Weekend work in ActionScripting

First Iteration of the final project for ICM504 is well underway. I broke down and bought two additional books for my use. One was the O’Reilly ActionScript Cookbook (lovely organization for a reference book, I must say) and the other was Foundation ActionScript 3.0 Animation. The Animation text is worth it just because it explains the math foundations for use with realistic motion simulations.

However, working at home was interrupted slightly by the logistics of sharing computer access between two full time students. I ended up reading on the couch while my significant other was working on the computer. I didn’t want to let the opportunity to actually use some downtime on a Sunday for getting ahead on my final projects, so I buckled under and set about coding with pen and paper.

And therein lies the difference

My challenge with any computer language has always been getting to a level of basic competency in -writing- the code from a blank file. For some reason, having to work everything out on paper first (not pseudocode, but actual code) made a lot of difference to me. I started slowly and complained about having to do multiple crossouts and rewrites, but the slowness of writing by hand meant that I actually made a few connections mentally with the coding process, connections which were tenuous at best previously.

By the end of the afternoon, I had spent about 6 hours in the living room working on coding by handwriting. I had progressed from the tortured beginnings and was actually starting to really just think about the steps involved and my mind began to supply the code structure to me. Prior to that my mind would tell me which book to look for the code structure in. Needless to say, I started picking up speed toward the end.

Keeping it modular

Since my final project for ICM504 is iterative, I needed to put in a lot of thought on how to organize the code so that I could easily tweak and improve further iterations of the project. The code is living in my class notebook right now, but soon I’ll port it over to Flash and see what needs to be tweaked to get the basic structure up and running.  The good news is that it’s definitely ready for modular tweaks. In fact, I remembered as I wrote out the preliminary structure for the First Iteration that online-based projects require front-loaded efforts. I realized that means that the hardest part was what I tackled yesterday afternoon… getting the initial engine up and running.

The coolest thing about ActionScripting for me was that all of my graphics knowledge has made certain things intuitive about the methods and properties that ActionScript uses. (Remember, we’re coding in 2.0, not 3.0 yet… but the new books are aimed at 3.0, so I’m translating backward into 2.0 as I read them).

Look for a code posting and a SWF file link by the end of the week.

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