Top 8 Resources for Learning ActionScript 3

After having made the switch to AS3 about a year ago I have to admit it was a huge pain for me to upgrade from AS2. A lot of that was due to the wrong approaches I took (reading a 900 page book straight through is not recommended, for one). So keep reading and learn from someone who has made the switch. And in the end learning AS3 really will make your life easier. And note this is coming from someone with a design background so I’m not some super-genius computer nerd who has been programming in BASIC since he was three. It is possible for non-coders to learn AS3.

Update: The ActionScript 3.0 Quick Reference Guide by David Stiller, Rich Shupe, Jen deHaan and Darren Richardson has been recommended to me by several readers. I haven’t personally read it but it is supposed to contain some good info on transitioning from AS2 to AS3, so I thought it deserves an honorable mention.

8. Essential ActionScript 3.0 by Colin Moock

08This is the Bible for ActionScript 3. I saw it recommended in so many places and with so much enthusiasm that I figured it was all I needed. “If I read this book straight through I’ll be an AS3 expert”, I remember thinking. So I mustered all my will power and actually read the book cover to cover. It took two months for me to finish it. Was I instantly an AS3 expert afterwards? Hardly. Granted it did give me a good exposure to pretty much everything you’d ever need to know in AS3 but it was just so much information at once that it kind of scrambled my brain. The book goes into extreme detail about every topic in AS3. Way more than I needed to know.

Not that it’s not a great book though. It still has a permanent place next to my computer and not a day goes by programming that I don’t look up something in its sprawling 900 pages. Great for a reference book, yes, but not so great to start learning from. Which brings me to…

7. Learning ActionScript 3.0 by Rich Shupe with Zevan Rosser

Learning ActionScript 3 by Rich Shupe with Zevan RosserOk this is much better. Why didn’t I start with this book? Very easy and quick to read. It lacks the level of detail of Essential ActionScript 3.0 but really you can look up the details when you actually need them. It’s all in color too which makes it much more pleasurable to read, especially for a designer.

 

 

6. Lynda.com

Lynda.comLynda.com has a nice collection of videos on AS3. I actually haven’t watched any of their videos on AS3 but I used their videos quite often when I was first learning AS2. You do have to pay for them but they have always been pretty high quality. You can get an annual subscription to watch all their videos for a year for $250 but it’s probably a better deal to do the $25 a month plan and try to watch all the AS3 titles in the first month or two.

 

5. Senocular’s Getting Started with ActionScript 3.0 in Adobe Flash CS3 Tutorial

Senocular’s Getting Started with ActionScript 3.0 in Adobe Flash CS3 TutorialAlthough Senocular states it’s still “a work in progress” this tutorial contains a ton of awesome info on learning AS3. The fifth page of the tutorial is particularly good as it gives a nice overview of classes for someone new to Object Oriented Programming. Probably the best first site you’ll want to read through for a good overview of AS3.

 

 

4. Senocular’s ActionScript 3 Tip of the Day

Senocular’s ActionScript 3 Tip of the DaySenocular makes the list again with his never-ending forum post of ActionScript 3 tips. Even though some of the tips are from 2006 they are still completely relevant today. I always learn something new whenever I skim through the pages.

 

 

 

3. gotoAndLearn()

gotoAndLearn()Lee Brimelow is a great man. He spends his days creating videos showing you how to do things in Flash. And it’s not boring, irrelevant stuff either. It’s cool, useful stuff like using Papervision3D and Tweener. And best of all it’s completely free. Highly recommended.

 

 

2. Flash Help Documentation

Flash Help DocumentationThe help documentation inside Flash is probably the most overlooked resource. Everything you need to know is right there and it’s written surprisingly well for a help file. Lots of examples are given showing actual code usage. I constantly see people posting on forums asking how to do things when a simple search in the help file would tell them everything they wanted to know. Need to know how the drawing API works? Just look it up! It’s all there. You can even view it online.

1. Google

GoogleThis might sound stupidly obvious but honestly just searching on Google for what you immediately need to know is the best way to learn AS3. There are so many random blogs out there and forum postings just filled with great info about whatever you need to know. Instead of going to a specific website or picking up a certain book I always find myself just going to Google time and time again.

I always thought once I became a good programmer I would just automatically know everything off the top of my head and I’d be able to just write programs straight through without referencing anything. I keep expecting that day to come but it never has. And it probably never will. Learning really is a never ending process. No matter how much you know you will constantly be thinking “What’s the best way to do this?”, “Is this even possible to do?” and “How have others solved this problem?”.

The best advice I can give is to just start creating a project in AS3 and figure it out as you go. My experience is if I need to know it to complete a project I’ll learn it – if I read it in a book I’ll just glaze over it and have to look it up again later. So if you wait until you “know” AS3 before taking on a AS3 project you’ll never do it. The right time to make the switch will never come. So just jump in and do it using the resources above as your guide.

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26 Responses to “Top 8 Resources for Learning ActionScript 3”


  1. 1 iBrent

    Great list! I found these same resources invaluable in my own beginnings with Actionscript 3.

    Thanks for sharing this.

    iBrent

  2. 2 jim bachalo

    Also highly recommended is another O’Reilly pub, Actionscript 3 Quick Reference Guide. Some great AS2-AS3 migration examples.

  3. 3 warmforest

    jim,

    Thanks for the suggestion for the ActionScript 3 Quick Reference Guide. Another reader actually recommended it as well so I added it as a honorable mention.

  4. 4 Richard S Davies

    Im currently reading the AS3 book by Adobe and its great, only trouble im getting is the “Further Tasks” at the end of every chapter, sometimes a little hard for a beginner, and no answers when you cant do them!

  5. 5 AA

    Thanks! I googled first to find your site and your suggestions are definitely some of the better ones I’ve seen.

  6. 6 Himanshu vyas

    Great List. I was confused about which type of tool should be selected by me for learning Action Script 3.0. After reading this article i am going to lynda.com. I think it will be comfortable for me to learn Action Script 3.0 with the help of videos.

    Thanks for sharing this.

    Himanshu Vyas

  7. 7 Etana

    I’ve used lynda.com for self training. They are very well organized and quick to view. I also just buy the monthly subscription and just jam through it so I’m not wasting money. Then I buy a book to cover what I need refreshing on. It’s a great way to go.

  8. 8 Elias Hickman

    Excellent! I’ve been using some of these very same resources now for months. I think another great site is totaltraining. You have to pay, but it’s well worth it. John Ulliman is an awesome developer and great teacher.

  9. 9 kiko

    thanks for the list – good resources.

  10. 10 as3coder

    How about Colin Moock’s Lost ActionScript 3.0 Weekend: http://www.lostactionscriptweekend.com. Very digestible and lots of it is actually available for free if you search around.

  11. 11 Mokey

    Hello,

    I read over your list and The O Reillys is a nice book to add. Also, I tried out Lynda.com and it’s GREAT!! They help you step-by-step on learning. I actually learned up to arrays and random arrays in two days (trust me thats a lot). So, I recommand that, other than that the O riellys book is nice.

  12. 12 Mokey

    Hello,

    I read over your list and The O Reillys is a nice book to add. Also, I tried out Lynda.com and it’s GREAT!! They help you step-by-step on learning. I actually learned up to arrays and random arrays in two days (trust me thats a lot). So, I recommand that, other than that the O riellys book is nice.

  13. 13 BrysO

    I have really liked Lynda.com for everythign else but learning actionscript. The beginner level videos are good for the first chapter, then in chapter 2, the instructor just moves way to fast and doesn’t explain things clearly enough.

    I have started reading “Learning ActionScript 3.0″ and I am finding it pretty good so far (through chapter 2).

  14. 14 Martin Legris

    May I suggest http://tutorials.as3.ca ; I have been working on putting together the best tutorials on actionscript 3 for a while now. I agree it needs a design, but the content is golden!

    thanks

    Martin

  15. 15 Cindy

    Thanks so much for this list. Greatly appreciated. :)

  16. 16 Salvync WWE

    Thank you so much. I am sure some if not all of this in the list will help me understand ActionScript 3 better.

  17. 17 Zhang Yuanlong(from China)

    I have already studied as3 for almost a year.At this period all by myself,lots of painess and helplessness flooded to me for many problems on as3 couldn’t be soloved even thoughtout the Internet. Thanks for sharing so wonderful resources!

  18. 18 Roger W

    Hi Jerimiah and thanks for your list which I came across a few months ago, it inspired me to buy Learning ActionScript 3.0. I’ve come back to your site as I’m considering buying Essential ActionScript 3.0 by Colin Moock and wanted to re-read your review.

    So just some feedback on your posting…

    Learning ActionScript 3.0 – I’d have to agree that this seems to be a good book but, at my age, 60, I’ve been struggling with the whole of AS3 and have had to re-read parts of it several times. Nonetheless, this is the best resource I have on AS3.

    Adobe’s ActionScript for Adobe Flash (Classroom in a book) is a much poorer offering. I went through this book, did all the tutorials but still couldn’t write the code I wanted.

    Lynda.com. Lynda is OK with some very good analogies for describing functions, classes etc. but 2 things only give it average marks for me; like Classroom in a book, it didn’t really help me write the code I wanted and, I’m not anti american but after many hours of listening to the american accent it slightly put me off diving into the next chapter. Sorry about that.

    Finally, I think that your final paragraph in your review is absolutely spot on, i.e. get on and write some code. Like learning to speak French, every tutorial I have done so far has helped me to do one thing, say, order a meal in a French restaurant but didn’t help me at all to, say, get my car fixed at a French garage. I was making little progress on understanding AS3 or my project until I actually started writing rubbish code and started to work out what was wrong with it.

    Thanks so much.

  19. 19 Graig Canta

    Why pay when you can learn for free ? That’s the concept in the online world — Internet. No matter what you are looking for, the Internet constantly has an answer for you.

  20. 20 Wesley

    How to convert this AS2 to AS3:

    COD:

    System.useCodepage = true;
    cep.text=”";

    function buscaCep(cepNm) {

    var arquivo:XML = new XML();
    arquivo.load(“http://cep.republicavirtual.com.br/web_cep.php?cep=”+cepNm+”&formato=xml”);

    arquivo.ignoreWhite = true;

    arquivo.onLoad = function() {

    uf=this.childNodes[0].childNodes[2];
    cidade=this.childNodes[0].childNodes[3];
    bairro=this.childNodes[0].childNodes[4];
    tipo_logradouro=this.childNodes[0].childNodes[5];
    logradouro=this.childNodes[0].childNodes[6];

    }

    };

    //nm.onKillFocus = buscaCep(cep);

    cep.onKillFocus = function () {
    if(this.text != “”){
    buscaCep(this.text);
    }
    }

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