on 7 August 2010
This is a monster textbook. I read this not long after the Colln Moock Essential AS3 book.
Comparing the two:
The Colin Moock book does a better job of explaining the security models and the event model, but I think overall this one has the edge in terms of more up to date content.
However I did slightly prefer the writing style of Colin Moock, although neither authors writing styles were perfect. (You'll also find a review of mine for that on this site too).
The book comprises 41 chapters, split into 9 sections.
I didn't read a couple of the sections on Sound and Video, or Graphics Programming and Animation, as my aim is to master Flex and SpiceFactory and deal more with the commercial e-commerce side of things, rather than that of a multimedia or games programmer.
I think the book has you covered on from both angles. From a cursory glance, I can see Roger has gone into the mathematics of matrices and transformations (Bitmap and Vector graphics, PixelBender, 3D graphics etc).
I'm somewhat familiar with this stuff already from doing geo-spatial coordinate conversions anyway..
So my disclaimer is the rest of this review is based on about 630 of the 920 pages the book contains..
The frustrating stuff:
- I think the book gets off to an absolutely awful first chapter. So full of fluff and waffle, I thought, why did I purchase this book. But as I started to read subsequent chapters I warmed to the book. So if you pick the book up in a bookstore you can definitely get the wrong first impression.
- I guess some other turn offs for me were a double helping in binary arithmetic. Nothing new here.
- Also there were times when I'd read a page, or paragraph and think. Did that add anything? Did it move the plot along? And the answer was a resounding no!
- I'm all for an author being evocative to convey information memorably, but the chapter on debugging was the second worst in the whole book, because it spent way too much time painstakingly and tediously conveying a simple concept.
- Particularly in the first third of the book, I often found sentence construction was awkward. This was often because of a missing word, or poor punctuation/prose. So I'd end up re-reading sections a few times to decipher stuff.
- There were a couple of diagrams that were howlers too (Fig 3-1 and Fig 20-3 : Those pictures weren't worth a single word, let alone 1000).
- 90% of authors attempts at humour were so lame, that they detracted from the overall quality of the book.
- My sentiments, give those Wiley editors a proverbial kick up the backside...
- Then we come on to the fonts that Wiley used. They suck big time for a computer book. The descents on characters were lousy. So a Q looked like an O, a semi-colon like a colon, a comma like a full-stop (period for you guys across the pond). These characters were barely discernible.
The good stuff:
So after all this negativity, why the high ranking...
Because if you are prepared to sift through the detritus, there are some real pearls of wisdom in here.
I was particularly taken with:
-chapter 41 on Globalization (the level the author pitched this chapter and how everything built from what had gone before was perfect. If author had carried this style through book, it would have undoubtably been receiving a resounding 5 stars)
- detailed coverage of TLF (Text Layout Framework) - although table 18-1 could do with mentioning tags are part of Spark, so s: is required as tag prefix (unless using default namespace).
- coverage of SharedObjects.
- There's also an excellent Flash package/class diagram after the table of contents, that cross references to chapter numbers which makes for a handy reference.
- If you like to learn from examples that work, this book comes highly recommended.
- The book also contains tons of links to useful libraries and articles and there are a lot of excellent notes helping you avoid pitfalls.
I think some of my negativity results from the fact the book attempts to be all things to all people, so whilst I felt I wasted a lot of time reading certain things, like binary arithmetic that I knew inside out, I tended to read it, because from time to time some really sage advice jumped out of the page and I didn't want to miss anything. For example I consider myself to be pretty O-O savvy, but there were a few tips that were still worth reading.
So I guess if you are a beginner you won't feel the same frustrations an experienced developer would feel.
Incidentally, the few minor places server-side code was used, PHP was resorted to rather than Java, but I think that made sense and provided simpler solutions.
on 20 August 2011
Since the change from Actionscript 2, to Actionscript 3, Flash programming has become much more in line with the industry standard. Actionscript 3 encourages Object Oriented Programming although it is not as base as C++ or Java, but not as lax as MATLAB or Python.
These changes mean that the target audience for Flash has been shifted (and the book's audience), which means novices or those used to as2 will find as3 frustrating. The trade off is (and the same applies to all OOP) the language is now much more powerful, and any concepts learnt in as3 can be applied to many other different languages.