Flash Extension: Break Symbol Into Layers

I’d written an extension a while back that Convert a Timeline into a Symbol. David Stiller sent me a note yesterday wondering if I had an extension to do the opposite: break a symbol out onto a timeline (and retain the symbol’s layers). I didn’t have one yet, but it sounded like an interesting challenge, and something that I could certainly have used on a few past projects. So, a few hours after work I had something together, and here it is.

(Compatibility: MX 2004 – Flash CS4)

Break Symbol Into Layers.mxp

Flash Extension: Switch Library Names

When I’m working quickly, I’ll often find that I’ve swapped or duplicated the wrong symbol and my library names have gone haywire. In order to switch two names, you have give one a temporary name, since they can’t both have the same name at the same time. I wrote this extension to speed up that process. It takes two library symbols and switches their names. Nothing special…just a time saver.

(Compatibility: MX 2004 – Flash CS4)

Switch Library Names.mxp

Flash/Animate Extension: Sync Symbols to Timeline

Advanced animation techniques in Flash often make use of nested symbols. It can make animating objects much simpler and leave timelines cleaner and easier to work with. Often in these animations, it’s helpful to sync the nested symbol’s timeline with its parent timeline. That way, complex animation can be built within a symbol and animated independently without adding tons of layers to the main timeline. This technique is frequently used in character animation to segment a character’s moving parts.

The difficulty then becomes going through each keyframe and setting the startFrame property (listed in the Property inspector as First). This can be quite tedious over hundreds or thousands of frames. The request for this extension came from an animator on the Cold Hard Flash forum (no longer online) . It will search selected frames for graphic symbols and set their startFrame property to match the timeline.

(compatibility: Flash MX 2004 and up)
Sync Symbols to Timeline.zip


The zip file contains an mxp file for previous versions of Flash Pro and Adobe Extension Manager, as well as a zxp file.

To install with Adobe Animate CC, use the zxp file in conjunction with the Manage Extensions utility from Adobe.

Convert Illustrator Point/Path Text to Area Text

Point text in Illustrator is a text field that is generated by a click of the text tool. Area text is generated by dragging a rectangle with the text tool. You can scale a area text to make room for more text or to control where the lines end. When you try to scale point text, however, the text itself grows or shrinks to fill the rectangular area. If you inherit a file with lots of point text, it can be difficult to edit.

This script will convert point text and text on a path into area text. You select multiple text fields and the script will convert them all. It does not take into account stories (linked text fields), so use with caution in those cases.


(Compatibility: Illustrator CS & up)
Convert to Text Area.js
[right-click (ctrl-click on Mac) and choose Save Link As…]

Installation Instructions

Place the Convert to Text Area.js file into the Scripts directory within your Illustrator application directory:

Windows > C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe Illustrator {version}\Presets\Scripts
Mac OS X > Applications/Adobe Illustrator {version}/Presets/Scripts

Note: In CS4, the directory path will include a region directory (e.g., Adobe Illustrator CS4/Presets/en_US/Scripts).


Select text field(s), choose File > Scripts > Convert to Text Area.

Looking for the reverse?

Don’t worry we won’t leave you hanging. Download the file below. Installation and usage are similar to above.

Convert to Point Text.js
[right-click (ctrl-click on Mac) and choose Save Link As…]

Another Utility Script

If you want to select only text frames, to scale them or otherwise you can use the script below. If you already have a selection, it deselects anything that is not text (i.e. it selects within your selection), otherwise will search the entire document.

Select Text Only.js
[right-click (ctrl-click on Mac) and choose Save Link As…]

New Flash Extension: MotionBlur

The MotionBlur Flash extension takes a (new) motion tween, analyzes the movement, and creates a motion blur. Because the new motion model allows each property on a tween to be set independently, this extension is able to generate independent blurring for horizontal (x) and vertical (y) movement. It can take into account some rotation as well as some movement on the z-plane (3D), but its primarily designed to track x and y motion.

It works best if you run the extension after you’ve completed all easing and other adjustments on the tween first. If have to you adjust your path or motion easing, you can simply run the MotionBlur command again to re-calibrate.

The motion curves for blur x and blur y are optimized as well, so they add as few new keyframes to your tween as possible. The amount of blur is also adjusted based on the document’s frame rate (higher frame rate = faster animation = more blur).

(For CS4-CS6)

(For Flash Pro CC)