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Book Review - Understanding Flash MX 2004 ActionScript 2 - Basic techniques for creatives

Author: Alex Michael
ISBN: 0240519310
Publisher: Focal Press
9.6 x 7.4
272 pages
Published: March 2004

One of the best ways to learn a programming language is to examine finished code, break it down and experiment with it. Alex Michael uses this approach to teach FlashR ActionScriptR and the Flash basics. As part of his teaching method, he uses demo files which you can download from the accompanying website. For each chapter, there are several demos that not only include the finished swf file but several intermediate fla files that show how the demo was built. As you would expect, Michael starts with simple applications and as you progress though the book, each demo increases in complexity. One of the nice features of Flash is the built-in components. Along with the demo files for the tutorials, there are also 18 component-driven applications that you can use to add interactivity and visual effects to your own Flash movies.

Although the author has meant this book to be for the nonprogrammer and I liked his approach to teaching, I believe he assumes prior knowledge that a novice does not have. The demos in the book are very entertaining and do answer some of the most frequently asked questions I get from my readers, but this book is more on the intermediate level instead of a beginner's book. Unless you have had previous experience with Flash and at least one programming language, you may find parts of this book a little difficult. However, Michael covers the aspects of any programming language such as variables, functions, arrays, events and event handlers. He also covers Flash specific aspects such as Flash objects, the Flash timeline and components.

Alex Michael is the author of Animating with Flash MX and is currently the Lead Animator and MD of Sprite Interactive, Ltd. UK He was previously the Creative Director for Disney and Buena Vista International.

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