Soft Hyphens in Flash: Unsupported

18 July 2007

I've been tasked with some Flash development at work. I figured it couldn't be so bad because it's basically just Javascript (plus the awkward stages and tweens stuff), but so far the differences do seem to be quite a bit more drastic than I had first expected.

Anyway, this post isn't about ActionScript. Though I'll readily go on record saying that the language extensions Macromedia/Adobe added for ActionScript 3 (classes instead of prototypes, type annotations, etc) are awful, and I'll stick to the good old ECMAScript Edition 3 style, thank you very much.

No, what's really tripping me up is that Flash, at least in version 8, doesn't know how to deal with soft hyphens. Throw in soft hyphens (as unicode characters) in multiline text fields, and Flash will actually render them as normal—always visible—hyphens! Try to use ­ HTML entities in text fields configured to render as HTML, and it'll just output “­” in their place! That's helpful!

Sure, support for soft hyphens isn't that great in HTML user agents either. But I kind of expected Flash to at least come out on par, being known for being popular among those who care about typography on the web. I was wrong about that expectation: Flash doesn't support soft hyphens at all.

And now there'll at least be a sensible result when googling about this topic. If support was added after version 8, or is planned, let me know and I'll update this post.