How to Learn Flash and ActionScript

Flash has a significant role, it solves a problem and it makes our lives better. In the multimedia world, Flash enables developers to make interactivity and pleasing animations for games, banners, advertisements and etc. On the other hand, as the programming language of Flash, ActionScript is used on web pages in the form of embedded SWF files. Both are used for anything from artistic animation to producing business applications.


The world is overwhelmed by media and entertainment. If you’re looking into sharpening your Flash development skills or just want to get your feet wet with Flash, I am sure this article will help you to learn Flash and ActionScript in some practical ways.

Convenient and Swift Online Flash Tutorials

The Internet technology is developing in an unprecedented way, thus it is obviously very helpful to make a higher utilization of the network’s resources. Since Flash and ActionScript have an immense popularity, it is very easy for you to find many websites dedicated to helping developers interested in Flash. The most authentic website for learning Flash is Adobe.com. Here, you are able to find many Flash tutorials and get useful information of how to work around ActionScript. Adobe also provides lots of great articles on the Flash Developer Center and the ActionScript Technology Center.

Other websites like Net Magazine (tutorials of Flash styling), Baycon Group (professional learning of Flash 8), Macromedia Flash Tutorials (learn how to create a mouse cursor and other aspects) are also good sources for you to start with the basics and proceed to professional Flash tutorials learning.

For many new developers, learning from instructional videos also seems to work very well. The most famous website of video tutorials is the Lynda.com, which provides you with many hours of video tutorials focused on Flash and ActionScript for a low subscription price. The Hexjibber Learn Flash Column also makes a series of Flash tutorial videos, teaching the basics of animation in Flash. And other video websites like Flash category on Adobe TV and gotoAndLearn offer a large variety of tutorials about Flash for all skill levels too.

In a nut shell, learning from web Flash tutorial is a costless practical way. It gives you a stratified teaching. Thus you don’t need to spend time in learning what you already know, just choose the tutorial you need. Although this learning method is not that systematical, it saves you much precious time.

Theoretical and Systematical Flash book Guides

Flash books, live outside of the Internet, are still good selections of popular Flash guides and tutorials. They offer an excellent and careful introduction to Flash and ActionScript programming in general. With such Flash books, you will receive an instant reference or a step by step guide on everything of Flash, even on setting up Flash for optimum performance or applying ActionScript to advanced scripting.

For example, the Flash book named Adobe Flash Professional CS5 Classroom in a Book is from the Adobe Creative Team. This book has 10 project-based lessons showing readers the key techniques for working in Flash CS5. Readers are going to learn how to create engaging interactive content with Flash CS5. Other Flash books like Animation with Adobe Flash Professional CS5 Studio Techniques, ActionScript 3.0 for Adobe Flash CS4 Professional Classroom in a Book, Flash CS4 Professional Digital Classroom, Adobe Flash CS4 Professional How-Tos: 100 Essential Techniques, Macromedia Flash MX Hands-On Training and etc will give you unique styles of Flash instruction.

Flash books are cheap and readily available nearly everywhere. They give you a full theoretical and systematical understanding of Flash and ActionScript. And they help you master the basics and grasp the advanced theory. If you are a book enthusiast, try to buy some Flash books and make them worth the money.

Visualized Flash Inner Structure Study

We are told in an early age to learn from other successful people, so it is with our Flash learning. To see how others make Flash is one of the direct and practical ways. View their SWF structure like a doctor’s endoscope and examine ActionScript or other sources for learning. This approach is pretty useful; just use a Flash SWF Viewer, and you will achieve access to all SWF files’ internal structure and data in depth.

Here, we take the Aggro Flash game as an example. This is a funny physics skill game for you to take control of the Aggro, trying to beat fruits enemies out of their garden.

First, download the Flash game with a Free Flash Downloader for Firefox. Then open this Flash in Flash SWF Viewer. Expand the folder on the right section, and you may examine its inner structure with the help of detailed tree view. As the following screenshots show, the SWF Structure of this Flash game includes Shape, Morph Shape, Image, Sound, Font, Text, Sprite, Button, Frame, Action and Misc Tags. Click each folder of SWF elements, and you can view all the data in depth.

The most important thing is you can view any ActionScript of the SWF file. Therefore, this Flash Viewer will help you analyze and learn some useful information of the code been written.



Except from learning Flash SWF internal components and data, this Flash SWF Viewer also helps you trace and debug SWF files. You can view all SWF components and try to find the mistakes in ActionScript or anything that cause the Flash to work incorrectly. What’s more, with one click, you are able to extract any preferred SWF element from existing SWF files to enrich your own Flash design resources.

In a word, learning from other’s work by viewing the Flash inner structure and data is quite practical. Whatever online flash you adore, like Flash banners, Flash ads or Flash games, just use a SWF Catcher to download Flash with few clicks, then you can decompile Flash and scan the SWF. In this case, you will get much more useful information that you couldn’t learn from books and tutorials.

Targeting Forum Questions

Problem comes up? Consult the forum! There are a lot of online forums of Flash and ActionScript, where you can ask any questions and learn from others. Many Flash developers like to visit the ActionScript.org, which is a large online community for Macromedia Flash developers at different skill levels. Other Flash forums that you might be fond of are Adobe Flash Forum, Flash Kit Community Forums, OZZU Flash and ActionScript Forum, Kirupa’s Forum, etc.

Actually, there are too many forums out there for designers and developers dedicated to learning and teaching Flash, so it is very helpful for you to spend some moments with your search engine to find them.
Learning from these online Flash forums is a supplementary to those methods I mentioned above.
Whatever problems you come cross, just tap your questions in a forum, and wait for the answers to help you out. In addition, you can share your own idea with all these Flash developers or fans, so as to achieve common progress.

Face-to-face Interactive Flash User Group or Conferences

If we consider the online Flash tutorial leaning as a quick snack, and the forum consulting as making a reservation, then we can say that to join a face to face user group or conference is like dining together. We get instruction while discussing and having fun. For those Flash leaner who really want to improve Flash skills, you may consider joining a local Flash user group. For example, the Adobe User Group meets once a month and focuses on Flash, Flex and much more. They offer a forum of support and technology to business and creative professionals of all levels. There are hundreds of user groups around the world offering Flash developers the opportunity to build connections, master new skills, learn from peers, and have a lot of fun.

On the other hand, if you are well-funded, you may consider taking part in a Flash conference, like the Adobe MAX, which is an annual event held by Adobe Systems in North America, Europe and Japan. Other conferences or seminars, like Flashbelt and Flash on the beach, also hold events frequently. In these events, instructors walk you through the steps necessary and you’ll meet experts and fellow learners alike.

Joining Flash user group or conferences may be a little expensive, but it gives you a different learning experience. No matter you are instructed by some Flash experts or just discuss with participants, you are able to receive first-hand resources while making acquaintance with like-minded learners.

In conclusion

Apart from those approaches I mentioned above, there are many other methods for you to learn Flash and ActionScript. For instance, you may take advantage of the social networking websites of Twitter and Facebook to get a timely and comprehensive study of Flash.

In brief, whatever learning methods you choose, the most important thing you need to keep in mind is perseverance. Stick to your learning project and you will master this popular authoring software – Flash and its ActionScript pretty well. Hope you have found this article useful! If you have any other practical tips for learning Flash and ActionScript, please share them with us in the comments. Thanks!

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