Author: Russell Chun
Publisher: Peachpit Press, 2008
Aimed at: New users of ActionScript
Pros: Task-oriented approach that might suit non-programmer
Cons: Frustrating tendency to use techniques without explaining them first
Reviewed by: David Conrad
This book takes the view that CS4 is about animation and ActionScript 3.0 is a bit of an afterthought - but an important one. The book starts off with some thoughts on advanced animation and to make any sense of this or later chapters you do need to know how to use CS4 to create a basic animation, i.e. you need to have read an introduction.
From this point the topics shift to using ActionScript but rather than introduce the ideas in an order that would make sense to a programmer - i.e. the objects, classes, event and overall structure - the ideas are drip-fed using a task-oriented approach. This is a good way to learn if you really haven't a clue about programming but if you know another language then it is very inefficient. You read each page waiting to be told the tiny snippit of information that would allow you to do the task yourself and it is usually hidden within a step-by-step explanation of how to do something. Avoiding dealing with the programming language before giving practical examples and explaining how it is used means that many of the important ideas are deferred until much later. For example, the final chapters deal with ideas such as variables, type, string manipulation, assignment and so on. These are all ideas that have been used earlier in the book but without a full explanation.
If you are looking for an introduction suitable for a more or less non-programming designer then this approach might suit and might just get them off the launch pad enough for them to realise that they need to learn to program. For the reader that can program in almost any object-oriented language the result is more likely to be frustration than enlightenment.