Graphics, Animation and Interactivity with Flash 4.0 by James L. Mohler is probably one of my favorite computer-related books. It's really one of those books that by the time you're done reading it, you really feel you know the material completely. It has a good mix of tutorials, explanations and, probably the best feature about this book is how it tells you that you can't just use Flash alone to make a great web site. So, it has various methods explained for reaching effects and explains how time can be saved by using Macromedia Freehand here or using 3D Studio Max here or Vecta3D there, etc.
The book isn't texty. It's broken up by helpful diagrams and Flash screenshots. There is a lot of information on not only aspects of Flash design, but of publishing to the web and sections about "Flash-etiquette" that you should follow. It tells you methods for making files smaller, and shows you ways to make sound quality better and your frames smoother. This book covers everything and can be considered a Flash Bible, it contains the learning points in the Flash helpfile in the first couple chapters (so you can probably skip them) and then goes on to advanced Flash methods in the later chapters, the end result is you come out knowing Flash like a pro. It's really an important book, and if you had a choice between this and Flash 4 Magic, I'd choose this one, because it's the more complete choice.
The last feature of the book, and certainly not the least, is the source-code and program CD that bundles with it. Not only does it have trial versions of all Macromedia programs and Vecta3D, but it has source code (.FLA) files that go along with every chapter (and the book often refrences to them). These are very helpful in learning the material that you can't understand on paper (which didn't happen often), but it can also be used as a very good supplement to the reading and can help expedite your Flash learning. Finally, the CD also contains source code of two actual web sites and shows you Flash implementation all the way from the development level to post-production and finally publishing to the web. It's really an amazing package, and at $39.95, it'll make that money back and buy you a BMW in your next web consulting job. *grin*
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