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The Books

Been to a bookstore lately? Yeah. There are a lot of Flash books out there (including my book on Flash basics, Flash Out of the Box), and more just keep coming. So how do you know which ones are worth the $30–$50 you need to shell out for the average tech instruction book? You read the rest of this article, silly.

  • Flash Out of the Box

    And speaking of my book (we were talking about my book, right?): If you're new to Flash design, it's the perfect place to start, if I do say so myself (and I do).

    Flash Out of the Box is a very reader-centric approach to learning design content with Flash. Instead of force-feeding you information about each major aspect of Flash, FOTB walks you through exercises that expose Flash to you in a logical way. Instead of a chapter on navigation, for example, you'll be exposed to button symbols and the code used to enable their functionality in context of a project. You're given information on a need-to-know basis, so you won't learn everything there is to know about one topic in one chapter; you'll learn it over time, so each piece of new information is fully digested before you get more. The book operates with the understanding that you don't want to learn Flash for the sake of learning it; you want to learn to use Flash to accomplish your goals. So the book focuses on your goals and shows you how to accomplish them.

    Another thing to consider about FOTB is that it's not just for newbies. During the beta review process, several of the book's beta readers, who were already skilled ActionScripters, ended up learning quite a bit about Flash design, much to their surprise (and mine).

  • Flash MX 2004: Hands-On Training

    Updated from its previous version by Rosanna Yeung (with Shane Rebenschied and myself as contributing authors), this book covers all the essentials and will certainly help you master the basics of Flash. Lynda.com books are well-known for being thorough and detailed. It's not often a question goes unanswered in an exercise, and because of this, the H*O*T series is on my list as one of the best series of books out there for new users.

  • Flash MX 2004 Beyond the Basics: Hands-On Training

    Written by Shane Rebenschied, this book is the next logical step after finishing Flash MX 2004 Hands-On Training. Beyond the Basics covers all the major Flash-related aspects to building a Flash-based web site, including how to plan and create graphics for a project, build navigation, create an audio player, load text and images dynamically, stream video, and develop a site structure that allows for easy content updates.

    This book is perfect for those who have gotten a handle on Flash basics and want to kick things up a notch or two.

  • Essential ActionScript 2.0

    Before the release of Essential ActionScript 2.0, Colin Moock wrote ActionScript for Flash MX: The Definitive Guide, which has since become a staple in every Flash developer's diet. Essential ActionScript 2.0 is not a follow-up; instead, it is a crash course in the fundamental changes that took place when Macromedia stepped from ActionScript 1.0 to 2.0, which takes a much more object-oriented approach to development.

    The code examples might be a bit hairy for someone new to programming, but if you're at least somewhat comfortable writing code, you'll be able to learn the ins and outs of ActionScript 2.0 in no time. I picked this book up shortly after the release of Flash MX 2004, and today it is still sitting on my desk. It's not meant as a reference guide for ActionScript, so it's a little trickier to find information than it would by using an online knowledge base or the Flash Help documentation, but it has answered a lot of questions I've had and has done so effectively—also pointing out any "gotchas" to watch for.

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