How to Use
Flash with PHP and mySQL
So you want dynamic content on your Flash
movie. Sounds simple, right? Well let me tell you that it
is, and well, it isn't. This tutorial assumes a basic
knowledge of Actionscript, PHP and MySQL. If you have that,
it's time to move on. Otherwise, I recommend you do some
reading on the subjects...
Setting Up your SWF
Loading external data into an SWF is a fairly simple task.
Although the external text file method is probably the most
widely known, it is by far the clumsiest way to get data
into your SWF. Of course, this may be your only option if
your server doesn't support MySQL/PHP! But for those of us
who are fortunate to have these privileges, let me show you
how Flash can get external data without having to create
additional text files.
Dynamic text fields
In order for Flash to get data from an external source, you
need to make use of dynamic text fields. Simply place a
blank dynamic text field on the stage and make sure you give
it a variable name (NB: dynamic text fields have both an
instance AND a variable names. In this case we want to focus
on the variable name). Note the name you give to the
field's variable name, as we'll need it when we write our
Once you have a text field setup, convert it to a movie clip
symbol. Attach the following code to the resulting movie
Ok, that's probably the easiest part of
all. Now on to the PHP.
Writing the PHP script that will pass
variables to your SWF
To pass a variable between PHP and you SWF, it is imperative
that you know the name of the variable you want to populate
within your SWF. Again, when I say variable name, I'm
talking about a dynamic text field's variable, not instance,
name. As long as you keep that in mind, you should be
The PHP script we'll write is actually quite simple. All you
need to do is use the print() function, whose output
will be automatically passed to your SWF. As simple as this
may seem, be warned that Flash needs to know which variable
to populate with the data output from our script. In other
words, we need to print the name of the variable attached to
the dynamic text field we created earlier. This is a crucial
step but is very simple to achieve. I've included an example
below on how we would code this in PHP:
Like I said, simple concept but easy to
If you've ever tried getting external data into your SWF
from a text file, you'll notice that the two methods are
very similar. PHP has a great advantage though in that you
can use things like arrays, loops and even functions with
which you can access information from within a database. The
last of which will be the focus for the rest of the tutorial
This movie clip has some code attached to it that
loads a URL using the loadVariables() function.
We have ourselves an SWF with a movie clip
within which lies a dynamic text field, whose variable
name is myVar.
The PHP script located at the URL prints data to the
screen, which is then read by the SWF and passed on to the
dynamic text field with the variable name myVar.
Take a break and click the Next page link below to
complete this tutorial.