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Flex IDE For Free (and Ruby too) - Visual Studio Included!

Amethyst Personal Edition is really, REALLY, Free!
by Huw Collingbourne
Sunday 18 January 2009.

One of the questions we’ve been asked a few times since we released the beta versions of Amethyst, our Flex IDE for Visual Studio, is: “Does it work with the Visual Studio Express Editions”?

The bad news is No, it doesn’t. The good news is but it does work with a free edition of Visual Studio 2008!

You can work simultaneously with free editions of Amethyst and Ruby In Steel in a free edition of Visual Studio!

We already supply an installer for a free version of Visual Studio 2008 with our Ruby In Steel IDE for developing Ruby applications. This is called the ‘Visual Studio Shell’. It is a well-featured edition of Visual Studio which, however, does not include any of the main Microsoft development languages such as C#, C++ or VB .NET. When you install Amethyst into the VS Shell, it will have similar functionality to an ‘Express’ edition of Visual Studio, apart from the fact that the supported language/framework is ActionScript/MXML and Flex rather than a Microsoft language.

The plain fact of the matter is that it is not possible to install a 3rd party package such as Amethyst or Ruby In Steel into a VS Express Edition - that is, quite simply, a technical limitation built into VS Express.

But you can install one or both of our IDEs (Amethyst and Ruby In Steel) into a single copy of the VS Shell edition - in fact, you can even create mixed language (ActionScript/Ruby) or mixed framework (Flex/Rails) solutions if you wish so that you can use Ruby In Steel and Amethyst side by side. Moreover, the VS Shell can be installed on the same PC as VS Express so you don’t have to make a choice between ‘either one or the other’.

Currently we only have a simple installer for Amethyst and it is up to the user to install any prerequisites such as the Flex SDK and Visual Studio in advance. Later in the year we will release a much enhanced installer that will deal with the installation of prerequisites too. For the time being, however, if you want to install a completely free copy of Amethyst (beta) and/or Ruby In Steel (Personal Edition), you can do so using either the All-In-One Installer for Ruby In Steel (this, optionally, also gives you the chance to install a 60-day trial of Ruby In Steel Developer) or you can install Ruby In Steel Personal Edition. Ruby In Steel Personal Edition includes the free version of our Ruby IDE. If you are not interested in Ruby, just deselect the Ruby options when installing.

Once you have the VS Shell installed, you are ready to install Amethyst. As we’ve said before, following the beta period, there will be two editions of Amethyst. The Professional Edition will have a full suite of development tools including our high-end Flex debugger and a drag-and-drop visual Flex design environment. The Personal Edition will include editing, ActionScript code completion, debugging and project management.

When used with the VS Shell Edition, Amethyst Personal (just like Ruby In Steel Personal) will remain 100% Free.

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