I can remember the day as clear is if it were just yesterday. I was walking by my boss’ office late one winter afternoon at the college where I teach, and he called me into his office. Sitting on his desk was a thin white box with some sort of weird swirl on it. He slid the box across to me and asked, “You know anything about Flash?” To be honest, as a Director user, what I knew was filtered through the eyes of a Director guy, which meant I didn’t know much and what I did know convinced me it was a wind-up toy compared to Director. I replied, “A bit.” The boss leaned back in his chair and said, “Well learn a lot more because you are teaching it in four weeks.” This was the start of one of the longest, strangest, and most exhilarating trips I have ever been on. The version was Flash 3, and I have been using and teaching Flash ever since. In many respects, Flash CS3 completes the process started by Macromedia, now Adobe, with the release of Flash 8. That release was a “designer” release, meaning there were lots of goodies for the creatives and a few for the coders. This iteration of the application is the “developer” release. The coders are dancing in the streets, and the creatives are wondering what the hell happened.
In many respects, this release of the application marks the absorption of Flash into the Adobe product line, and Adobe didn’t just toss it on the pile. As you will discover, there are some seriously cool new features that allow Flash users to take advantage of new work flows among all of the applications in the Adobe lineup including Photoshop CS3, Illustrator CS3, Fireworks CS3, Dreamweaver CS3, and even After Effects CS3 and Soundbooth CS3. The big news, of course, is the introduction of ActionScript 3.0. This revision of the Flash scripting language will initially, in the immortal words of Ed Grimley, “Drive you mental!” The key word is “initially,” because once you get used to it, you will discover everything you know about ActionScript still applies . . . just a bit differently. When Dave and I started mapping out this book, we decided to go with ActionScript 3.0 for every line of code in the book. In this way, you can learn the fundamentals and use them as a jumping-off point to further explore the power of this language. This book is also a bit different from any Flash book you may have read or considered purchasing. From the very start of the process, Dave and I put ourselves in your shoes and asked a simple question: “What do you need to know and why?” This question led us into territory that we didn’t quite expect. As we were grappling with that question early in the process, we kept bothering our network of Flash friends to be sure we were on the right track. At some point, both of us simultaneously came to the conclusion, “Why not just let them explain it in their own words?” This is why, as you journey through this book, you will encounter various experts in the field telling you why they do things and offering you insights into what they have learned. The odd thing is, at some point in their careers, they were no different from you.
One other aspect of this book that we feel is important is we had a lot of fun developing the examples and exercises in the book. The fun aspect is important because if learning is fun, what you learn will be retained. Anybody can show you how to apply a Glow filter to a line on the Flash stage. It is more effective when you do exactly the same thing to a guy wearing a Tron suit. Anybody can dryly explain 9-slice scaling, but it becomes less techie when you apply it to a guy dressed as Peter Pan. Nested movieclips are a “yawner” at best, but when they are related to a Hostess Twinkie, the concept becomes understandable. Shared libraries are an important subject. Instead of filling a library with circles and text, the concept becomes relevant when the library is populated with “Bunny Bits.”
As you may have guessed, we continue to exhibit a sense of joy and wonder with Flash, and we hope a little bit of our enthusiasm rubs off on you as well. For thoes whi are really interested in Flash Animation, I’d recomend checiking google for useful tutorials.