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Mike Riley

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Learning ActionScript 3.0, Second Edition Book Review

November 10, 2010

With the proliferation of mobile devices capable of running Flash or embedded Flash applications, learning the basics and nuances of ActionScript has become a priority for some developers. How well does Learning ActionScript 3.0 fill this need? Read on to find out.Learning ActionScript 3.0 focuses on the object oriented nature of ActionScript 3.0, available to developers and designers running Flash Professional CS3 through CS5. The authors emphasize the shift from the procedural nature of ActionScript 1.0 and 2.0 to the OOP-enabled 3.0 language. Web developers already familiar with JavaScript syntax and OOP concepts will find Learning ActionScript to be an easy reading experience.

The book dives right into the object oriented nature of ActionScript 3.0 by asking the readers to create a HelloWorld class and instantiate it within a Flash window. This is followed by a basic overview of ActionScript language fundamentals (variables, loops, arrays, functions, properties, methods, events, etc.). After the display and object hierarchies are explained, a chapter is dedicated to the demonstration of ActionScript's all-important Timeline control. The next chapter offers a primer on OOP, mainly intended for graphic designers who have had limited exposure the concepts of classes, inheritance, composition, encapsulation and polymorphism. This chapter should have appeared earlier in the book, given its center-stage importance in ActionScript 3.0.

Chapters 7 through 10 demonstrate aspects of motion (simple physics, collision, geometry/trigonometry and tweening), vectors (9-slice scaling), pixels (bitmap caching, blend/bitmap and color effects) and text (creating, setting, selecting and formatting text fields). Chapters on sound and video review the basics of audio and video capture and playback, and the final section of the book focuses on I/O operations such as loading SWFs, images, and read and writing XML.

The book is part of the Adobe Developer Library, published by O'Reilly, and the attention to detail and beautiful page layout and design is striking. This is matched by the educational quality that author Rich Shupe brings to the package. Having taught Flash since its inception, this book shows that Mr. Shupe also knows how to communicate effectively in print; he will no doubt use this book as a reference text in his future Flash training classes.

Although the book was written primarily by designers for designers, developers can still learn quite a bit from the work. The 4-color high quality paper presentation is excellent and the numerous screen captures, call-out notes and code listings help guide readers toward a higher level of ActionScript and Flash proficiency. Code examples, quizzes, blog posts and demonstrations can be accessed via the book's website, learningactionscript3.com and its partner site, learningflashcs4.com. Learning ActionScript 3.0 is a solid introduction for anyone ready to enthusiastically enter the world of Flash application design and development.

Title: Learning ActionScript 3.0, Second Edition Authors: Rich Shupe with Zevan Rosser Publisher: O'Reilly Media ISBN: 978-1-449-39017-4 Pages: 456 Price: $49.99

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