12 Great Ways to Learn ActionScript 3 in Flash

Want to learn a bit about Adobe Flash Professional and programming with ActionScript 3? You might find this list of resources helpful for getting started, or if you find you’ve gotten stuck, it might give you some places for new information you’ve never encountered. Though the list below isn’t fully comprehensive, it provides a wide variety of ways to learn about Flash and AS3.

  1. All documentation available in the Flash Pro product is available online on Adobe’s website, including many parts that may be downloaded in PDF form (if that’s your preference). For those that are new to programming, or maybe if you just need a bit of help learning about classes and objects, check out Getting Started with ActionScript in the documentation.

  2. Adobe provides a lot of great articles on their website. Be sure to check out the Flash Developer Center and the ActionScript Technology Center, which are both a part of the larger Adobe Developer Connection.

  3. Consider the ActionScript 3.0 API Reference a must-have tool for looking up properties, functions, styles, and events for all of the classes available natively in Flash Player and included with Flash Professional. Unlike other documentation that you might only read when you’re starting out, this resource will be useful almost everyday that you work with Flash and AS3.

  4. Many articles online discuss the differences between ActionScript 2 and ActionScript 3. For example, Emmy Huang has a quick overview of new AS3 features in Tips for learning ActionScript 3.0. Another article by Gary Grossman and Emmy Huang you might want to check out is simply titled ActionScript 3.0 Overview. Also, be sure to look at the ActionScript 2.0 Migration document to see what functions and classes have been changed, moved, or removed. When changes exist between AS2 and AS3, this document often includes instructions for how you should change your approach.

  5. Many online forums are dedicated to Flash and ActionScript where you can ask questions and learn from others. I frequently visit the ActionScript.org forums. Another you might consider checking out is Kirupa’s Forum, which has a popular thread created by senocular called ActionScript 3.0 Tip of the Day. There are many more forums out there, so be sure to spend a couple of moments with your search engine of choice to find them.

  6. Similarly, mailing lists are a good source of information for learning about Flash and ActionScript and for asking questions when you run into trouble. Rather than going to a forum in your browser, you send and receive community messages through your email client. Flashcoders has always been a popular list. The Mail Archive provides an alternative online view of flashcoders content.

  7. Join a local Flash user group or consider starting your own. Typically, Adobe user groups meet once a month, and they offer tutorials and presentations by local experts or special guests from the worldwide community. These guests tend to work with Flash in the trenches for companies large and small. From time to time, you might even get to meet a real Adobe employee who can offer excellent insights into the products they develop or promote. For more information, check out the Community section in the Flash Developer Center (and try the Flex Developer Center too).

  8. Learning from instructional videos seems to work well for many new developers. Lynda.com offers many hours of video focused on Flash CS3 and ActionScript 3 for a low subscription price. Lee Brimelow‘s site gotoAndLearn offers free video tutorials about Flash too. The Flash category on Adobe TV offers a wide variety of videos for all skill levels. You might also want to check out Colin Moock’s Lost ActionScript Weekend, an 11 hour training video that covers object-oriented programming in AS3 available thanks to O’Reilly and Adobe.

  9. Current and upcoming books that focus on Flash and ActionScript 3 include the following:

  10. Go to conferences like Adobe MAX or more local or free events like FlashCamp, Latin Flash Tour, ApolloCamp, and the OnAIR Bus Tour. These events frequently include hands-on sessions where instructors walk you through the basics step by step, and you’ll meet experts and fellow learners alike. If a conference seems expensive, consider asking your boss if your company can help cover the cost. Companies often don’t mind paying for tickets and travel to these sorts of events if what you’ll learn will directly benefit your work.

  11. Read other people’s source code. One of the best ways to learn to be a developer is to see how others do things. Try to understand how their code works, and take a few moments to change things and experiment with it. If you’re not exactly sure where to start, you might want to view the source code for the user interface components in Flash CS3. On my PC, those class files are located here:

    C:\Program Files (x86)\Adobe\Adobe Flash CS5.5\Common\Configuration\Component Source\ActionScript 3.0\User Interface

  12. Finally, you’ll discover that the blogging community centered around Flash is quite strong and innovative. Be sure to visit the Adobe XML News Aggregator and Fullasagoog. Each of these sites provide a central point for many Flash and Adobe-related blogs. Use them to discover your favorites.

The list above should provide you with hours of reading (and viewing) material about Flash Pro and ActionScript 3. Looking to to learn Flex too? Check out my post 10 Great Ways to Learn Flex.

About Josh Tynjala

Josh Tynjala is a frontend developer, open source contributor, bowler hat enthusiast, and karaoke addict. You might be familiar with his project, Feathers UI, an open source user interface library for Starling Framework that is included in the Adobe Gaming SDK.


  1. Jase

    I just wanted to add to point 8 that the Total Training Flash and Flex packages are pretty good. The lessons are hands-on tutorials, which are thoroughly explained and worth the money. And now a word from my sponsor 😉

  2. Eli

    thanks for the great list! i’ve bookmarked it. i also recently got the book FLEX 2.0 with ActionScript 3.0 by Charles Brown. so far, it’s very straight-forward and well-written. worth checking out! (i’m not affiliated with the author or anything, i swear :))

  3. Josh Tynjala

    Eli, glad I could help! Personally, I felt that Charles Brown’s book Flex 2 with AS3 was poor in comparison to other Flex/AS3 books. If it works well for you, though, that’s cool.

  4. Justin

    I am an absolute beginner at EVERYTHING to do with scripting and this site is my first step in the right direction. Thank You.

  5. AA

    This is a great list! Thank you so much! I was having a hard time finding “good” resources via google and this list is great for avoiding the uglier learning sites.

  6. colin

    hey josh, i’d also like to humbly suggest “The Lost ActionScript 3.0 Weekend”, an 11-hour training video co-produced by O’Reilly and Adobe. It teaches object-oriented programming with ActionScript 3.0. See http://www.oreilly.com/go/law/. thanks for assembling this list!

  7. Pingback: 10 Great Ways to Learn Flex - Josh Talks Flash

  8. Daniel.S

    Essential ActionScript 3.0 Sucks. Its long winded example is like 30 pages before you even run the damn thing. And the Zoo metaphor is convoluted and confusing.

    If you’re a robot / Zoologist this will be perfect for you.

  9. Pingback: Hi everyone. - Talk Arcades

  10. Josh Tynjala

    Why not? Amazon referrals help to pay for the expenses associated with this website. If you are absolutely revolted by the idea of me earning money from the hard work I put into compiling this list, you’re more than able to remove the referral code manually. I, for one, support bloggers who want to get a couple extra bucks a month for their community contributions.

  11. Pingback: I have only come here seeking knowledge

  12. Sri Vidhya

    Hey Josh! Thanks for the tips. Sure its of a great help to me as I am a beginner to Flash Scripting. Keep going! Bookmarked!

  13. Sketchist

    Nice tips man thanks for the help! I just now found out how much more AS3 can do for you than AS2! 😀 I am about to commit myself to learning it!


    goes to…

    [object name here].addEventListener(MouseEvent.CLICK, fl_ClickToGoToAndPlayFromFrame);
    function fl_ClickToGoToAndPlayFromFrame(event:MouseEvent):void