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on October 29, 2009
For starters, the book is definitely not geared for beginners. The author jumps into concepts that beginners won't understand. I've been programming for more than 10 years so I had no problems understanding the content... but be warned if this is your first programming book. Furthermore, he constantly tells the reader to "jump to chapter X" if you don't understand something. As a result, Moock totally failed at giving a start-to-finish explanation of programming (regardless of language).

I'd say that the first 1/3 of the book is pretty well done. The explanation of ActionScript's syntax is excellent. Moock has you building a "Virtual Zoo" application as you go through each chapter, adding new features to the application with each new concept...

...but then he abandons the whole "Virtual Zoo" application as you enter the second and third parts of the book. There is an appendix at the end of the book which offers the full application code, but it would have been awesome if Moock continued to illustrate how to use each concept in the context of building this application. Instead, he has about 1 1/2 pages telling you what he added, gives you the code, and expects you to figure out what the hell he did.

I'll be honest and say that I had to skim most of the second and third parts of the book. With no reference to the "Virtual Zoo" application and crappy, non-real-world examples the later chapters are pretty dry.

On a positive note, Moock does an excellent job explaining the details of each class he discusses. The definitions are clear. But because there's little reference to real-world application (again, in the later chapters) they're just hard to digest without slamming your head against a desk.

If the book weren't advertised as a beginner's book, I would have given it 3 stars. It's a nice reference book for ActionScript 3.0 -- but I've learned more in a few days of searching Google than I did from the final 2/3 of this book.
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on November 27, 2011
When I set out to learn Actionscript 3.0 I bought a number of helpful books from various publishers, but, all of them left me with significant gaps in my knowledge. This book filled in those gaps.

It is hands down the most comprehensive book on the topic that I know of. Cookbook-style teaching books will give you any number of useful code-based solutions to try on your websites, but, if you persevere with this book you'll have all the knowledge that you need to code your own solutions from the ground up. That being said, this book is not simple and straightforward... it is definitely comprehensive. It seemingly covers every nook and cranny of the language. So, while I don't hesitate to recommend that ALL learners of Actionscript 3.0 have this book on their shelf, depending on your capacity for programming languages, you will probably also want either a more introductory book or a cookbook. That being if you're either a total novice to the topic or if you have a basic handle on the language and you'd like to have access to any number of previously prepared solutions to try. At some point, however, you're going to have questions about what Actionscript can and cannot do, and this is where 'Essential Actionscript 3.0' is the most useful reference that I know of.

Also, I have to say. My first order of this book was sent to me with severe printing flaws, rendering it 50% unreadable. I was skeptical about Amazon's returns policy, but, to their credit, it was quick and painless. I had a perfect replacement in my hands within a very short time after reporting the situation. So thanks to Amazon for that.
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on November 26, 2012
This is a really complete and good book for starting out with AS3. The only thing it's missing is a better index, and a reference section, where (like other Colin Moock books), it should show examples on specific AS3 functions, and properties. I found this the best part of other Actionscript books I have purchased in the past, and it's sadly missing on this book. For example, I was looking for an example of certain event listeners involving the webcam on the index. Once I found them and turned to the respective page, I found that the description provided was insuficient for me, and it lacked real examples. So this got me to thinking, this wasn't the best book if you're going to use it as a reference if you forget how certain syntax works, or how to do a certain feature and need specific examples.

So DO NOT buy if you already know enough of AS3 or if you're looking for a book to reference specific functions or properties about AS3. Oher than that, it's a great book to start learning, and covers a great deal of information
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on June 15, 2009
This book is totally unlike other books on ActionScript, and that is both its strength and its weakness.

First of all, the claim that this book could be used by someone with no knowledge of programming is laughable and misleading. Chapter One goes through all of Object Oriented Programming, including such arcana as page 22's "Access-control modifiers for instance variables." No one without programming experience can understand why or how this woud be useful or learn how to use it. If you haven't done programming, choose a different book.

Other books begin with the Flash environment, and introduce bits of ActionScript on the timeline in an inductive manner:
on (press) {
amountPaid = Number(paid.text);
amountOwed = Number(owed.text);
}
You'll see none of that in this book, except for Chapter 29, which introduces programming in the Flash environment. None of the code sits on the timeline--this is ActionScript as a programming langusage, with packages, and stand-alone code files.

On the positive side, this book really does explain the language as a language, so for us programmers, there's no need to wonder about syntax, language features, error handling, etc.--it's all here. You'll learn how to create objects with their own events and listeners, about dynamic instance variables, about using try...catch...throw...finally error handling, and many other features unlikely to be covered in other books on ActionScript.

Because ActionScript is specific to Flash (and Flex), the book does cover the events you'll care about: mouse activity, key presses, screen updating, ENTER_FRAME vs. timer, stage resizing, loading, and so on. It provides excellent information on sandboxes and security I did not know and does a good job of dealing with text fields from a programming perspective. So it does cover much of value in the Flash context, and that in more detail than other ActionScript books I've read.

In summary, I find this more of a reference book than a tutorial. For the topics it covers, it goes into great depth. If you are a game developer or are writing a major application, you need this book. On the other hand, if you want to develop simple Flash programs and want to buy only one book, this isn't it. It won't teach you the simplest basics (putting stop(); on frame 1 of a movie clip) that you need for practical Flash programming. As a reference, however, it's indispensible.
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on June 26, 2009
This book starts with the concepts of packages and classes first, then works its way down to primitive data types and arrays. You have to get to page 153 to read about primitive data types! Statements and operators are not covered until you get to page 172. A book that purports to be for beginners should start with basic concepts and build up to more complex concepts, but this one doesn't. This book is not for beginners at all. Nor is there an easy way for an experienced OO programmer to get the gist of the differences between ActionScript and other OO languages like C++. The book is extremely detailed (good for a reference, bad for beginner tutorials), but leaves out at least one maddening chunk. For example, the String class is hardly addressed at all! The VirtualZoo example built in pieces through the book would be easier to follow if the author simply introduced its final, intended behavior in 10 or 12 bullet points at the start. The elements of its implementation in small pieces leave the reader wondering, "okay, how does this syntactical element support the overall application?". Finally, the author's preference for the cool GUI elements is clear, as he gives short shrift to the basic concepts.
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on November 4, 2011
If you have any experience coding then it's a lot of work to wade through the copious explanations and examples to get to new and interesting stuff. I'm finding that entire sections would be better as a single sentence.

If you've dealt with pub sub design patterns and events, retained mode graphics libraries, or gui programming before you're going to be overwhelmed with boredom. On the other hand if you're a beginner and like a lot of hand holding through boring overly verbose examples, then this is the book for you. It's like the author set out from the beginning to make the largest book possible.

On the up side, it's written in a friendly style. And the examples are very clear if you can stay conscious.
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on April 24, 2011
This book is awesome! Easy read, it gives you details on everything you need to know if you want to learn actionscript 3.0 and grasp the concept of object oriented programming I highly recommend it. I've been trying to learn AS for years by reading tutorials, but often at the end of the tutorials I ended up with a lot of big question marks on my head. This book took away all those question marks I had and now everything is clear. I like the way Colin explains AS by explaining all the concepts before going straight to the code. Once you go to code, you know how everything works. Great book!!
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on February 23, 2012
If you are or want to be an AS3 programmer, this is the book you need sitting on your shelf. It is not only well written, but the book was reviewed by the AS3 (and related) team at Adobe for technical accuracy.

I'm a C/C++ programmer with 15 years of experience and the book answers a lot of questions. I think the book is something like 5 years old and it's still relevant.

Read the book straight through once, skip over the parts that aren't really relevant to you and then use the book as a desk reference.
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on November 23, 2009
As a fluent developer in C++ and Java, when I asked an informed friend for pointer on getting going with the 'world of flash stuffs,' he pointed me to this book. I feel that was in error. Instead, use the official guide "Programming ActionScript 3.0," which is a sizeable pdf freely downloadable from Adobe (google the phrase in quotes to get the link).

Moock's attempts to be 'tool independent' in his presentation, which creates pain for the learner, as it's generally unclear (till the very end) how to run any of the examples he seems to be so carefully building up. Given I respect the distinction between books for beginners vs. for experts, the reason I'm bothering to return to score this book poorly, is how Moock presents the content as if his exposition represents a good set of stepping stones for a beginner to walk up - which I strongly feel it is not. Conversely, "Programming ActionScript 3.0" is not only much better in how it steps into and through the content, but also much stronger in its coverage.

PS - even now, past the basics, between the two, I still always make "Programming ActionScript 3.0" where to look first for how to do anything, not "Essential ActionScript 3.0"
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on December 22, 2007
I am an experienced Java developer with minimal experience with ActionScript. I think this book does a good job at covering alot of ground that most enterprise Java developers would be interested in understanding. I would not use it as a primer or as a way to move from using AS1/2 as a scripting language to a full blown OO language. The book feels tailored to helping me use my current skillset to understand AS3.

So if you have a background in Java (or C#) and want a good general reference the ActionScript3 as a language for the Flash platform and/or using the Flex Framework, this should be a good book for you.
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