ActionScript 3 Responsive Application Design Performing lengthy processes and not get unresponsive application


There are situations when you need to calculate something really large in your Flash application, while not interrupting the user's experience. For this, you need to devise your lengthy process as a multi-step process with saved state between iterations. For example, you need to perform a background update of a lot of internal objects, but if you desire to update them all at once with a simple for each (var o in objects) { o.update(); }, Flash briefly (or not as briefly) becomes unresponsive to the user. So, you need to perform one or several updates per frame.

private var processing:Boolean;      // are we in the middle of processing
private var lastIndex:int;           // where did we finish last time
var objects:Vector.<UpdatingObject>; // the total list of objects to update
function startProcess():Boolean {
    if (processing) return false; // already processing - please wait
    if (!hasEventListener(Event.ENTER_FRAME,iterate)) 
        addEventListener(Event.ENTER_FRAME,iterate); // enable iterating via listener
private function iterate(e:Event):void {
    if (!processing) return; // not processing - skip listener
    objects[lastIndex].update(); // perform a quantum of the big process
    lastIndex++; // advance in the big process
    if (lastIndex==objects.length) {
        processing=false; // finished, clear flag

Advanced processing can include using getTimer() to check elapsed time and allowing another iteration if time didn't run out, splitting update() into several functions if updating is too long, displaying progress elsewhere, adjusting iteration process to adapt to changes of the list of objects to process, and many more.