Macromedia Flash MX Studio
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Title: Macromedia Flash MX Studio
Author: Jamie MacDonald, Keith Peters, et al.
Published by: friends of Ed.
RRP: USD $49.99 (Less at Amazon)
Format: Mass-market paperback
User Level: Intermediate-Advanced
Review By: Mel Hogan for ActionScript.org
At a glance: 9/10
I've been a fan of Friends of Ed since the very first New Masters of Flash book, and this one doesn't disappoint.
Broken into 4 sections; Site Presentation, Actionscript Interfaces, Rich Media, and Dynamic Data integration, this book is aimed at the intermediate to advanced flash user. With that in mind, I jumped into chapter 1 and was pleasantly rewarded with some of the flash communities best code based animation tricks. Anyone who has ever struggled with easing in and out, velocity, or "springy" motion is sure to love this chapter. The Site Presentation section goes on to explain animation with the Drawing API, Components, and an ending chapter entitled "Taking Things Further" with ideas and concepts designed to push the user beyond what is read. I found this chapter especially useful, and was disappointed this format wasn't continued in the other sections.
By breaking the book out into the aforementioned sections, FOE has produced a book that is both instructional and useful. I found myself skipping about from section to section as the need arose.
Section II: Actionscript Interfaces could easily serve as an introduction to actionscript for even the novice user. This section begins with great detail on events and handlers, event driven programming, and basic game programming, then jumps right into more advanced subjects including the drawing api, math and physics and other advanced techniques including an introduction to trigonometry. At this point the user is warned to be sure they're up to speed on all of the books previous techniques. Good advice as it turns out, since I found myself backtracking to catch up with the contents of this chapter.
The rich media section goes into great detail on integrating video and sound in flash, including chapters and suggestions on controlling dynamic media through actionscript (very useful). The final section was just what I needed to inspire the next version of my personal site, covering all of the mysteries of dynamic data including PHP, Coldfusion, Flash Remoting, and a chapter on XML with a definition of XML so succinct, I found myself using it to describe XML to clients.
The only disappointment I've found in FOE books is the code presentation (I'm a screenshot kind-of-guy) but other than that I found FlashMX studio to be extremely helpful in explaining concepts that had long confounded me. Anyone seeking to take their flash skills to the next level should definitely pick this one up.