Common Tricks in ActionScript Code Shortening

Code shortening can make your code more readable as well as more unreadable :-). While it is recommend to use coding conventions and standards, in some cases you can spare a lot of lines using some shortening. In fact there must not be a conflict between using convetion vs. using shortening, and soon after you get used to some “shortcuts”, your code may be reduced in reasonable amount of lines. Some reading about code optimization can be found here, this article extends optimizations.

with() statement

Establishes a default object to be used for the execution of a statement or statements, potentially reducing the amount of code that needs to be written. You can use multiple with() statemens:

with(new Date)
    trace(hours, sin(0));

List style dynamic switch

Sometimes when you need to “switch” simple input value into output value, all you need is to choose item from list.

var m:uint = 3;

New instantion / addChild combo

While DisplayObjectContainer.addChild(child) returns inserted child as DisplayObject, you can cast it.

var s:Sprite = Sprite(addChild(new Sprite()))

Anonymous functions

ActionScript lets you put function definition directly where you normally put reference.

addEventListener(Event.ENTER_FRAME, function(event:Event):void
    trace("anonymous enter frame")

In order to get a reference to the currently executing function use arguments.callee. If you need to removeEventListener, use reference not direct definition.

Omitting curly braces

It is possible to omit curly braces with some block statements (for, for each, if, while) on single statement

for(var i:uint=0;i<100;i++)

Joining multiple statements into single-like

In order to create single statement from multiple statement (to omit curly braces) join statements with “,”.

var i:uint;

Ternar / conditional operator

Pretty common, but worth mentioning

for(var i:uint = 0; i < 3; i++)
    trace(i == 1 ? "BOMB" : i);

Operators (pre-increment, post-increment…)

Also pretty common

var i:uint = 0;
trace(i++, ++i, i--, --i);
i += 1, i *= 2, i /= 2, i -= 1, i %= 2;

Modulo operator (%) and alternation

The Modulus operator(%) computes the remainder of division between 2 integers. Can be use for alternation (color etc.)

for(var i:uint = 0; i < 10; i++)
    trace(i%3 ? i : "BOMB");

Action assignment

Result of assignment is value itself.

var i:uint, j:uint = 0;
trace(i = j = 2);

for statement

for statement definition says:

for ([init]; [condition]; [next])

… it means you can use it very creative way

var i:uint = 0;
    lineTo(x*i, y*i*i);

logical OR operator (||) and first valid

Result of statement using logical OR is the first valid element. It can substitute ternar operator in some cases

trace(null || 0 || "" || "BOMB" || "never");
trace(defined ? defined : "default") // equals to trace(defined || "default")

You can use || to shorten Boolean resulting ternar operator:

test ? true : false;
test || false;
test || 0;

Class Instantiating without “new”

Most common used is string delimiter (“), but there are also ones for XML, RegExp and Array

var x:XML = <data></data>;
var r:RegExp = /.*/i;

Shortest declaring for Array and Vector:

var a:Array = [1,2,3];
var v:Vector.<int> = new <int>[1,2,3]

Inline conditions

Use short circuit conditioning instead of if clause.

// is the same as
condition && doSomething();

Boolean-izator (!!)

I guess the shortest way to get Boolean results.



5 comments so far

  1. […] Common Tricks in ActionScript Code Shortening […]

  2. […] My aim was to make the code shortest possible, so you may find it messy. It is quite grubby indeed 🙂 . Try to fork my code on wonderfl to achieve shortest possible. Use some tricks to make your code shorter. […]

  3. Juraj Michálek August 18, 2010 11:25

    Nice list of useful stuff. Just one word of warning. Do not show it to beginners, they will start to overuse it and the code will become pretty messy. Just remeber that developers must read code more times than they write it. Readability counts ( 😉

  4. Og2t October 31, 2010 23:40

    Nice Josef, these would be so useful for tweetcoding and 25-lines contests. In fact, I remember many of them were used but your compilation seems to be the largest so far. Check Shapevents’ blog as well, he was into these before gone quiet (

  5. Jozef Chúťka November 1, 2010 12:05

    @Og2t, checking it out, thx for the tip

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