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Introduction to ActionScript

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Award-winning web designer Dan Livingston introduces ActionScript for Flash MX and provides some ActionScripting basics.
This chapter is from the book

In This Chapter

  • What Is ActionScript?
  • What Is ActionScript Good For?
  • What ActionScript Can't Do
  • Variables
  • Objects and Object-Oriented Scripting
  • Object and Frame Actions
  • Dot Syntax
  • Properties
  • Methods
  • Events and Event Handlers
  • Functions
  • Conclusion

What Is ActionScript?

ActionScript is the scripting language Flash uses to control its movies and the objects within those movies. If you want to do anything interactive in Flash, you'll need to use ActionScript. It allows you to execute different actions in a movie depending on what a user does or on what frame of the movie is being played.

ActionScript looks a lot like JavaScript, which Macromedia (the folks who wrote Flash) did on purpose. A specification called ECMA-262 was written to provide an international standard for the JavaScript language. ActionScript in Flash MX is based on the ECMA-262 specification, so if you've used Java-Script before, a lot of ActionScript will look familiar to you. If you haven't used JavaScript before, don't worry—you'll get it. Throughout this book, I'll be referring to actions. This is a general term, and an action roughly means "a chunk of ActionScript code that does something."

The biggest leap in the abilities of ActionScript occurred when Flash 5 was released. Flash 6 is the next version, and while the additions to ActionScript aren't as grand in this version, they do round out ActionScript into a full-fledged scripting language. Check out Chapter 2 to find out precisely what's new in Flash MX.

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