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Flash 4 Magic

Flash 4 Magic

Flash 4 Magic is the first book to really explain ActionScripting, the simple, but effective way to program in Flash. ActionScipting is not really a programming language, but it does contain all the basic commands and functions required to do pretty advanced stuff. The book is not a programming book, but it teaches you the basics through examples.

Written by By David J. Emberton and J. Scott Hamlin . Get it now at

When this book hit the market, it was praised by everyone, including myself. It's definetly the best book on the market, but it has a steep learning curve if you are not at all into programming. And one more thing: almost half of the content in this book can actually be found in tutorials on Flash-sites around the web (click resources - Learn Flash for more info). But, do not misunderstand. This is an excellent book!

The book starts with the very simple example of a good and scriptless preloader, and finishes off with a advanced actiongame.

The book is richly illustrated and I really like the graphic style used in both the book and the examples. The first seven chapters are all explained, but from there you have to start figuring some things out for yourself. This can be a little hard on anyone not used to programming, but it's also an excellent way to learn. A good way to learn programming is usually to look at a pre-made example, and then try to figure out why things work the way they do.

After each step by step example, the book has a section called "how it works", followed by some suggestions to how to modify this further. I think most of these texts could have been a little longer and more detailed, but they do the job in most cases...

Throughout the book, most of the commands of ActionScripting is introduced and explained. From simple programming logic and the random function, dragging movieclips, working with sound, loading variables from text files and trig-functions. Easy step by step instructions make the user feel that he/she is doing the Magic, in a way that make it really easy to learn how things work. All graphical elements are pre-made, and the user simply drops them into the right layers and does what the book tells.

There is also two chapters showing off the interaction between Flash and the PHP scripting language. There really should have been a appendix in the book on how to set up PHP, instead of telling you to "consult your system administrator", but the examples are nice, and if you get someone to set it up for you the source files for this project might be worth the price of the whole book. This section is (at least in part) written by Branden Hall, the moderator of the "PHP and Flash"-forum at (the now closed community site) Flashlite.

The best about this book is that you get the source code for 15 real-life Flash-applications and 6 simple games. In addition the CD-ROM is crammed with product demo's and URL's to great flash-sites.

"Flash 4 Magic" is by far the best book if you are past the Novice user-level. There are also sections that will be of interest to advanced users.


About Jens C Brynildsen

Jens has been working with Flash since version 3 came out. Since then, he's been an active member of the Flash community. He's created more than a hundred Flash games (thus the name of his blog) but he also creates web/standalone applications, does workshops and other consulting. He loves playing with new technology and he is convinced that the moment you stop learning you die (creatively speaking). Jens is also the Editor of this website.

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