Loading an external SWF file

Flash Player 9 and later, Adobe AIR 1.0 and later

In ActionScript 3.0, SWF files are loaded using the Loader class. To load an external SWF file, your ActionScript needs to do four things:

  1. Create a new URLRequest object with the url of the file.

  2. Create a new Loader object.

  3. Call the Loader object’s load() method, passing the URLRequest instance as a parameter.

  4. Call the addChild() method on a display object container (such as the main timeline of a Flash document) to add the Loader instance to the display list.

Ultimately, the code looks like this:

var request:URLRequest = new URLRequest("http://www.[yourdomain].com/externalSwf.swf"); 
var loader:Loader = new Loader() 

This same code can be used to load an external image file such as a JPEG, GIF, or PNG image, by specifying the image file’s url rather than a SWF file’s url. A SWF file, unlike an image file, may contain ActionScript. Thus, although the process of loading a SWF file may be identical to loading an image, when loading an external SWF file both the SWF file doing the loading and the SWF file being loaded must reside in the same security sandbox if Flash Player or AIR is playing the SWF and you plan to use ActionScript to communicate in any way to the external SWF file. Additionally, if the external SWF file contains classes that share the same namespace as classes in the loading SWF file, you may need to create a new application domain for the loaded SWF file in order to avoid namespace conflicts. For more information on security and application domain considerations, see Working with application domains and Loading content .

When the external SWF file is successfully loaded, it can be accessed through the Loader.content property. If the external SWF file is published for ActionScript 3.0, this will be either a movie clip or a sprite, depending on which class it extends.

There are a few differences for loading a SWF file in Adobe AIR for iOS versus other platforms. For more information, see Loading SWF files in AIR for iOS .

Considerations for loading an older SWF file

If the external SWF file has been published with an older version of ActionScript, there are important limitations to consider. Unlike an ActionScript 3.0 SWF file that runs in AVM2 (ActionScript Virtual Machine 2), a SWF file published for ActionScript 1.0 or 2.0 runs in AVM1 (ActionScript Virtual Machine 1).

There are important differences when loading an ActionScript 1.0 or 2.0 SWF file into an ActionScript 3.0 SWF file (compared to loading an ActionScript 3.0 SWF file). Flash Player provides full backward compatibility with previously published content. Any content that runs in previous versions of Flash Player runs in Flash Player versions that support ActionScript 3.0. However, the following limitations apply:

  • ActionScript 3.0 code can load a SWF file written in ActionScript 1.0 or 2.0. When an ActionScript 1.0 or 2.0 SWF file is successfully loaded, the loaded object (the Loader.content property) is an AVM1Movie object. An AVM1Movie instance is not the same as a MovieClip instance. It is a display object, but unlike a movie clip, it does not include timeline-related methods or properties. The parent AVM2 SWF file cannot access the properties, methods, or objects of the loaded AVM1Movie object.

  • SWF files written in ActionScript 1.0 or 2.0 cannot load SWF files written in ActionScript 3.0. This means that SWF files authored in Flash 8 or Flex Builder 1.5 or earlier versions cannot load ActionScript 3.0 SWF files.

    The only exception to this rule is that an ActionScript 2.0 SWF file can replace itself with an ActionScript 3.0 SWF file, as long as the ActionScript 2.0 SWF file hasn't previously loaded anything into any of its levels. An ActionScript 2.0 SWF file can do this through a call to loadMovieNum() , passing a value of 0 to the level parameter.

  • In general, SWF files written in ActionScript 1.0 or 2.0 must be migrated if they are to work together with SWF files written in ActionScript 3.0. For example, suppose you created a media player using ActionScript 2.0. The media player loads various content that was also created using ActionScript 2.0. You cannot create new content in ActionScript 3.0 and load it in the media player. You must migrate the video player to ActionScript 3.0.

    If, however, you create a media player in ActionScript 3.0, that media player can perform simple loads of your ActionScript 2.0 content.

The following tables summarize the limitations of previous versions of Flash Player in relation to loading newer content and executing code, as well as the limitations for cross-scripting between SWF files written in different versions of ActionScript.

Supported functionality

Flash Player 7

Flash Player 8

Flash Player 9 and 10

Can load SWFs published for

7 and earlier

8 and earlier

9 (or 10) and earlier

Contains this AVM



AVM1 and AVM2

Runs SWFs written in ActionScript

1.0 and 2.0

1.0 and 2.0

1.0 and 2.0, and 3.0

In the following table, “Supported functionality” refers to content running in Flash Player 9 or later. Content running in Flash Player 8 or earlier can load, display, execute, and cross-script only ActionScript 1.0 and 2.0.

Supported functionality

Content created in ActionScript 1.0 and 2.0

Content created in ActionScript 3.0

Can load content and execute code in content created in

ActionScript 1.0 and 2.0 only

ActionScript 1.0 and 2.0, and ActionScript 3.0

Can cross script content created in

ActionScript 1.0 and 2.0 only (ActionScript 3.0 through Local Connection)

ActionScript 1.0 and 2.0 through LocalConnection.

ActionScript 3.0

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