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Adobe Flex In Visual Studio: Introducing Amethyst Personal Edition

by Huw Collingbourne
Monday 8 December 2008.

Amethyst Personal Edition (PE) is an editing and project management environment for developing Adobe Flex and AIR applications using Visual Studio.

SapphireSteel Software has today released the first public beta of Amethyst PE - a Flex and AIR editing and project management suite for Visual Studio. Here, I want to give you a brief overview of some of the essential features of Amethyst PE. Please bear in mind that this is beta software, it is not feature complete, it is not fully documented, it will almost certainly contain bugs! The software will go through a number of revisions and will gain a range of additional features before its final release.

Before going into the nitty-gritty details, I’d like to explain a bit about the way in which Amethyst is being developed.

Beta 1 and Beyond...

Following our experience in developing the Ruby In Steel IDE for Ruby On Rails, we have once again decided to develop Amethyst in well-defined stages. Accordingly there is not going to be a single ‘big bang’ release. Instead, we will make incremental beta releases each of which will add a clearly defined set of specific new features.

Simultaneous with the public betas, internal ‘alpha’ versions of the software are being developed. For example, the current alpha of Amethyst Professional includes a drill-down debugger, IntelliSense and a visual designer. None of these features will be released in the initial public beta(s) of Amethyst PE. The first release concentrates on editing, building and project management capabilities. Only when these features have been tested, debugged and refined will we release versions of Amethyst with additional features. In short, it is our overriding aim to develop robust and reliable software. In our experience, regular incremental beta releases are the best way to achieve that goal.

Here is a summary of the essential features of Amethyst PE (beta 1)...

Amethyst PE
- is an editing and project management environment for Flex and AIR
- is fully integrated into Visual Studio 2008
- can compile, build and launch ActionScript, Flex and AIR projects
- can integrate Flex/AIR projects with other types of Visual Studio projects
- can import existing Flex/AIR projects
- provides extensive code coloring, code collapsing, code formatting and commenting
- is FREE and may even be installed (optionally) into the free Visual Studio Shell Edition

Now, just as important, let me explain what it does not have...

Amethyst PE (beta 1) does not have any code completion or debugging capabilities. These will be added in subsequent betas. The features added to each beta release will be announced on the SapphireSteel blog.

In the first quarter of 2009 we shall also release a beta of Amethyst Professional. This will be the commercial edition of Amethyst and the final release is expected to ship in the 2nd quarter of 2009.

Amethyst Professional
- will be a professional quality Flex/AIR design, editing and debugging environment
- will provide a fully integrated drag-and-drop visual user interface designer
- will integrate its visual designer with the code editor and Visual Studio tools
- will have a powerful visual debugger with ‘drill-down’ expansion of variables
- will have both analytical (‘on-the-fly’) and reflective (derived from compiled code) IntelliSense

What Next?

To get started...
- Go to the Download Page to Install Amethyst PE and follow a simple ’getting started’ tutorial.
- Follow Our Essential Guide To Amethyst PE for an overview of the software’s main features.

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  • Adobe Flex In Visual Studio: Introducing Amethyst Personal Edition
    9 December 2008, by EdSF

    I really hope this product matures soon. Coming from the VS world, I unfortunately find AS coding in the FLASH "IDE" extremely primitive (I don’t use any other IDE for AS 2 or 3).

    I woud compare the current Flash IDE experience as VS .Net 1 (circa 2001 or 2002), but in all honestly it doesn’t even come close to that legacy tool.

    Keep up the good work, I’ll subscribe to this feed for an RC candidate and subsequent release - not too sure I’d install a beta in my primary development tool (VS 2008).

    Personal words of encouragement: Adobe needs you in the face of integraged VS/Silverlight development. Silverlight needs maturity to be sure, BUT that is already happening. And well, if we’re going beyond basic cartoons, the integrated development experience is extremely compelling.

    • Adobe Flex In Visual Studio: Introducing Amethyst Personal Edition
      9 December 2008, by Huw Collingbourne

      Thanks for the comments. We will be producing quite a few betas both of the Personal Edition and (from early next year) of the Professional edition so please come back and try a beta or RC later on. By the way, if you don’t want to install on your main VS installation, I recommend using MS virtual PC ;-)

      best wishes


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