Flash Hacks By: Sham Bhangal Published by O'Reilly
O'Reilly has built a reputation for being the premier information source for computer technologies. Traditionally their books covered programming, server administration and common applications such as the Korn shell, the vi editor and PGP. It's a name I've grown to trust and which occupies an ever-growing share of my bookshelf.
Their "Hacks series" is a departure from the publisher's usual approach but stays in their spirit of innovation and informality. I found their Google Hacks and Linux Server Hacks books edifying and when I heard about their new book Flash Hacks I was anxious to check it out.
It's worth noting that the book covers Flash MX 2004; a few examples may not work properly with earlier version of Flash.
At first flip-through I felt a bit let down. The majority of the hacks are ActionScript oriented while other hacks don't even use Flash and instead talk about Flash alternatives. But as I started picking through the various hacks, reading them and trying them out my anticipation was slowly rewarded.
Two such redeeming hacks were #19, which discuss scripting smoother and more accurate alpha fades, and #20, which illustrates how to create complex "cut out" masks. Hacks #45 and #46, which covered Complex text formatting and HTML/CSS definitely left me saying "Wow!" (Incidentally, Hack #45, which relies on Microsoft Word, also works if you use WordPad as the pass thru application instead.)
For the true curious coder, Hacks #82, #83 and #84 covers how to uncover undocumented ActionScript commands, internal function mappings and some non-obvious uses for obscure ActionScript operators.
It's important to keep in mind that Flash is a creative and abstract. While some hacks can, the majority of them can't be used "out of the box" and instead need to be adapted to various situations.
Flash Hacks is geared primarily towards readers with some familiarity with Flash already, and though a casual Flash developer will find some of book interesting I think it's a true flash developer who would benefit most from this book.
In any case it did remind me why I liked Flash in the first place and inspired me to develop more with it. It just would have been nice if Flash Hacks was a bit more beginner-friendly.
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