX 2004.
However it s my impression that all the new Tutorials for Flash 2004 were still written with Timeline (not Forms) in mind!

"There is no easy way of moving a whole animation to some other part of the screen. There is no way of streching an animation either."

This is why you should use movieclips. If you have your animation in a movieclip, you can move it, resize it, rotate it, etc. without any fuss.

Too many people bash Flash without having a proper understanding of it first.

Sebastian, you can move a whole animation using the onion skin and selecting all frames. You can also scale a whole animation using the same technique. The timeline is essential for some things, it also gives non developers an easy way to see whats going on visually. my 2cents


Using onion skinning, like Jordon suggests, will work. Just be sure to select the "edit all frames" button. It's the third of those onion skinning buttons on the bottom bar of the timeline.