Does anyone know of a book that covers Flash CS3 from the ground up?
September 3, 2007 8:16 AM   Subscribe

Does anyone know of a book that covers Flash CS3 from the ground up? I need it all, from beginner stuff to Flex. I'm hoping to find a book that has a general introduction to Flash, a language reference for Actionscript, and a thorough review of Flex. This is asking for a lot. Perhaps what I need is a series of books?

I've already visited the O'Reilly site. Their books are responsible for my career as a web developer. But I found their offerings to be either too advanced (they assume you have knowledge of Flash and jump straight into the latest stuff in CS3) or out of date.

Also, if this stuff is covered in detail on a particular website, I would be happy to ditch the dead trees in favor of something digital. So far, all I've found are sites for the seasoned Flash developer, and they're somewhat intimidating (the sites, not the developers).

Thanks, MeFi!
posted by jeffmueller to Technology (8 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Yes, I think you are asking for too much. The book you want would be 4000 pages long. It makes much more sense to break up the topic into multiple books, and that's what all the publishers do. specializes in Flash books. Any of their books with the words "Foundation" in the title are their beginner books.

I recommend (in this order)...

-- "Foundation Flash [version]" (Friends of Ed)
-- "Foundation Actionscript [version]" (Friends of Ed)
-- "Essential Actionscript 3.0" (O'Reilly)
-- "Actionscript 3.0 Design Patters" (O'Reilly)
-- "Making Things Movie: Actionscript Animation" (the 3.0 verson -- Friends of Ed).

Those books should tell you everything you know about Flash. I'm not a Flex developer, but I'd wager than after going through those books, you could pick up any Flex book and it would work for you.

If you're trying to be a comprehensive, you should also read up on Adobe Air.
posted by grumblebee at 9:05 AM on September 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

"Actionscript 3.0 Design PatterNs"
posted by grumblebee at 9:06 AM on September 3, 2007

Topics that aren't well covered by the books I mentioned (and ones for which you're better off using the manuals and online sources):

-- Regular Expressions.
-- Flash Remoting.
-- Flash Lite.
-- Flash Communication Server (or Media Server or whatever they call it). Open Source version: Red 5.

Also, many Flash Developers use Papervision3D and other third party tools. Check out for details.
posted by grumblebee at 9:10 AM on September 3, 2007

Seconding AS3 Design Patterns.

Also, if you're into the development side, read books on general programming principles. A lot of Flash developers have evolved from designers, but with the advent of AS3 and FLEX, actual programmers are coming to the table. If you want to be competetive in the next 5 years, you'll need to know your stuff.

For example, The Gang of Four Design Patterns book would be a nice complement to AS3 Design Patterns.

[I am an ActionScript Developer]
posted by klanawa at 4:29 PM on September 3, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for all of the suggestions. I've got a lot of homework to do!

grumblebee: Excellent rundown of the available texts. I appreciate it.

klanawa: I'm one of the programmers you speak of. CS3 seems to have brought a lot to the table for online app development. I'm seeing a lot of job openings for FLEX and Actionscript in my area, too, which makes me think that it's time I get familiar with this stuff. I'm seriously overdue for an introduction to Flash.
posted by jeffmueller at 7:51 PM on September 3, 2007

ah! well, there you go.

a lot of people in the Flash world are predicting that there will be a run of a few years where Flash goes enterprise and scarcity forces salaries through the roof. then, the plateau. best get on it right now.

i'm not a programmer by trade, nor a designer, but i'm taking advantage of good timing: my hobby turned into reasonably lucrative job.
posted by klanawa at 8:19 PM on September 3, 2007

I'm one of the programmers you speak of.

I'm an AS developer who works with a bunch of PHP programmers. They're all really gifted, but they don't understand Flash. Why? Because the don't understand the Flash DOM. (For some reason, no one calls it a DOM, but that's basically what it is.)

In other words, they (of course) totally understand classes, strong typing, events, recursion, etc. But they don't understand timelines, frames, framerates, MovieClips, Flash's handling of text, importing assets, etc. If you're a developer used to some other platform, THESE are the things to learn! (see the very first book I recommended, "Foundation Flash CS3," which is about the non-coding parts of the system.)

Learn them with Flash, because Flex hides most of these things from you -- but they're still there. They've gotten way more developer-friendly with AS 3.0, but they are still issues.

If you've already programmed in Java or one of the C-family, you'll pick up AS 3.0 really quickly (AS 2.0 was much like Javascript; 3.0 is more like Java.) But you'll get tripped up by Flash's DOM if you don't bother to learn it.
posted by grumblebee at 8:58 PM on September 3, 2007

My ActionScript isn't as up to date as it was, but I would second the recommendation for the foED Foundation AS, and then the Colin Moock O'Reilly tome as the best overall intro to ActionScript. There is a Foundation Flex available as well - I haven't read this, so can't comment on it.

disclaimer: I have no current links with the publisher and had nothing to do with the current version, but I did edit the first (F5) edition of Foundation AS.
posted by unless I'm very much mistaken at 8:25 AM on September 4, 2007

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