Essential ActionScript 3.0

Posted 2008-06-29 in Technology | XSL | XML | Text

Colin Moock has written a book called Essential ActionScript 3.0 and I am making it one of my goals to learn how to use as many open source languages as possible to expand on the knowledge I have gained building applications in Symphony, using XML, XSLT and CSS. I’m keenly interested in knowing how the open source Flex SDK 3 can be used to create Rich Internet Applications that integrate with applications like Symphony, built on open source standards such as XML and XSLT.

Getting Started

First, I need a compiler. For whatever reason, I cannot use Adobe Flash CS3 at home, even though I have a license that allows having Flash installed at home and at work. For whatever reason, the CS3 install I have at home just stopped working. Strange. I’ll have to reinstall at some point. For now, I’m going to use the Flex 3 SDK to compile ActionScript from source. I have a previous version of Flex, the Flex 2 SDK, but I’m going to download the latest Software Developers Kit to see how compatible Colin’s book will be with the latest version of Flex. ActionScript 3.0 has not changed, so I don’t foresee a problem.

Adobe has provided some documentation on Getting Started with Flex 3 SDK in the Adobe Flex Developer Center. The Developer Documentation for Adobe Flex is also available at Adobe Open Source.

To start with, I have downloaded the Flex 3 SDK and installed it where I can easily access it on the command line:



I’m using Mac OS X 10.5.3, so that means I have installed the Flex 3 SDK at the root of my user directory:



I also followed the recommendation to uninstall the Flash Player before installing the player supplied with the SDK.

                      ~/flex_sdk_3/runtimes/player/mac/Install Flash Player 9 UB.dmg


I have chosen to use Panic’s Coda as my IDE for developing ActionScript. It is a text editor with some nice extras, including a built in Terminal and web browser based on Apples’s WebKit project used to build Safari. There’s no reason you couldn’t use free tools: Terminal, Safari and TextWrangler, for instance. But I love working with Panic’s well-designed tools, such as Coda and Transmit.

Chapter 1: Core Concepts

In the first chapter, Colin provides an overview of the tools for writing ActionScript code: text editor, Adobe Flex Builder, and Adobe Flash; describes the Flash Client Runtime Environment, Compilation. Then, he jumps right into a step-by-step process of creating a virtual zoo example program to teach the core concepts about:

  • Packages
  • Classes
  • Access Control Modifiers
  • Constructor Methods
  • Objects
  • Variables and Values
  • Constructor Parameters and Arguments
  • Expressions
  • Instance Variables
  • Instance Methods
  • Method Return Values

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