A few people have emailed or commented to ask how they could create some resources like the ones on this site. All of the resources on this site are created in Adobe Flash Pro CS4 (PC). This software lets you design the graphics and program the interaction. A 30 day trial version is available here.
Flash has a number of advantages: The software development is relatively quick in comparison to other programming languages. It is easy to publish the results to a wide audience as it is designed for the web. As programming languages go, Actionscript 3, which is what is used by Flash to create all of the internal logic, is relatively easy to learn. The disadvantages of Flash is that it cannot meet the performance of other programming languages. However, for the purpose of resources such as these, that is rarely an issue , plus it is getting better all of the time. There are also a number of excellent open source projects that can be used that make the development easier, although they must be learned too.
I am sure everybody has their own method of learning. My method was to pick a simple design idea that I had and work towards making it. This is a slow process as every step needs research either on one of the many excellent tutorial websites or from a book. My desktop reference was Flash CS3 Professional Advanced for Windows and Macintosh. My recommendation of this book goes no further than it is the only one I have ever used and it seemed fine to me. As I’ve not used any other I have no frame of reference as to its relative worth. The advanced really refers to the fact that it uses the programming language of Flash rather than just its animation tools. In my opinion it is a beginner book for anybody who hasn’t yet learnt Actionscript and who can find their way around Flash’s drawing tools by trial and error. The alternative method is to choose a different type of book that follows a “how to build x” approach which leads you by the hand to the creation of a simple game or application. For me these don’t work as the only real way to learn to program is to solve each problem yourself. In fact that isn’t just learning to program; that is programming. It is a series of problems that have to be solved. How do I tell the computer to draw this? How does the computer handle it when I click here? Etc…
At the end I had a product that I had a use for and which exactly matched my design. This was Isometric Dotty my first ever attempt at programming anything in Flash. It had taken a lot of frustration, searching for answers, and was, I see now, massively inefficient at doing what it did, but it worked and I learnt a lot from it. Then I tried to leverage the program design to use some of its structure to create the next idea I had but I still needed to add to it and solve the new problems this created.
If there is enough demand, and people would find it useful, I’ll add some further pages on things that worked for me in learning to make the resources. I don’t intend to start writing tutorials, there are more knowledgeable people already doing those, but I’m happy to share some of my learning experience and methods if it will help.
If there are any areas that people would like to know more on please leave a comment below.