Memory Problems in Flash MX 2004

I’ve just encountered an annoying problem / bug / feature with Flash MX 2004 in its handling of FLA files with large libraries. Under Windows XP, this problem rears its ugly head with the somewhat mistifying error message of:

“There is not enough memory to open this scene. Your document is not damaged and may safely be saved. To increase available memory, close open documents or quit and use the Get Info command in the Finder to allocate more memory to Flash.”

This would usually end up with Flash not letting you save and finally crashing. Here’s what I experienced and how I got around the problem:

I’ve been working on an interactive piece with fairly large and detailed vector graphics imported from Illustrator. I’d tidied up all the graphics and started organising them into their appropriate symbols. Next time I went to open the file again I found that Flash couldn’t handle it and returned the memory error message with the irrelevant (for Windows users) Mac OS advice. My machine is relatively high-spec (newish AMD CPU, 1Gb RAM, 80Gb HDD with at least 20Gb free disk space) so it seems to be a problem with Flash, not my box. I tried various workarounds and fixes that I found via Google, but unfortunately I had no luck and my original source file is now unretrievable. Here are some steps that I would recommend to work around and mitigate this problem:

  • Make sure Flash is updated to the latest release. Download the Flash Updater and upgrade (I upgraded to v7.2). Reboot for good measure.
  • Create a new FLA file with the original file’s properties (background colour, dimensions, frame rate).
  • If you’re lucky, you would have tested your original Flash movie on several occasions when you were creating it. I was able (after updating Flash) to import the test swf file back into this new file. I had to put them back into movie clips etc, but it saved me hours of re-importing and tweaking many detailed graphics.
  • Use the “Save and Compact” feature regularly. Apparently Flash saves every state in its undo history in the FLA file as a resource saving feature. This leads to a lot of file size bloating. Mesh on MX has details about this. Take all the content and save in a new file to see the difference in file size when you have a large library in an FLA that you’ve been working on for some time. Or use “Save and Compact”.
  • Save a (verified working) backup copy of your FLA regularly to save you wasting as many hours as I have.

I’m interested to know whether a lot of people are experiencing this. Let me know if this has been any help or if you’ve had similar experiences. Comments are open.

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  1. I’m experiencing exactly the same problem. I lost my detailed graphics, but thankfully I can retrieve them using hte .swf file : ). I hop this gets fixed soon. The source code is a pain to re-type.

  2. I repair this problem, with these steps:
    1. Clic en the Option Window in the menu
    2.Select the option toolbars
    3.Clic and check the option Main
    4. Now you have a new toolbar, clic en the image of the iman(Snap to Object) for desactivate the option.

    Ok, i hope so these steps help you.

  3. I have had this problem several times, all from importing bitmaps, usually PNGs, into the library. I am usually able to overcome the problem by opening the file on my PC, my MAC just bombs every time, and going through the library looking for elements that did not load. I delete the elements which did not load, then save and compact the file. This is a huge bug and no one has a solution. Yet another reason Macromedia needs to invest in a solid dev team. Maybe Adobe will set them straight.

  4. it seems to be a problem withj the way photoshop saves png files or how flash reads them in the following circumstance….

    a transparent image…. the floating part of image, like an island around the transparent part of image is touching the edge…. centre the floating image in photoshop to have some transparency around the entire object, resave, reimport to flash and voila its working again.

    oh yeah i checked the save interlace option (but not sure if it matters)

  5. I’m having this very same problem right now, and I’m so mad about it! I’ve been working on this animation for nearly two months and now I can’t even open the .fla file. Itried your solution, but it didn’t work quite well. I’m going to try to open it on another computer as soon as I get the opportunity, I hope it will work. If not… I’m going to explode ARG! :(

  6. Terrific Blog you have. Peace Out.

  7. Fixed it. almost completely. If u constantly test ur flash with publish preview a ton u’ll have an swf file wherever u save ur stuff. Take this file and import it into a blank flash doc. When it’s imported, it’ll look all messed up but just go to “view” “preview mode” and click “full” this should bring back quite a bit. I found that sometimes backgrounds will cover up the whole thing and everything behind them will loose color, so i suggest (before changing preview mode) to somewhat organize the groupings of your different components on the stage. For instance, create new layers, and move the various objects (background, people, etc.) to layers where they will all be visable when you click “full” in “preview mode” hope this helps :-)

  8. Kewl blog you got goin on up here.
    Peace, JiggyWittit

  9. Thanks guys, glad you could stop by.

  10. Must have really Gotcha

  11. Man, I’ve been having the same problem too. It’s so frustrating, argh!

    I imported one jpeg when I very first created the FLA, and it didn’t have any problems for many months, until a few days ago. If I manage to click through the boxes spamming that same message over and over, I finally get to the file… and there’s no stage, no frames, and the “new layer” button (among others) are simply gone. It usually spams more of those message boxes if I try to change any of this.

  12. thanks so much, this is the exact same fuckin annoying ass problem, its been destroying my cartoons!

    thanks again for taking the time, good to know