on June 24, 2011
This is a kitchen sink book, and not in a good way. Everything you need to know about Flash is in it but in such a hopeless jumble it might as well not be.
Reading this book is like spending the day with a jabbery neighbor who can't distinguish the important from the incidental. Once Perkins begins a topic, he just chatters about whatever comes into his head - the truly practical right along with the uselessly arcane. On almost every page is at least one "Tip" or "Note," often several, to distract you from the main line of thought. These are generally the kind of facts that better writers put in footnotes or an index or their own chapter, or simply leave out. Perkins just spatters them everywhere, perpetually directing your attention to the uselessly marginal, and away from what should be the focus. Once you read about twenty of these, and realize how scatterbrained they are, you begin to slalom around them, mentally doing the editing that Perkins should have done.
Perkins certainly knows his stuff, and presumably he thought he was adding value by tossing in everything he could think of, but that's simply not what good writers do. Good writers give you a clean line. Perkins wouldn't know a clean line if it fell on him.
A million airball digressions do not add up to value. They add up to a headache of a book.
on December 17, 2012
My apologies up front: this is not a review about the book. I'm sure the book is fine. I'm a professional instructor and I have a strong opinion about Todd Perkins' video training. He's terrible. No personality, lame examples...I could go on and on. Again, my apologies. I purchased this book because I need it to study for the Flash CS5.5 ACE exam.
on July 27, 2011
It is true this is not a book for people who want to learn to program. Programming is a seperate and significant skill that many people learn in a semester or two at college (which is where I teach it). It is possible to "pick up ActionScript" but it isn't easy. What this book does do, is provide a comprehensive guide to the many elements of ActionScript. The explanations are readable. Anyone willing to work through the examples can develop a clear and often deep understanding of the material. But that is just the catch. No one learns to program by reading a single book and without writing a lot of code -- even if it is copied. At least I know of no one who has and I know a lot of programmers.
Learning to program ActionScript is like learning to speak French. You have to do it... a lot. And the more you do it, the better you get. Malcolm Gladwell suggests in his book Outliers, that to be a really good programmer takes about 10,000 hours of practice. He is probably right.
If you do want to learn to program with ActionScript, you'll need more than one book. First you'll need a book by a competent artist or designer to guide you through all the non ActionScript elements of Flash. There are lots of those elements and they are much too powerful and sophisticated to expect a someone who doesn't use them daily to explain them well. Second, you'll need a book like ActionScript 3.0 Game Programming University which, while weak in terms of explaining basic programming concepts and missing a useful index, has a fabulous collection of projects that are wonderfully explained and an author who is committed to supporting his readers. Third, you need a book that explains the elements of programing, ideally ActionScript programming, but any language will do if you have a compiler and can practice it. Unfortunately, I don't know of any good introductions that use ActionScript.
You also need the ActionScript 3.0 Bible as a reference. The biggest problem with ActionScript is that it is enormous. At just under 1000 pages, this book does a superb job of covering a large portion of the language clearly and consicely. It may not be the only tool you need, but it is a good one.
Finally, you need to be prepared for the enormously fun and fantastically frustrating part -- writing the code, lots and lots and lots of it.
The good news is, it is more than worth the effort.