Foundation Flash CS3 for Designers Paperback – Mar 14 2008
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About the Author
David Stiller is a career multimedia programmer/designer whose portfolio includes NASA, Adobe, and major U.S. automotive and boat manufacturers. He likes anaglyph 3D photography, finely crafted wooden game boards, Library of Congress field recordings, and Turkish coffee. David is self-taught and gets a kick out of sharing "aha!" moments with others through consultation, mentoring, and regular contributions to the Adobe Flash and ActionScript forums. He is a resident author at Community MX, a web development training site geared toward Adobe products. David lives in Virginia with his amazing wife, Dawn, and his beguiling daughter, Meridian.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The book is so well thought out with a great layout, that I think it's unbelievable that they would overlook such a major omission. All of the content is upfront, even the tech reviewer and cover designer have their own bio pages. In fact when I looked at the blank white page that immediately follows the "introduction" but precedes the "layout conventions" I began to suspect that I probably missed it - and I did. It's written in micro-print as the last line on the copyright page (where?) just before the credits. So what gives? Probably a little joke on the readers and a gentle shove to visit their website for the clicks (uh, content).
If you can get over the fact that the pages are written in b&w or having to create your own cd (flash drive!)- it's really a great book to read and work with. I'll use Chapter 1 (Learning the Flash CS3 Professional Interface) to explain my reasons why. The title is a bit modest because it introduced a lot of material like concepts, keystrokes (PC & MAC), tools, timelines, symbols, movie clips, library, objects, layers, motion and more --- in every day language. Along the way, you're actually using them. At the end, I had a really good general understanding and a nice comfort-level with the features of Flash while being hungry for more. Perfect timing because the remaining chapters are more in-depth and build on Chapter 1. Moreover, I was excited to realize that it bridges the learning curve for the other CS3 programs. Afterwards, I jumped into another newbie book (Adobe's Dreamweaver CS3 On Demand) and nope - no fog! I haven't written a review on it yet but it's looking pretty good and it's in color.
Overall this book is well written. The authors managed to anticipate all of the questions that popped in my head as I was reading and following the examples. I did get a little frustrated in the "Building a Flash Movie" section of chapter 1. This section offers step by step instructions on the elements of creating a flash movie. Unfortunately, not all of the instructions are clear cut for the novice. For example, there is a set of instructions on creating a moon shadow that I followed precisely many many times. The confusion comes about when you are instructed to "click" on an object. There are different ways to click on an object in FLASH which the authors do not cover in chapter 1. In addition, I had "object drawing mode" turned on, which is not explained until chapter 2. This was very frustrating to me because I was following the instruction precisely and it was not working out. I persevered through it and can now tell you exactly what was wrong.
Chapter 2 is a real eye-opener if you manage to get through "creating a Flash Movie" in CH1. In chapter 2, I learned about the fundamentals of the features that had frustrated me in chapter 1.
Chapter 3 rounds out the last of the essentials that you should really have under your belt. There was a section on 9-slice scaling that I feel was not well done and the example used was in poor taste. The authors used images of a cross-dressing man in green leotards that dresses up as Peter Pan. I found the images to be quite disturbing and had the misfortune of having to work with this image in order to learn 9-slice scaling which I never learned because maybe I was too distracted by the fact that I was working on an image of a grown man dressed in pantyhose, a green dress and shiny shoes. Whatever happened to images of flowers and mountains? Really guys? Peter Pan? Was the Cinderella guy too busy to pose for you that day?
Peter Pan aside, this book get a full 5 stars for content. I really learned a lot and the authors made this book fun and easy to read. I do recommend that the novice reader not dwell on the building a flash movie in section 1 if things are not working out. It will all become clear in subsequent chapters. Also, maybe it is written in really big letters somewhere and I missed it, but I could not find one reference in the book to tell you where to go to download the companion zip folders that contain the sample files that the reader will need. I had to google it and when I did find a source, the Chapter 8 files kept coming in as corrupt files. I had to go to a secondary source to find Chapter 8. (you can find the files on the friends-of-ed website.) With these small few exceptions, I highly recommend this book.
I've been reviewing this book for use as a textbook in community college level interactive multimedia classes. Since our department has grown out of a traditional graphic design program, we still face some resistance when it comes to teaching any kind programming. Now that so many artistic pursuits involves pushing around 1's and 0's, the institutional tendency to separate art and science, right brain/left brain, is no longer workable. The artist/designer of the future will have to be skilled in logic and at least the rudiments of programming. (for an excellent rant on this, see Aral Balkan's forward to ActionScript 3 for Animation by Keith Peters)
So, imagine the smile on my face when I saw the index to this book. ActionScript in chapter 4... well before animation in chapter 7... in a book with "for Designers" in the title! The inclusion of ActionScript so early in the learning process will allow us a much more integrated approach - something that is critical now that Flash is all grown up.
As far as the book is concerned it's marvellous material for any flash beginner, up to intermediate- though the intermediate flash programmers will merely use the book to broaden their flash expertise using specific subjects on audio, video or CS3/AS3 components. It's not in-depth on advanced programming in Actionscript 3.0, nor does it cover the changes between 2.0 and 3.0, which an experienced 2.0 programmer might want to review.
So, though useful for experienced Flash users, the book mainly aims for the new users. But if you are indeed new, this book is all you need to get very broad and decent basics. Great stuff!
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