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Book review: ActionScript 3.0 Bible

ActionScript 3.0 Bible

By Roger Braunstein, Mims H. Wright and Josuha J. Noble

ActionScript 3.0 has to be regarded as an entirely new language when compared to ActionScript 1.0 and 2.0. It is not downwardly compatible and requires that Flash developers “migrate” to the new version. Having said that, the benefits of programming in ActionScript 3.0 are well worth the effort. For starters it’s up to ten times faster and offer much easier connectivity and networking capabilities, especially since XML is now a native data type in Flash.

The good things about this book:

It’s a project oriented book, full of tutorials that cover the majority of functions that a Flash developer is likely to come across in his or her work. It focusses squarely on how to do things and how to make stuff work rather than covering the more technical aspects of ActionScript 3.0 and object oriented programming (OOP).

The bad things about this book:

It feels like it was rushed through to publication. There are a lot of mistakes and some of the projects either don’t work or are incomplete. It takes some careful persistence to make some of the code work, which actually makes some parts of it a better learning experience, but I could see this being frustrating for a less experienced programmer.

To sum up, I have mixed opinions about it. On the one hand, it provides a much needed project oriented guide to programming some of the most frequently asked for functions of Flash using ActionScript 3.0 and is a good starting point. On the other hand, it contains too many typos and scripting errors to inspire confidence. I would say it’s got a lot of very useful information and is very practical but use it with caution and always read through and check any long projects actually work before starting them.

Recommendations

Personally, I’d recommend this book for intermediate ActionScript 2.0 programmers who want to migrate to ActionScript 3.0  and programmers who want to learn object oriented programming (OOP). If you’re more experienced with ActionScript 3.0 and would like to learn more about OOP, then I’d recommend Essential ActionScript 3.0 by Colin Moock. Colin Moock’s book goes into much more detail about the fundamental principles of OOP but it’s a little light on good examples and projects so I wouldn’t recommend it for beginners.

See preview of ActionScript 3.0 Bible on Google Books.

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Book review: ActionScript 3.0 Game Programming University

ActionScript 3.0 Game Programming University

By Gary Rosenzweig

This is another belated book review. I can’t remember exactly when I bought this but it was quite a while ago.

This is a great book. Well written, clearly explained and full of good tips and advice. It covers a range of different types of games including word games, driving and flying games, platform games and the usual shoot ’em ups.

My only criticism is that in some places the code is rather hacky and looks like it was converted from ActionScript 2.0 procedural code. But then again, once you understand the principles behind developing different types of games, writing them in more dynamic, robust object oriented code shouldn’t be too difficult.

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Book review: ActionScript 3.0 Animation

Foundation ActionScript 3.0 Animation: Making things move!

By Keith Peters

OK, this is a belated review. I bought this as an ebook when it was published in April 2007.

This is by far the best book, or even tutorials, I’ve ever read for animation in ActionScript 3.0. It’s clear, concise and very well paced, taking you from the basic principles of static frame animation (like cartoons) and taking you through to the more dynamic and interactive world of scripted animation.

It covers everything from moving basic 2D objects around, through the principles behind scripting velocity and acceleration, friction, easing and springing, collision detection and on to complex interactive 3D shapes and environments. There’s even a couple of chapters on forward and inverse kinematics if you interested in scripting jointed, moving creatures. The mathematical formulae are well described and you really get a feel for what the author is talking about.

Overall, it’s a great book and I’d recommend it to anyone who would like to get involved in dynamic, interactive animation.

Preview Foundation ActionScript 3.0 Animation, Making things move! on Google Books.