ActionScript 3 Reusing and pooling graphics


Creating and configuring Sprite and TextField objects at runtime can be costly if you are creating hundreds of thousands of these on a single frame. Therefore a common trick is "pooling" these objects for later reuse. Remember we are not just trying to optimize the creation time (new Sprite()) but also the configuration (setting of default properties).

Lets say we were building a list component using hundreds of TextField objects. When you need to create a new object, check if an existing object can be reused.

var pool:Array = [];

if (pool.length > 0){

    // reuse an existing TextField
    var label = pool.pop();

    // create a new TextField
    label = new TextField();
    // initialize your TextField over here
    label.multiline = false;
    label.selectable = false;

// add the TextField into the holder so it appears on-screen
// you will need to layout it and set its "text" and other stuff seperately

Later, when you are destroying your component (or removing it from screen), remember to add unused labels back into the pool.

foreach (var label in allLabels){
    label.parent.removeChild(label); // remove from parent Sprite
    pool.push(label); // add to pool

In most cases it is best to create a pool per usage instead of a global pool. Disadvantages to a creating a global pool is you need to re-initialize the object everytime to retrieve it from the pool, to negate the settings done by other functions. This is equally costly and pretty much negates the performance boost of using pooling in the first place.