Classes

A class is an abstract representation of an object. A class stores information about the types of data that an object can hold and the behaviors that an object can exhibit. The usefulness of such an abstraction may not be apparent when you write small scripts that contain only a few objects interacting with one another. As the scope of a program grows, however, and the number of objects that must be managed increases, you may find that classes allow you to better control how objects are created and how they interact with one another.

As far back as ActionScript 1.0, ActionScript programmers could use Function objects to create constructs that resembled classes. ActionScript 2.0 added formal support for classes with keywords such as class and extends. ActionScript 3.0 not only continues to support the keywords introduced in ActionScript 2.0, but also adds some new capabilities, such as enhanced access control with the protected and internal attributes, and better control over inheritance with the final and override keywords.

If you have ever created classes in programming languages like Java, C++, or C#, you will find that ActionScript provides a familiar experience. ActionScript shares many of the same keywords and attribute names, such as class, extends, and public, all of which are discussed in the following sections.

Note: In this chapter, the term property means any member of an object or class, including variables, constants, and methods. In addition, although the terms class and static are often used interchangeably, in this chapter these terms are distinct. For example, in this chapter the phrase class properties refers to all the members of a class, rather than only the static members.