Thoughts on the (next) IDE

I was just thinking about this lately:

The main purpose of a framework and IDE is supposed to ease development, and not introduce obstacles in the development process. Ideally, it should also be an enjoyable experience using them.

Sadly, many people I talk to find that developing Flash content is getting less enjoyable, more time-consuming and difficult. One of the reasons is learning and using the new components and framework. The IDE should make this easier and enjoyable.

The IDE can help by doing common things that almost everyone needs, eliminate steps that are repetitive in the development process, insert code that are predictable (a simple example: handling web services/remoting calls, data-binding, broadcasters and listeners)…etc.

If 8Ball can bring back the fun in development, and help getting things done more quickly, it’d be a killer.

What should be included in the next Flash IDE to make your life easier?

6 replies on “Thoughts on the (next) IDE”

From a coding point of view (and reasons for going to PrimalScript):

– The actions panel, although disabled always appears in front of the code view ??

– No built in view of classpath tree.

– A useful feature would be a VS.NET/Java style ability to search the packages for keywords in class definitions/methods and open that class with a double click, including all added to Classes/ folder and your own custom classpath.

From a design point of view:

– A Photoshop “action/droplet” style of macro recording direct to JSFL (meaning you can record it quick and customise the code after).

One thing that drives me nuts lately is the fact that any panel in flash will grey out when in the editor out even if its useful. Such as the webservices panel. It would be so much more useful to me if I could see this! I am hardly ever in the main window but to make symbols, I always test via ctrl+alt+p (test project) so I am not even in it for testing.

Richard, you can do the macro recording to JSFL now:

From the History panel, select the steps you want, right-click, and choose “Save As Command…” Give it a name and save. You’ll find the command in the Commands menu, and the JSFL file in the Commands folder (inside your user folder).

Hi Greg, yes I agree about the annoyance of the greyed out panels. There should be one code editor that handles both internal and external source, and allow access and view of other panels at any time.

Hi guys,
Getting right into it at the end of the day, the Flash IDE in 2004 is good but doesnt really suit most people in the way the like to code and handle visual assets. We have a number of people developing flash applications and the inbuilt flash IDE doesnt really cut it (even thoug it is good). I think Macromedia should consider building an external code editor that would better than products like Primal Script (My Favourite) or SEPY or Scite or TextPad. Right now the 2004 IDE is just too cluttered and cramped and then all the programmers we work with need more tools and room to develop good code.

Personally I like to alt+tab from my code editor and then compile and test my movie. As the flash environment is great for flash, and my code environment is what I need to use when working with all my class files (Generally 20 or so at one time, and yes it is a big project).

Next person will say Dreamweaver, as this can handle .as files, but Dreamweaver is damn slow to start and really bloated (no offence MM), it needs to be a lot quicker if I am going to edit code for Flash files.

I agree that Dreamweaver isn’t ideal as a code editor because of the extra WYSIWYG baggage. Within Macromedia’s own products, HomeSite+ is a better candidate, except it isn’t cross-platform. Perhaps the difficulty is developing a cross-platform editor that performs well.

Visual Studio .NET is one of the best IDEs that many try to imitate. PrimalScript is also nice, it is small and fast, and works well with ActionScript. Both are, of course, not cross-platform and not integrated with the Flash IDE.

Is Integration an important feature though? On the surface, perhaps it is, so that the development process is streamlined (and hopefully faster and easier). However, is switching between applications a big deal? Or can some form of integration (through an intermediate bridging tool) be enough as long as compilation and debugging are integrated?

Here’s what I think are some of the possible solutions in improving ActionScript editing:

1) Improve the existing editors (make it one editor) to function and perform more like VS.NET or PrimalScript.

2) Better integration with 3rd-party editors, with a command-line compiler that pipes messages to any source.

3) Improve what works well (i.e. HomeSite+) and create a solution for the other platform(s).

4) Create a new external editor based on Dreamweaver’s code editor, but keep it slim and fast.

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