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the flash 4 bible: 600 pages of flash expertise
flash has come a long way since its infant days as future splash, and during the product's growth the flash development community has metamorphosed from a few voices on a mailing list into a truly massive group of individuals producing millions of pages of amateur and professional content for the web. some of the neatest things i've seen and done with flash are closely related to the activities of, and personalities in, that community.

though i have thrived on the energy of the flash dev world, i have always regretted that we really have not had a reasonable authoritative reference guide that can be used during our daily production. old hands know the drill pretty well: make everything a symbol, keep tweened symbols on their own layers, import only high quality bitmaps and sound so you don't double-compress, etc. etc...but there are tons of things we never get around to learning, or use rarely enough that we know there's a rule, if only we could remember it or dig it up in an archive somewhere. just how do you export flash for use on tv anyway? and which browser was it that doesn't work with load movie? did mano really trace all those 3d frames by hand???

finally we're seeing some good, hardcore responses to the situation. really super books are now being written by people who know their shit. and i'm happy to say i was able to help with one that actually looks pretty useful...the flash 4 bible, by robert reinhardt and jon warren lentz. rob is a great guy who works in the real world as a creative director and flash programmer at the ever so cool rob used to teach flash, photoshop, and other multimedia courses in toronto before getting back into the production game. his main squeeze is digital video & quicktime. jon is the famous co-author of the designing web graphics series with lynda weinman. and me, well, you know about me from the site you're on. as well as contributing tutorials, i wrote part iv of the six-part book, called "flash interactivity: making things happen", which is essentially three chapters on all the actions, starting with the basics ("play", "go to", "stop", etc.) and ending with a description of actionscript.

what i like about the book is that it covers topics that are part of the community shared knowledge base that starts where the manual stops: things like like working with digital video and sound, and faking 3d. and i like that the topics are written up by people from the community: chrissy rey, manuel clement, dorian nisinson, and a bunch of other familiar names. covering more than 600 pages, i think the book will do good double duty as a learning tool and a reference guide. of course, there's a cd that comes with it full of .flas for use and study.

lets see some samples
so i guess i've blubbered on enough. here are some real excerpts from the chapters i wrote.

enough! i want to buy it!
you could get a copy of the book from pretty much any major bookstore, but if you want to support me a little when you buy it, follow the instructions below to order it from (i get a small percentage of books ordered this way, but only if you follow the link below and order right from that page). just a quick note before you buy, though, this is *not* a book solely on actionscript. my chapters cover actions completely (30 pages) and there's about 15 pages scripting which will be useful to programmers and beginners, but it's not exhaustive. check my books page for other actionscript references. just don't want to mislead anyone from the above examples...

anyway, on with the buying part>>

  1. click here to go to the flash 4 bible order page on
  2. on the order page, locate and click on the graphic that looks like this:

    order the flash 4 bible

  3. complete the ordering process you have just started.

is this the best book for flash 4?
well, i haven't read them all. as i said before, there are finally a lot of good ones being writen on the topic, but yeah, i do think this one is one of the most valuable all-around resources. other books to note are:

  1. ken milburn/john croteau's "web animation f/x & design" (an all-in-wonder like the flash 4 bible, but shorter. note that i haven't read this one so *read the reviews* at amazon. it's not getting great ones...)
  2. david emberton/branen hall's "flash 4 magic" (a cook-book style collection of flash 4 programming projects including a pong game and an mp3 jukebox)
  3. hillman curtis's flash web design (a visual-designer's handbook to flash design which works through 9 projects in a tutorial approach).

hope you find a book you like, and happy flashing!

revision history
november 30, 1999: created.
december 1, 1999: posted.
december 7, 1999: added link to branden & david's book.
january 27, 2000: added notice about delayed printing.
february 22, 2000: changed delay notice to now shipping notice.
april 4, 2000: added link to hillman's book, which is shipping now.
june 2, 2000: fixed a typo, reworded some stuff, and added a warning about the book not being 100% actionscript. took the now-shipping notice off.