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Foreword

Foreword

You might not think that the upgrade to Macromedia Flash MX is quite as significant as the upgrade to Flash 5. For a programmer, however, it’s certainly the biggest upgrade ever. Whereas anything was possible before, now it’s also elegant, efficient, and easy. Of course, you have to become a programmer first. If you just organize your goals and translate them into the language of a programmer, you can make Flash do precisely what you imagined. But therein lies the problem: Not everyone can translate goals into a programming language.

This book targets the reader who can assemble a basic Flash movie and who knows what he or she wants to achieve. I’ll help you divide your goal into individual tasks that can then be translated into ActionScript. Naturally, this will involve teaching you how to “program” (and even how to think like a programmer). This book, however, is not a general programming book; every topic is related to and applied to Flash. Naturally, if you are already an experienced programmer, you might find parts of this book to be a review. But for you programmers, I’ll show you how to apply your programming knowledge to make Flash perform. All the programming skill in the world (whether I teach it to you or you bring it with you) won’t help you if you can’t apply it to Flash.

Although this book definitely does not shy away from advanced topics, it isn’t an exhaustive reference to every detail in the ActionScript language. The truth is that there are countless other resources for advanced programming topics. That’s not what this book is about. It’s about giving you the skills so that you can apply any idea you have to Flash. When you’re equipped with the knowledge I cover, you’ll be able to meet any challenge. It might involve researching an esoteric formula for physics or applying a unique math calculation. If that means you have to research a specific topic, this book will give you the skills to figure out how to apply it to Flash.

This book is an overhaul of ActionScripting in Flash (covering Flash 5). Believe me, I didn’t just do a “find-and-replace” to change all the 5s to MXs! (I wish it were that easy.) For the most part, this book is just more. I cut out plenty, but added much more. The general programming topics didn’t change much, but anything specific to Flash (most of the book) went through significant changes. I think readers can learn two things from this book: how to be a programmer and how to harness Flash’s ActionScript language. The major difference between this book and the previous one on Flash 5 is that harnessing ActionScript is much different now.

The book is organized in two parts. The chapters in Part I, “Foundation,” are like chapters in a textbook. Plenty of examples are interspersed, but you don’t need to follow along with Flash running. (I suspect that you’ll be inspired to try things out often, however.) Part II, “Workshops,” features hands-on tutorials. They offer you a chance to apply what you’ve learned in Part I. If you prefer, you can jump right into the workshop chapters. (References are made to the chapters in Part I when further explanation might be helpful.) You’ll find the workshop chapters to be quite useful. In many of them, I even guide you down the wrong path so that we can discuss the solution that follows. I find that this is more true-to-life than some tutorials that seem to prove only that it’s possible to achieve a particular result with very few steps. Real life is often frustrating, and perhaps the simulated reality of these workshop chapters will help you avoid frustration when you go on your own.

One last note before we get rolling: Flash MX was such a change from Flash 5 that I chose to cover only Flash MX. It turns out that there are a few ancillary mentions of older versions of Flash in this book. By and large, however, this book is for Flash MX only. Workshop Chapter 1 provides information about ensuring that your users have the correct Flash Player. Naturally, I’ll show you how to upgrade those users so that they can see your Flash MX creations.

Now get ready to transform yourself from a Flash user to an ActionScripter!

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