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Amethyst Flex IDE Beta 4

Latest update now available
by Huw Collingbourne
Tuesday 24 March 2009.

Today we released beta 4 of Amethyst, our Visual Studio IDE for developing Adobe Flex, AIR and ActionScript applications.

- Amethyst Download Page

This beta includes a number of significant new features, including:

- Snippets

Snippets are auto-expanding code blocks (sometimes called ‘code templates’) which can be inserted by pressing Tab after a snippet ’shortcut’ or by selecting them from a right-click menu. Snippets may include editable regions. For example, to enter pair of ActionScript ‘getter’ and ‘setter’ functions you can enter the shortcut text getset and press Tab. This will expand to the following:

Now you can edit the highlighted ‘edit points’ and move from one edit point to another using the Tab key. When you have finished, press Enter. If, for example, you rename the ‘propertyName’ tag to ‘myAttribute’, the matching names in the getter and setter functions will be altered automatically:

NOTE: To view snippets in the completion list and enable Tab auto expansion, verify that these options are set for both ActionScript and MXML files. Select Tools/Options/Text Editor then locate the options in the ActionScript/IntelliSense and MXML/IntelliSense pages.

A small number of snippets are included with this beta. Later we shall provide a much larger snippet library. Note that snippets are context sensitive so that ActionScript snippets are available when you edit ActionScript code whereas MXML snippets are available in MXML code.

- Snippet Editor

You can create your own snippets using our Snippet Editor, Sniped! which can be loaded from the Amethyst menu. Sniped! has its own manual (currently this refers to our Ruby IDE, Ruby In Steel but, in fact, this version of Sniped! has been reprogrammed to work with Amethyst). You can view the manual by selecting an item from the Sniped! Help menu.

- Import/Conversion Wizard

This now includes an option to import a project into the current Visual Studio solution. This makes it easy to create multi-project solutions from existing code:

For more information on project importing/converting see: Converting and Importing Flex Projects For Amethyst.

- Object Browser

Select this from the View menu. This now displays styles and events as well as classes, properties, variables and constants.

- Context-sensitive Help

Press F1 over a Flex class, method name or keyword in the code editor and appropriate Help will be displayed in a browser (in beta 4, the Help is online; local help will be added in a future release).

- Code Behind: Modelled on Visual Studio’s ‘code behind’ feature which shows the code definition of a form as a sub-branch in the Solution Explorer, Amethyst now shows source files specified in MXML script tags as ‘code behind’.

- Other Features

  • Automatic Code Formatting: has been significantly improved. It is now faster, it automatically excludes array and object literals which have been explicitly formatted into columns and it allows users to exclude from formatting any block of code enclosed between //#f- and //#f+ comments. For more on Amethyst’s code formatter see: ActionScript Automatic Code Formatting.
  • You can now Drag, Drop, Copy and Paste files in the Solution Explorer.
  • A variety of improvements have been made to IntelliSense. For example, when your ActionScript code uses an id declared in an MXML tag, you will have code completion after the dot and you can go to the item’s declaration using the ‘Go To Definition’ option from the right-click menu.

We will go into much more detail about some of the new features in the Blog soon.

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  • Amethyst Flex IDE Beta 4
    31 March 2009

    I’ve had a quick play with the IDE and really like it so far. One quick question: the MXML intellisense doesn’t seem to show all of the available tags. For example <mx:Repeater> does not appear in the list. Is there something I’ve missed out? Thanks

    • Amethyst Flex IDE Beta 4
      31 March 2009

      Some MXML tags are missing right now - the MXML IntelliSense is partailly generated from a ’prefix’ chunk of code, which imports the MXML controls and which is currently hard coded.

      I’ll add this Repeater control and any others that should be there, but additionally, I’ll make this prefix user editable so that you can add or remove things as you want.

      It’s not a big change, so it should be available in the next beta in about 3 weeks time.


  • Amethyst Flex IDE Beta 4
    24 March 2009

    This sounds gooood! I’m so fed up with Flex Builder and for example its annoying bug

    Also, as an old C++ programmer, I totally miss the Visual Studio IDE. Eclipse is not as powerful as Visual Studio.

    One thing that worries me about the debugger is that I want to see if you are able to nail it down, in terms of not having bugs and being complete in the set of features. You know, if I’m going to be using your product 8 hours a day, it has to be professional and well rounded off.


    • Amethyst Flex IDE Beta 4
      24 March 2009, by Huw Collingbourne

      Thanks for the interest. The debugger is a high priority (as was our Ruby debugger in Ruby In Steel). Beta 4 already has pretty good debugging but beta 5 will significantly add to the debugging features.

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