in Actionscript 3

The Best ActionScript Book Ever Written

Sorry Colin, but there is a new book that sits atop the heap in my opinion. I just spent some time skimming through the book entitled Learning ActionScript 3.0: A Beginner’s Guide. Rich Shupe and Zevan Rosser have written a masterpiece and all other programming books should take note of its style and flow. Despite having beginner in the title, this actually a very nice reference book for even expert coders. I learned a lot of little things that I didn’t know before picking it up.

So why do I like it so much? Firstly, O’Reilly has finally realized the benefit to publishing full-color programming books. All of the code samples look identical to the way they will look inside of your ActionScript editor. This really is a big benefit that is often overlooked in other books. The book’s approach to OOP is also very nice and is the least scary delivery that I have seen. Obviously this book doesn’t go into nearly as much depth on it as do other books, but it is enough to get started. The book is also filled with code snippets that you can actually use in your work. No abstract examples in this book. I was also happy to see gotoAndLearn() listed in the resources :-).

This book is clearly aimed at Flash developers and will not be so well received by Flex developers. For those devigners out there that need to make the transition to AS3, this book should be your bible. You’ll not only learn the basics of the new language but there are also excellent chapters on audio, video, animation, math, XML, bitmap processing, and more.

Two thumbs up!

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  1. I saw this book at the local book store this weekend and flipped through it. Saw some interesting stuff and thought it would make a great reference as well. I will definately be promoting this bookat our local Adobe User Group.

  2. totally agree with you Lee, i´m also a hudge fan of Colin Moock and is Essentials AS, but i just buy this book and i was very impressed by the easy and beautiful explanation of what is Actionscript 3.0, agre when you said this is not only a book for beginners there´s a lot of chapetrs with advanced subjects.

    By the way want to Thank for your Kidness at Madrid on the Air Adobe Tour, i´m one of the members of the portuguese comunity that talk to you, and have finally meet the man behind the code that i read follow since 9/10 years, and we don´t forget the promise by Mike chambers that the next year you will start the tour @Lisbon – Portugal, lol.

    see you,

    Joao Goncalves

  3. While I won’t say it replaces Colin Moock’s “Essential ActionScript 3.0” at the top of the heap, it definitely joins my short list of *excellent* AS3 resources — along with “ActionScript 3.0 Animation: Making Things Move” and “ActionScript 3.0 Cookbook”.

    Originally I steered away because of the word “Beginners” in the title, but I had to check it out after seeing some clear and helpful messages from Rich Shupe on the FlashTiger mailing list and then visiting the book’s website at

    As you say, there’s good stuff here for everyone. Highly recommended.

  4. Yes been using this book as a reference for a few weeks now and it is truly indespensible. I was definitely feeling that the Moock book didn’t address some of the more basic AS3 features and this one fills the gap. I also love how this book actually references the Moock book and lets you know exactly where to look to get more in depth information on a particular subject. Also very glad the authors are getting some recognition for such a great AS3 resrouce.

  5. I really liked this book too! When preparing for Colin Moocks AS3 tour, I started in his Essential Guide, and then I realized it much nicer to ‘see the play first – and then read the book’. So I picked up Rich Shupe and Zevan Rosser’s Learning ActionScript 3.0. I had no trouble understanding everything Colin said after reading that book :-)

    It might be aimed at Flash developers, but it’s very suitable for XHTML and Javascript developers too. I’ve recommended it to fellow JavaScript developers

  6. Agreed! I teach Actionscript in a Flash program, and refer to this book when planning how to explain things such that a beginner with no OOP background will understand.

  7. Yeah, I saw that book at B&N and though this is a great book w/ not big word or fluff. It’s what a cookbook should be. It was very intimidating, compact and I got a good deal out from it.

  8. Hey Guys,

    I own this book and I completely back up what Lee has said. Its by far the best AS3 book I’ve purchased. It’s cut out a lot of the fat and gives you what you need to know in a tight package. Like Lee said the examples in this book are great. I’ve adapted many of them in to my recent projects. I give it: ?????

  9. Yes! I agree 110%! I waited for this book to be published, then purchased it the day it came out. Excellent book, taught myself AS3.0 using this book. There is also an accompanying website that is useful, Ive also contacted Rich Shupe to thank him for putting out such an excellent book. One of the best written I’ve ever read, it really broke everything down for me into digestable chunks of information! Well Done!

  10. I couldn’t agree with you more. I purchased Colin’s “Essential Actionscript 3.0” first, and then after somewhat laboring to get through the first several chapters (not compiling for 10 chapters or so makes it feel somewhat unproductive) I ran out and bought “Learning Actionscript 3.0” and am almost through it. I feel like once I’m done with it, I’ll “graduate” up to Moock’s book. Its nice to see accomplishments, like the silly and pretty useless “Hello World” script you write when learning any programming language. Little successes help build confidence. I also like how it lays out that not every project is suited for OOP, and using the timeline isn’t bad. It’s all about selecting the right tool, and programming method, for the job.

  11. Well, i got Essentials and CookBook and although Essentials is very complete, i guess it is kinda dificult to be the book you need on your desk. More like a book you read when you have time. CookBook i mostly use it for references.

    Oh, i arrived here, read the post, went to amazon, and in max 2 weeks this new book is here. Thanks for the tip Lee :)

  12. My problem with this book, as a beginner is that as soon as it gets to explaining conditions and eventlisteners it takes a massive leap and loses me somewhere in the middle. I think the leap could have been structured a bit better.

    I felt really comfortable and confident up till around page 100…


  13. This book sounds really interesting. I wonder if it will also come to europe. I’d like to learn a little AS3, but I think I need a book in german, because learning a new language in a foreign language is probably to hard for me. So it would be cool, if they’d translate and bring the book to Germany.

  14. I think the Mook book has incredible breadth but feels rushed in some chapters (due perhaps to the rush to get out the first text on the subject). In some parts, especially some beginning parts of chapters, it reads so elegantly and in other parts it seems like so helter skelter.

    Don’t get me wrong though, I have read the Mook book cover to cover twice over and it is an incredible resource from an expert angle.

    I look forward to getting this new one though for a more refreshing perspective.

  15. not here to point my finger to anyone cuz i got the book i guess the day after it landed the shelves.

    but did someone count the typos & errors in this book? i am not even halfway. other than then, it sharpens the mind to spot the typos and pay attention to them, its a good to very good learning curve.

  16. A great ActionScript 3 book. I am half way through the book and don’t have a headache. I got halfway through Mr. Moock’s book and had to take a long,long rest. Anyway, I say this to say I would recommend Learning ActionScript 3.0 as a starter book. It definitely teaches AS3 in an easy to grasp way(plus much more)and prepares the reader for a more in depth study of the language. After digesting this one Colin’s book will be a much easier read and far more useful to someone relatively new to AS3 or AS period.

  17. This book is indeed great! After a couple of chapters you get a firm grasp of AS3 and working with classes (along with the workable files).

  18. thanks for the review Lee… it just came last night, and all I can say is WOW. Extremely comprehensive, and exactly the types of tutorials and examples I have been looking for all over the place.

  19. I added the book to my Safari O’Reilly account a few days ago, and based on the few chapters I’ve read, I’m not too happy with it. It’s an easier read than the Moock book, but there are some errors, and some of the sections feel rushed.

    For instance, the section on Flash masking, has the following example:
    mask_mc.cacheAsBitmap = true;
    maskee_mc.cacheAsBitmap = true;

    Well, setMask gives me an error. I had to Google for Flash CS3 masking, and found the proper syntax: maskee_mc.mask = mask_mc;

    On a slightly unrelated note, most of the examples in these books are very simplistic e.g. here’s how to draw a square, etc. but nothing sophisticated, like how do I dynamically generate multiple sprites on the stage. I realize I need to learn that stuff myself by trial and error, but it would be nice if the examples were more real world, and less “Hello World”.

  20. just started reading it based on your recommendation. I think so far i agree with the Loud Ninja. They should have some more real world examples. Good book all in all.

  21. Couldn’t agree more! I was suffering a bit with Moock as it felt a bit abstract and was looking for something a bit clearer for me. Saw this in Borders, had a quick flick through and bought it straight away. Got me fired up about Actionscript after a few years of steadily forgetting everything I had learned in AS1… And Moock starts to make more sense.

  22. hello sir, that is really a nice Book… i have one question…. is there is any way in AS3 that we can know, which layer is mask or not…. suppose user give us a swf we loaded it in another swf. so from there can we find which layer is mask or not????? bit difficult.. hope u solve it soon. TC

  23. Dear Buddies,

    I am very newcomer to Action Script and even never come across to any programming language. I have never opened any Programming language book and flipped it. I don’t know the A-B-C of any kind of programming language. Nil to anything all know that I want to learn Flash AS but don’t know where to begin. Kindly suggest me the book to start and to learn from very beginning (Say- A-B-C).

    Thanks and regards,


  24. Yes, the LAS3 book is very good (a typo here and there–not so typo-ridden as some Joey Lott and Keith Peters books, though!!). However I didn’t really start to appreciate it until I had the basics under my belt and had taken a course from one of the authors. So the book is really more an intermediate-advanced text than one for raw beginners to ActionScript. If I were the book editor planning a 2nd edition, I would add or expand an introductory chapter that gave a few meaty, real-life examples of the code, with patient explanations of how this works and why. This way the reader would be encouraged to get hands-on use of the language and syntax at the very beginning. After that, the theoretical parts in the beginning of the book would make more sense.

  25. Thanks for the suggestion, I am a web designer in Milwaukee, and absolutely need a book like this. I also ordered Essential ActionScript 3.0, as it was recommended by someone on gotoandlearn().

  26. Before I came to this blog, Ipurchased ActionScript 3.0 for Adobe Flash CS3 Professional by Todd Perkins. Anyone using it? What are your thoughts?

  27. Definitely very nice book. There is simple explanation for things which is very useful for beginners. The color adds extra value.

  28. I’ve been looking to purchase a book to begin learning AS3 and I’ve read many reviews regarding some of the top rated AS3 books. Although this one is rated as one of the top ones I can’t help it read so many reviews stating that there are a ton of errors and typos in the code (that also haven’t been fixed on the website either). How would someone with minimal knowledge of script learn AS3 when the codes in the book have errors??? This makes me hesitant to buy this book.


    box.alpha = 50;

    makes no sense

  30. Nice, I’ll order it right away. I’m currently learning flash for my new job.

    Will be usefull for me and also for my teamMates !
    They we’re using AS2.


  31. This book is good, but it lacks any really good detail. It brushes over most of the main points and explains how they work… somewhat. But then, when you go to start programming, you feel lost (at least I do). Maybe I’m just a noob.. but then again the book does say, “for Beginners” in the title. I bought this book as a way to build up to Colin Moock’s Essential Action Script 3.0, but I am going to put it down, and go straight into Moock’s book today. I need more in depth explanations.

  32. I never took scripting or programming classes. I worked as a graphic designer and had to learn Flash at one of my old jobs.

    Learning Action Script was terribly difficult for me. Then Adobe made things even more difficult by making a big change from AS2 (Action Script 2) to AS3 (Action Script 3).

    I tried the “Learning Action Script 3” book by Shupe and Rosser, but it’s not truly for beginners, despite its sub-heading.

    I think the “Learning Action Script 3” book might be a good beginning Action Script book for people *already experienced in programming or scripting*, but if you’re an artistic type with little or no scripting education, this book is not going to be a big help. (It wasn’t for me.)

    The first couple of chapters of the Shupe-Rosser book are quite competent at explaining basic scripting concepts, but there are not nearly enough such examples for them to sink in.

    I think many people (myself included) learn a concept best by repeated exposure to it; this book lacks that repetition. You get one or two examples per concept, and the author is off to the next one.

    Later chapters of the Shupe-Rosser are far too complex for beginners. The chapters on math, tangents, atans and such were confusing.

    I’ve had more success grasping Action Script by reading ‘ActionScript 3.0: Visual QuickStart Guide’ by Derrick Ypenburg, and my favorite so far, ‘Flash CS4 Professional Advanced for Windows and Macintosh: Visual QuickPro Guide’ by Russell Chun.

    As for older good books (that focused on Action Script 2) that might help artists and designers who are struggling with scripting concepts, “Macromedia Flash MX ActionScripting: Advanced Training from the Source” by Derek Franklin and Jobe Makar was quite good (though tough in places);
    And “Sams Teach Yourself Flash MX ActionScript in 24 Hours” by Gary Rosenzweig was absolutely wonderful at explaining scripting for artists with no background in programming.

    I do own a few other AS / Flash CS4 (I don’t own the CS5 software) books but have not finished reading them all yet.

    I had to put most of my other Action Script books aside because they made little sense to me.

    (One such book that did not make much sense to me at first was “Action Script 3 for Adobe Flash CS4 professional Classroom in A Book,’ by Adobe Press/ Adobe Systems Inc.

    That book is filled with many little exercises and tutorials, but does not explain the scripts in depth, and there’s not enough repetition for the concepts to sink in for a beginner.

    One ends up simply typing in the script one sees on the page, but not understanding what the code is doing or why).

    I cannot recommend the Shupe-Rosser “Learning Action Script” book for artists and graphic designers who really have difficulty learning and understanding Action Script.