ActionScript 3.0

August 24th, 2008 – 12:11 pm
Tagged as: Life,Work

I’ve always wondered when I’d start to learn AS3.0. Trying to move away from the classic AS2.0 is quite hard esepcially having experience in it and actually getting results! But I read around a bit, grabbed a few books on AS3.0 and watched a few tutorials online.

Lee Brimelow (a guy who works at Adobe – an award-winning interactive designer) wrote some factual information which I thought I’d post on my Web site too. Just to remind me and you as to why we should take on AS3.0:

Reasons to use ActionScript 3.0

The following are what I consider to be the primary benefits of learning to use ActionScript. I’ve listed them in no particular order.

1. Your skills will be in high demand

This, in my opinion, is the main reason anyone who currently works or is planning to work as a Flash developer should switch to the new language. All major Flash work is now exclusively being built in ActionScript 3.0. You just don’t see many jobs looking for ActionScript 2.0 skills. So if you plan on working with Flash in your job, learning ActionScript 3.0 is essential.

2. Everything you build will be faster

Developers who have been working with Flash for a while have often been frustrated that our new, super-cool idea just couldn’t run smoothly because of the limitations of Flash Player. ActionScript 3.0 offers up to a 10-fold increase in performance over previous versions of the language. In some cases, the performance has increased even more. This means you can control more objects on the Stage at the same time. If you want your project to look and perform at its best, moving to ActionScript 3.0 is the ultimate way to achieve this goal.

3. There’s an abundance of new APIs

As Flash developers, we love nothing more than getting new toys to integrate into our projects. ActionScript 3.0 includes hundreds of new APIs for working with things like XML, regular expressions, and binary sockets. Even better, the whole language has been reorganized into packages and namespaces that make it much easier to find specific language features. When you use ActionScript 3.0, your Flash toolbox is not only much fuller, it is also better organized.

4. The display list rocks

One of the biggest changes in ActionScript 3.0 is the way Flash handles visual objects in a movie. In previous versions of the language, it was practically a black art to manipulate the display order (depth) of the items in a Flash movie. A large number of hacks and workarounds existed that didn’t make any sense to beginners starting to use the language. For instance, it was common practice to place visual assets at an extremely high depth in order to keep them on top of everything else in a movie. This led to a lot of problems in larger projects and required a lot of manual depth management work. The new display list in ActionScript 3.0 is a straightforward mechanism that handles how visual assets are rendered in your movie. Once you start using it, you’ll wonder how you ever developed a project without it.

5. The object-oriented structure is better

Developers particularly love the improved object-oriented structure of ActionScript 3.0. It includes things like runtime typing, sealed classes, packages, namespaces, and an overhauled event model. Programming in ActionScript 3.0 is on the same level as writing in other high-level languages like Java and C#. The new features in ActionScript 3.0 also make your code more modular, readable and extendable. Some of these features may not be used much, if at all, by interactive designers—but it is good to know that if you want to get into more advanced programming someday, the language structure is there to support you.

6. It’s more enjoyable to work with ActionScript 3.0

This may sound subjective, but I believe it is absolutely true. Ask anyone who knows ActionScript 3.0 to go back and program a project in ActionScript 2.0 and they will surely cringe at the idea. Previous versions of the language were filled with so many bugs, hacks, and workarounds that working in ActionScript 3.0 seems almost too easy in comparison. ActionScript 3.0 does take a bit of getting used to, but the rewards are well worth the effort.


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  1. Fredrik says:

    Is AS 3.0 a total rewrite of AS 2.0?

    Comment made on August 24, 2008 @ 8:13 pm

  2. Zayd says:

    Yeah it pretty much is. AS2.0 felt a lot easier to write as there wasn’t as many lines of code to write. However, it’s not about how many lines you write when it comes to coding, it’s the flexibilty over the code.

    But as I’ve read, they haven’t totally ruled out AS2.0 because it is still widely used given that it’s been the basis of Flash CS2 and any other version previous to that.

    But, I’m in it for the learning experience. AS2.0 is definitely worth learning. I think it is important to learn the transition between AS2.0 to AS3.0.

    Most of my work will probably still be AS2.0 until I find the equivalents in AS3.0. For that, that’s where the tutorial section will become handy for me, as well as those looking to see the transitions.

    Check out the tutorials to see what I mean :).

    Hope that helps.

    Comment made on August 24, 2008 @ 9:20 pm

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