ActionScript 3, or Playing Twister With Your Code

I had quite a day working in Flash’s relatively new ActionScript 3 language yesterday. I have really been spoiled by programming languages like Ruby.

Here’s an example. I was trying to make something open a new web page in the browser. This is a pretty darned common, obvious thing to need to do in Flash. And until recently, it was appropriately simple: you just use the getURL command, and pass it a string exactly like you would in your web browser. Hard to improve on such simplicity and perfection, isn’t it?

Oh, but they have. Now you use the navigateToURL command… but you can’t just pass it the link… now you must first create a URLRequest object to pass it. And be careful – now it opens a separate browser window by default – before, the default was to just bring you to the new web page. You see what’s going on here? Much more complex, many more hurdles, and the defaults have changed.


Now, I’m sure lots of folks could argue that the “new way” is much more robust and has lots more features and scales better, but let me tell you, to me it represents everything I loathe about ActionScript these days. After writing in Ruby, which is about the most simple, concise, and elegant language around, ActionScript feels like having to bundle up in your warmest clothes when it’s only like 50 degrees outside. It’s just overkill.

And it ended up taking me most of the afternoon to figure out how to do some things that should have been far simpler. Frustrating!

Raymond Brigleb

Creative Director, dreamer, partner, father, musician, photographer. Has been known to ride the rails. Pulls one heck of a shot.