Review: Flash MX Learning Studio

The Flash MX Learning Studio from Sybex earns a mixed bag of reactions from me.

The package consists of an interactive CD with the complete contents of the accompanying book, Flash MX Savvy by Ethan Watrall and Norbert Herber. The CD contains hands-on projects with a simulated Flash MX environment that allows you to click through the activities described in the lessons. There are a number of movies of Watrall in the role of instructor talking you through various aspects of the Flash interface.

I’ve written before about the high quality I think Sybex has brought to the Web Design publication world with its “Savvy” series. This book is certainly in keeping with that standard. It is exhaustively complete, well written and well illustrated. There is no doubt in my mind that the material provided is a valuable learning tool.

I’m not sure that the Learning Studio on the CD adds a lot of value to the package, however. A lot depends on your learning style or learning preferences and on whether you want to use the CD as a teaching tool or for individual learning. The material on the CD is exactly the same material as that in the book, with the addition of the simulated Flash environment allowing for an occasional clickable interaction and the addition of Watrall talking you through some of the same material printed in the book. Depending on your learning style, this might be exactly what you need to help you “get it,” even though it is the same thing you can read in the book. If you are using the Flash MX Learning Studio to teach a class in Flash, the CD would provide useful fodder for projecting lessons on a big screen that could weave into class discussion of techniques.

I was put off by the fact that the interface on the CD requires so much screen real estate to see everything that the lines of text become unpleasantly long for extended reading. Reading the book is easier on the eyes. When comparing the movies and examples of interactions on this CD with those you might find on a book from’s Hands on Training series, these Sybex Learning Studio movies fall short. The movies just don’t add much to what you get in the text.

You could definitely learn Flash MX from this package. The question you need to resolve for yourself is whether the Flash MX Savvy book by itself would be all you need, or whether you want to go for the added interaction and get the Flash MX Learning Studio as well.

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