thoughts on ActionScript 3.0

What do I think about ActionScript 3.0, as someone who hasn’t really coded a (micro)site in over a year (save for the splash page I just made for one of my clients at Roundarch, I hope no one ever has to see the redundant, convoluted code I created to make it work)?
I like it. I’ll be getting up to speed for another few months with my new copy of Learning ActionScript 3.0, but luckily the side projects I have right now will help me figure it all out. That’s how I learn new technologies – I need a problem to solve first.
Sometimes these problems are self-imposed, like when I was unemployed for 6 months in 2002 and decided to teach myself how to build database-driven Flash sites with MySQL & PHP (which I installed and ran locally on OS X 10.1). And other times these problems are directives from employers – back in 2003, I was told we needed to make the Flash navigation bar for a client website XML-driven, so I grabbed a FriendsOfEd book and figured it out.
But back to AS3. It’s good. From what I can tell as a non-programmer, it’s all growns up. A real scripting language. At first syntax seemed verbose, but now I’m starting to appreciate adding event listeners and strict typing for variables (Actually, I got used to strict typing in AS2).
What I’ve also become a big fan of is how the whole display list has been rewritten and how you add and show objects on the stage using the addChild() function (check out the DisplayObjectContainer). What I like about adding children to the stage is that they’re not displayed until you load them. In the past, you had to make sure a movieclip’s visibility was set to false, or it’s alpha was 0.
Again, it seems like an extra step to explicitly tell Flash to show an object that’s been loaded, but it’s really an extra level of control.
After I get up to speed with AS3, I plan on checking out in more detail what Joshua Davis and Branden Hall are doing with HYPE. The gist is – they’re trying to reduce the complexity and bring Flash back to the designer.
This is what they say:

HYPE is a creative coding framework built on top of ActionScript 3. A major goal of HYPE is to allow newcomers to Flash and ActionScript to creatively play and express themselves while they are learning how to program.

Sounds like a good objective to me.