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Flex, Visual Studio and Amethyst - first comments

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by Huw Collingbourne
Friday 5 December 2008.

Amethyst, the Flex/AIR IDE which we announced a few days ago, has already been generating quite a bit of interest.

We are still a few days away from the release of the first beta of Amethyst Personal Edition (PE), our free Flex IDE. And it won’t be until early in the new year that we will be ready to start demoing the features of our top-end commercial edition, Amethyst Professional. So bear in mind that, even though we have internal ‘alpha’ versions of Amethyst that include a very large feature-set including a visual interface designer, drill-down debugging and IntelliSense, those features will not be present in the first public beta release. Just as we did when developing our Ruby IDE, Ruby In Steel, we will release several beta releases of Amethyst, each of which will ‘specialise’ in a well-defined area of activity - the first beta concentrates on core editing functionality.

In the meantime, here are a few notable comments on the announcement of Amethyst:

“SapphireSteel Software is planning to release an IDE for Adobe Flex and AIR that integrates into Microsoft Visual Studio... I’m intrigued. There are times that I wish that Adobe Flex Builder had an integration with Visual Studio in addition to Eclipse, but I feel like that might be unusual. Of course, I’d want the version with the IntelliSense support and the graphical debugging tools.”
(“Flex/AIR IDE for Visual Studio coming soon” - Martin Heller, InfoWorld)

“Ruby in Steel is well-regarded so this is worth watching out for if you have any interest in developing for Flex in Visual Studio. A high quality Visual Studio design tool for Flex would help Adobe gain adoption for Flex and AIR among Microsoft-platform developers.”
(“ Amethyst from SapphireSteel”, Tim Anderson’s IT Writing).

“Tapping into the world of Microsoft developers, SapphireSteel Software will soon release a Flex development IDE (integrated development environment) called ‘Amethyst’... By concentrating exclusively on Visual Studio programmers, ’Amethyst addresses a different market segment from the Eclipse-based development offered by Flex Builder,’ Collingbourne said. ’Put simply, it is our aim to make Flex/AIR development an easy and ‘natural’ alternative to WPF/Silverlight within Visual Studio.’ There you have it. A company looking to make it easier for Adobe Flex and AIR developers to build applications that integrate with Microsoft technologies.”
(“Adobe Leverages Ecosystem for RIA Dominance” - Darryl K. Taft - eWeek)

Keep an eye on this blog for more download details of Amethyst PE (beta 1) next week. Initially Amethyst PE will concentrate on editing features such as code coloring and collapsing, auto-intending and configurable code formatting plus full integration into Visual Studio (commercial or free editions) include project management in the Solution Explorer, Flex and AIR project setup templates and integrated application build and launch capabilities. We’ll be publishing lots of tutorials and documentation to coincide with the launch of Amethyst PE beta 1 so bookmark the blog to get news of the latest updates.

I’ll have much more to say soon about the road map for Amethyst PE (including features that will be added to subsequent beta versions). I’ll also be filling out the details of Amethyst Professional, our drag-and-drop visual design-and-code environment for developing Flex and AIR applications in Visual Studio.

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