O’Reilly has a series of so called “Short Cuts”, PDF e-books that introduce new technologies or major updates of those in a brief, compact way. Introduction to Flex 2.0 by Roger Braunstein is such a “Short Cuts” title and comprises 88 pages full of valuable information for the upcoming Flex developer 🙂
The author bascially starts explaining the basic concepts of Flex 2, the relationship between MXML and ActionScript and then dives into some more details.
The first chapter is about ActionScript 3 and I can really recommend it as a wrap-up of the particular way Adobe has morphed the language coming from an AS 1 or AS 2 background. It contains information on the Virtual Machines, the new E4X enginge and topics such as methods, properties, classes, reflection etc. It’s not an introduction into OO, but it will give you a good grasp on what you need to know if you want to work with AS 3.
Chapter 2 is particularly on Flex. You’ll learn to differentiate between Containers and Components and you’ll have a look at event handling, data binding, basic MVC concepts in Flex and accessing data from Flex applications.
The third and also the fifth section of the book cover very general topics such as Effects and Transitions, Cursor Management and charting. But Roger also introduces validation and formatting and discusses internationalization along the way.
Stop, I’ve missed one chapter, haven’t I? Right, chapter 4 is actually about extending Flex, i.e custom UI components, custom styles etc. Given that that chapter just spans 10 pages, it’s extremly compact and obviously just gives you a view down from 30,000 ft on the different options.
Wrap-up: The book is good and a very handy little tool to have, but do not expect it to be a tutorial to learn Flex from the scratch – that should be obvious, given that it has 88 pages.
So, who is this book useful for? I’d say for people who consider moving to Flex 2 or 3 from Java, Flash or earlier versions of Flex; but also for the not-that-tech-savy manager person who wants to get a better understanding what Flex and the whole RIA fuzz is about. You could also give it to your dev team leader if you want to get her/him interested in the technology.