Summary and Info
I bought this book as required text for an online college ActionScripting course. I have done well with their other computer courses I have taken, including a Flash course the previous semester. However, for the first time I had to drop the course, and return the book to Amazon.
These actions were primarily due to the problem that this book was almost totally incomprehensible to me. This book may work as an ActionScript 3.0 manual for experienced coders in other languages; but since I am not, it completely failed me as a textbook. It looks like some paper a graduate student threw together using an early 80's PC and printer, to be read only by a couple of faculty staff.
Appearance wise, nothing but dull black, fuzzy font text on off-white paper. Virtually no diagrams, graphs, sidebars, etc. (Newsflash - humans are sensually primarily visual animals, and learn new concepts best when stimulated and reinforced with appropriate visual techniques.) Completely different from the other computer course textbooks which I have used (and learned from) in the past.
Even worse was the lack of defined logical structure. If there is a reason for the order of chapters, topics, sub-topics, concepts, etc., it is never made clear. Little other than chapters are numerically ordered, and the sub-topics within chapters are broken up by seemingly random slightly larger and blacker headings(?). Trying to find the definitions of new or unfamiliar terms is an exercise in futility. There are no listings of new terms or their definitions in the text, at the end of the chapters, or at the end of the book. (There is no glossary of any kind.) The index at the end of the book simply lists some of the pages where the term is used. Trying to use it often resulted in circular progressions between different, scattered text pages and the index, with no ultimate clear answers.
About the only way that I had any idea what the text was trying to explain was figuring its tangential relationship to the online lectures, demonstrations, and assignments. (Which were generally clear and done in the same methods as the previous courses.) This was often quite difficult, and wasted a lot of time re-reading sections; searching the book for related topics; and googling for outside definitions and tutorials. After four weeks it became impossible, and I gave up.
Maybe this book will work for persons very experienced with the general terms and structures of other computer languages. Or maybe it will work for individuals who have great random memory abilities. But for persons like me - who often will forget unfamiliar definitions and concepts a page after reading them - there is a constant need to revisit their definitions; to see different examples on their use; and to reinforce their place in larger structures until it really sinks in. The lack of organization, visual stimulation, examples, sidebars, definitions, glossaries, or even a useful index makes this an amazing failure as a textbook.
My final thought is to thank Amazon for the ease and speed of the refund process. Login; fill out form; print out shipping label; repackage book and drop off at nearby UPS store; receive confirmation e-mails and refund on credit card account. (Minus a mere $3.99 for shipping costs, since this problem was no fault of theirs.) Danke!