Overriding Flash’s Transform and Matrix

I’m building a a commercial library for scrap-book or other composition type applications and it would be useful to be able to override the flash.geom.Transform and flash.geom.Matrix classes with my own. So I played around with it for awhile and thought I’d share what I found.

First I tried setting my own matrix. I know that when you access displayObject.transform.matrix you get a clone of the object’s transform matrix, so I create a test class called MyMatrix.

public class MyMatrix extends Matrix
	public function MyMatrix(a:Number=1, b:Number=0, c:Number=0, d:Number=1, tx:Number=0, ty:Number=0)
		super(a, b, c, d, tx, ty);
	public override function clone():Matrix
		return new MyMatrix(a, b, c, d, tx, ty);

Then tested it out:

var sprite:Sprite = new Sprite();
sprite.transform.matrix = new MyMatrix();
var m:Matrix = sprite.transform.matrix; // will I get a trace of "cloned"?
trace(m is MyMatrix); // true? or false?

Turns out I don’t get any trace statement when accessing matrix and “m is MyMatrix” gives me a false. Bummer. So I did the same thing with Transform, making a MyTransform class and setting it onto a sprite. Same results. Flash doesn’t really set and keep around my own transform or matrix classes. It seems to use their values and discard the objects. I’m sure it has to do with how the display list is implemented under the hood.

However, I did discover that to affect the display object your transform class doesn’t need to be assigned to it. Here is an example:

var sprite:Sprite = new Sprite()
var t:MyTransform = new MyTransform(sprite); // Transform takes a displayObject as it's one and only parameter
t.matrix = new Matrix(2, 0, 0, 2, 100, 100); // scale it up 2ce and set x/y to 100

trace(sprite.transform.matrix); // (2, 0, 0, 2, 100, 100)

I was able to set the matrix with my own transform class from outside the display object. Side note: speaking with Tyler about transform requiring a display object, he’s convinced this is the only reason you can’t serialize display objects to a bytearray. It throws an error when constructors require parameters, and Transform requires this one parameter. Might be useful to serialize display objects, maybe the Flash team could make the parameter optional! And have the display object set it when it is added as the transform.

So my two options are now:

  1. Use my own Transform class externally as explained above. I could keep a dictionary of transform objects to the data that I needed.
  2. Subclass Sprite, Shape, Bitmap, etc. and have it store the transform object of my choice.

I’ll probably go with option two. Maybe I’ll even be able to make a display object serializable with some trickery? Ooh, I gotta go try that! Catcha later.

2 Responses to “Overriding Flash’s Transform and Matrix”

  1. Jason Says:

    How did this work out for you? I am in the same situation. Thinking about just copying off the matrix’s 6 numbers into an array during serialization converting those to ByteArray and the creating a matrix on the flipside and populating it with my 6 numbers. Then assigning it or concatenating it to the matrix of the displayobject?


  2. Jacob Wright Says:

    I was able to serialize display objects: http://jacwright.com/blog/201/serializing-display-objects/. There’s a lot to consider, and I ended up going with an object DOM structure that used display objects to draw it on stage, but they just extended my own base Node class with common functionality.