Learning ActionScript 3.0 2nd Edition

Author: Rich Shupe & Zevan Rosser
Publisher: O'Reilly 2010
Pages: 456
ISBN: 978-1449390174
Aimed at: Non-programming Flash designers
Rating: 3
Pros: Shows how ActionScript can be used in Flash design
Cons: A steep learning curve
Reviewed by: David Conrad

This book is an attempt to teach programming to "non-traditional" programmers. Does it succeed?

Author: Rich Shupe & Zevan Rosser
Publisher: O'Reilly 2010
Pages: 456
ISBN: 978-1449390174
Aimed at: Non-programming Flash designers
Rating: 3
Pros: Shows how ActionScript can be used in Flash design
Cons: A steep learning curve
Reviewed by: David Conrad

ActionScript is the language of Flash or Flex depending on how you look at it. This book is an attempt to teach programming to "non-traditional" programmers. Given that ActionScript is basically a derivative of JavaScript with data typing and classical objects this is no small task.

The first thing to know is that the book concentrates on using ActionScript with Flash and Flash Professional CS3/CS4 in particular.

It also doesn't attempt to teach object oriented programming or indeed any advanced programming concepts. This is reasonable as there are other books that take the reader into these territories.


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The first chapter is a general introduction but is spoiled a bit by a silly mistake in the very first diagram that could leave beginners wondering if they really understand. The example, is a simple Hello World which does the job of getting the user started. It is assumed that the reader already has Flash Professional installed.

Chapter 2 is where the real work starts and for a beginner's introduction this is hard. It starts off with an example that many will find difficult to follow. Then it marches on into ActionScript by setting out technical details that would not be out of place in a standard manual. Almost before we have swallowed the idea of data types the book is attempting to explain casting. Then we have a table of operators a section on conditionals, loop and so on. At the end of this chapter you have completed Part I of the book and have met all of ActionScript the language. There is no attempt to ease the beginner into thinking about how to program or how loops and if statements work. It is presented clearly but it is only going to make sense if you already program in ActionScript or JavaScript.

Part II of the book is task oriented and shows how ActionScript can be used. There are chapters on properties, methods and events, the display list, timeline control, OPP,. Motion, drawing with vectors and drawing with pixels. Most of the examples are fairly short and easy to understand. The emphasis is on graphics and special effects rather than creating full applications, but this fits in with the book's overall remit.

Part III is on nothing but text. You might be surprised at this but text is a big topic as it includes interworking with HTML and CSS. Part IV is on sound and video and Part V is on input/output.

This isn't a good book if you can program and want to discover how to use ActionScript in a Flash environment. The actual introduction to ActionScript the language is over in about a single chapter and the rest of the book is on interaction with other Flash objects and facilities. If you are a programmer, however, you might want to look at the bigger picture in terms of Flash/Flex/AIR etc and consider building complete applications. If you are the stated audience for the book, i.e. non-programming Flash designers, then you are most likely going to have a tough time picking up the basics of programming from this book. Once you have, however, it will tell you how to do the sort of thing that you want to do.


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Build Awesome Command-Line Applications in Ruby

Author: David B. Copeland
Publisher: Pragmatic Bookshelf
Pages: 225
ISBN: 978-1934356913
Audience: Ruby Developers
Rating: 2
Reviewer: Mike James

Command-Line applications! If you think that the GUI is the only way to do it, this book might have something to teach you - or not..



Learning Java, 4th Ed

Author: Patrick Niemeyer & Dan Leuck
Publisher: O'Reilly
Pages: 1010
ISBN: 978-1449319243
Audience: Programmers already familiar with Java
Rating: 3.5
Reviewer: Alex Armstrong

Learning Java - obviously a book for someone who wants to learn Java. Don't be too quick to leap to that conclusion!


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