New Books for Learning Flash Mobile Development

Finally a few training books are coming out for Flash Mobile development on the Android and the iPhone iOS, the one that can be purchased right now is Wagner’s Professional Flash Mobile Development which seems to cover both Android and iPhone applications and is available in paperback and Kindle format. Other books coming in the upcoming months include David’s Flash Mobile: Developing Android and iOS Applications, Chin’s Pro Android Flash Games: Developing Flash Game Apps for Android-based Smartphones and Tablets, O’Rourke’s Flash Mobile Application Development For Dummies, and Keefe’s Beginning iOS Flash Apps: For iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.

[via Scott Janousek Blog]

Massive Price Cut for ActionScript Books on Amazon

 I was browsing Amazon today and realised that there is a massive price cut on all ActionScript books on both Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk, probably due to the fact that the new Flash CS4 is expected to be released at any moment. Most of you should know by now that Flash CS4 adds new animation and 3D functionalities, but it still uses ActionScript 3.0 just like Flash CS3 with probably the addition of some new independent classes to support the new features.

If you have been considering buying some books to learn AS3 then this is the right moment to do it, new editions of these AS books might come out right after the launch of Flash CS4 and they would obviously been at the original price if not higher. The AS3 that you learn for Flash CS3 will be all you need to know to learn how to use AS3 in Flash CS4.

The best book to learn ActionScript 3.0 for those who do not come from a programming background is Learning ActionScript 3.0: A Beginner’s Guide. It is written in nice English, quite colourful for a programming book, and goes through all the fundamentals you need to know about ActionScript 3.0. If you are new to programming and want to learn ActionScript 3.0 then don’t think about it and just get this book.

My second recommended book is the one and only Essential ActionScript 3.0 by Moock. It is a heavy read with more than 900 pages as it teaches you the nitty gritty of ActionScript and OOP programming. It is written for both Flex and Flash and all of its examples are written in pure ActionScript without use of the Flash IDE. The book does not assume previous AS knowledge, but it’s size and amount of depth might be a turn off for those interested just in making Flash websites with animations and XML as opposed to those interested in creating Rich Internet Applications with complex functionality. Buy this if you are want to become a proper OOP developer or an RIA developer.

I would also like to warn you about two books which I do NOT think you should buy even if you are tempted to. The first is the ActionScript 3.0 Cookbook. Unlike what the cover says, this book assumes that you are working in Flex Builder 3, it does not teach you the basics of the language, yet the examples are too simple for advanced Flash users. Buy at your own risk.

The second book which I no longer recommend is the Foundation ActionScript 3.0 Animation – Making Things Move, I expected something completely different from this book when I bought it. The writing style of the book is longwided, and is a very bad rewrite of the previous AS2 version (if you can call it a rewrite, the author just added a couple of paraphraphs here and there about AS3 and updated the code, he couldn’t even bother to remove the irrelevant stuff under the execuse that you should know about the old stuff – which you obviously don’t have to). I cannot believe that an entire book about AS3 Animation can exist without even mentioning the Tween Class, I can understand that he might prefer not to use it, but at least you can mention it. Most of the books “animation” techniques are about easing techniques which nowadays can be achieved using simple readymade classes. The 3D stuff in the book will be obselete with the release of Flash CS4. Don’t waste you money on this book.

Book Review: Business and Legal Forms for Graphic Designers – By Crawford and Bruck

A fundamental part of any graphic design business is the ‘business’ part of it. Whether you are a graphic design freelancer or a founder of a graphic design firm, there is a lot of management that you will need to do to ensure that your time and money is not only spent well, but is also tracked just as well. The book ‘Business and Legal Forms for Graphic Designers‘ provides graphic designers with 47 business and legal documents which are regularly used in the graphic design business.

The book provides many forms needed to establish a good internal system for managing the graphic design business such as the Job Index Form, the Payables Index Form, and the Project Status Report. The book also offers a number of essential forms necessary for the regular dealing with clients, these vary in scope from and range from a Proposal Form, a Project Confirmation Agreement, and all the way to a Fee Collection Letter and many more. The book also does not fail to mention forms necessary for dealing with third parties other than clients and who could play a fundamental role in certain projects such as independent contractors, models, and printers.

Each of the forms provided in the book are provided with an introductory explanation on when the specific form is usually used, the process by which this form is usually filled, and how the form can be used and/or customised.

In addition to the business forms, the  book also includes a number of sample contracts that may be used by a graphic designer. The obvious ones such as a design agreement and a NDA are included as well as more incidental ones such as lease agreement, an employment contract, and a contract with a photographer are also included. The introductory chapter of the book explains the meaning of the commonly used legal clauses in all contracts, while each specific contract is also preceded by an explanation of what the contract is used form, how to fill the form, and how to negotiate specific clauses in the contract.

The book is generally quite helpful, but also requires a level of seriousness on the side of graphic designer to benefit from all of the forms, especially the ones which are to be used constantly and are necessary for tracking jobs, time, and bills.

It must be noted that this book does not provide comprehensive explanation of the legal issues like the kind seen in the Legal Guide to Web Software Development, but instead provides readers with a wider set of forms and contracts that can be readily used. The book is also primarily written for US designers, but almost all of the forms (other than the copyright and trademark registration forms) can be used anywhere in the world without making any substantial changes to them.

Business and Legal Forms for Graphic Designers is a nice addition to any graphic designer’s bookshelf aiming to be a professional in the business of his craft.

Book Review: Essential ActionScript 3.0 – By Colin Moock

Many of us learned ActionScript from the writings of Moock, specifically from his very first book ActionScript for Flash MX – The Definitive Guide, and now with several books under his built, and the introduction of ActionScript 3 as an overhaul of the ActionScript language, we needed Moock to teach us the language all over again, we know that he has worked closely with Adobe engineers and that he continues to knows Flash and ActionScript inside out better than anyone else.

ActionScript is no longer a simple language that is used to add little tricks to Flash intros and animated banners – it is now a proper development language that is used to create rich internet applications using Flex, desktop applications built on AIR, mobile games and applications in Flash Lite, and the good old flash websites and games we have known for so long. Teaching ActionScript has never been harder as the audience of those interested in learning Flash widened with intentions to use it in so many different platforms. It is impossible to create a book that will suite the needs of all of us, especially now as each of us might develop ActionScript using different tools and might deploy applications on different platforms.

Moock’s Essential ActionScript 3.0 aims to explain all the fundamentals of ActionScript 3.0 without concentrating on any specific development platform (Flash, Flex, or mxml). The book is divided into three main sections, the first is on the fundamentals of the language, the second is on display and interactivity, and the third is on some applied topics.

The first section of the book is the biggest, it explains in immense detail the core aspects of the language, programming basics, OOP, compiling, event handling, error handling, garbage collection, name spaces, XML, and other fundamentals. Moock explains each of these topics in a logical manner while using a semi-practical example for creating a Zoo application to illustrate the implication of these fundamentals in practice.

The second section of the book covers display and interactivity, both aspects have been completed changed from the previous versions of ActionScript. The book does not cover every single aspecterelated to these, but provides complete coverage of the basics classes involved with display and interactivity so that the reader can easily understand how similar unexplained processes are executed. (For example, the book does not cover loading external text files in detail, but covers in detail the process for loading graphical assets).

The last section of the book is the shortest and covers applied topics such as the Flash authoring tool, mxml, and the process for distributing a class library.

Essential ActionScript 3.0 is not a small book by any means as it has over 900 pages of in-depth explanation of the fundamentals of ActionScript, yet it does not, however, include a class-by-class ActionScript reference similar to the one included in Moock’s first book. The Essential ActionScript 3.0 is also not a cookbook as it does not provide any step-by-step procedure for creating any certain project or application and instead focuses on teaching fundamentals required for learning how to create any application.

This book is for those seriously interested in ActionScript and are determined to learn all the core fundamentals of the language and OOP. This is not a book for a Flash designer interested in adding a little functionality to his project as the book is so deep and comprehensive it would be an overkill to serve a little task.

If you are looking for the book to teach you all the fundamentals you need to learn how to leverage the power of ActionScript then Essential ActionScript 3.0 is for you: Moock’s style is easy to follow and fun and he knows ActionScript inside-out. The book does not assume any previous knowledge with Flash or ActionScript, so if you are searching for the best place to start, look no further.

Book Review: The Legal Guide to Web and Software Development – By Stephen Fishman

It is essential for everyone of us to learn about the law and our rights and obligations when we deal in any sort of business. The Legal Guide to Web & Software Development aims to provide those involved in the web and software development business with the fundamentals of intellectual property, employment and sub-contracting issues, and contracts relating to web and software development.

The 500+ pages book is divided into two sections, the first covers the general legal fundamentals covering intellectual property and employment issues, and the second section provides a detailed explanation of a number of contracts relating to the web and software development business.

The book is good in the way it generally uses simple terms to explain the legal aspects of copyright, trademarks, patents, trade secret, database rights, and the impact of consultancy/employment contracts on all of these issues. The book also nicely provides practical examples throughout the first section to illustrate the legal concepts and makes suggestions on how to establish an effective trade secret protection program.

The second section of the book offers a detailed explanation in a clause-by-clause manner on how to draft a number of development related contracts, namely: an ‘employment agreement’, a ‘consultancy agreement’, a ‘software and website license’, a ‘website development agreement’, and a ‘software development agreement’. The book is worth the purchase just for the second half of the book as it explains all the essential clauses of the specific contracts it covers and the boilerplate clauses found in the majority of contracts such as the confidentiality clause, the dispute settlement clause, the termination clause, and others.

A section worth highlighting in the book is the chapter on licensing and opensouce licensing, a topic which I had a general idea about but was not familiar with the specifics of. The book nicely explained the differences between major opensource licensing and the issues to be considered when developing and using an opensource application.

The book comes with a CD containing all the forms and contracts discussed in RTF format. These are poorly formatted and not as usable as a Doc file, but they would just do the job.

I thought that the book was generally very good, it should be of help to anyone involved in the web and software development. The author claims that it is directed towards developers and clients at the same time, but I thought that the contracts were extremely worded to the benefit of the developer rather the client, which does not always happen in practice, because the developer does not always have enough bargaining to dictate the terms to suit his own needs and would have to take the terms written by the client. The book does at many times provide alternatives for clauses with varying levels of favouring to the developer, but it does not talk at all about extreme clauses that would be in favour of the client and which might be detrimental to the developer, and those are important to the developer because he might not always have the choice but to take them.

Another issue, which is not major but really annoyed me was the fact that the author Stephen Fishman really still thinks that website owners need to have a permission to link to another website. The book does not explain the difference between hot-linking, deep-linking, and linking to a website’s homepage. He also wrongly suggest that linking could constitute a trademark infringement when in most cases it does not as the mere usage of a trademark name to identify the product in a manner that does not mislead to its source is acceptable. I believe that it is legal to link to any publicly available web page on the internet without the need to acquire a license from the owner. Hot-linking and framing is a much more complicated issue that was unfortunately not covered in this book.

Regardless of the few criticisms of the book, and taking into consideration the fact that this is one of the very few books on the topic, the Legal Guide to Web & Software Development is still an essential read for web and software developers looking for a straight forward legal guide that covers all the legal aspects of their craft. It offers an easy to understand explanation of intellectual property and provides an explanation of a number of widely used contracts in the business of web and software development.

Book Review: Don’t Make Me Think

Don’t Make Me Think

I just finished reading this book today and I really thought that it is an amazing book that must be read by anyone who is involved in the making of websites. “Don’t Make Me Think” is a book that describes how web users really use our websites and how differently web designers think their websites are used when make them. When we design a website somehow we assume that the user is going to logically check everything in a web page and read the options and links from top to bottom going through them carefully from left to right, but the truth is that the majority of web users do not ‘read’ web pages, but simply ‘skim’ through them looking for anything that looks clickable or seems like the thing they are looking for. The book explains how this concept should affect the way we design websites and how our navigation, page layout, and home page design should address those real habits of web users.

Don’t Make Me Think was a very short read (less than 200 pages) with illustrations and diagrams all over the book making it easy to understand and visualize the issues it addresses in practice. The book was originally written in 2000, and the second edition of it came out in 2005, but even today it still remains to be very relevant and accurate. This is a true classic that will change the way you make and look at websites.

Free Lightroom Getting Started Guide

Free Lightroom Getting Started Guide

Adobe has published on its website a free guide on using its photo management and editing application Lightroom. Photoshop Lightroom Getting Started Guide offers details on the various features of the program and tips on how to integrate it into a proper complete workflow. The 41-pages colourful PDF book comes in two versions, a 64MB high-res version and a 5.4MB low-res version. You can view the announcement at the Photoshop Lightroom Design Center.

[via PhotoshopSupport]

Buy Your Books From Amazon.co.uk From Oman

Buy Your Books From Amazon.co.uk From Oman

Finding a proper book to read in Oman can be a quite challenging task. There are so many problems with our market, there is no such thing as a massive bookshop in the country to which you could go to and get whatever book you want, you cannot walk up to the counter and order a book that they do not have in store or even get something that’s been sold out. The majority of the technical computer books sold around here are extremely outdated Arabic translations of random Flash-5-and-Photoshop-7-learn-in-24-hours books that are so horrible anyway even if disregard the fact that are a million years old already. I was looking forward to the stupid Annual Book Exhibition held earlier this year and I, swear to God, found books from 2002.

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Preorder “Foundation ActionScript 3.0 Animation: Making Things Move!”

Preorder

Friends of Ed announced the release of Foundation ActionScript 3.0 Animation: Making Things Movie, the second edition of the excellent ActionScript Animation book written by Keith Peters. I started reading the first edition of the book a couple of months ago and instantly fell in love with it, but I had to stop reading it because of some other obligations. Keith nicely skims through the basics of ActionScript before explaining all the different techniques for making things move in Flash using various simple mathematical formulae. The book also covers the advanced event handling and the drawing API. Keith’s style in writing is simple and yet entertaining with loads of examples to go through. This new edition would cover all the topics of the first edition using ActionScript 3.0 this time while adding some extra techniques that take advantage of the new functionalities featured in ActionScript 3.0.

The book could be purchased in paperback or as an ebook from Friends of Ed’s website for $39.99, Amazon.com is taking preorders for the book in paperback for $26.39 without indicating when it will ship it, Amazon.co.uk on the other hand sells it for £26.59 and ships it within 4 to 6 weeks. You can read the description of the book and view other purchase options from the following link here.

[via ActionScript Hero]

Book Review: CSS Mastery – By Andy Budd

Book Review: CSS Mastery - By Andy Budd

CSS Mastery is the second book I read on Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), it is an intermediate level book that illustrates the most efficient ways for handling common issues faces by CSS designers. This CSS recipe book expects the reader to have prior knowledge of the basics of HTML and CSS, though it does go swiftly through the basics of CSS in its foundation chapter.

The book has topics that cover the visual formatting model, background images and image replacement, styling links, styling lists and creating nav bars, styling forms and data labels, layout, and hacks and bug fixing, in addition to two case studies by web designers Cameron Moll and Simon Collision.

The book admits the fact that there are several ways of accomplishing certain tasks and nicely explores several methods for creating the tasks it mentions while pointing out the advantages and disadvantages of each. Unfortunately, CSS Mastery was written before the release of Internet Explore 7 and therefore does not address any of its compatibility issues or bugs. However, this drawback did not managed to change my opinion of the book’s excellent tips and tricks on the various topics it discussed. I would recommend this book to anybody who has already dealt with CSS and wishes to take his moderate skills to the next level.