This is a PeachPit Press "Visual QuickPro Guide"--similar to their "Visual QuickStart" training book series, but aimed at more experienced users. The series uses a task-based training approach, teaching skills through short step-by-step exercises. This approach has some major drawbacks for me, although this particular book seems to have dealt with some issues fairly well. My first complaint is that task-based training tends to focus too much on quick, "surface" results without really giving an understanding of what is happening and why it works. This makes it difficult to apply skills effectively in future situations, or to know when they ought to be applied. A task-based organization also makes it difficult to use a book as a reference, since information is dispersed throughout the exercises.
I was pleasantly surprised with Macromedia Flash 8 Advanced in many ways. First, I found that the chapters had a good mix of theoretical instruction and practical exercises. Almost every exercise was accompanied by an explanation of topics: what might be new to Flash 8, how the techniques might be important in a larger context, and an overview of how they work. There were a lot of explanatory sidebars and tips that offered very useful, relevant information. I was also pleased with the indexing, and I was able to find information on several topics as I worked. Most of the step-by-step instructions were very general, giving a basic process without getting sidetracked into specific projects.
Overall, I found that this book does just what it claims to do: it gives good, quick explanations of some advanced Flash topics and skills, such as external communications, sound and video, and dynamic content, as well as complex handling of things like movieClips, text, and buttons. It does not offer much in-depth discussion on any topic, and it does not focus on any area of Flash development specifically, but it takes a very broad approach to expanding Flash skills. I should particularly mention that I wouldn't recommend the book to someone trying to learn actionscript, since the actionscript in the book lacks the depth or focus that can be found elsewhere (O'Reilly's Actionscript for Flash MX), and information is dispersed throughout the book. It also does not really cover Flash components. I would recommend it to Flash users who want to expand their general skills and (especially) keep current with some of the growing capabilities of Flash. The book also includes a CD with working files for the exercises and a trial version of Flash 8.