Displaying Animated GIFs in Flex

This morning, I found myself wanting to add a nice-looking, but quick loading indicator into a Flex application. In the Ajax world, it’s simple…just use an animated GIF that can be downloaded from any number of sites. In Flex, it’s not quite that easy. The default Image component in Flex does not support animated images, nor does Flex itself.

A quick Google search turned up the as3gif library, which provides support for playing animated GIFs. The download did not include a SWC, so I pulled the source code into Flex Builder and quickly compiled one, which I then included in my Flex project.

To enable animated GIF images, I extended the Image component to utilize as3gif as follows:

package iamjosh.samples.components
{
	import flash.net.URLRequest;
	
	import mx.controls.Image;
	import mx.core.UIComponent;
	
	import org.gif.player.GIFPlayer;

	public class AnimatedGIFImage extends Image
	{
		private var _gifImage  : UIComponent;
		
		public function AnimatedGIFImage()
		{
			super();
			this._gifImage  = new UIComponent();
		}
		
		override public function set source(value : Object) : void
		{
			if (!value is String)
			{
				throw new ArgumentError("Source must be of type String");
			}
			
			super.source = value;
		}
		
		override protected function createChildren() : void
		{
			super.createChildren();
			var player : GIFPlayer = new GIFPlayer();
			player.load(new URLRequest(this.source as String));
			this._gifImage.addChild(player);
		}
		
		override protected function updateDisplayList(unscaledWidth : Number, unscaledHeight : Number) : void
		{
			this.addChild(this._gifImage);
			super.updateDisplayList(unscaledWidth, unscaledHeight);
		}
	}
}

This class simply pulls in the source for the image and then utilizes the as3gif library. Using the AnimatedGIFImage component is as simple as:

<components:AnimatedGIFImage source="assets/images/loading.gif"/>

Although I have not tested it thoroughly, the class should also support the basic capabilities of the Image component as well.

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