Although Flash MX 2004 was released only a couple of weeks ago, this book is rarely an oldie, more a goldie. I think it’s also the most recent in O’Reilly’s series of books about ActionScript. The author, Colin Moock, has done an outstanding job of very clearly explaining the principals of ActionScripting and is easy to understand for the beginner and the intermediate.
Colin starts off by explaining variables and data types, the two fundamentals of programming (or scripting). He continues to discuss topics, such as operators, statements, loops, functions, event handling, movie clips and a lot more. One of my favorite chapters was about objects and classes, and movie clips. Colin has a remarkable style of writing that makes it both interesting and entertaining. Which always makes me wonder how O’Reilly scouts such talented authors for all the different topics that they have covered with their titles so far.
When I started working with Flash, one of the most difficult things to understand was the structure of a Flash file. Layers, Timelines, and paths of nested movieclips and buttons. This book is certainly what I longed for two years ago, when I was struggeling. Too bad I only discovered it now. Having mastered the basics with this book, you will find yourself soon advancing to topics, such as object oriented scripting and classes, which is why ActionScript is so extremely useful even for people who usually call the frontend (of a project) their fortay.
Since I have read more than one book on different programming and scripting languages, one should not take for granted that example code always works. I have even had books where none of the files on the CD-ROM that came with the book worked. Keeping in mind that most of those books cost between 40 and 50 USD, you can imagine one’s mood when you discover such negligence. Let me say that I did not try every piece of code that came with this book, but virtually every example code I tried worked flawlessly; I think the editors have done a outstanding job.
Only praise? Well no! It is really a pity that this book does not discuss code debugging in Flash. For example, the very neat remote debugger that has been introduced in Flash. So far this is the only downside I discovered and because I think debugging is one of the most important things, when you learn a new language, I took a star off the rating to reflect this.
Easy to read, covers basic but also advanced topics
Code-debugging totally neglected
ActionScript handbook for the beginner and intermediate. Should not be missing in your library.