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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Starting Point for Migrating to ActionScript 3
I first became interested Learning ActionScript 3 after initially reading a few samples posted on Adobe's website. What I found was an excellent starting point that drove me to finally make the jump from ActionScript 1 and 2. In practice, most books I have read about ActionScript 3 focus on the Flex platform, which is outside of what I'm looking for. Rather, I needed...
Published on August 3, 2008 by Alexander C. Baker

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403 of 427 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The more I read it, the more I hate it.
First, please note that many of the 5-star reviews are written by experienced Flash professionals, who already have actionscript expertise -- and that makes them poor judges of how clear this book will be to a beginning audience.

The book is explicitly written for beginners, but the authors often have a poor grasp on what readers know. On one page they start...
Published on April 18, 2008 by Rob T


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403 of 427 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The more I read it, the more I hate it., April 18, 2008
By 
Rob T "robtish" (Los Angeles, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Learning ActionScript 3.0: A Beginner's Guide (Paperback)
First, please note that many of the 5-star reviews are written by experienced Flash professionals, who already have actionscript expertise -- and that makes them poor judges of how clear this book will be to a beginning audience.

The book is explicitly written for beginners, but the authors often have a poor grasp on what readers know. On one page they start talking about "trapping" events. What does that mean? Who knows?

I have a good math background, so I was able to decipher the math chapter, but it contains explanations like, "A radian is the angle of a circle subtended by an arc along its circumference that is the length of the circle's radius (hence the name, radian)." What's the point of writing a sentence like that? Will it be understood by anyone who doesn't already know what a radian is? Has a math newbie even ever heard the word "subtend"? This casual use of undefined jargon happens in every chapter.

Also, sometimes they're just wrong. They say that a ball moving 4 pixels to the right and 4 pixels down per second will have a velocity of 4 pixels per second in a south southeast direction. No. The Pythagorean theorem (which they explain, badly, in the next section), says the ball will be moving more than 5.6 pixels per second. And the direction is southeast.

The book really is full of typos, and they're not all caught in the errata. The only way to know if the code is correct is to to go the website and download the code being discussed in the book. The files you download will have the correct code (though before you check the code, as you're reading the book you're thinking, "Do I not understand, or is this code wrong?") Unfortunately, the book sometimes refers to these files by the wrong name, so you have to figure out which file to open. That's really inexcusable -- how hard would it be for the authors to go to their own website and correctly name the files?

Another random, infuriating example of the book's sloppiness: on page 144, the authors state a line of code "g.curveTo(275, 0, 400, 100);". In the context of the chapter, the hardest part of this code to understand is the "275, 0" and it's the one part they don't bother to explain!

And as long as I'm ranting (I just threw the book down to come and write this), the authors often put unnecessary lines into the code. I'm left trying to figure it out, wondering, "Why did they put that there? Is it necessary?" so I try the code without the extra material, and it still works fine. But the authors never explain why it's there, so while you're trying to learn to read actionscript, wanting to understand the importance of each line and its relationship to the rest of the example, you're thinking, "Am I just missing the importance of this line? Or does it have no importance?" Learners shouldn't be left to wonder those things!

It's a maddening book, full of unexplained terminology (I just found the phrase, "dedicated canvas"; huh?), incomplete explanations, bloated code, and many, many errors.
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44 of 50 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not for a beginner, July 30, 2008
This review is from: Learning ActionScript 3.0: A Beginner's Guide (Paperback)
I'm a beginner to Flash but not to scripting, programming and graphical applications in general. If you're looking for a true beginners book skip this one. The book states right on the cover that its aimed at "those new to ActionScript, visual learners" Well I've programmed in many languages, and am fluent in all kinds of applications and this book is definitely NOT targeted at a non-programmer or a beginner.

The book immediately jumps to jargon frequently asking the reader to ignore the jargon as it will be explained later. For example the initial chapters are laced with descriptions of "class" but the actual discussion of class does not occur until chapter six. That's a long time to go trying to read pages of class discussion with no clear definition.

The book states clearly that it is not a reference. This means it can avoid creating a strong set of appendices or a good glossary. Don't know a term (which if you're new you won't), don't turn to this book to fill it in. Want a list of possible commands - look elsewhere.

The book claims to be for "visual learners" yet most of the examples do virtually nothing visually. Instead the example are a bunch of esoteric theoretical examples meant to give you the "philosophy" about using a particular command or structure, instead of a commonplace example. When the commonplace examples are given, frequently they're at the end of the chapter and not described - instead "by now you should be able to understand how this code works."

The book does not strongly tie ActionScript to the flash timeline (this will get me flamed). Sure they state often that you now can tie your actions to objects, but if you're a beginner then you need to describe how.

The book is on its first printing and is filled with errors and typos. Luckily I have a background in working with edge programs and first printings always come with this burden. Here the burden is deadly to the beginner who can easily spend hours trying to figure out whats going wrong only to learn it was a typo.

Now all that said, this is a good book. The authors are trying. I think the real problem is the authors are use to teaching this subject in person to a class, using the book as a class guide. With an instructor available the book could be used. However without an instructor present, this is a terrible uphill battle.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Starting Point for Migrating to ActionScript 3, August 3, 2008
This review is from: Learning ActionScript 3.0: A Beginner's Guide (Paperback)
I first became interested Learning ActionScript 3 after initially reading a few samples posted on Adobe's website. What I found was an excellent starting point that drove me to finally make the jump from ActionScript 1 and 2. In practice, most books I have read about ActionScript 3 focus on the Flex platform, which is outside of what I'm looking for. Rather, I needed something that focused on developing in the Flash IDE (Flash CS3 as of this review), which is exactly what this book is written for.

I picked it up as supplement material to aid me in programming a large game programming project. Basically, I've referenced this book to understand the key concepts needed for my game, borrowing code samples where needed and applying them to my own project. In practice, it's the application here that really teaches the concept, and I've found that this book is a great starting point as well as reference for grasping these concepts.

The authors have done a great job presenting the material in an easily-readable casual conversation style. Of these discussions, I particularly found their comparisons to the previous versions of the language most satisfying. As AS3 is very different from AS1/2, I appreciate learning what was changed and why.

I can not vouch for the beginner's guide level for this book. I came into this book as an intermediate ActionScript programmer and often found myself skimming over any discussion on the details of some of the programs. For the most part, the code is easy enough to read and get the point, and if I had questions, these were almost always addressed in the discussion. That said, I think this book is ideal for any intermediate programmer looking to make the jump to AS3.

I am aware that there are some errata in this book, and to that extent, I can simply comment that the website is well maintained, code samples there seem accurate. No problems here.

All in all, I would highly recommend Learning ActionScript 3 as a great companion book for anyone looking to get started programming with ActionScript 3.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Did anyone proof this book? Way too many typos., April 8, 2008
By 
Running Bill (Boston, MA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Learning ActionScript 3.0: A Beginner's Guide (Paperback)
I'm surprised a book by O'Reilly was released with this many typos. I've been going through it and typing the tutorials that were new material for me. The amount of mistakes is just unacceptable, especially that many times it happens in code. The code is correct in the examples from their web site which begs the question, why didn't they just cut and paste it from the WORKING examples? The errata on their web site has a few of the mistakes but I've found many more.

Anyway, apart from the ridiculous number of typos it is an OK book. I don't think its the be-all Flash book like some people on here that have been raving, but it is a good stepping stone book to learning some OOP. Its very practical and eases you from timeline code into classes. Most Flash books seem to go all timeline or all OOP, so good job to them for understanding their audience. Another knock I have is that in many examples they try to show you additional techniques apart from the main thing they are trying to illustrate. Normally I would applaud this because you just learn more, but too often here it just confuses. My last issue with the book is that it sometimes fails to explain an important element of code or give you a really vague explanation, even if that is the purpose of the exercise! Personally I want to know why I'm typing every line in so I can be more flexible when I write my own code, as opposed to blindly memorizing and hoping I remember it when I need it.

All in all, you won't go wrong with this one, but it is by no means perfect. It could've been great. Its not. But its still good and worth a purchase.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Many Errors -Do Not Reccomend, July 9, 2008
This review is from: Learning ActionScript 3.0: A Beginner's Guide (Paperback)
I just hate trying to learn from a book that has errors! Is it that hard to get someone to check a book before releasing it? First of all, many of the example files that are available for download are named different than the book says they are. A lot of the code in the exercises doesn't even work! I spent hours unsuccessfully trying to do one of the exercises before I realized the code was incorrect. I had to sort through the misnamed example files and get the correct code, that should have been in the book. O'REILLY is getting worst and worst.
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28 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book for the beginner!, January 14, 2008
By 
Vlado Krempl (Sydney, AUSTRALIA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Learning ActionScript 3.0: A Beginner's Guide (Paperback)
I am a designer who has read so many books on actionscript, I started dreaming about code in my sleep. What can I say, I'm a designer....I'm visual... Didn't matter how many books I read on the subject....."I didn't really get it". Until this book came along....
This book also made me understand all the other books even more.
Worth having a look at!
And also I must add, my other recommendation is the Actionscript 3 Bible -Colin Moocks "Essential Actionscript 3" This book goes more into detail, where the other book skims across the surface. Colin is the Actionscript master.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars They did not proof their code, June 30, 2009
This review is from: Learning ActionScript 3.0: A Beginner's Guide (Paperback)
What good are they doing you showing how to write actionscript 3.0 code when they can't even write the proper code? There are so many errors and typos in their code, many of them not even fixed on the website's errata, that as you're working along side by side you'll be constantly confused as to why your code isn't working.

I don't know what guide is better, it's well suited for my experience level, but the amount of errors is just too much to be acceptable.
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20 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally!, February 4, 2008
By 
H. Fischer (Santa Monica CA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Learning ActionScript 3.0: A Beginner's Guide (Paperback)
Finally a book on ActionScript that is clear, crisply written and easy to follow. This is the book I've been looking for and couldn't find. I finally get it! I've never felt compelled to write a review before, but felt I should take the time after purchasing this book.

I'm a designer who has been trying to learn ActionScript for quite a while. I have a stack of books, but this one is just so much better than anything I've come across. I've often wondered why it has to be so hard. These guys know to write and how to teach. It's all very clear.

One of the things I really appreciate about the book is that it is in color. That in itself makes it so much easier to get into and understand. As a visual person it makes a huge difference.

The subtitle is "A Beginners Guide" but it is by no means a simple introduction. It is very thorough and covers most of the concepts you will likely ever use. The examples are all very useful and the example code is available for download from their equally well designed website, which also includes additional examples not in the book.

They really do an incredible job of showing how everything works together and they do it with economy. No unnecessary words and nothing necessary forgotten.

It even make the trigonometry seem easy. Amazing. Not an easy task.

If you're a designer or new to ActionScript 3.0, I think this is the best there is. If you combine this with the Actionscript Cookbook, and Moock's Essential Actionscript for reference (after you have completed reading and understanding "Learning Actionscript 3.0") I think you'll have everything you need to solve any ActionScript problem.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Explains AS2 to AS3 Migration Points, October 8, 2008
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This review is from: Learning ActionScript 3.0: A Beginner's Guide (Paperback)
I think the book does a great job explaining all of the intricate details of OOP for experienced Actionscript users. I have used AS2 for a long time and I was very frustrated how so much had changed in AS3 and I never seemed to find a good book to explain each change. This book does that and more.

In addition to spelling out the advantages of using AS3 and OOP in general, it even takes things a step further by actually DEFINING programming design methodologies that are using in most development based work environments (i.e. Agile, XP, Waterfall, etc.). You know, all of those acronyms and other garbage that people through into job descriptions to intimidate newbies.

I'm inclined to agree that this book may not be suited for beginners to Actionscript, I would strongly recommend that anyone who is learning AS for the first time should grab a beginner's book (maybe a cheap one) and then use this as your professional reference guide. Everything is categorized and color coded for you: Need to attach a sound? Chpt. 13. Need to read XML? Chpt. 14

john
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book for programmers, albeit badly titled, December 14, 2008
By 
This review is from: Learning ActionScript 3.0: A Beginner's Guide (Paperback)
First off, let me preface this by saying I have been programming for about 10 years or so and while I think this is a GREAT Flash primer for programmers, this is not a book for beginning programmers.

ActionScript 3 as a language is very similar to Java and other C based Object Oriented Languages, but the hardest entry point into Flash for programmers is the fact that the Flash IDE is really aimed at designers. Adobe has created Flex as a tool for programmers who wish to use ActionScript 3 to create Rich Internet Apps, but the Flex framework has a fairly large (200k) footprint which is not suitable for all applications.

This book does a very good job of explaining how to set up the Document class (so you can start adding code), how the DisplayList works, and how to tie in your visual components to your code as well as having lots of other Flash tips for programmers.
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Learning ActionScript 3.0: A Beginner's Guide
Learning ActionScript 3.0: A Beginner's Guide by Rich Shupe (Paperback - January 4, 2008)
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