Archive for November 2006

tile or repeat an image into a flex application background

UPDATE: There is a revised version of this post here, which you might find more accessible. It also includes a tile into the background of a Canvas.

I’ve only been using Flex for a few weeks via the Flex Builder Beta for the Mac. While I am really impressed with the ease of use of the framework, and now something of a convert, I was suprised by the apparent inability to tile (or repeat) an image over the background of the Application.

I tried a number of approaches which I now look back on as naive. I haven’t at this point managed to find a documented solution by googling. Though as responses to this post show (update: source now published), there seems to be interest in finding a solution.

So here is one solution. I don’t claim this to be ‘best practice’. Far from it. But it works, and will suffice for me until I am more familiar with Flex.

  1. Locate your flex installation, then Flex SDK 2/frameworks/source
  2. From here navigate the package structure to mx.skins.halo
  3. Duplicate file “ApplicationBackground.as” to a suitable location within your project file structure. In my case saved to ‘{projectroot}/com/ct/skins”
  4. Edit your local copy as per the following notes

Adjust the package detail

In my case the package line now reads:

package com.ct.skins

Add some imports

We need the following import lines to access the bitmap data:

import flash.display.Bitmap;
import flash.display.BitmapData;

Remove the version include

Because we are working outside the structure of the halo skin collection, we no-longer need or want the following line:
include "../../core/Version.as";

Embed the image and declare some variables

In this case I am embedding the image at compile time:

[ Embed( source='/assets/BackgroundLines.png' ) ]
private var backgroundImageClass :Class;
private var backgroundImage :Bitmap;
private var backgroundBitmapData :BitmapData;

Modify the constructor

In our constructor, after the call to ‘super()’ we need to get the bitmap data of the image into the backgroundBitmapData variable, we do this by first creating a Bitmap instance of the embedded image in backgroundImage, then drawing the data into backgroundBitmapData:

backgroundImage = new backgroundImageClass();
backgroundBitmapData
= new BitmapData( backgroundImage.width, backgroundImage.height );
backgroundBitmapData.draw( backgroundImage );

Clear out and replace the content of updateDisplayList

The only line we need keep is the super call. Everything else can be replaced with the following 4 lines:

var g:Graphics = graphics;
g.clear();
g.beginBitmapFill( backgroundBitmapData );
g.drawRect(0,0,w,h);

Now we just need to apply it.

All we need to do is point the borderSkin attribute of the mx:Application tag to this new skin. In my case the attributes of mx:Application look like this:

xmlns:mx ="http://www.adobe.com/2006/mxml"
frameRate ="36"
layout ="absolute"
borderSkin ="com.ct.skins.ApplicationBackground"

Bob’s your uncle!

I’d appreciate comments on a better practice approach.

Further reading:

cooking on flex


Added ActionScript 3.0 Cookbook to my reading list. Not strictly anything to do with flex but it’s saved me loads of time while learning Flex and I highly recommend it.