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Book Review: Learning Flex 3

July 14th, 2009 Categories: Actionscript, Book Reviews, Flex 3, Languages

I enjoyed reading Learning Flex 3, by Alaric Cole… which is saying something, because there aren’t very many “Flex for beginner”-type books I can stand to read these days.  Aside from being very easy to read as far as technical books go, here are a few things that really stood out:

First, the book is very well organized, and the content is good.  The breadth and depth of material covered is perfect for a beginning level.  He even goes over several different deployment scenarios toward the end.  Off the top of my head I don’t consider deployment as a “Flex-related topic”, but as I read through it I thought about how many times I’ve answered questions on this very topic to people just starting on the journey.  It was a nice touch.

Second, tutorial based approaches are very effective for beginners.  Maybe I shouldn’t speak for everyone, but when I first start learning a new language or framework, I find tutorials to be very helpful.  Once the developer has the confidence and basic understanding (that can be obtained through tutorials) then they can apply their own style and develop their skills further.  Learning Flex 3 reads almost like the Flex tutorials on steroids.  If you’ve done the tutorials on the Flex Builder 2 startup page (which is how I started out with Flex) then you’ll know what I mean.  Just picture how those build on each other, and then stuff in about 5 times as much information, and you’ve got this book.

Third, the syntax highlighting.  Anyone who has ever read a book full of code will appreciate how much easier the syntax highlighting is on your eyes, allowing you to focus on other things.  As a side note, the Deitel & Deitel books started becoming intolerable for me when they started rushing books to press without syntax highlighting… it was hard enough to get through those books with the code highlighting and color breakouts, but without them it was just torture.

Fourth, there are color diagrams.  Simon and Garfunkel are right.  Though I definitely wouldn’t base my decision to purchase this book on the basis of color pictures, it adds a very nice touch and makes the book easier to read than an identical book with only black and white diagrams.  I didn’t do the tutorials as I read the book, I wouldn’t recommend that to a pure beginner.  Even in color, reading the code and looking at the pictures is not the same as typing it out and running it.

I highly recommend Learning Flex 3 for beginners who want to get their feet wet with Flex.  I don’t recommend it to more advanced Flex developers, unless they just want to look at the color pictures.

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