Why ActionScript 3.0 Changes Everything

Move over Ajax, Ruby on Rails, PHP, JavaScript, Java and Python. There’s a new player in town and its name is ActionScript 3.0.

Don’t confuse ActionScript 3.0 with its namesake predecessors, ActionScript 1.0 and 2.0. This is a whole new language, and a whole new virtual machine. And its ability to build Web applications and games is like nothing ever seen before.

For those of you who don’t know, ActionScript 3.0 is the new programming language in Flash CS3 (AKA Flash 9). It has actually been around for a while, as the Flash 9 player was released eight months ago to support Flex 2. But now that Flash CS3 is out, ActionScript 3.0 applications can be built by more than just the small community of Flex developers.

So what makes it so great? Isn’t it just another browser-based embedded scripting language like old Flash, Shockwave and Java?

Well, for one, it is fast. Very fast. So fast that you can control complex animation or process large amounts of data. And you can do this on the client side, without having to rely on a server. So it becomes possible to write real local applications.

Next, it is fast. As in: fast to develop with. You can dream up, program, and test applications in a fraction of the time I thought it would be possible. I’ve already created some gems during my testing, and I’ve been blown away by how little time it took, and how few lines of code I end up with.

Powerful? Yes. Drawing vectors. Controlling text. Parsing XML. Handling data. Working with bitmaps. Working with sound. Working with video. Communicating with servers. Uploading files. Printing to printers. It does everything the browser will allow it to do, and some things that I’m surprised at.

I used to be bullish about Ajax. JavaScript seemed to be the way to go. But now with ActionScript 3.0, I can do so much more, so much more efficiently, and without bizarre restrictions of what works and what doesn’t. And cross-platform (Mac, Windows and Linux!) and cross-browser without a worry. Look for some amazing stuff coming soon.

Some more details: Since the Flash 9 player has been out since the release of Flex 2, there is already a 60-80% penetration of Flash 9. So even though Flash CS3 just came out last week, there is no need to wait for the users to catch up.

Word to ActionScript 1.0 or 2.0 developers. Don’t try to learn ActionScript 3.0 as an extension of the old ActionScript. Think of it as a new language. It is. You’ll learn it much faster if you go that route.

Posted on April 21, 2007 at 9:34 pm by Gary Rosenzweig · Permalink
In: General

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  1. Written by Peter
    on 1/5/2009 at 5:11 pm