From the book lists at Adware Report:

All information current as of 14:27:18 Pacific Time, Monday, 21 February 2005.

Learn Design with Flash MX

   by Kris Besley / Linda Goin

    Friends of ED
    11 July, 2003


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Editorial description(s):

Book Description
You are not alone. Learn Design with Flash MX employs a unique class-based approach to learning with the goal of establishing core, generic design skills. Each chapter represents a discrete lesson covering a distinct topic of design, and in each 'class' we smoothly blend theory and practice with plentiful practical examples, and a class project that runs through the book to reinforce the learning in an integrated, real-world context, using Flash MX as the illustrative vehicle. Written from the perspective of the design course's tutor, the context is that of a Design 101 course taught in a classroom environment, where the students act as mouthpieces to ask the common questions that beginner designers are sure to ask. You'll get to know the students in the book and follow the development of these characters as your own skill and expertise evolves too. Learn Design with Flash MX covers the fundamental design principles and skills that every designer needs to master in order to create attractive, aesthetically pleasing work to a professional standard. This book addresses the shortfall in solid, traditional design knowledge in significant segments of the web design community ñ specifically, people using Flash. It assumes that the reader is a novice in design terms with no exposure to formal web design principles or training, and little or no Flash experience. If you're coming to Flash completely from scratch, this book will give you a broad and solid introduction enabling you to create aesthetically pleasing, well laid-out sites and content, which will help you learn the trade and get access to the professional web design world. This book should even appeal to those who've read one (or more) entry-level texts on Flash; in fact, it'll complement other tutorials by providing the rich general design context and background that other introductory books lack. This book will teach readers to develop and implement their creative ideas through an understanding of what professional designers in all media see as the prerequisites: composition, color, contrast, light, texture, motion, typography, and many others. If you're interested in learning design skills following a structured path, or if you've been using some of the tools of the trade, like Macromedia Flash, for some time but have never had the opportunity of a solid tutorial, this introductory level book is for you. Learn Design with Flash MX will answer all the essential design questions that other books ignore - the questions you're too frightened to ask. By addressing the core design skills from a beginner's perspective, in the context of Flash MX, readers will gain a rich, solid, and structured understanding of the what, how, and why's of the fundamental principles of good design. From experienced self-taught designers who've ever thought, "I wish I knew how to design things more effectively or more coherently ", to anyone who's looked at a cool design and said, "Jeez, I wish I'd taken a design class in school!", this book will show them the money! Anyone in the web design arena who wants overall design skills, and who needs a solid learning vehicle that will help them acquire and embed those skills; anyone who's felt that their lack of knowledge about formal design processes has got in the way of liberating their creative ideas effectively; anyone who's started a creative project in a rush, doodled around, and lost their way... this book will provide the structure that they might lack. Readers will come away from this book with: A rich, solid understanding of the concepts and basic processes that will enable them to explore further with a degree of confidence that they didn't have before Insights into universally applicable design processes and techniques An understanding of how to implement these principles in Flash MX "Learn Design with Flash MX - the missing link between creativity and technology.

This book comes with a CD-ROM.

Reader review(s):

Get this book to learn design, not Flash MX, December 1, 2002
Don't let the dowdy cover art fool you, this is a great book for self-taught designers, like myself, to learn interface design. I have been a professional web designer since 1995 and I have taught myself design mostly from looking at other sites as well as reading Robin Williams's "The Non-Designer's Design Book" and David Siegel's excellent "Creating Killer Websites" series. If you are a programmer or are learning design on your own, this book can help you.

My background is in journalism so I have idea of how content works, but figuring out how to make pages look good is a skill that I have had to pick up on my own. I have found that the best way to learn design is to visit other websites and see how others do it. But every few years, a book comes out that does a good job explaining how to design and "Learn Design with Flash MX" belongs in this category. It covers the elements of design, design principals, working with fonts, and there is even a chapter on "The Design/Client Relationship." The book does cover the basics of Flash MX, but the emphasis is clearly on learning good design.

The writing format is also different. Unlike many computer books that are filled with chapters of tutorials, the authors put you in a classroom with other designers who ask questions. So you feel like you are taking a course. The low ... list price - at a time when many computer books are selling for [way more]- is also nice.

So don't let the cheesy cover art fool you, this book is worth buying.

It was a dark and dreary night...., January 15, 2003
I lost patience with the novel-style approach to the subject. "Make yourself comfortable,I said, as I'm going to cover..." and "The first prinicple is one of Zed's favorites, I smiled", etc. I quickly tired of trying to keep track of the various personalities, and the social nuances that occupy so much space in the book. Perhaps I'm too sensitive to time-wasting paragraphs. Looking at the previous reviews, I may need to read further into the book to find the heart of the course. But I'm really not much of a miner (or minor!).

If you appreciate books that are half novel and half instruction, then you will probably enjoy this book. I didn't buy it to be entertained.

Yes! I've learned to design, December 6, 2002
This book is JAMMED with useful information for any designer. I bought it thinking I would learn Flash MX, and was thrilled with the tutorials. However, I learned much more about design and the design process. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a reference guide to learning to draw, understanding color schemes, and how and why grid utilization is important in design.

The narrative style was a bit difficult in the beginning for me, but once I began reading, the book was difficult to put down. I kept wanting to know what would happen to the characters, as well as how they would handle all the design projects! You can't beat the vast information here for the price.

This one is a real STINKER, March 4, 2003
This is possibly the worst tech book I have ever read! And by far it is the worst of my Friends of Ed book collection (11 books including this stinker.) I had begun to trust that all their books would be great but I will never again buy a Friends of Ed book just on its title.

The author must be a frustrated fiction writer who was allowed to ply her wares in this book. The "story" is about some design students with a wide range of experiences and the dialog between them is maddening! It goes on and on and on and on before they say anything useful. Check out these fine examples,

"Lisa? Everyone? Are you ready to begin?" I asked.

"I think I'll be ready if Deb removes her watch," Lisa replied with a small smile. "Maybe I'll be able to relax."

"Hey! Great idea!" Wes unbuckled his watchstrap. "Let's all get into the spirit of the art, where there's no time, and no relevance to the world of business!"

I wasn't going to refute that remark, not at this point. Everyone bared their wrists, and we were ready to begin.


The sound of my footsteps seemed to emphasize the room's emptiness as I arranged my tools for the class, but remembering last week's session forced a smile to my lips. Fortunately, this group of design students created a real dynamic energy with their diversity of skills and experiences. As I studied the space around me, I thought, "This blank format needs their varied personalities to brighten it up!"

And these are not isolated examples; this stuff dominates the entire book from start to end. By chapter 2 I was very annoyed; by the end of the book I HATED these fictional people! I found myself desperately skimming past this nonsense trying to find the meat. Due to the large amount of silly dialog, there is very little space left over for treatment of the topic of design. Out of 500 pages I'd bet there are barely 100 with useful information.

Don't take my word for it. Pick up this silly book at a bookstore and check it out for yourself.

If there was an option for less than one star I would definitely give it to this book!

Wretched, July 29, 2003
This is a good idea, utterly ruined. It's a good idea to try to teach design as a sort of narrative with a cast of characters, but the writing here insults everyone's intelligence. And surely a book about visual design could have gotten a better layout and design treatment! Just look at the cover alone...

Sure there's some good points about visual design here, but you'll get as much out of Robin Williams "Non-Designers Design Book" or many other intro-level texts. This garbage drags down the Friends of ED series as a whole.

The best example of this kind of thing--learning design and programming together--is John Maeda's amazing "Design By Numbers" book, which teaches the basics of visual design and the basics of programming at once. Maeda--a respected designer/programmer--puts on every page simple examples, clearly presented and illustrated with restraint and thoughtfulness.

By the way, the "teaching through narrative" style is done really well in the series of "Who's Afraid of C++", "Who's Afraid of Java" programming books.

Excellent info. So-so format., January 20, 2003
I got this book because I really wanted to learn the basics of design. I've gotten pretty good at Flash ActionScript, but in putting together various sites, I found I was really just guessing on things like color choices, composition, type styles, etc. In coding, if you don't know the basics, you tend to just copy and paste someone else's scripts and tweak them to do what you want. Or, you just throw together something that doesn't really work all that well. I found I was doing both of these things with design, so I better learn the basics.

This book definitely covers the basics and delivers the exact information that I was hoping to get - the elements of design, color theory, composition, etc. It lists these out in very logical formats and describes each element and gives examples. It gives you ideas on how each item can be used effectively, and the problems that can be created if the item is not used "according to the rules." I was also very pleased to see that there is an awareness of the idea that rules are made to be broken, and you are invited to play around with, bend and break the rules, as long as you know what you are doing.

The book follows a rather unique format of a design class being taught to a group of students. It runs as a narrative of the actual conversation in the class. I'm not entirely decided if this is a great way to deliver the material. It sometimes gets a bit wordy, particularly in the initial chapters where the students are being introduced, and the dialogue gets a little corny sometimes, with characters making jokes and "everybody laughed."

But this format also has some definite plus points. The various students were chosen to represent a wide range of possible audiences for the book. Almost anyone reading the book could identify with one of them. There's the programmer who "doesn't really need to know design", the fine artist, the graphic designer, and the class clown, Zed, a wildly enthusiastic teenager who wants to become a Flash master. (I've met so many real life Zeds on line, I feel like I know him well.) The great thing about this is that each time an element of design is brought up, each student gets to question it, debate it or give examples. I found this really useful, as they quite often have the same questions or disagreements I would voice if I were there.

Note that Flash MX is not really a big part of this book. It's merely the tool chosen to do the practical work with.

The book is advertised to be for "absolute design beginners" and as such doesn't get too deeply involved in each subject. I found myself wanting to learn more about certain aspects, which is fine since each subject could be a book in itself. Some links are given to further resources, but I wish there were more of these.

Overall, if you are an absolute design beginner, this is a very worthy first book. It will give you a footing in the subject and you will at least know what you need to study next to further your knowledge.

Insulting, November 6, 2003
I have a high opinion of the Friends of Ed series. However, after suffering through 1.5 chapters of this "screen play", I will forevermore scrutinize any FOE book before purchasing. If you enjoy silly little shows like "Saved by the Bell" then this book is perfect for you. Cheesy jokes and dialog are the rule in this 500 page sleeper. I gave up in chapter 2 because, let's face it...I have better ways to spend my time than panning for gold like an old forty-niner, digging through the endless chatter of the "characters" for any golden nuggets of useful information.

If you are beginner, I recommend buying a book on the theory of design alone and then buying a book on Flash

Pathetic..., April 9, 2003
The physical layout of this book is absolutely HORRIBLE. It is a perfect example of everything a technical book designer SHOULD NOT do: Pages and pages of unrelenting gray text; extra-narrow margins on all four sides so that even more text can be squeezed onto each page; no useful headers to distinguish one page from another; no visual anchors to allow readers to go back and locate something later.

And then there's the author's writing style... the book reads like a script from one of those "duck and cover" films produced by the US government during the 1950s.

I can't imagine how this foolish book made it past an acquisitions editor and a production team. My opinion of "Friends of Ed" dropped dramatically when I saw this thing.

This one taught me alot..., March 5, 2003
I really enjoyed the way this book is put together. It is easy to follow and understand. As I am mainly a programmer, I was able to follow and learn from this book on how to design layouts and graphics.

You cannot go wrong with this one.

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