Learning Flash and Actionscript

So I am learning Flash CS3 and Actionscript (2.0 right now) for some projects at work. I am amazed at how far Flash has come since I saw it in a 1.0 mode.

I’m working on some interactive flash components that load all the data via xml dynamically driven from WordPress. The trick is maintaining page count while delivering a rich media / web 2.0 experience for the end user.

Some of the problems I am having:
-Slow loading of external XML generated from WordPress. It takes about 10-30 secs depending on how much xml is being generated before it loads. I don’t want to do a preloader.
-Actionscript is a simple language, so complex tasks aren’t easy
-I don’t have any reference books or training, I’m doing this all with google searchs and go old fashion trial and error

Some of the things I want to figure out:
-That cool page flipping technique
-Loading images and then creating a way to zoom and move around the image
-A way to do Apple Coverflow like photo displaying
-A way to use the Flash Components and link them to XML data
-A way to loop actionscript tweans since they don’t generate frame movement

Some of the things I have already figured out:
-Loading an XML file and parsing it. It wasn’t pretty, but figured it out. Then found the XML component but can’t figure it out yet.
-Making objects draggable
-Creating multi-dimensional arrays. Surprisingly difficult for something that should be simple
-Mixing arrays and objects to make coding easier
-A suitable replacement for the “foreach” concept in PHP and other programming languages (for (x in arrayname) )
-Sorting arrays and finding unique elements in arrays
-Tracing variables in the output window as well as how to inspect the variable values
-Tweening via actionscript. Confused as how to repeat a coded twean automatically though.
-How to use swfobject to load flash files and display non flash content seamlessly (very handy for WordPress use)
-How to pass variables to a flash file and use them programmatically
-How to use external web links in flash and on back button in browser cause the flash file to start up where it left rather then reload using session variables

Overall, I’m happy with what I have been able to do in Flash, just disappointed in the performance of WordPress generating the XML dynamically. I am caching the XML in a static file and just calling the XML script to write out the XML on change of the data.

My biggest issues with Flash are the interface. It took me a good couple of days to get a reasonable layout without having windows on top of windows. Also, the whole timeline logic is broken. Moving keyframes, tweening, selecting just isn’t natural, it takes some learning and experience to get a handle on it.

Hopefully with the help of our designer, we will have some cool flash stuff at work.

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