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essential actionscript 2.0  


Essential ActionScript 2.0

Essential ActionScript 2.0 versus ActionScript for Flash MX: The Definitive Guide

Essential ActionScript 2.0 (EAS2) and ActionScript for Flash MX: The Definitive Guide (ASDG2) are two books about ActionScript by Colin Moock. ASDG2 was published before EAS2, but Essential ActionScript 2.0 is not an updated edition of the Definitive Guide! EAS2 is a completely separate, standalone work covering ActionScript 2.0 and object-oriented programming. This article compares and contrasts the two books.


ASDG2 contains three parts:

  1. Language Fundamentals
  2. Applied ActionScript
  3. Language Reference

ASDG2 Part 1 describes the features of ActionScript 1.0, listing the syntax and usage of the following topics: variables, datatypes, operators, statements, conditionals, loops, functions, event handling, arrays, ActionScript 1.0 objects and classes, and movie clips. ASDG2 Part 2 gives some practical examples and authoring tool information. ASDG2 Part 3 documents every function, property, class, and object defined by the Flash Player 6 environment.

EAS2 also contains three parts:

  1. The ActionScript 2.0 Language
  2. Application Development
  3. Design Pattern Examples in ActionScript 2.0

Unlike ASDG2 Part 1, EAS2 Part 1 does not cover ActionScript 1.0 at all, and does not cover programming basics such as loops, variables, functions, and so on. Instead, it focuses on the theory behind object-oriented programming (OOP) and the syntax used to write OOP code in ActionScript 2.0. Readers of EAS2 Part 1 are expected to understand either ActionScript 1.0 or a non-ActionScript object-oriented language (such as Java or C++). EAS2 Part 1 contains more applied examples than ASDG2 Part 1, devoting entire chapters to the construction of small object-oriented programs. However EAS2 Part 1 does share one similarity with ASDG2 Part 1--it provides a detailed guide to the features of ActionScript 2.0, much as ASDG2 Part 1 exhaustively explains the features of ActionScript 1.0.

EAS2 Part 2 contains four chapters that demonstrate how to create an object-oriented application in Flash. EAS2 Part 2 provides thorough, real-world examples of OOP in Flash. Structurally, the chapters of EAS2 Part 2 are step-by-step tutorials sprinkled with theory. Only one chapter of ASDG2 follows this format: Chapter 17, Building a Flash Form.

EAS2 Part 3 describes accepted approaches to five common design problems in OOP. Like EAS2 Part 2, Part 3 is entirely example based, walking through real-world code while discussing associated OOP design theory. ASDG2 does not contain any chapters that are directly analogous to those found in EAS2 Part 3.

Notice that EAS2 does not contain a detailed language reference! It does provide a 45-page quick reference for the classes and objects found in Flash Player 6 and 7, but the quick reference does not explain those items in any detail.


ASDG2 is aimed at the Flash professional who may have no programming experience, some programming experience, or massive programming experience. EAS2 has two core audiences: 1) the Flash professional with at least some prior programming experience and 2) the experienced programmer who is new to Flash.

Should you own both?

Yes, absolutely. EAS2 was written very much as a natural companion to ASDG2. In particular, if you're completely new to programming you'll need to read ASDG2 Part 1 before you start on EAS2. Even if you own EAS2, you'll still want to keep ASDG2 on your desk for reference.


In general: For a more detailed description of the content of EAS2, please see O'Reilly's full catalog page.