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Highlighting Multiple Text Selections

April 7, 2005
by James Newton

Highlighting text in uneditable Text members is not a simple matter. You can highlight text in an editable text member by setting the keyboardFocusSprite to the appropriate sprite, then setting the .selection property of the Text member. With uneditable Text members, this has no effect.

Because of this shortcoming, highlighting a selection of uneditable text requires a separate sprite. So why not exploit this fact to create a multiple selection highlight?

The movie above demonstrates a Multiple Selection behavior that you can attach to any Text sprite. You need to provide a Bitmap sprite in the next channel. The behavior sets the colour of the Bitmap member, then modifies the alpha channel to make areas of the Bitmap sprite visible. Hold the Shift Key down as you click and drag to make a continuous selection; hold the Control Key (Windows) or the Command Key (Macintosh) down as you click to select or deselect discontiguous lines.

The behavior includes GetSelection() and SetSelection() methods, so you can modify the selections from other scripts and perform actions in other scripts based on the current selections. In the movie above, these handlers are used to update the display of selected lines, and to allow you to change the selection by choosing from a set of checkboxes.

The highlit areas update automatically as the user scrolls the text. There may be a slight lag, especially when the user presses the scroll arrows, as the System deals with the text scrolling, and only hands control back to Director when the scrolling is done.

If you click on the Text member then drag beyond the top of the sprite or below the bottom of the sprite, the Text member will scroll automatically. If you hold the Shift Key down while you do this, the selection will extend to the area of the sprite that scrolls into view.

Source files: (Windows) | multiSelect.sit (Macintosh).

James Newton started working with Director 5 in 1997. He wrote many of the behaviors that ship with Director since version 7. James lives in Dunoon, near Glasgow, Scotland. His company, OpenSpark Interactive, is responsible for marketing PimZ OSControl Xtra. When not coding he can be found racing his classic Flying Fifteen around the Holy Loch, making things with his four children, or catching escaped hamsters.

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