Thoughts on Actionscript 3

I’ve been meaning to write a little about the transition to Actionscript 3 from a designer’s point of view. Of course, there are no shortage of reviews and posts on this very topic out there, but I figured I’ll add my $0.02 anyway.

As you’re no-doubt aware by now, there are many designers like myself — even as I write this — banging their heads on any hard surface they can find and pulling their hair out trying to figure out Adobe’s latest flavor of Actionscript. The move to a completely Object Oriented approach makes a lot of sense to someone out there, but certainly not to us — at least not yet.

On many levels, I understand exactly why Adobe took this path, yet it still frustrates me. After all, I have just gotten familiar enough with Actionscript 2.0 to be dangerous and develop just about anything I can dream up. Now I need to start the long road of re-learning how to create a simple button using code only. Actionscript 3.0 is certainly not for the faint of heart — and to be fair, the transition has been going on for quite a while. For the developer types out there, I’m sure this next part means something to you: AS3 is now ECMA-262 compliant. For the rest of us, it means that whatever you were used to doing in the past no longer applies.

So why would the good folks at Adobe bring such pain and anguish to our little designer minds? Well, for starters, AS3 is faster. Up to 10x faster. That alone should speak to the efficiency of the new AS3 standard. But I believe there’s more to it than just speed. Adobe’s going after several new markets, including desktop applications, mobile applications, and enterprise sites for starters. And what better way to attract smart developers than to speak their language? OOP is by no means new to the world of programming — it’s not even new to Actionscript. It has simply been made an integral part of the development environment.

Another thing Adobe has done with this move is put a huge gap between developers and designers. Again, I don’t think they did this on a whim — and as much as I hate to admit it, I think it’s the right thing to do. I don’t know of any designer out there that doesn’t gripe about some guy in a basement doing horrid work and making money off it. We feel like they’re doing a disservice to our profession — like they’re somehow destroying our industry. Well, I’m sure developers are feeling the same way about us right about now. I guess bottom line “To Caesar what is Caesar’s” and developers have a much better grasp on how to code an application than we do. Granted, exceptions apply here and there, but for the most part, I think I’m pretty safe in that generalization.

Now this doesn’t mean I like any of this. I’m just trying to be objective (no pun intended) about how I take all this in. My entire Saturday was spent trying to figure out how to build a simple five button array that would populate dynamically — something I could’ve easily done in 20 minutes with AS2. So I’ll keep trying to make this work out, but in the end, I very well might have just found a new reason to turn my focus to web standards and SEO friendly sites.

Finally, so you don’t think it’s all bad, there are many incredibly talented people out there willing to lend a friendly hand to help us figure this new transition out. I encourage anyone out there who’s trying to learn AS3 to read through some of these resources — and perhaps even make some of your own when you figure things out:

Beginning AS3 by Senocular
The ever-helpful folks at Kirupa
Essential ActionScript 3.0 – a must-read.

1 thought on “Thoughts on Actionscript 3

  1. Gert P

    Thanks for these useful links!
    I will study them for sure in the next couple of days/weeks or probably even months.

    Your article is spot on in the eye of most designers. I was getting used to AS2 more and more. At this stage – it was a long road – AS2 even feels comfortable to me.

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