24th Apr 2010
It still pains me when I see Flash developers coding huge chunks of ActionScript in the IDE or some text editor that offers precious little more than syntax colouring. I don’t consider the code insight of editors like FlashDevelop a “nice to have”, I consider them vital in making me a productive developer. I can spot syntax / structure errors faster, I can jump back/forth between methods/classes. I can see an overall organisational tree of of my project, allowing me to organise my classes as best I need.
I find the mentality that this is somehow “wrong” more than a little disturbing. It’s like HTML developers who claim they only use Notepad, as if that’s some kind of badge of honor. It’s not. It’s a badge of stupidity.
For quick tests the IDE is fine. For anything serious do yourself a favour and use a proper tool. You may be surprised at how much faster you get stuff done as a result.
In light of this I was really happy to read that Flash Develop 3.1.0 is out. It has some awesome new features, multi-project support being my absolute favourite. Here is the official change list. Download link at the bottom.
- Real MXML completion implemented
- Flash Player 10.1 and Flex 4 support added
- Initial simple refactoring support added
- Global excluded directories added to Tasks
- Embed generation now added for all filetypes
- Proper file encoding behaviour without BOM added
- HTML ZenCoding implementation added (Control + B)
- Output panel is now searchable (Highlight, F3 and Shift+F3)
- Simple multiproject support with batch compiling added (1*)
- Compiler constants and timestamp added now automaticly
- Code completion is now fed with classes from SDK sources
- Japanese localization added (Settings -> SelectedLocale)
- HaXe on demand completion added (patch from filt3r)
- Additional keyword groups added to the config
- Code completion improvements and bug fixes
- General UI improvements and bug fixes
6th Jan 2010
Although the code-insight features of FlashDevelop help a lot, you can’t beat a good AS3 reference – and I use Adobe LiveDocs almost exclusively for this. Although I have a Firefox search plugin that gives me quick access to it, I have still always wanted a decent local copy that offered the same benefits my browser does, but faster.
Doc? allows you to view, search and bookmark all your favourite ASDocs. But the biggest feature for me is that on-line docs can be downloaded and stored locally too. This means that the docs for things like Away3D, Flint, Papervision, Adobe CoreLib, TweenMax or anything else that has ASDoc documentation can be added to your local books collection.
Adding a remote ASDoc
Adding new books couldn’t be more simple. Just start-up Doc?, click the settings icon in the top-right and select “”Add Remote ASDoc”. You’ll be asked for some details. Here they are for the Stardust Particles system:
Note: when adding URLs be sure to specify a directory, and don’t have the index.html on the end.
Doc? will then download and index the files, storing them locally.
Be advised that on large sets of documentation this can take a while. Indexing the AS3 Language Reference took nearly 10 minutes, and that’s on an Intel Quad Core Q9950 @ 2.83GHz with 8GB RAM. Doc? stores the indexes in a local SQLite database.
Once downloaded and indexed the docs are available from the Books menu, ready for easy and fast local searching!
Here you can see I searched for “Radius” specifically in the Stardust book, and am viewing the CollisionRadius page. You can search across all books, highlight results in the text, include title and/or content in the search and even bookmark sections you know you return to often.
The tree view display has icons depending on the style of result – the green “C” circle icon means it’s a Class, but it also shows packages, methods, constants, interface and others.
AS3 Language Reference
One of the first things I recommend you do is download the ActionScript3 Language Reference zip from the Adobe web site (5.8MB). Unzip it somewhere and use the “Add Local Book” Settings option to add it. It will still need to be indexed (and this takes a long time), but it’s better to grab the zip as it can often have more up to date docs vs. those installed with CS4.
I’m quite sure that this app will save me a lot of time vs. digging through browser bookmarks.
All I’d like to see now is this built into FlashDevelop, so F1 searched within Doc?
8th Dec 2009
All of my personal (and work) projects are stored in subversion reposotories. For all its quirks and foibles svn does, generally, just work. And is has saved my ass on more than several occassions.
I keep all of my project files under source control including all of the Photoshop PSDs files that compromise the artwork for my games. Up until now this has been fine, as i could commit changes to PSDs and svn would take them quite happily. But when it came to rolling back you had to rely on the comments to really know what the previous PSD may have looked like.
So I was extremely excited to get an email from my svn host, Beanstalk, to say that they now supported use of PixelNovel Timeline direct with their service. PixelNovel is a plugin / stand-alone app for PC and Mac that lets you preview any PSD stored in svn, and any previous version of it too. So you can easily, and visually, roll back to an earlier version. It works in a similar manner to Adobe Version Cue, but the interface is simpler and the software considerably cheaper, plus of course it works with any svn host (be it a 3rd party one like Beanstalk, or your own). You can commit changes to the PSD to svn direct from the plugin, and it only uploads the differences. It works with CS2, SC3 and CS4.
It costs $60 for a single license, but if you use the code BNSTLK you’ll get 30% off that (this offer expires in 2 weeks time from the date of this post).
So if you use Photoshop and svn I’d strongly recommend downloading the free trial and checking this out. It could save you a lot of time in the long run!
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