Unleashing Flash MX

Bruce Von Stiers

Quite a few books are being written about the Macromedia Flash MX program. Some are pretty good while others aren’t. One book that I just got a chance to glance at falls under the first category. The title of the books is Macromedia Flash MX Unleashed. It is from Sams Publishing and falls under their Unleashed book section. The book was written by Matthew Pizzi, David Vogeleer II and Todd Coulson.

Along with the people mentioned above, the book was also helped out by Dennis Baldwin, George G. Gordon, Brian Hoard, Dan Waters, James Smith, David Vogeleer and Randy Osborne. That is a whole chunk of folks working on one book. And that doesn’t even include the people behind the scenes at Sams Publishing who did the proofing and editing functions necessary to get this book onto store shelves.

The book has 29 chapters along with an Introduction, a two part Appendix and a forty plus page Index. This rounds out the book to have a whopping 995 pages. The unfortunate part is that there is no CD-ROM disc along with the book for the source files. But they can be obtained from a web site set up as a complement to the book.

The first chapter covers the features that are either new to this version of Flash or have been updated. You will learn about the new timeline and some things about Dynamic Masks. The second chapter shows you some of the basic features of the programs like the Property Inspector and how to set the preferences.

The third chapter shows some of the tools that you will be using in Flash. You will find out that the Eraser Tool has five different options to choose from. Erase Inside will only erase the interior color of an object. Learn how to trace bitmap graphics for use in the program.

The fourth chapter is where you begin to work with the animation features of Flash MX. The chapter even has a two page step-by-step instruction listing for creating a frame-by-frame animation. From there you will learn about symbols and the program library in Chapter 5.

The sixth chapter deals with adding sound to a Flash MX movie and some of the sound effects that your movie can have. Cause a sound to move from the left to the right of the screen, or seem to anyway. The eighth chapter shows you some techniques on how to publish your Flash MX movie.

The later chapters get into working with ActionScript. If you don’t know how to program, don’t worry. The book steps you through the basic and intermediate processes that are part of ActionScript. Chapter 11 gives you a peek at what data types are and how they affect your scripting process. Then in Chapter 12, you will learn about the And, Or and With statements that are the logic or Boolean elements of ActionScripting. Learn what a function is in Chapter 14 and how to utilize one.

Anyone who has worked with JavaScript will that ActionScript is similar and the book shows you a lot of ways to make things work. You will learn about arrays in Chapter 15. This chapter has segments with titles like “What is an Array and How Does it Work?” and “Advanced Nested Arrays.” It all sounds a little ominous until you read the text. Then you find that, although there is a lot to learn, it isn’t really too hard.

There is a chapter on creating a game in Flash MX and another on integration with ColdFusion. The chapter on integration with ASP will be real helpful for some folks, while the ones on integrating with servers and PHP will be good reading for others.

The next to last chapter provides a reference for the various ActionScript elements such as the Bitwise AND Assignment and the Inequality Comparison Operator. And the last chapter features a couple of Flash alternatives that appear to be almost as good as Flash MX itself.

Macromedia Flash MX Unleashed packs a whole bunch of information into one volume. It may not have all of the information about Flash MX that anyone might need, but it is a good start. Pizzi and company have done a bang up job of providing a book that will show you how to make the most out of Macromedia Flash MX.

This book is at retail book sellers like Barnes and Nobles. You can also get a copy through the Sams Publishing web site at www.samspublishing.com. The book retails for $ 49.99 US.


© 2002 Bruce E. Von Stiers