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Book Review: ActionScript 3.0 Cookbook

August 5th, 2008 Categories: Actionscript, Book Reviews, Flex 2, Flex 3

From a Flex developer’s perspective, ActionScript 3.0 Cookbook, by Joey Lott, Darron Schall, and Keith Peters is pretty hard-core Actionscript (I know it’s ActionScript… Actionscript is easier to type).  Many of the graphical recipes use the Sprite class, and there are plenty of references elsewhere to classes that have simpler to use, more watered down counterparts in Flex.  At the risk of not being techinically correct, you could almost say it’s an “advanced” Flex cookbook.

This book has given me a deeper exposure to Actionscript, a deeper exposure that I find myself in need of more and more as I try to bend Flex to do my will.  I’ll admit, I avoid the Sprite class and the Graphics class unless I’m in a situation where it’s unavoidable and I absolutely have to use them.  Setting that aside, there are some things I routinely find too abstracted in Flex that I need to get at with base Actionscript.  The TextField is a perfect example of this, a powerful component that is somewhat diluted for use in Flex.  The authors devote a nice long chapter (chapter 9) to Text, offering plenty of opportunity for learning your way around this powerful class.

 Two other chapters I have found to be very useful are chapters 5 (Arrays) and 14 (Dates and Times).  Arrays are something I commonly overlook when I’m learning a new language, because they’re such a basic concept I feel as if I don’t need to devote much time for them.  As a result, I often need to consult a reference when doing anything beyond accessing elements.  At the same time, the recipes in the book dealing with Arrays aren’t all things you’d obviously want to do with them
(there’s one involving inserting items in the middle of an Array, which is unheard of in most languages). The same thing can be said for dates and times, even though I use them frequently it’s something I rarely commit to memory for any language, and it’s nice to have a reference handy.

 The breadth of topics covered in the book is good, and based on the chapters I’ve gone through already the depth of each has been sufficient to make me feel comfortable with the topic covered.  I can’t say this for many other Actionscript books I read, specifically the Actionscript 3.0 Language Reference (pdf format from Adobe) which covered each topic in such depth as to destroy all confidence in being able to effectively use the concepts.

The main reason I’ve enjoyed reading the ActionScript 3.0 Cookbook is because there are so many things I’ve never tried.  I’m sure I will be occupied by trying out these recipes off and on over the next year or longer.  In summary I’d recommend this book to any Flex developer who wants to develop a mastery of the ActionScript language a little bit at a time. 

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