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Foundation Flash CS3 for Designers Book Review

The approach taken by Tom Green and David Stiller in this book is to teach FlashR CS3 from a designer's point of view. However, Flash CS3 is a powerful tool and it is impossible to avoid some programming in any book such as this. The authors have used only ActionScript 3.0 which was introduced with Flash CS3. One nice feature of the book is that the working examples are not just a rehashing of the same old examples that you will find in most books about Flash. The authors have made a great effort to use fun and interesting examples for each topic-based chapter to make learning Flash almost painless for the designer and artist.

The authors take the usual progression when teaching Flash. They begin with a tour of the workspace and cover the basic steps to building a Flash project. Next, you learn graphics and color. With Flash CS3, the integration between Flash and the other AdobeR software is greatly improved and the ability to import graphics into your Flash project that have been created in other programs is an important production asset. The book covers this and other topics such as drawing your own graphics with the Flash drawing tools.

Symbols are the backbone of any Flash project and the Flash Library is a must for organizing your assets for a large project. The authors cover these as well as 9-slice scaling, tracing bitmaps, group and nesting, filters, blends and masks. I especially enjoyed the newer soft masking example.

By the time you reach chapter four, you enter the world of Flash ActionScript and the Actions panel. Here you get just enough introduction to ActionScript programming but not enough to overwhelm the designer and artists. The authors cover the basics such as objects, variables, data types and conditionals. From this point, you move on to more advanced topics that do require a little ActionScript including audio and video. You will build an MP3 player and use ActionScript to handle multiple audio files. The Superman movie example will teach you how to work with video, add captions and set full-screen options.

The authors have a little fun when discussing the various ways to use text in Flash projects. You learn the basics such as creating scrolling text but you also learn how to blow it up. Up to this point, you have only touched on animation. Now it is time to cover animation more thoroughly. The authors use great examples to teach animation basics including tweening and easing.

Flash CS3 has improved many of the built-in components and added a few new ones. The authors introduce you to UI elements and how to use ActionScript to control them in your online application projects. Next, they discuss using CSS and XML to add style and dynamic data to your projects. One of the newest Flash topics is creating Flash for mobile devices. The authors discuss Device Central and Flash Lite 2. Finally, you are ready to discuss publishing considerations such as bandwidth and optimizing your SWF files. You will also create a simple preloader and convert your SWF to QuickTimeR format.

Tom Green is currently an author and Professor at Humber College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning in Toronto, Canada. David Stiller is a career multimedia programmer/designer and author.

Authors: Tom Green and David Stiller
Pages: 600
Publisher: friends of ED
Published: July 24, 2007
ISBN-10: 159059861X




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