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Flash Resources

Flash has an enormous community, with people of all skill levels, from many backgrounds. These aren't just amateur web designers messing around with a few buttons and animations for a silly menu navigation bar.

By Scott Bilas, Oberon Media, Inc. The heavy hitters in the community tend to be involved in "rich" client enterprise applications, and frequently have backgrounds in C# or Java.

Here are key resources for any Flash developer:

- Fullasagoog's RSS feed. Available at http://www.fullasagoog.com/feeds.cfm, this is an aggregator for all of the best Flash related blogs out there, and has valuable information popping up daily. This is the One True RSS Feed that everyone should subscribe to.

- Any book by Colin Moock. His latest is Essential ActionScript 2.0 - anyone coding with Flash must stop what they are doing, and buy this book.

- Extending Macromedia Flash MX 2004 by Keith Peters and Todd Yard. Writing JSFL? Automating common Flash tasks? Building custom panels and extending the IDE? This is the book to buy.

- The FlashCoders mailing list. Every question about Flash has been asked here, and answered here, many many times. All known bugs have been analyzed, discussed, and worked around. The mailing list carries extremely heavy traffic, but that's what the archive search is for. It's available at http://chattyfig.figleaf.com/mailman/listinfo/flashcoders. This archive contains or links to everything ever written on Flash that matters.

At Oberon, the tools we use that really speed up development are:

- PrimalScript by Sapien (www.sapien.com). The text editor that does IntelliSense with ActionScript, mentioned previously in this paper.

- ActionScript Viewer by Burak Kalayci (http://www.buraks.com/asv/). There are probably ten great decompilers for SWF's out there right now, but this is the one we use at Oberon. It can reverse engineer all classes used in a SWF, and does a pretty decent job of naming variables. This tool is really useful for figuring out "how did they do that?" when visiting a site that shows off some interesting effect in Flash.

- Flash Resource Manager by Mike Chambers (http://www.markme.com/mesh/archives/004700.cfm). Already mentioned earlier in this paper, this is a critical tool.

- KineticFusion by Kinesis Software (http://www.kinesissoftware.com/index.php). This tool can roundtrip a SWF to/from XML, which can really aid in automation during the build process, or for making tweaks to a SWF after it's made without needing to recompile (such as to change its frame rate, or alter some code).

- AdminTool by AcmeWebWorks (http://acmewebworks.typepad.com/admintool/). This is a remote debugging tool for Flash in two parts - the admin interface (a standalone program), and a component that goes onto the stage in the SWF for communication with the admin interface. This tool can walk the object hierarchy, take snapshots for inspection, execute code in the SWF, control objects in the SWF, gather traces, and much more. Nobody should develop for Flash without this tool.

- ASProf by David Chang (http://www.nochump.com/asprof/). This is a real-time profiling library that can dynamically hook different parts of the code and collect execution times, delivering the results in a table format. Required for optimizing ActionScript.
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