, the application from Macromedia for creating animation for the Web, is deceptively simple at first yet has great depth and flexibility. Teach Yourself Flash 5 in 24 Hours
from Sams Publishing is an ideal introduction to this package, offering an overview of the entire package without being overwhelming.
Built around four main sections, we start out learning the basics by using the native painting and drawing tools, importing prepared material, and using Flash Libraries for reusing material. During these early chapters, readers are introduced to the tools, palettes, windows and features of Flash 5.
Screenshots appear on every page and each step and description is clear even to the novice. Some pages also feature sidebars offering tips, ideas and explanations of the task at hand. These are generally one paragraph or so, but often shed light on a difficult concept. After focusing on animation and different ways of animating objects, the book opens the doors to interactivity, where you start using interactive features, creating animated buttons and using Actions to create non-linear movies.
Although designed for the beginner, the book touches on some of the more advanced concepts of Flash in the last few chapters. Using Flash in a team environment, optimising a Flash site to get the most out of the medium, and exploring advanced animation concepts like anticipation, exaggeration and simulating depth are introduced, although none of these sections get too involved. It's more of a way to introduce the designer to what is possible, and suggest avenues for further study.
A favourite feature of the "Teach Yourself" books is the summary, Q&A and Workshop sections that are at the end of each hour (chapter). The summary reinforces everything that was covered, the Q&A section addresses about a half-dozen of the most commonly asked questions on the material, and the Workshop is generally a quiz or short assignment designed to make use of the features or techniques that were just learned. These chapter features make this an excellent course book.
Flash 5 offers the Web-based animator a large array of features, and Teach Yourself Flash 5 in 24 Hours is an excellent introduction to most of them. --Mike Caputo